Posted by Rob Knies

Jennifer Tour ChayesThis morning, at the Seaport Hotel in Boston, Jennifer Tour Chayes, Microsoft distinguished scientist and managing director of Microsoft Research New England, became one of six recipients of the Leading Women Awards, bestowed by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts.

“It’s a real honor,” Chayes said. “I’m flattered to be considered a role model for these incredible young women.”

The awards ceremony, in its 20th year, is part of the celebration of the Girl Scouts’ 100th anniversary.

“Each year, Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts honors select female leaders who have made a positive impact in their career and community,” said Ruth N. Bramson, chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts. “The Leading Women Awards is a way for our girls to meet great role models like Jennifer and for our supporters to learn how the Girl Scouts organization is creating future women leaders.”

For Chayes, the honor represents a measure of atonement for the premature conclusion of her own scouting career.

“I was a Brownie,” she recalled ruefully, “but I was kicked out for asking too many questions.

“I believe I received this honor, ironically, for asking lots of questions—and answering some of them.”

In July 2008, Chayes co-founded Microsoft Research New England, which focuses on interdisciplinary work, integrating the more mathematical and algorithmic sciences with both the social sciences and aspects of the biomedical sciences. She leads a group of researchers who collaborate closely with the local academic community on applied projects in areas such as economics, social media, and health care, as well as more theoretical projects in areas such as mathematics and cryptography.

Today’s breakfast ceremony for the Leading Women Awards gathers hundreds of women and members of the greater Boston business community to celebrate women leaders, to honor the awardees, and to support the Girl Scout mission, which is to inspire, challenge, and empower girls to discover their values and passions.

Innovation and creativity are hallmarks of the Girl Scout experience, and that’s something Chayes is delighted to support.

“Many of the values of Girl Scouts resonate with me,” she said. “In particular, I think we do our greatest work in helping and enabling others.”