Imagine if you could spend your time in an organization that is incredibly impactful in the community – that has started multiple nonprofits in Nashville and continues to work on the city’s most pressing issues. Imagine if you, just one member, could be an important piece of this organization carrying out its mission – and that not only that, imagine that you – and your development – is the mission. Now imagine being able to have a leadership role in that organization – of having the opportunity to use your current skills or to develop new ones – and to be given that opportunity anew with the start of every year.
Imagine being able to serve, to be trained, to be developed, alongside a group of almost 1,600 like-minded women who support you and who push you and who see the potential in you.
That is the Junior League of Nashville (JLN).
This League is extraordinary in its capacity to do this because this is an extraordinary League. To begin, we are large and historical. We have been in existence for nearly a century and are now the 15th largest Junior League in the world. Second, we have impacted this community in ways that have led it to embrace us – our mission and our legacy. We are an important voice in tackling the timely and relevant issues of early childhood literacy and human trafficking in our city, and we continue our paramount relationship with Monroe Carell Junior Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. In short, we matter to Nashville. And third, this League is extraordinary because the women here are visionaries. In every moment of our history, the women of JLN have been able to understand when it’s time to pivot one way or another to ensure that our mission continues to be driven into the community and that we remain relevant to Nashville.
And we are once again on the cusp of significant change – a series of tremendous shifts that are going to move us into the next 100 years of our history.
We are an organization that is part of a vibrant and now an also growing city.
Nashville is changing – the demographics of Nashville are changing. Any institution that is relevant and mission centered is going to adapt. Importantly – our mission – of developing the potential of women by training them to be catalysts of positive change in our community – remains the same.
And for this reason, we would be doing a tremendous disservice to our foremothers of JLN and their legacy if we did not see that focusing on making this a League for every woman is how we move this organization into the next century of its history. We are well on our way to being the premier women’s training organization in Middle Tennessee, and beyond. I’m proud to say that our League is one that is leading the Association of Junior Leagues in terms of diversity and inclusion work. This is work that requires us to be reflective and to be intentional, so that we are an organization where all women feel known and seen and heard and valued.
The fuel of our diversity and inclusion work is the posture we take towards our members and our community – a posture in which it is clear that we are there to support one another and to help each other grow. It is the posture we must take when we consider whether our way of doing things – our policies, our culture, the way in which we operate – is comfortable or uncomfortable for someone who comes from a poor or working-class background?
It is the posture we must take when we are considering whether or not these same policies and cultures and procedures are welcoming to women of color.
It is the posture we must take when we consider whether we are a League that can accommodate the schedules of working women, and, as more women are working outside the home, are we still considerate of those who are not? Are we seeing the women who lead at home – are we recognizing that they too want to be trained, grown, developed, and that they have just as much to offer to JLN and to our mission?
And, as the 2019/2020 President of the Junior League of Nashville, this is the posture that I will work to take towards every single one of our members, community partners, supporters, and friends. Whether you lead at work, or at home, or both; whether you just started your career, or whether you paused it, or whether you have the corner office in the C-suite; I want this to be the League for you. Regardless of the color of your skin, your religion, your cultural or ethnic background, or your sexual orientation – I want this to be the League for you.
Every time I walk through the doors of our headquarters, I am inspired. I am so inspired by this place. I am so inspired by our members. Just as someone saw the potential in me, I am here simply and only to see the potential in them. To support it. To nurture it. And to provide the space for it to grow.
A women’s training organization is just as necessary and critical now as it was 100 years ago. Our foremothers, looking for a place to give their time and treasure – created this League. They lit this torch of developing the potential of women and they carried it for almost 100 years. We have inherited this League and this mission. Join us in carrying this torch forward.
Yours in service,
Dr. Nahed Artoul Zehr
The Junior League of Nashville