For 24 years, Girl Scouts San Diego’s Cool Women Celebration has honored more than 200 exemplary leaders from San Diego and beyond for their positive contributions to the development of girls and women.
This year’s event on Thursday, March 21 will shine a spotlight on five remarkable women from diverse fields—ranging from STEM and entrepreneurship to arts, law, and social impact—and acknowledge their efforts in breaking down barriers and paving the way for future generations.
The Cool Women Celebration will also highlight the achievements of 50 Emerging Leader Girl Scouts in grades 10-12 who are committed to developing their leadership skills and making a positive impact in the world.
Through community support and by forging powerful connections between Cool Women honorees, Emerging Leader Girl Scouts, executive mentors, and partner organizations, Girl Scouts San Diego is advancing female leadership in San Diego and Imperial counties.
Join us for an inspiring day at the 2024 Cool Women Celebration!
Thursday, March 21, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines, 10950 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037
We had an amazing pool of nominations and finalists for this year's class of Cool Women. And now, we are thrilled to announce our 2024 Cool Women honorees!
Read on to learn more about these incredible leaders in our community.
Suzie Alarcón is the Director of the Next Generation Sequencing Core at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI), where she led a team to win a one-million-dollar Grand Prize XPRIZE Rapid COVID Testing competition for the development of a fast, accurate, and affordable test.
She is also co-founder of UGenomics, a women-owned biotech company focused on expanding access to high quality genomic sequencing, which is currently developing diagnostic and predictive methods to improve maternal and newborn mortality rates. Suzie has 22 years of experience working in molecular biology in taste, nutrition metabolomics, prenatal clinical diagnostics, epigenetics, and immunology.
A Girl Scout throughout her grade school years, Suzie is now leading her 13-year-old daughter’s troop, which this year will focus on raising awareness for cancer research.
Kim Folsom is the founder and CEO of Founders First Capital Partners, a private provider of growth funding for service-based businesses and the only Black and woman-led, revenue-based venture platform. She is also the founder of Founders First CDC, a not-for-profit community development organization and micro-to-small business accelerator with a mission to help underserved and underrepresented small business owners.
As a social entrepreneur, she is dedicated to leveraging the power of market forces and sound business practices to address disparities in revenue and job growth among businesses led by underrepresented founders. Kim attributes her inspiration to become an entrepreneur from her time in the Girl Scouts.
Martha Gilmer is the Chief Executive Officer of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra (SDSO). Among her many accomplishments in this role is the appointment of internationally acclaimed Rafael Payare as SDSO’s 13th Music Director, in 2018.
Martha and her team also partnered with the Port of San Diego to develop and open the Symphony’s permanent outdoor venue, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. Simultaneously, they initiated the long-desired renovation of Jacobs Music Center to remain a cultural and economic anchor in the downtown district. Known for her history of collaboration and for her commitment in contemporary music, she has engaged leading guest artists for their San Diego premieres, commissioned new works by a wide range of international composers, and created festival programming focused on global issues.
Among her many awards and accolades, Martha was named one of San Diego’s 500 Most Influential Business Leaders (2022) and also received the Musical America Top 30 Professionals of the Year Award (2021).
Pamela Gray Payton
Pamela Gray Payton is Vice President, Chief Impact and Partnerships Officer at San Diego Foundation (SDF). Since joining SDF in 2020, Pamela has guided the regional community foundation through three consecutive years of record-breaking grantmaking and community leadership to advance racial and social justice, foster equity of opportunity, and build resilient communities.
Pamela plays a critical role as an agent of change in developing cross-sector partnerships that benefit San Diegans furthest from opportunity. She and her team have launched several programs, including the Black Community Investment Fund, the Binational Resilience Initiative, the Healthy Children & Families Initiative, Level Up SD, and the San Diego Black Homebuyers Program. The first of its kind in California, the program has assisted nearly 60 families to date with home ownership and generational wealth-building.
Pamela cherishes her memories of camping and community service as a young Girl Scout. Now as a mother, Pamela has remained connected to Girl Scouting; she started troops for both of her daughters and previously served on the Girl Scouts San Diego Board of Directors.
Hon. Sherry Thompson-Taylor
Sherry Thompson-Taylor was appointed to the San Diego Superior Court in March 2022 by Governor Gavin Newsom. For two years, she presided over criminal matters in the East County branch of the San Diego Superior Court, more recently moving to Chula Vista, where she now works on family law cases including divorce, child custody, visitation, child and spousal support, and domestic violence.
Earlier in her career, Sherry served as legal intern to the late Senator John McCain, handled cases as a Guardian Ad Litem for the Tohono O’odham tribe in Arizona, then worked at the San Diego County District Attorney's Office from 1995-2022. Her assignments included misdemeanor trials, preliminary hearings, and felony trials including homicides, robberies, and mental health cases. She also assisted with the Adult Literacy Program for the District Attorney's Office in conjunction with the San Diego Council on Literacy.
Sherry has received numerous awards, including San Diego Metropolitan Magazine’s 40 under 40 Award, the Legal Trailblazer Award, the Thurgood Marshall Award from the Earl B. Gilliam Bar Association, and more. She has also been active within Girl Scouts San Diego for more than 10 years, serving in numerous volunteer roles. Most recently, she led troop 5548 through their middle and high school years, guiding many of them through earning the prestigious Silver and Gold Awards.
Join us on March 21 to honor and celebrate the current and future leaders in our community. Reserve your sponsorships, tables, or tickets for the 2024 Cool Women Celebration today.
Questions? Email email@example.com or call 619-610-0839.