Robert M. Gates, former defense secretary, joins BSA national executive board, serves as national president-elect

Arena ShowRobert M. Gates, a Distinguished Eagle Scout and our nation’s 22nd secretary of defense, has been elected to the national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America. Gates will serve as a member of the executive committee and as the national president-elect.

This move means that upon approval of voting members of the National Council, Gates would begin a two-year term as the BSA national president in May 2014. The national president works alongside Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock and National Commissioner Tico Perez to form the National Key 3 that guides the organization. (Learn more about the National Key 3 in the sidebar at right.)

national-key-3-2013Gates’ appointment was made upon the recommendation of national volunteer and professional leaders, including the BSA national nominating committee. Following the National Council’s approval of Gates’ two-year term as the BSA national president beginning in May 2014, Randall Stephenson, chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Inc., has agreed to serve as the president-elect of the BSA.

“There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership than the Boy Scouts of America,” Gates said recently. “As an Eagle Scout, I know firsthand how impactful this program can be, and I believe its mission is more important today than ever before.”

Gates’ Scouting résumé is voluminous: Distinguished Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, former president of the National Eagle Scout Association, past National Executive Board member and Silver Buffalo Award recipient. When it comes to the Scouting movement, Gates gets it.

“When I joined the CIA at age 22, I had no connections and didn’t know a soul,” he told the crowd at the opening arena show of the 2010 National Scout Jamboree. “The only thing in my life that led me to believe I could make it was my Eagle Scout badge. It was the only thing that distinguished me from most high school kids.”

Gates has a tremendous passion for Scouting but also a sense of humor when appropriate. In his 2010 jamboree speech, Gates described what happens when the director of the CIA goes camping with his Boy Scout troop.

“I think the edge gets taken off the wilderness experience when 100 yards away there are three large black vans, a satellite dish and armed security guards,” he told the crowd, drawing a big laugh. “It’s a challenge no Scoutmaster ever anticipated.”

Last year, Gates indicated a willingness to re-engage with the BSA, and because of his leadership capabilities and his long history of participation and service in Scouting, the BSA had the opportunity to take advantage of a unique moment to bring on board a truly great leader in Gates. He is one of our nation’s most respected public servants and a proven leader of the highest caliber.

“I am honored to take on this role and look forward to working on behalf of the millions of youth and adult members who make Scouting what it is today — an organization providing life-changing opportunities to today’s youth,” Gates said.

Video: Watch Gates discuss Scouting

Watch an excerpt from his speech at the 2010 National Scout Jamboree after the jump.

About Bryan Wendell 2817 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is senior editor of Boys’ Life, Scouting and Eagles’ Call magazines.