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Sylvia Acevedo          

Engineer & Rocket Scientist; Cybersecurity Expert; Corporate Director for Qualcomm; Education Advocate Promoting Universal Access; Former CEO of Girl Scouts USA

Sylvia Acevedo is a nationally recognized and highly awarded trailblazer in a variety of industries and fields. Acevedo held executive roles at Apple, Dell, IBM and Autodesk and was a White House Commissioner in the Obama administration. Acevedo started her career as a rocket scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs where she worked on the Voyager 2 mission.

Acevedo serves on the Board of Directors for Qualcomm, Credo Technologies and Ambri Battery. She has received many distinctions for leadership, including in 2019 the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering awarding her the Captain of Industry Leadership Award and being named the “Cybersecurity Person of the Year”, by Cybersecurity Ventures. In December 2022, Bloomberg listed Acevedo as one of the top 100 Influential Latino/a’s. Forbes named her as one of America’s Top 50 Women in Tech and In Style’s listed Acevedo as “Number 7 on the Badass 50: Women Who are Changing the World.”

Acevedo served as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA from 2016-2020 where she led the largest program rollout in the 100 plus year history of the organization with over 146 new badges and programs in STEM, Outdoors, Entrepreneurship and Civics. Over one million STEM badges were earned during her tenure from girls in rural, urban and suburban communities.

Prior to becoming CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, as a devout believer in the power of education and technology to transformation and improve lives, communities, organizations – and the world, Acevedo worked to close educational disparities. Starting in Austin, Texas, Acevedo’s grassroots educational campaigns scaled across the nation, distributing over a quarter of a million books, providing more than 11,000 eyeglasses, 25,000 dental kits, 20,000 sports balls, and reaching millions of parents of school aged children with the resources that they needed to support their children’s educational journey.

The White House took notice and in 2010, President Barack Obama appointed Acevedo to be a White House Education Commissioner where she chaired the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics in early childhood. She is credited as the key driver of the Administration’s Early Childhood Dual Language Education Policy. Also in 2010, the Government of Mexico awarded Acevedo, the Ohtli Award, their highest Civil Rights honor for a non Mexican citizen for her work in parental engagement in education in the USA.

To inspire the rising generation of students to live a life of their potential, Acevedo authored, the best selling middle school memoir, “Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist.” (Camino a las Estrellas in Spanish.)

Acevedo holds a bachelor's degree with Honors in Industrial Engineering from New Mexico State University. Acevedo is one of the first Hispanics, male or female, to have earned their graduate degree in Engineering from Stanford University. Duke University conferred Acevedo with an Honorary Doctorate of Science in May 2022. Acevedo also received an Honorary Doctorate from Washington College for her STEM national leadership in 2020.

Speech Topics


Women Leadership

Path to Success

Personal Story: Inspiration

Hispanic Heritage


Sylvia Acevedo Inspires Students in Garrison Lecture “My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist”
Students gained a lot of wisdom and encouragement from Sylvia Acevedo, more than can be captured in one article. She talked about her accomplishments working for NASA and meeting President Obama, but the emphasis was on her passion for science and mathematics and entrepreneurial skills she gained as a child and how they carried over into her adult life. Overall, it was inspirational to hear her explain how anyone can create opportunities for themselves, pursue their passions, and help their community.
The Power of Women, Featuring Sylvia Acevedo
This week for The Power of Women, Lisa Gable chats with Sylvia Acevedo, former CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, rocket scientist, and Corporate Director, to talk about optimism, resilience, and how women can apply and use both to achieve their goals.
How I became a rocket scientist and Girl Scouts CEO: Sylvia Acevedo
Sylvia Acevedo has done it all. The acting CEO of Girl Scouts, Acevedo was helping on space missions and leading in the technology world before heading into ...
Meet Sylvia Acevedo, the rocket scientist in charge of the Girl Scouts ...
Girl Scouts names Sylvia Acevedo, a rocket scientist and long-time champion for STEM education for girls, as new CEO of the 105-year-old organization.

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