ARLINGTON, Va. – The Student Conservation Association (SCA) today announced that its Board of Directors unanimously selected Lidia Soto-Harmon as the organization’s next president and chief executive officer. Soto-Harmon, who currently serves as chief executive officer for the Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital, will join the SCA on April 24, 2023.  

“Lidia is an ideal leader for our organization at this moment in time,” said SCA Board of Directors Chair Mamie Parker. “As the SCA continues to expand service opportunities for youth on public lands and in urban communities, Lidia’s experience and commitment in these important areas will increase our opportunities to make a significant impact for the SCA and all the young people we serve.”

The SCA is the largest provider of hands-on environmental conservation programs for youth and adults in the nation. Last year, the SCA engaged more than 2,000 youth and young adults in hands-on environmental conservation programs who collectively provided nearly 1 million hours of service at federal, state, and local parks and natural areas. SCA participants increased the nation’s climate resiliency, reduced wildfire risks, enhanced equity and environmental justice, strengthened urban communities, implemented historic preservation initiatives and retired backlogged maintenance projects.

“It is imperative that we use all our collective resources to make the world a better place. We know that youth who are motivated and committed to the environment will be an important catalyst for change and increasing environmental justice.  I am excited to work with the SCA to further implement their commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion nationwide,” said Soto-Harmon.

As America’s most effective youth conservation service organization, the SCA is hard at work developing the next generation of conservation leaders by building equitable access to nature, providing green job opportunities to young people and teaching its members how to become environmental stewards. After working with the SCA, members emerge with increased environmental awareness, social responsibility and leadership skills. An innovative solution the SCA is expanding is its Urban Green program which provides young people with paid green jobs, including single-day service projects, seasonal work and year-long internships or fellowships in 11 initial cities to complement their commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. 

Soto-Harmon was the CEO of the largest Girl Scout council in the country for the past 12 years, serving over 76,000 members in the Greater Washington region. During her 18-year tenure at Girl Scouts, she also served as Chief Operating Officer for six years. She was directly responsible for building a compelling strategy to successfully expand access for girls across the region, transforming program experiences in the outdoors, and engaging communities to support and expand youth opportunities.

Soto-Harmon is a proud Latina that started an annual conference for Girl Scouts called Encuentro de Chicas Latinas, which brings top Latina leaders to mentor young girls of color, now in its 18th year. Soto-Harmon also created the annual D.C. Step Showcase competition to celebrate the rich Black cultural heritage of stepping. Through her leadership, thousands of Girl Scouts have learned compassion and leadership skills that have transformed their lives. 

Before joining the Girl Scouts, Soto-Harmon served as Senior Vice President of Community Development for First Book, a national children’s literacy organization dedicated to getting new books into the hands of children from low-income families.

Prior to joining First Book, Soto-Harmon served as the Deputy Director of the President’s Interagency Council on Women, chaired by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, at the U.S. Department of State, where she represented the United States at the United Nation’s conferences, including the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Ahead of traveling with the State Department, Soto-Harmon was the Senior Director of the Fannie Mae Foundation’s Targeted Outreach Department, designing the first corporate nationwide multilingual strategy to reach new immigrants to promote homeownership in the United States.

Soto-Harmon is Chair and Trustee of Migration Policy Institute, an independent think tank dedicated to analyzing the movement of people worldwide. She also served on the Meyer Foundation board, which supports organizations building power toward a racial and economically just Greater Washington. Soto-Harmon serves on the Executive Committee of the Booz Allen Foundation, which is dedicated to empowering human potential and driving broader social impact. Additionally, she is Chair of the Advisory Council for the Master’s in Public Administration at the Schar School of Public Policy and Government and an Adjunct Faculty member at George Mason University.

Soto-Harmon succeeds Stephanie Meeks, who helped guide the SCA through the challenges of the pandemic during a significant transition period for the organization. The initial prospect pool of outstanding candidates was narrowed in stages and included interviews with the Board’s search committee led by Gail Carmody. The selection of Soto-Harmon concludes a search process facilitated by Heidrick & Struggles, a global executive search firm committed to diversity and inclusion.

About the Student Conservation Association
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is the largest provider of hands-on environmental conservation programs for youth and adults. Program participants protect and restore national parks, marine sanctuaries, cultural landmarks and community green spaces across the country. The SCA is devoted to building equitable access to nature, providing green job opportunities for young people and teaching members how to become environmental stewards. Founded in 1957, the SCA is committed to building the next generation of conservation leaders dedicated to the lifelong protection of the environment and our communities. For more, visit www.thesca.org.