DFWChild / Articles / MomLife / Moms We Love / Colleen Walker

Colleen Walker

"Balance is a misnomer,” swears Colleen Walker from her Girl-Scout green yet elegant executive perch. The frequent-flyer mom of two and CEO of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas instead chalks up her successful merger of family and work to relentless scheduling. After all, engineering was her first career.

By day, the Harvard business grad and former beauty queen leads the largest girl-centric organization in North Texas, part of the most powerful female leadership pipeline in the country. Far more than cookies and crafts, the Girl Scouts (with 3.7 million members throughout the United States) aim to build girls of courage, confidence and character. In fact, 80 percent of women business owners are former Girl Scouts.

Walker admits it’s a demanding gig that requires travel and evening event appearances. But, she has an even bigger job waiting for her at the University Park abode she shares with her husband, Felipe Gumucio, executive vice president and chief legal officer for Bell Helicopter/Textron: raising Isabella, a high-spirited 10-year-old (“our Texas Tornado”), who plays volleyball, soccer and piano (she’s a Girl Scout too), and Jake, 5, her laidback Montessori kid who is becoming more “all-boy” every day.

“Some say it takes a village,” Walker says. “I say it takes as many people who are willing to raise a child.”

Walker relies on domestic help to manage the home front – her husband also travels extensively – but notes that she is “purposeful” about bringing her best self to work and home. She strives to shed her navy blue garb by 7pm every night and limits work functions to two evenings a week.

But don’t expect to find her slaving over a frying pan. Instead, she stocks her kitchen with easy-to-grab organic fruits, vegetables and whole foods – and, of course, Girl Scout cookies, especially Walker’s favorite: Trefoils.

Walker, who was raised in the “granola state” of Colorado, prefers to escort her kids outside to play (when they are not taking voice lessons) and later inside for cuddling and stories (she still reads to them nightly). She concedes that it’s easier to schedule work tasks, because “you have to rise to the occasion.” So she’s committed to giving equal priority to scheduling family time, even if it sounds rigid.

For instance, the family reserves “sacred” Saturdays for activities such as biking, swimming, volleyball and light-hearted fun. And, when duty calls on the weekend, Walker brings Bella along, such as recently when the older scouts toured the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Walker and Gumucio also claim two Saturdays a month for date night – a feat that requires dedicated planning. “Babysitters don’t show up on their own,” she says.

So, when does she take “me” time? “A little powder and lipstick go a long way,” quips Walker, who admits that she often drops the ball when it comes to personal care. “I burn the candle at both ends and in the middle,” she says. “So often I sacrifice sleep.”

She also forgoes salon visits in favor of a quick cut in a friend’s kitchen. Walker squeezes in yoga twice a week but rarely finds time for girls’ night out.

Though she eschews online shopping and limits seasonal purchases to a couple of items, Walker, a former Neiman Marcus buyer, effortlessly exudes style and grace with a couple of tricks. She focuses on quality pieces with classic lines (and a pop of wow-like green snakeskin platforms) and buys suits one size up so they can be altered to fit her for a custom look.

Even though she earned the title of Miss Colorado in 1991, Walker discovered early on that smart is sexy – a message she has devoted her career to sharing with young women. While she emphasizes that it’s important for girls to look and feel their best, beauty is not the be-all and end-all. “With our teens, I tell them, ‘Do not sacrifice intellect on the false pretense that you are more desirable because of how you look,’” says Walker, who championed a partnership with Texas Instruments to provide programs that will give Girl Scouts opportunities to be competitive in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

With a daughter who is entering the pre-teen years, Walker acknowledges she is navigating through new and challenging terrain. “I admire and respect her need for independence, but I don’t want that independence to turn into defiance,” she says. Walker says she focuses on coaching her daughter to communicate in a respectful way. Something she herself is working on.

“If I raise my voice during an argument, I need to come back and say, ‘I should have handled it differently,’” Walker says. “As much as kids need a time out, sometimes parents need one too.”

Just as she is apt to take balance in stride, Walker has loosened the ties of the mommy guilt. “I’ve learned to not be so hard on myself,” she says. “I prefer to forget the little things and focus on the big things.”

And there are plenty of big things on the horizon: celebrating the Girl Scouts’ 100th Anniversary at Six Flags on March 12 and fulfilling her New Year’s resolution: “Scheduling more free time with my kids and husband.”