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Salute To Iconic Women: Frances Hesselbein

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Mar. 17 2013, Published 5:00 a.m. ET

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“Leadership is much less about what you do, and much more about who you are. If you view leadership as a bag of manipulative tricks or charismatic behaviors to advance your own personal interest, then people have every right to be cynical. But if your leadership flows first and foremost from inner character and integrity of ambition, then you can justly ask people to lend themselves to your organization and its mission.”– Frances Hesselbein

Occupation: President/CEO of the Frances Hesselbein Leadership Institute/ Writer/Management Consultant

How she made her mark: She developed a turnaround for the Girl Scouts by increasing minority membership and establishing the Daisy Scout program for younger girls who have been accepted into the Girl Scouts of America.

In 1998, President Clinton honored Hesselbein with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This award is the United States of America highest civilian honor. The award recognized her leadership as CEO of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. from 1976-1990, her role as the Founding President of the Drucker Foundation, and her service as “a pioneer for women, volunteerism, diversity and opportunity.” Her contributions were also recognized by the first President Bush, who appointed her to two Presidential Commissions on National and Community Service.

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In 2009,  Hesselbein was appointed the Class of 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership at the United States Military Academy at West Point, in the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership. She is the first woman, and the first non-graduate to serve in this chair.

Although she is retired, Hesselbein serves on many nonprofit and private sector corporate boards, including the Board of the Mutual of America Life Insurance Company, New York, the Bright China Social Fund, the American Express Philanthropy, and the Center for Creative Leadership’s Alliance Advisory Council. She is a board member emeritus for the U.C.S.D. Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies and was the Chairman of the National Board of Directors for Volunteers of America from 2002-2006. Hesselbein attended University of Pittsburgh Johnstown Junior College and is the recipient of twenty honorary doctoral degrees.

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