There were nearly 200 people in the crowd at the Calabasas State of the City Address on Nov. 14, but Mayor Mary Sue Maurer focused most of her attention on the Girl Scouts in the front rows.
As the program began, Maurer, herself a former Girl Scout, announced the theme of her 2017 address: the role of women as leaders in their communities.
“There’s a hashtag, #youtoocanlead, and every time you see that, I want you to reflect on the opportunities that might be available to you,” Maurer told the attentive women and girls in the audience.
Throughout her speech, the mayor discussed various city agencies, local businesses and outreach programs where the role of women is paramount. When she covered Calabasas’ partnerships with Los Angeles County’s fire and sheriff’s departments, she spoke about the opportunities for women in male-dominated fields.
“These are known as nontraditional occupations for women, that is, a type of job where 25 percent or less of the workers are women. Both of these organizations have made great strides in trying to attract more women, and they’ve started at a younger age,” Maurer said. “The fire department has a recruitment camp for teen girls, and you can go and see what it’s like to be a structural firefighter. They also have a Fire Explorer Program.”
Maurer added that she recently completed a two-week class and is now a certified wildland firefighter, telling the young women in the audience that if she can perform this line of work, they can too.
She named Michele Faulkner as her choice for Calabasas’ Citizen of the Year early in the address, contrary to previous addresses where the name would be revealed at the end of the evening.
“(Faulkner) has been a role model for Girl Scouts for over two decades. She has worked with over 20 different Girl Scouts to do their Gold Award. She organizes the participation of the Girl Scouts in the food drive,” Maurer said. “The food that the Girl Scouts collected went to the West Valley Food Pantry. This Citizen of the Year trains Scouts to do pledge of allegiances. (She) works for the Las Virgenes Unified School District and does volunteer work at Bay Laurel. She’s a mother and an extraordinary mentor to girls and young women. In general, she selflessly gives of her time to the young girls in our community.”
Maurer presented Faulkner with a plaque naming her Citizen of the Year and surprised her by inviting Faulkner’s children, who do not live in the area, onto the stage for a photograph with their mother.
“I am shocked that my kids are here because I haven’t seen them all in a long time. All I can say is, in life we repeat the behaviors that reward us, and that’s why I’ve been a Girl Scout leader for 20 years, because these girls are amazing,” Faulkner said. “I’m going to cry. I loved watching them grow up and find their voice, and they’re all really wonderful girls. Thank you.”
Maurer ended the address by introducing the Girl Scouts in the audience to a new badge, the Raise Your Hand badge, which Scouts can earn by asking questions in class and getting three friends to ask questions as well.
“(Being a Girl Scout) gave me tools to be more confident. It’s provided you with the tool for leadership, and you need to exercise it, you need to learn to speak up and speak out,” Maurer said. “You need to practice by raising your hand.”