Sylvia Acevedo is an engineer, rocket scientist, tech entrepreneur, author, and the CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA. She was appointed interim CEO in 2016, becoming permanent in 2017 and coming full circle from her youth as a Girl Scout in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Through Girl Scouts, Sylvia discovered her passion for space, science, and math. Her interest in STEM subjects would lead her to a career as a rocket scientist, engineer, technology executive, and award-winning STEM entrepreneur.
Sylvia began her career at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she created algorithms and analyzed data from Voyager 2’s spacecraft flyby of Jupiter and two of its moons, Io and Europa. She went on to work as an engineer and executive at Apple, Dell, Autodesk, and IBM.
Sylvia has led a transformation of Girl Scout programming in STEM, the outdoors, entrepreneurship, and leadership. She spearheaded the largest rollout of badges in recent history—more than 100 badges in STEM and the outdoors, including weather-pattern analysis, space science, robotics, coding, app and game development, and cybersecurity.
A strong civic and education leader, Sylvia understands the role education plays in creating opportunities for children and developing the workforce of the future. She was one of the first Hispanic students, male or female, to earn a graduate engineering degree from Stanford University—an MS in industrial engineering—and she holds a Bachelor of Science degree with honors in industrial engineering from New Mexico State University.
Sylvia has been recognized widely for her accomplishments in business and education, and for her work to bring more girls into the STEM pipeline. In 2018 she was named one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business,” as well as “Cybersecurity Person of the Year” by Cybersecurity Ventures. Forbes named her as one of America’s Top 50 Women in Tech, and in 2019 InStyle magazine placed her at number seven on its list of “50 Women Who Are Changing the World.”
Sylvia has spoken widely on topics ranging from the importance of cybersecurity education for girls (RSA Conference on Cybersecurity) to Girl Scouts of the USA’s digital transformation (MIT’s Real Business Intelligence Conference). Recent in-depth interviews include appearances on Freakonomics Radio and SAP’s A Call to Lead.
Sylvia is the author of Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist, a memoir for middle school students that inspires readers to live the lives of their dreams.