Diary of the JLN President

I’m starting this monthly “Diary of a President” to give members new insight into what goes on throughout the year. I hope it provides a glimpse of all the working pieces within the League and the effort it takes for JLN to continue operating year after year, which is a success because of members like you.

– Taryn Anderson, JLN President (2022-2023)

June | July | August | September | October | November


November 2022

Dear Diary,

As we head into the holiday season, I become more grateful for the people in my life, my relationships with loved ones, and the experiences (yes, all of them) I’ve gone through to get to this place in my life. I know holidays can be a hard time for many people for multiple reasons, and it’s definitely a hard time for me. If you are also one of those people, know you are not alone!

For those who celebrate Thanksgiving, the question inevitably arises, what are you thankful for? This year, my answer is simple; it’s the Junior League. I joined the league as a provisional back in 2008 because my boss at the time, Frank Bumstead (husband to the lovely past president, Ann Bumstead), told me I needed to. He said the league was incredibly beneficial and that Ann enjoyed it immensely. And if Ann likes something, you try it! She is an impeccable person. I worked in the music industry and my contacts were limited to music industry folks. Frank thought I should expand my network and work with some incredible women in Nashville.

I’ll be honest, for the first couple of years, I didn’t really understand what the point was. I was too focused on just doing the requirements and my placements, which were typically in the space where I worked, so I wasn’t really stretching myself. I didn’t see the bigger picture. However, over the years, I tried other placements, stretched myself and learned a lot. I don’t think it was until I served as the VP of Finance and Operations, on the Nominating Committee, and as the EVP, that I truly saw the whole group work as a team with complete trust. Don’t get me wrong, we had our “stuff,” but that’s when I saw the true benefit of working with like-minded women and what the Junior League had to offer.

However, the last couple of years on this journey to becoming JLN President is really where I’ve noticed a lot more change in myself. Maybe it’s because I’m more open now that I’m older, maybe it’s therapy, maybe it’s that I’m pushing myself to try doing things I normally wouldn’t. Maybe it’s for a lot of other reasons I haven’t figured out yet, but I have really started to feel my attention shift to how I can be more civically focused. I feel more like myself than I ever have, and for that I will always be thankful.

November was a less eventful month but just as important as the others. Jennifer Hillen, Jade Sampson, Allie Reed, and I attended Renewal House’s 23rd Annual Fundraising Luncheon. It was great to spend time together, but more importantly, it was great to support a nonprofit that JLN provided a $50,000 founding grant to. (Renewal House helps provide specialized addiction treatment for women and their children.)

I signed up to be a mentor again this year. This is my second time (I think). My first mentee will be the VP of MARCOM next year, go Kara Apel! This time around, my mentee is Kate Shortle. Kate is currently a provisional advisor and Sales Manager at Schneider Electric. We met up for coffee and I learned so much! I love getting to know people and their stories. We are planning our next meet up, and I’m excited to hear how the rest of her year goes in the League and in life!

Year 102 has officially started preparing for June 1, 2023!  Ashley Wood, EVP-Elect, is holding trainings for her VP-Elects covering everything from policies, budgets, and any other important information they need to know for when they become VPs. Ashley has also been working very closely with Kathryn Goggins this year. She is going to be ready to move into the EVP role when June rolls around and will do a great job leading the management team.

Speaking of year 102, the Board and Management slate should be announced soon! It will be exciting to see who will round out the Board and who the incoming VPs will be working with as their elects. Year 102 isn’t far off, which seems odd to be saying in late November/early December but truly, the end of the League year will be here quicker than we know it.

Shop | Save | Support had their last event at Dillard’s on November 13th.  As everyone is aware, malls and stores have become extremely busy, so it was so fun to have a store shut down only for JLN members! Savannah Sikes put together the event and it was so much fun. We had snacks, a beverage station, a raffle drawing from Dillard’s, and great music! It was a wonderful evening.

The Grants Committee has been busy this month! They have been working on big picture considerations and the application for the Invitation to Collaborate (ITC). They held their first ITC Information Session on the 18th, and it was so much fun. Susan Griffith, Grants Chair, went over who the League is, what the ITC is, the process, and what to do to be considered. Many interested nonprofits attend the session and asked great questions. I’ve had a lot of follow up emails from organizations that are really excited about the potential to work together.

As you will hear in January and February, the Grants Committee has been intentional about asking community leaders to think bigger about how we can make an even greater impact in the Nashville community!

To wrap up November, Sustainer Services held a Sustainer Coffee at JLN headquarters. We had so many sustainers come and mingle with each other, and it was a nice gathering and opportunity to see everyone after Thanksgiving.

Now we head into December …

Stay warm, stay safe, and stay grateful!

TA

Originally published in the December 6, 2022 Tuesday News


October 2022

Dear Diary,

When I ask members “What is your favorite part of being in the League?” I receive many different answers: the social aspect, civic stewardship, meeting people, learning professional skills, or giving back to the community are a few. My answer changes every year, but this year it’s collaboration, working with a team, and pushing myself. My day job is implementing and executing someone else’s vision and doing things based upon what they want, but this year in JLN I get to have input and work with others to shape the future of the League. That’s been extremely fulfilling.

Whatever your answer to the question may be, I feel the most important thing the League strives to do is to advance women’s leadership for meaningful community impact through volunteer action, collaboration, and training. I have learned how not to manage people, I have learned that even when I believe I know what is going on around me, I only know a piece of it. I have also learned to trust in a team, to trust the process, to be vulnerable, and many more valuable lessons. I have grown in the League, and the safety to do that on my time and in my own way has been a blessing I will forever be grateful for.

Congratulations to our newly elected President Elect-Elect, Allie Reed! She is really an incredible human. Jade Sampson, Ashley Wood, Allie Reed, and our soon to be elected EVP-Elect will be an amazing team to lead us into years 102 and 103!

After the fun and celebration of notifying Allie, I kicked off a busy month with a Presidents of Large Leagues (POLL) call where we got to hear from the AJLI Board President, Dona Ponepinto. Dona discussed the direction of AJLI, the CEO search, and the strategic priorities AJLI has in store. For those of you who do not know, AJLI is the “parent” organization that all Leagues are members of. Every member of JLN can access AJLI’s website (ajli.org) and has access to their training materials. Some of the training materials are applicable to what JLN does and some are not because Junior League chapters are structured and run differently and have different focus areas.

A couple of days later, I hosted one of the in-home GMMs! It was such a lovely night to host a group of women (many of whom lived around me) and to share an intimate evening talking about the League. Shout out to Emily Brinser and the Member Event Logistics Committee for solidifying hosts and expertly executing the rest of the evening! One of the highlights was the excitement around Members in Motion that weekend, and the kickoff of Shop | Save | Support (SSS).

An early next day as we had our Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting. We talked about the League investments and the upcoming goals we hope to accomplish for the rest of the year.

I had a quick jaunt up to Minnesota to celebrate my nephew Wyatt’s 7th birthday, and then I rushed back for a past president get together. The past presidents meet twice a year for a luncheon and a fall gathering. It was a great time for Allie to meet another group of women to support her during her presidency.

I had a few days to finally go do my shopping and use my SSS card! I went to Kendra Scott and Luxe and Luna for a few gifts. A huge shout out to the chairs of SSS, Anna Anderson and Lila Gray, and the SSS committee! While the chairs and committee are usually the ones who receive the credit, there are many others who put a lot of time and effort into making SSS a success! Thank you to all of you who supported by purchasing a card and/or helped make our first fundraiser of the league year a success. We have one more event coming up to support SSS and our community partners on November 13th at Dillard’s! We hope to see you there.

I ended the month at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt’s Advisory Board meeting with Jade. Jade and I were able to hear more about the plans for the pediatric inpatient rehabilitation facility, and it is going to be such an exciting reveal when the plans are announced!

Headquarters was filled with joy this month as we celebrated two birthdays, Aimee Davis and Amy Smotherman. Happiest of birthdays to both.

I know all of that sounds fantastic, but I also know aspects of October have been hard. As you start to work as a team, you naturally experience some push and pull. You have unresponsive members at times, you become unmotivated, and sometimes life just gets busy and it’s hard to dedicate the time to get things done. If you find yourself struggling or having a hard time, please reach out to another committee member, your chair, a VP, the EVP, or me. I’m not saying we’ll have all the answers, but we will be able to give some support. Sometimes you just need a friendly ear or to get your grievances out.

The League should be a place to go and fill your bucket, not drain it. Give yourself some grace, some love, and some time. You deserve it for the work you are doing and the difference you are making in this community.

Rooted in grace,

TA

Originally published in the November 8, 2022 Tuesday News


September 2022

Dear Diary,

It’s exciting to think we will be naming our President-Elect-Elect (PEE), soon! While the current President and President-Elect do not have any influence over the Nominating Committee’s decision on who the PEE will be, we do inform them on the governance issues we will be working on, and what we think will be coming down the pipeline to work on in the years ahead. The nominating process has mystified some members in the past and for anyone who has not served on the committee, I highly encourage it! Being on Nominating gives you a larger picture of the issues being considered for future leadership roles and nominations. The committee must take many different factors into consideration each year, as each year the League is different. You will never have the same experience on Nominating twice because JLN is ever-evolving and has different needs from one year to the next.

The discussions within Nominating are confidential and are not discussed with the President. Due to the nature of these discussions and the necessary objectivity of the committee, it would be difficult to give appropriate feedback to those applying for the President role because, as I stated before, the needs of the League are ever-changing. One woman may be a fantastic candidate for the Board, Management Team, or Presidency one year, but she may not be the right fit another year. This does not diminish the capabilities of the woman; it just means someone’s talents were needed more for that specific year than what another candidate brought to the table. Not in a good way or bad way, it just is.

I applied to be President multiple times and I was not selected; when I heard the announcement of who was selected, it made sense. I have a specific skillset and I know for certain years I would have been overwhelmed in a bad way! I’m not saying I’m not overwhelmed now (I’m often concerned about what I may be missing or what I may not be thinking about thoroughly), but that’s where your tribe comes in. You may think Jenny Barker’s “year” or time being President is over, but you’d be wrong. I call/text her many times a month to get her opinion, to see what perspective I may be missing, or to ask who would be good to consult with about a specific topic. Jenny is not the only past President I have called upon, as they are all extremely open whenever called. That’s another thing about being President, you have a direct connection to every past President to provide feedback.

I digress. If you do apply but do not get selected for a specific job, reach out to someone and see if they are able to give you feedback; if they are unable, enlist a friend! Self-reflection is a big part of growth as a human, as a leader, as a friend, and as a League member.

September brought on lunches with an old friend and a new friend! Both people had ideas they wanted current leadership to hear about and consider. From those conversations, we hope to have some exciting news to share in the upcoming months. As much as I sometimes think I know what I “should” be doing, there are moments or people that appear and remind me that this is such a collaborative process, which I appreciate. I’ve been trying to be personally involved (not in my P capacity) with programs the chairs are working on (I have a new mentee! Hi, Kate!) and meet with whomever wants to, because you never know when something will be brought up that the League could benefit from, or that is necessary for the VPs or Board to know about.

Shop | Save | Support kicked off this month with a get together at Kendra Scott. I was pleasantly surprised by the number of members who came out to support the fundraiser or see friends! I met some new members and transfer members, and re-connected with old friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. Now I’m looking forward to the shopping event starting October 21 and going through November 2! I also love the collab with Women’s Summit (check out the list of vendors if you do not know what I’m talking about)!

I’ve been spending a lot of time at HQ, so I’ve been spending a lot of time with JLN’s staff, Amy, Aimee, and Marin (they secretly love it). They decided they wanted to spend even more time with me, so we had a lunch together where we talked about non-JLN things and ate some delicious food!

The Sustainers chairs, Sam Bell and Tiffany Kling, and their fantastic committee, put together a beautiful sustainer kickoff event. It was great to see so many people at HQ!  The sustainer affinity group chairs, Karen Godley, Caryl Hippler Johnson, and Amelia Strobel joined as well, and it was wonderful to see such a united collaboration for the sustainers.

You all are generous for reading this if you made it this far. I appreciate you listening to my rambles and thoughts. I appreciate the position I am in because of the members, and I hope to continue steering the ship in the right direction. If any of you ever want to vent, talk, or discuss anything, please do not feel shy to reach out. I would love to connect!

With gratitude.

Rooted in collaboration,

TA

Originally published in the October 4, 2022 Tuesday News


August 2022

Dear Diary,

August has been a crazy whirlwind personally and professionally, so I find myself retreating to League work. I say “retreat” because I am so excited to be surrounded by League members this year. I don’t know if it is because we are able to be back together after two years of being apart, but the energy is truly electric and contagious. I know a lot of members are also feeling stressed and overwhelmed but remember that is why you have your teams/committees/chairs. If you need anything, reach out to someone. If you are unsure who you can talk to, please reach out to me. I can either try to help or point you in the direction of additional support!

As usual, our month starts out with the Board of Directors meeting. So far, the agendas for the Board have been easy to structure due to our governance priorities. All I do is figure out who needs to talk about what and put together the order and items to discuss. The VP of Community, JS Bolton, came and filled in the board on the work the Needs of Nashville committee is doing. Jennifer Vandercook, the Needs of Nashville chair, has been diligently working with the committee to make sure they are getting input from all stakeholders.

I was able to have my “kick off” meeting and connect with Mary Beth Thompson (Senior Vice President of Development at Vanderbilt University Medical Center) and Dr. Margaret Rush (President of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt). I’ve been included on the meetings with Vanderbilt all last year, so I am up to date on the activity of our partnership; this was more of a friendly call to get to know each other better. The partnership between the Junior League of Nashville and Vanderbilt through the years is quite incredible. If you didn’t read the article published in the VUMC Reporter earlier this year, check it out here.

I had the privilege of being invited to say hello to the incoming provisional class. Our Member Recruitment committee did a fantastic job this year and recruited 195 new members!  It’s so much fun getting to know new women and hearing how they landed in Nashville or are coming back from different cities after moving away. We have an unusual amount of incredibly talented, smart, and motivated women all in one organization; the power of possibilities is inspiring. The next group to take on the new class of Provisionals was our Provisional Chairs and Advisors! Kirsten, Catherine, Cami, and Hannah put together a fantastic retreat! The room was full, and full of chatter!  The advisors, Annie, Carrie, Bethany, Samantha, Catie, Mary Michael, Chandler, Nichole, Sarah, Kara, Marissa, Kathryn, Jane, Katelyn, and Heather will now educate, guide, and lead our new members throughout the rest of 2022-2023.

Nominating, led by our chair, Bethany Rhoten, has begun their work figuring out what they need to be looking for, for our future leadership team. I met with the committee to talk about perspectives of the League: goals and objectives of what I foresee to be coming down the pipeline for the League in the next 1-3 years. The Nominating Committee has always held a special place in my heart as far as placements go. The committee is small and intimate and creates and immediate tree of trust due to the sensitivity of the conversations taking place.

We had our first GMM of the year! Thank you to everyone who attended in person at headquarters or joined us on Zoom. We had a fantastic speaker, Stephanie Coleman from the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. She discussed the rapid growth of Nashville and the potential and opportunities our community faces, as well as the pain points that are being created due to the success. JS Bolton wrapped the meeting up with discussion on the research the Needs of Nashville committee has done and how early literacy and poverty were the two areas in which their research has led them this far. Make sure to come to the September GMM for your chance to vote on the next focus areas (active members only).

It was a little delayed due to some scheduling conflicts, but we held our first Board of Trustees meeting. The Board of Trustees are responsible for setting the investment direction of our long-term restricted financial assets. We reviewed the investment performance of the funds and introduced to the Board of Trustees to our newest member of the team, Britney Gannon (Treasurer-Elect).

To wrap up the month, Jade Sampson and I traveled to Raleigh, NC to join our POLL friends. POLL (Presidents of Large Leagues) is a self-formed, self-managed affinity group. A “large league” consists of having around 400 or more active members as of July 15th of the fiscal year. We were able to take a tour of JL Raleigh and receive training, but most importantly we were able to connect with other Leagues dealing with the same things the Nashville league faces.

What I have learned the most this month is that you have an automatic support group in the League. You can activate support and encouragement if you are open to others and let them know you need their support. For those who know me, this next statement will come as no surprise. I am an introvert, and I am a classic Enneagram 8; 8s avoids showing and wanting to be vulnerable. Asking for help or relying on people I do not know is extremely hard for me. However, I do not have that luxury this year since I cannot just disappear and not address things, so I have had to be open with those I work closely with. In doing so, I have found that it has created trust, created communication, and created a place where people can come as they are.

We all have hard and stressful lives at times (this is not unique to one person) so I hope the League is not an additional stress in your life. I hope this can be a place where you can come, knowing you will have support and encouragement, to do really great things in our community and for each other.

Rooted in Support,

TA

Originally published in the September 6, 2022 Tuesday News


July 2022

Dear Diary,

We’ve made it two months and the League is still standing! I take that as a win! I joke about that a lot, but as the newest President to hold this position for a single year, it’s something I think about quite often. The League’s legacy is much larger than most realize, and making sure I do everything I can to not hinder that legacy is something that sits heavy on my mind each day.

JLN is run almost entirely by volunteers, and each member plays a vital role in the League’s continued success. Everyone sitting on a committee helps, plans, and implements programs for our members and/or partners. Our chairs are like project managers who help guide the direction of our programs. Our VPs are the managers, helping support each of the chairs, and our EVP is our COO of the League.

Working with leaders to make sure each member feels valued, heard, and respected is a tough job and sometimes support gets lost in the busywork that we do. The fact that the League is still standing means each of our members is still standing. That is a win!

A lot of this month has been busy with AJLI. As most people know, JLN is a member of the Association of Junior Leagues International. As President, I act as a “delegate” or representative of Nashville, so any work generated by AJLI needs to be brought to the Nashville League for discussion and implementation. This month I’ve been working on the upcoming financial discussions, the new mission rollout, the collective impact process, and connecting with other Junior League presidents to discuss the work being conducted by their leagues.

July was also full of new member info sessions. The Member Recruitment committee put on four meetings over the summer and recruited 59 new provisional members in 5 weeks, bringing our new provisional class to 195 people! They did a truly incredible job, and I can’t wait to see what kind of admission engagement we get in the Spring!

I know there is a lot of conversation every year around recruiting members and making sure people renew their dues. Maintaining membership is crucial to supporting the operations of the League, supporting our community, and to continue developing the pipeline of potential chairs, VPs, EVPs, and Presidents. Our provisional chairs and advisors have started their planning, and I’m sending them love as they welcome and support a larger class than originally expected.

I continued to annoy JS Bolton (VP of Community) as she and the Needs of Nashville (NON) group continue their work. They are planning to present potential focus areas to the Board by September, so they really have one month left to gather information and gauge from membership where we will spend our time in the community moving forward. I’ve had to keep “tabs” on the research so I could plan accordingly for the August GMM as well as the timeline for the rest of the year.

Bless the event logistics team! They have been so patient waiting until I had a better timeline and plan for the upcoming GMMs due to the changing schedule and needs of NON. NON will present two major votes to the membership this year, so their deadlines and timelines have to be prioritized as we choose when to offer in home and afternoon meetings, etc.  Luckily, we have worked it out and can now solidify the GMMs for the rest of the year.

The Board has multiple priorities this year, so to make sure we get to them all, we’ve created board working groups. Many of the groups have started collaborating already, so we’ve had a number of kick off meetings and a lot more research happening behind the scenes.

Another big part of being President is assisting in the transition and education of the upcoming Leadership team. It is important that Jade (President-Elect) and Ashley (EVP-Elect) know exactly what is going on this year so they can be ready to go next year. Kathryn and I forced Jade and Ashley to go to dinner with us (ok, they were fully willing) so we could continue cultivating camaraderie and building respect and trust between the four of us. I think this type of relationship building is important at every single level of leadership, and it’s why the elect positions are so vital.

That’s July in a nutshell. There are so many other things going on but that’s what I can remember at this time. The days are starting to run together!

Rooted in flexibility,

TA

Originally published in the August 2, 2022 Tuesday News


June 2022

Dear Diary,

What was I thinking!! (I’m obviously joking.) I just wrapped up my time with Leadership Nashville, and what an experience that was. I have been in the music industry bubble for so long that it was lovely to meet with other leaders within the city. Their businesses and non-profits face a lot of the same issues Junior League does, but it exposed me to areas I was unfamiliar with and areas in which Nashville is struggling. My journey to civic leadership has been slow and steady but my time in Leadership Nashville, in addition to my journey in the League, really gave me a motivating kick in the behind to think about things differently.

I didn’t know what to expect stepping into the President’s shoes. Having served as EVP and Treasurer, as well as other in-league positions, I thought I knew about all the work the League carries out; over the last six months or so, the curtains have been opened. I have an even greater respect for the women who served in this role before me, and I would honestly encourage every member to consider it. It is much more than I ever thought, in the best way.

This year, our theme is “Rooted in… JLN.”  “Rooted” because each of us comes to the League for a reason, then I believe we grow during our time here, developing new branches and new reasons to stay. We learn, we grow, and the League is a part of our development. As we begin year 101, we are starting work that will take root and grow into the changes JLN will create for the Nashville community in future years.

So, what’s been going on in my first 30 days as President?

Mondays begin with a morning Zoom call with Jade Sampson (President-Elect) and Amy Smotherman (Managing Director). During these calls, we talk about the business of the League and the projects the staff is working on.

Tuesdays are JLN days. At the first Board of Directors meeting, we passed the budget (woohoo!), went through the board’s governance priorities, and reviewed our responsibilities to the League. People often think being on a board is a good resume builder (it is), but the seat holds a lot of responsibility as well as legal obligations to the organization. As board members, we are legally required to make sure we are fulfilling the duties of care, loyalty and obedience.

We have a lot of work as a board this year to set up year 102 right!  A few of our governance priorities are:

  • Updating the financial policies and standing rules
  • Finding new focus areas
  • Finding new community partners
  • Reviewing membership requirements
  • Looking at the future of fundraising

Since the year just started, there are many moving pieces and some things have already set out the path for what the year will look like. The Needs of Nashville (NON) and Grants Committees have a heavy lift this year, so our League’s work and timeline in the months ahead will revolve around their needs. Our number one goal in June was to ensure they are supported and comfortable with their timeline.

A lot of the first month is initial planning and getting dates on the calendar for meetings with the Board of Trustees, Vanderbilt, and AJLI planned conversations, meeting with folks to make sure everyone is on the same page, and in my case, getting caught up!

The most important thing I’ve been doing this month is working with Kathryn Goggins (EVP). Kathryn and I met a few times before we stepped into these roles, have been meeting regularly before this year ramped up, and communicate at least daily. We’ve tried to make sure we both understand the roles we each play, and we laid out our desired flow of communication/work. Most importantly, we understand to check in with each other and work through challenges as a team. Kathryn has worked hard to set her VPs up with support and open communication and is an exemplary leader.

I believe we are creating a fantastic foundation to make sure this year is successful and that each of the VPs, chairs, committees, and members feel supported. After two years of COVID, it’s been really energizing and fun to see everyone back in person.

So, that’s June in a nutshell.

Rooted in gratitude,

TA

Originally published in the July 5, 2022 Tuesday News