On the heels of a successful restructuring and the conclusion of a five-year strategic plan, Chief Executive Officer Daisy L. Alford-Smith plans to retire from the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio in November after five years of service.

"As I reflect on my last five years with the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, I see the myriad of changes that have brought both challenges and wonderful opportunities to this great council," said Aurora resident Alford-Smith. "Together, we made GSNEO one of the premier councils in the nation."

Alford-Smith has overseen the merger of five area councils in 18 counties and participated in the national rebranding of Girl Scouts while building on the legacy of "cookies, camping, and crafts" by spearheading the implementation of the organization's leadership-development programs.

"I quickly learned that GSNEO was in a position to lead, inspire, and catapult a diverse group of girls toward becoming the next generation of women leaders," she said.

"I am so proud of the work we've done as a council with a strong team of volunteers, staff, and board members, who will keep moving forward, bringing leadership development programs to more and more girls across Northeast Ohio."

Alford-Smith has engaged new partners to expand and diversify high-quality programs and leadership opportunities for girls. She has also cultivated relationships with high-profile women who are in a position to mentor, influence and prepare the women leaders of tomorrow.

Alford-Smith earned a nursing diploma from Montefiore Hospital School of Nursing in Pittsburgh and a bachelor of science in nursing from Excelsior College of the University of New York.

SHE THEN earned a master's in technical education from the University of Akron and a doctorate in urban education from Cleveland State University.

Prior to her stint with the Girl Scouts Council, she served as deputy director of the Ohio Department of Human Services, director of the Cleveland Department of Public Health and assistant professor and director of Case Western Reserve University's Center for Urban & Minority Health.

In 1998, she assumed the directorship of the Summit County Department of Job & Family Services, then took over as chief operating officer of the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools and International Commission on Health Care Professions.

After a second retirement, Alford-Smith was recruited for the position of chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts Council.

She has received numerous awards, including being named as one of Cleveland's most influential women and business leaders of today by Crain's Business Magazine, plus a YMCA of Greater Cleveland woman of achievement.

Recently, she was honored by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc. as the 2011 woman of vision, the National Council of Negro Women and as ATHENA Award winner in 2010 by Inside Business Magazine.

"My career has come full circle," said Alford-Smith. "Every one of my previous jobs had been reactive. This was the first time in my career that I had an opportunity to be proactive.

"I really wanted to make a difference in the lives of young girls by developing a leadership program that encourages girls to be self-sufficient."

Alford-Smith said she plans to spend more time with her family, travel and play golf.