99 Reasons Why Junior League Membership Matters

1:  Training

Membership Matters, our theme of the year announced last week, can mean so many different things. We are an organization made up of remarkable individuals and we each have our own “why” we continue to be part of JLN. During this 99th year, I plan to highlight 99 reasons why JLN membership matters. These will be featured in no particular order (although I could say that reason number 1 is perhaps our most impactful).

Number 1: Training. As a training organization, we prioritize helping our members learn and grow. To that end, I wanted to highlight the resources and events (featured below and on social media) to help educate our membres about racial justice, that have been compiled with the help of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council These resources are the beginning of important conversations and trainings in the coming League year. Stay tuned for future Tuesday News editions and our social media channels about future opportunities for training in all forms.


2: Connection

When I walked out of my office in early March, I had no idea that three months later, I would still be working from home. Working from home is a thing that some people love but not this extrovert! I find myself really missing my in-person connection with other humans during this time. “I can see your legs!” is not a phase I ever thought I would say with excitement but I sure did, during a drive-by birthday parade, shout this out to a friend of mine. A whole person – there in front of me (from a safe 6’ feet of distance of course), instead of a Zoom image!

This time of distance makes me really appreciate another reason why Membership Matters…..

Number 2: Connection. Whether it be your committee, at social events, or during a training – JLN officers so many ways to form connections with other women. Even though we aren’t together “in-person” at this time, I encourage you to stay connected in all the virtual ways possible. Everyone should be hearing from her committee or project chair soon for a beginning of year check-in, so make sure you establish that connection. Enagin in some of our virtual opportunities – like the trainings and book clubs highlighted below. As Vicki Clark, trainer extraordinaire, said during our Zoom Council training last week, Junior League is a relational organization. Establish those relationships, those connections now and stay connected with our amazing group of members.


3: International Women’s Movement 

125,000.That number means something to each of us even if we don’t realize it. Is it the number of Zoom calls we’ve had in the last three months?  Maybe. (But that’s not what I mean this time.) 125,000 – the number of members in 290 communities in 4 countries that comprise the Association of Junior Leagues International. Junior League of Nashville is part of the association which makes each one of us part of my next “why membership matters”:

Number 3: An International Women’s Movement. With a 119-year history, AJLI has evolved into one of the oldest, largest, and most effective women’s volunteer organizations in the world. Being part of an international women’s movement means we are not only working to change the lives of women and the community here in Nashville but we are working collectively to make the world a better place. As a member of JLN, you also have access to all the resources and benefits AJLI has to offer. I encourage you to check out their website (link to www.ajli.org) and learn more. In addition to providing League specific resources, there is also an array of personal and professional development resources including an array of online training. I especially recommend checking out the Online Learning section  (link to: https://www.ajli.org/?nd=onlinehome). (Note, use your JLN login information to access the members side of AJLI’s website). There is a whole library of resources and archived webinars in this section that can help each of us develop our own potential…which in turn moves this international movement forward.  Thanks for being part of the movement!


4: JLN By Design

We’ve had several Admissions meetings recently (one more coming up on July 8 if you know of interested women) and I’ve found myself highlighting to each group of prospective members how different the last 18 years of my life have been since I joined JLN. Eighteen years ago, I was three years out of college, working in downtown Nashville as a conference planner, and living with a college friend – enjoying all that young adulthood had to offer in the early 2000’s. My career, life, and family look very different now, but what is one thing that has remained constant throughout those 18 years with the League? The ability to make it what I want/need at any different stage of my life.

Reason 4: JLN By Design. Krystal Clark, past president in our 2017-2018 year, summed this up so well with the theme “JLN By Design.” (With the complimentary #myjln hashtag too…still in use today – tag us!) The idea that you can design a League experience you love, have the ability to own your own experience, and take responsibility for your own experience is really remarkable. Each year, you can adapt your experience as your life ebbs and flows – one year, maybe you sign up for a placement that is already in your skill set so it’s an easier lift on your to-do list. The next, you might choose to go to every training possible to learn new skills because you have more time in your schedule. Yes, we have some requirements that help each of us stay accountable to our individual commitment, but we have the opportunity each year to think about how we want to develop, what skills we want to learn, and what opportunities or direct service we want to do. Our members get to continually choose what their paths look like – that’s quite a benefit – and design their own personalized women’s development experience!


Reason 5: Support-We’re All in this Together

Last night, we had a virtual training that featured Tracy Kornet, News4 Anchor. The training, “Speaking on Camera 101,” was helpful and so relevant for the webcam world we are living in right now. She gave great advice about all the different aspects of being on camera – pacing, filler words, presence, and beyond. I took some good notes (and find myself sitting with a little better posture this morning – one of her tips). But the biggest takeaway for me was when she shared the below advice.  I’ve listened to the recording to make sure I captured her words correctly – she spoke so beautifully to my next reason why JLN Membership Matters:

Reason 5: Support – We’re all in this Together. To quote Tracy: “That’s why you all are in Junior League. To build your skills, to gain confidence, to network with people, and to truly believe that we are all in this together. And there is enough pie for everyone. There is enough success for every single one of you watching out there, there is enough success to go around, for you to be your best self and for you to offer help and show love to everybody around you whenever you possibly can.” Tracy continued, “There is nothing better than having women to cheer you on and not trying to cut you down and steal your pie.” It’s so important to support each other and remember they’re not taking your success from you.  There is enough for you all of you to do your thing and do what you’re meant to be doing on this planet with your purpose and the gifts that you have been given individually.”

We are all in this together so I encourage each of us this week to think about the support you can give to and receive from other members this year. What purpose and gifts are we living out to show love and support to those around us?


Reason 6: Leadership

Any woman who chooses to be in the Junior League is choosing a role of leadership in our community. As John Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” That sounds like the definition of a Junior League member to me! There are opportunities within our organization that provide additional focus and deeper training by serving in formal leadership roles. I want to highlight some of those as my next reason Membership Matters:

Reason 6: Leadership
These formal leadership roles include the Board of Directors, Management Team, Nominating Committee, and our Council (committee and project chairs, provisional and transfer advisors). I’m so grateful for these groups of women who said yes to a role that provides experiential training on leadership – whether it be a small committee or large. Skills learned through our leadership range from how to run an effective meeting to conflict resolution and beyond. Learning by doing is so effective and JLN provides those opportunities!

I asked each of our Team 99 leaders listed above to share their reason why JLN Membership Matters and to help you get to know individual leaders a little better, I’m sharing a couple today.

Elizabeth Wood, Recording Secretary – “Membership Matters to me because Junior League women have contributed so much to my life, I’m honored to be able to give back to other members through leadership.”

Claudia Byers, Active Director – “JLN membership matters to me because I want a comfortable place to continue to grow my potential as a leader, both personally and professionally.”

Where can your leadership journey in JLN take you?  Lead on!


Reason 7: Influential Voices

One of the banks in my hometown would always send any customers who were recognized in the local newspaper a congratulatory note with a clipping. I’ve always thought it was a nice acknowledgment. To this day, I love seeing friends and colleagues highlighted in the local news.


Our members are doing amazing work and are often recognized publicly for it, which leads me to my next reason membership matters:


Part of our Vision 22 Statement that guides our work is that by 2022, JLN will be known as…an influential voice in a dynamic and growing city. Recent examples of this are members recently recognized by the Nashville Business Journal. 


Congratulations to Carmen April WashingtonBrenda Gadd and Lane Conger Maples (Women of Influence) and Johari Mathews (40 Under 40)!


They join a long list of members who have been on these lists for their contributions to the Nashville community. Being part of an organization where influential voices can come together and make a bigger impact on the community makes JLN a special place. 


How will you use your influential voice to better our community this year?


Reason 8: Featured Placement of the Week

This week, I am introducing a new part to our series “99 Reasons Why Membership Matters” and that is “Featured Placement of the Week.” Throughout the year, I will highlight each of our placement opportunities because each one, in and of itself, provides a reason why membership in this organization matters. This week, I’ll start with our Advocacy Committee.

The Advocacy Committee works to keep our membership informed and educated on important issues that impact our organization. This includes issues related to each of us as individuals using our own voices (note the information about our upcoming primary election below) and issues that impact women or our current focus areas (human trafficking and literacy). The women serving on the committee this year include: Agnes Bartek, Laura Blum, JS Bolton (Chair), Mallory Dunavan, Supriya Kanal, Olivia McKown, Coco Pannell, Tanya Washington, and Christian Williams (Chair-Elect).

I’ve thought a lot about the words “advocate” or “advocacy” in recent weeks, even beyond the work that our Advocacy Committee is doing. What causes do I personally support with my time, my actions, and my dollars? What education do I need to be a better advocate? I’m understanding the differences between advocate, ally, and activist and what my role should be. I’m looking forward to seeing all the ways our organization can be an advocate through the work of these women and ways I can in turn be a stronger advocate myself.


Reason 9: Training Committee 

My daughter attends a Metro Nashville elementary school and started 2nd grade today (virtually). The delivery of content looks different right now but the educational subjects are similar to what I had in second grade – ELA (English Language Arts), Math, Science, Social Studies. As she starts this new learning adventure, it makes me think about how much I’ve always loved to learn. I truly subscribe to the idea of being a lifelong learner who seeks to regularly acquire new skills and capabilities even after my formal education.

This week’s featured placement of the week is tasked with helping us all be lifelong learners – one of the biggest benefits of membership in this organization – and that is our Training Committee.

Whether virtual or in-person, this group of women regularly finds a variety of topics that appeal to any member to compliment whatever lifelong learning path she is on.  The next few offerings (highlighted below) range from being healthy at home, financial confidence, to women’s suffrage! The women serving on the committee this year include:  Emmy Banks (Chair), Narja McElroy, Heather Mufarreh, Jamie Murphy, Brittany Pinheiro, Karen Riddell (Chair-Elect), and Ashley Stephens. 

Be on the lookout for more great programming from this committee this year. Where will your lifelong learning journey take you this League year?