Dorchester resident Denise Burgess has been named Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts after a six-month nationwide search. Burgess, a Boston native, starts the job on March 13. She will replace Patricia Parcellin, who served as CEO for more than three years before her retirement in January.
Burgess is a former American diplomat, national news correspondent, and international communications consultant. She has served most recently as resident country director for The Carter Center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Previously, she served 16 years in the U.S. Department of State – Foreign Service.
During her service, Burgess staffed the front lines of the State Department’s 24-hour, worldwide communications and crisis management center. She also directed critical first-response communications during the immediate aftermath of the African embassy bombing crisis in 1998.
“I am so excited to embark on this journey with Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, particularly at this moment in the course of history. I believe America is facing a critical juncture in the development of our cultural norms, particularly those that relate to women and girls,” says Burgess. “The Girl Scouts’ mission is to encourage girls to develop the qualities necessary to become successful, well-balanced, healthy women, who contribute positively to our society. We must use our own courage, confidence, and character to make sure that the next generation of girls, and the next, and the next after that, are prepared to face the unique challenges they’ll encounter in a world as yet unknown to us.”
A graduate of Princeton University and Syracuse University, Burgess appeared as a CNN correspondent from 2002 to 2005, managing the Middle East and Asia news desk during the Iraq invasion, then delivering live reports from Baghdad during the post-conflict phase. She was nominated for “Best Feature” by the National Association of Black Journalists.
Following her diplomatic and broadcast experiences, Burgess worked as a consultant on Afghan reconstruction issues at the Department of Defense. She also founded the consulting firm Burgess Belgrave, LLC, providing international strategic planning, communications, and marketing consultancy to the State Department’s Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau, NATO/ISAF Afghanistan, and across a variety of private sector companies.
“Denise’s impressive professional experience, her character, and her personal commitment to the advancement of women and girls combine to make her the ideal leader for our council at this time in our history,” said Tricia Tilford, Board Chair and President, Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. “Our board members immediately recognized Denise’s potential to raise the council’s visibility and help get the message out that Girl Scouts delivers the best leadership development experience for girls in the world—one that is designed with, by, and for girls. She will serve as an ambassador in promoting Girl Scouts as a safe, inclusive space where girls can take the lead.”