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First Black, openly gay Boy Scouts executive and CEO from Portland area

Gary Carroll is not only the first Black CEO of the Portland-area chapter, but is also the first openly gay man selected for a scout executive role in the country.

PORTLAND, Ore — A Portland-area Boy Scouts executive is making national history.

Gary Carroll is the newly selected scout executive and CEO of the Cascade Pacific Council, connected with Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

He is not only the first Black CEO of the Portland-area chapter, but is also the first openly gay man selected for a scout executive role in the country.

"Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be a first of anything," Carroll said.

For him, serving the Boy Scouts organization has been a calling of both duty and adventure.

"You're going to see things that you've never seen before," he described. "People from all walks of life."

Carroll became a Boy Scout at age 7, then returned to work for the Boy Scouts organization as an adult in 2006.

"I knew that I loved this community and wanted to be part of it again," Carroll explained.

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He worked his way up, eventually becoming field director in the Portland area, and most recently serving as chief operating officer of the Greater Los Angeles Area Council. 

His historic appointment marks change at BSA. The national organization did not formally allow scout youth to be openly gay until 2014, nor adults until 2015.

"Scary back then," Carroll said.

BSA later also allowed transgender youth in 2017 and all genders, including girls, in 2019.

"To see how we've evolved and how really embraced I've been since I was announced is really heartening and I have a lot of high hopes," Carroll said.

Those hopes include inspiring and including youth who have not always felt included, of all colors and identities.

"I'm a first, not a last, but I also know there's work to be done between now and when they become leaders," Carroll said. "I want to do a good job, not because I'm gay, not because I'm Black, but because I care about the Scouts." 

It's a sense of duty with the promise of adventure.

"Now is the time," Carrol said. "This is just the beginning."

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