Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Houston Attorney Inspires Girls to Find Their Passion

According to the Girl Scout Research Institute’s (GSRI) report, The Power of the Girl Scout Gold Award: Excellence in Leadership and Life, Girl Scout Gold Award recipients receive greater lifetime benefits than their peers with regard to positive sense of self, life satisfaction, leadership, life success, community service, and civic engagement thanks to their experience in Girl Scouting, including earning their Gold Award.

Houston attorney and long-time Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council (GSSJC) volunteer, Thea Fabio, understands that earning the award is more than a recognition, but could pave the way for girls to find their passion and choose a career. That’s why she decided to serve as a member of Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council’s Gold Award Advisory Committee, helping girls to achieve the highest award in Girl Scouting.

Fabio’s Girl Scout journey began when she was in elementary school. When her father fell ill and ultimately passed away, she was forced to leave her troop to help her mother with her three younger siblings.

"I was the oldest,” said, Fabio. “I was 14 when my father died, and early on my mother relied a lot on me.”

Three years later, Fabio graduated from high school and attended Smith College, an all woman’s college in Northampton, Massachusetts. After she graduated from the University of Texas Law School, she and her husband, Richard Merrill opened a successful law practice, Fabio & Merrill.
Throughout those early years, Fabio never forgot her Girl Scouts experience. When her oldest daughter, Alessandra Merrill, joined Troop 2489 in 1991, Fabio volunteered as the assistant Troop Leader, determined to see Alessandra through the Girl Scout program. Fabio eventually became Troop Leader. She also successfully guided her two younger daughters through the program.  Alessandra would go on to earn the Gold Award.

“I have always been a supporter of girls’ education," said Fabio. "And I felt it was important for girls to pursue a leadership project, which of course, the Gold Award allows them to do.”

Alessandra's Gold Award project did more than help her establish leadership skills. Her project displayed her enthusiasm for the arts when she organized an exhibit at a local gallery that highlighted the work of high school students. That same enthusiasm guided Alessandra to get her undergraduate degree in art history, and a masters in decorative arts from Parsons School of Design. Today, she works at Sotheby’s Auction House in New York City.

Since joining the Gold Award Advisory committee, Fabio has helped hundreds of girls achieve the Gold Award. She meets with other committee members twice per month to review Gold Award applications and does everything from hosting girl and adult Gold Award orientations to helping girls choose a project idea and see it through.

“The most rewarding thing I’ve done has clearly been working on our Gold Award committee,” said Fabio. “I still like to use Alessandra's project as an example of what happens when you choose a project you are passionate about. It can literally lay the groundwork for future careers.  So I like to push girls—help them achieve so they can look back and say, ‘Wow. I did that!’ And that gives me a great deal of satisfaction. When girls stretch and not only touch the community, but contribute to the future as well.”

To learn more about the Girl Scout Gold Award, which turns 100 in 2016, visit