The Piedmont Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced that Katherine (Kate) Benson is its new Scout Executive, effective November 1, 2020. Kate succeeds Jo Hazelett, who is retiring as of that date after 22 years of distinguished service in that position.
“We’re delighted to welcome Kate to the Piedmont community,” said Seth Hilton, council volunteer president. “She brings energy and new ideas that will build on the foundation laid by Jo Hazelett.”
“In this succession, we wanted to maintain Jo’s connections throughout our community and across the BSA movement,” said Rob James, past president and selection committee chair. “Kate has made those same kinds of connections. We know she will communicate the spirit of our mission for a new era.”
“I can’t imagine a better person to step into this role than Kate, whom I’ve gotten to know in the selection process,” said Jo Hazelett. “It is difficult to leave this wonderful council, but I am glad to know it is in such good hands.”
Kate comes to Piedmont Scouting from the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council, where she is Development Director overseeing large special events and annual fundraising activities. She has 17 years of experience as a Scouting professional, including tours of duty as a District Director and Senior District Executive in Portland, Oregon and Spokane, Washington, responsible for fund development, endowment gifts, marketing, membership, and large district administration.
Kate and her husband, Neil, have two girls, Cub Scout Anna (8) and Scouts BSA member Kajsa (11). (For Scouting insiders, note that she is Cubmaster of Pack 785 in Gilroy, holds Brotherhood membership in the Order of the Arrow, and was a staff member at the 2017 National Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.) Kate is a past president of the Vancouver, Washington Rotary Club and an avid rower and musician.
“I am excited to be joining the Piedmont Council—clearly an organization that invests in the development of young people,” said Kate Benson. “My passion is communicating the value and values of Scouting to new audiences, including folks who might not have been associated with Scouts before. Our volunteers spend countless hours working with youth to develop character, fitness, citizenship, and leadership; and through that program, they provide service to the larger community. Our programs are more inclusive than ever before. I want all families to know they are welcome. I look forward to participating, virtually and soon in person, in informal gatherings to listen and to learn about this remarkable place.”
Piedmont Scouting serves some 1,100 young men and women in its programs, ranging from Cub Scouts in grades K-5; Scouts BSA (formerly Boy Scouts) in grades 6-12; Venturing (including the Piedmont Community Service Crew), Police Exploring and Sea Scouts for youth up to age
21; and, through Learning for Life, the Piedmont Language School.
More than 220 volunteer leaders undergo rigorous Youth Protection Training to support our two- adult-deep leadership mandate, policies that are a current model for other youth organizations.
The council has been ranked first among the nation’s 253 councils on the Journey to Excellence metric for the last four years running. It has an extraordinary record of advancing youth to the Eagle rank, now open to young women. Piedmont takes great pride in the succession of one longtime female leader by another female leader (one of nine councils with women at the helm).