The Boy Scouts of America today named Michael Surbaugh its 13th Chief Scout Executive. In his role as the BSA’s top professional, Surbaugh will help lead our movement during an exciting, important time for Scouting.
But he won’t do it alone. He joins two volunteer counterparts: Dr. Robert M. Gates, our national president, and Tico Perez, our national commissioner, to form the National Key 3.
Surbaugh will succeed Wayne Brock, who is retiring in October after a three-year term.
For the past year, Surbaugh has served Scouting as the BSA’s Group Director of Human Resources, Innovation, Exploring and Learning for Life. But his BSA story begins long before that.
Surbaugh, an Eagle Scout, is a Vigil Honor Member of the Order of the Arrow. He loves the outdoors, which explains the fact that he was a camp director and summer camp staffer for 12 years. He graduated from Salem College in West Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in youth agency administration.
Surbaugh’s first BSA job was in 1984 as a district executive in Jacksonville, Fla. He later served as a senior district executive and program director in Syracuse, N.Y. and director of field services, director of development, field director and development director in Minneapolis. Surbaugh also spent time as Scout executive, leading councils in Sioux Falls, S.D.; Appleton, Wis.; and Pittsburgh.
As a group director at the BSA, Surbaugh has achieved success in three vital areas: fundraising, membership and program development. He has developed numerous innovative programs designed to meet the needs of employees, volunteers and youth.
Through it all he has worked to extend Scouting’s reach in disadvantaged communities. He has led outreach to American Indians. He has helped Scouts with special needs achieve success.
Now Surbaugh will help the BSA achieve success as Chief, and he said he’s “honored and humbled” to take the reins this fall. The next five months will be a transition period for Surbaugh, and he said he’s ready to get started right away.
“As I transition into this role, I am committed to continuing the legacy of leadership to solidify Scouting’s role in the development of America’s youth and to empower our volunteers to deliver the kind of life-changing experiences that can only be found within Scouting,” he said.
A tip of our cap to Wayne Brock, the 12th Chief
Brock will continue to serve Scouting until his retirement on Oct. 1, so there will be more opportunities to honor his impressive career and legacy. But now seems like a fitting time to tip our cap to the BSA’s 12th Chief Scout Executive.
Brock, an Eagle Scout, began his professional Scouting career in 1972 as a district executive in New Bern, N.C., and then served on the council staff in Knoxville, Tenn.
He also served as Scout executive in Athens, Ga.; Scout executive in Orlando, Fla.; Southern region director; assistant Chief Scout Executive; and Deputy Chief Scout Executive/Chief Operating Officer.
He became the BSA’s 12th Chief Scout Executive in 2012. And though his retirement date is set for Oct. 1, he won’t leave the organization entirely. Brock said he plans to continue serving Scouting as a volunteer.
Brock is a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, Order of the Arrow Distinguished Service Award and received his bachelor’s degree in music education from East Carolina University.
Brock and his wife, Ernestine, have a grown son and one granddaughter.
Please join me in wishing our outgoing Chief the best of luck as he begins a new chapter of his life this fall.
What is a Chief Scout Executive?
The Chief Scout Executive is the top paid professional in Scouting. From James E. West, who served as our first Chief, to Brock and now Surbaugh, each of these men has served a critical role in guiding the massive Scouting movement into the future.
To put it another way: If the BSA were a corporation, the Chief Scout Executive would be our CEO.
The Chief’s task is to work with the National Key 3 to lead National Council employees, local council employees, 1 million adult volunteers and — most important of all — 2.4 million youth participants.
A committee of nine members of the BSA National Executive Board selects the Chief. Dr. Robert M. Gates, an Eagle Scout and former secretary of defense, served as the selection committee’s chairman this year.
List of BSA Chief Scout Executives through history
Including Surbaugh, there have been only 13 Chief Scout Executives in our organization’s 105-year history. These are the 13 men who have served the BSA as our top professional:
- 1911–1943, James E. West
- 1943–1948, Elbert K. Fretwell
- 1948–1960, Arthur Schuck
- 1960–1967, Joseph A. Brunton Jr.
- 1967–1976, Alden G. Barber
- 1976–1979, Harvey L. Price
- 1979–1984, J. L. Tarr
- 1985–1993, Ben H. Love
- 1993–2000, Jere B. Ratcliffe
- 2000–2007, Roy Williams
- 2007–2012, Robert J. Mazzuca
- 2012–2015, Wayne Brock
- 2015– , Michael Surbaugh
For more on this story, turn to Scouting Newsroom.