West Hempstead Girl Scout alumna is making a national impact


Gabrielle Fidis, of West Hempstead, was one of four women who were honored with an Impact Award at the second annual Girl Scout Legacy Brunch March 15, at the Heritage Club, in Farmingdale, hosted by the Girl Scouts of Nassau County. And though her work with the scouts reached new heights last year, the award is nearly a lifetime in the making.

Fidis grew up in the West Hempstead/Franklin Square Girl Scouts, where her mother was the leader of Troop 1739. When Gabrielle was a freshman at Manhattanville College, she became an alternate delegate, and eventually delegate, to the Nassau County Girl Scouts, representing local Girl Scouts’ interests at the county level.

It’s about “having the opportunity to actually be the one to go vote, and to just have a lot of involvement with the decisions being made,” Fidis, 29, said. “It’s just really a great way to feel like I’m making a difference in a place that feels worth making a difference in.”

The awards brunch was created when Rande Bynum, the chief executive of the Girl Scouts of Nassau County, noticed that the awards ceremonies she had attended were dominated by men. Yet she knew of so many women, like Fidis, who were making lasting impacts on their communities.

“We’re really kind of setting the pace, and we’re building the leaders of tomorrow,” Bynum said of the Girl Scouts. “We’re the next generation of the workforce. We’re the next generation of voters. We’re the next generation of change-makers here in Nassau County, and so why not take the lead and be the ones that zero in on folks doing a really good job?”

Fidis, a Creative Arts Therapist at Bellevue Hospital who works with adult inpatients struggling with substance abuse and disorders, has been “pivotal” in the Girl Scouts’ work, Bynum said. And she didn’t stop at the county level. Last summer she became the Nassau County delegate to the Girl Scouts’ National Council Session in Florida.

“It just sounded like a really great way to expand the reach of what I’ve been trying to do on a local level,” Fidis said, “and be involved in the making of change.”

One of the most significant accomplishments of last year’s National Council Session was the addition of wording to the Girl Scouts constitution stating that it is an anti-racist organization.

At first, the delegates from across the country had varying opinions on whether such an addition was necessary. But after continued discussions, they reached a mutual understanding, and the proposal passed.

“That was something that my association definitely fought very hard for,” Fidis said, referring to the other delegates she worked with. “It got addended a little bit at the conference, but in a way that still had the integrity of what was trying to be said. It wasn’t watered down.”

“In her role, she really took on so much during the meeting,” Bynum said of Fidis. “She went to the mic a lot to correct things that were wrong in the parliamentary procedure, or to clarify things for the delegation about wording.”

Bynum got texts from other counties’ delegates who were impressed with Fidis’ work. “She was just really determined,” Bynum added. “She engaged with other delegations around the country, and just represented Nassau County really, really well.”

To help effect change on the national level — especially as a woman, for women — was empowering, Fidis said.

She is an example of what the Girl Scouts does, Bynum said: It gives girls the opportunity to find their niche, and the confidence to step up and be leaders.

“When you think about Gabby using her voice on a national platform with such confidence and consistency, that comes from the practice that you get as an older girl in the program,” Bynum said. “We serve over 12,000 girls in this county, and each one of them is their own Gabby in their own right. Each girl is really determined to make a difference in their own way.”