Girls Scouts’ ‘Cool Women Class of 2015’ honored

Sue Salka and Susan Swenson of Rancho Santa Fe were honored as Girl Scouts San Diego’s Cool Women 2015 during a luncheon and ceremony at the Del Mar Country Club on April 14.

Girl Scouts San Diego board members Julie Dubick and Lori Walton chaired the 15th annual event. Luncheon proceeds will help support Girl Scout program outreach for girls in homeless shelters, the Girls Rehabilitation Facility and schools in underserved neighborhoods.

Each award recipient was introduced by a Cool Woman from a prior year.

Salka was presented by community volunteer Elizabeth Copley, a Cool Woman of 2010. Salka is president and CEO of AMN Healthcare. Under her leadership, AMN has become the nation’s largest, most diversified healthcare staffing company. Last year, Forbes ranked AMN in the top 100 most trustworthy publicly traded companies. Salka serves on SDSU’s Campanile Foundation board and as a guest commentator for CNBC’s Mad Money. Named Director of the Year for Corporate Citizenship by the Corporate Forum last year— and Woman of the Year by San Diego Magazine — the former Girl Scout is a role model for future female executives.

During the event, Salka made a generous, $10,000 personal donation. Guests met her challenge to collectively match that amount.

Swenson’s presenter was Cool Woman 2013 Arlene Harris, a wireless industry pioneer. Swenson — described by industry leaders as one of the most powerful people in wireless — has shaped the telecom world for nearly four decades. Her background includes stints as CEO and/or president for Sage Group, T-Mobile USA, Leap Wireless International, Cricket Communications, Cellular One and PacTel Cellular. The Girl Scout alumna was recently appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce as chair of FirstNet, a federal agency developing the first nationwide high-speed wireless broadband network. A vital national priority, the multi-billion dollar system will allow emergency responders from local, state and federal jurisdictions to orchestrate responses to disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes and terrorist threats.

This year’s Cool Girl was Girl Scout Ambassador Elena Crespo. The Del Norte High School Junior recently developed a computer lab for a school in Panama. Elena, who served as a delegate to Girl Scouts’ national convention, is completing her Girl Scout Gold Award project.

Cool Women 2015 honorees also included Karen Archipley, co-founder of Archi’s Acres, a hydro-organic farm where veterans learn agribusiness skills; Rabbi Cantor Arlene Bernstein of Beth Israel; Lesley Cohn, co-founder of Cohn Restaurant Group; Dr. Karen S. Haynes, president, California State University San Marcos; Reena Horowitz, businesswoman, philanthropist and jewelry designer; Awetash Keflezighi, an immigrant from Eritrea whose 10 accomplished children include legendary marathoner Meb Keflezighi; Carol Lazier, president of the San Diego Opera Board of Directors; Rose Schindler, Holocaust survivor and educator; and Carmen Vann, a Turner Construction project executive whose projects include the new Central Library.

“We are proud to honor these exemplary women for their extraordinary leadership and community service,” said Jo Dee C. Jacob, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts San Diego. “Our Cool Women’s personal and professional lives make them consummate role models for girls.”

For more information, visit www.sdgirlscouts.org.

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