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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, starting with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories as a rocket scientist, a tech executive in software, hardware, storage and networking, a federal governmental leader and CEO of one of the most trusted brands in the world.

Acevedo most recently served as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA 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. Millions of girls in rural, urban and suburban communities across America earned valuable skills in cybersecurity, automotive engineering, entrepreneurship, coding, robotics, and leadership. In her last full year as CEO in 2019, across America girls got their start in technology by earning over 1 million STEM badges, 180,000 of them in Cybersecurity.

Acevedo started her career at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she worked on two missions. She was a member of both the mission of Voyager 2’s Flyby of the planet Jupiter and the initial program phase of the Solar Polar/Solar Probe Mission, renamed, Parker Solar Probe Mission which is now circling the sun.

A trailblazer in the field of technology, Acevedo earned promotions to the executive ranks for her ability to lead organizations to higher levels of performance. She made her mark in the USA and global markets positions at industry giants such as Apple, Dell, Autodesk and IBM. As an entrepreneur, she was a co-founder of REBA Technologies, a tech software company that was acquired.

An avowed believer in the power of education to transform and improve lives and communities, 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. In 2010, the Government of Mexico awarded Acevedo, the Ohtli Award, their highest honor for a non Mexican citizen, for her work in improving parental engagement in education in the USA.

To inspire the rising generation of students to live a life of their potential, Acevedo authored, Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist, a middle school memoir that details Acevedo’s personal journey from the dirt streets of Las Cruces, New Mexico, to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and to the top executive tiers of Apple, Dell, IBM as well as serving in the White House and as CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA.

Acevedo serves on the Board of Directors for Qualcomm and Credo Semiconductor. Acevedo has served on numerous non-profit boards and as the Chair of the Austin Community Foundation. She was a founding member of the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders in Austin, Texas and Extraordinary Women on Boards in New York City. She has received many distinctions for her leadership, including in 2019 the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineering awarding her the Captain of Industry Leadership Award, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation conferring her with the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award and being named the “Cybersecurity Person of the Year”, by Cybersecurity Ventures. 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 holds a bachelor's degree with Honors in Industrial Engineering from New Mexico State University. In 2010 the New Mexico State University College of Engineering named her as one of their most Distinguished Alumna. Acevedo earned her graduate degree in Engineering at Stanford University, one of the first Hispanics, male or female, to have done so. In 2020, Acevedo was conferred an Honorary Doctorate from Washington College for her STEM national leadership. Acevedo is proud to be named to be conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Duke University in May 2022.

Speech Topics


Leadership

Women Leadership

Path to Success

Personal Story: Inspiration

Hispanic Heritage

News


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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