An In-Depth Interview With
Junior League of Baltimore
The Junior League of Baltimore, Inc. is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. The Junior League has a storied past, and the Baltimore chapter is among the longest standing in the League’s history. On June 4, 2017, Femstock will celebrate great women in music, both past and present. The women who will be performing are set to showcase their own original music, as well as pay tribute to all the badass women in music history. All proceeds will be donated to the Junior League of Baltimore to support their noble vision. A few members of the Baltimore chapter took some time out of their lives to give us an overview of their events, goals and community involvement. Get to know more about the League’s mission in this in-depth interview!
What are some of the current events that are produced by the Junior League of Baltimore? Both recurring and one-off.
Our signature fundraiser is the Flashback 5K, and we are heading into our sixth year with this event. It is a family oriented 5K and one mile walk where race participants are encouraged to come decked out in their favorite 80’s and 90’s gear. There is even a costume contest!
We have also recently published the first Junior League of Baltimore cookbook in nearly 30 years. It features recipes, cocktails and desserts from Baltimore League members with a special few from Maryland celebrities. Junior League cookbooks are widely considered the best of community cookbooks!
Baltimore is among the earliest chapters of the League, ranking among the first 10 to form. How do you incorporate this legacy into your everyday activities?
The Junior League of Baltimore is very proud to be the 5th oldest Junior League. We are actually currently celebrating 105 years of service in Baltimore. Our impact in the community over that period of time has been significant, and we educate our new members on our history by taking them on a bus tour of Baltimore to show them all of the work we have done. We keep our history alive daily because all of our impact in Baltimore ties to our mission of promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.
How has the Baltimore chapter evolved over the years?
One large way in which the Junior League has evolved is in our approach to community service. We have just undergone a three-year strategic transformation where we transitioned from an organization that is project-oriented to an organization that is impact-oriented. We aim to have a long-term measurable impact on the changing stability of women in the Baltimore community as leaders, as mothers, and as independents.
Our impact focus now centers on the theme of women building women: helping women and girls unlock their potential through personal and professional development. This impact area enables The Junior League to leverage the skills of our membership, comprised of professional women, within the community by holding workshops on topics such as but not limited to resume building, interview skills, etiquette, nutrition and healthy habits, finance, salary negotiation and business skills. 99.2% of the 175+ members of The Junior League of Baltimore hold college degrees, and 59.4% hold postgraduate degrees, making the league’s membership well suited to serve others in the development of these skills.
Internationally, many of the most influential women in history have been members of the Junior League, including Eleanor Roosevelt and Sandra Day O’Connor. Who are some of Baltimore’s notable members?
The Junior League of Baltimore was founded in 1912 by Mary Goodwillie, who was inducted into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame just recently. Over the years, our members have included women from many different backgrounds, experiences, and professions, including CEOs, teachers, lawyers, nurses, and nonprofit leaders. Nationally, women who have joined the Junior League ranks include many First Ladies- Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Eleanor Roosevelt, as well as countless elected officials, actors, and athletes.
Why is voluntarism so important in today’s world? How has its importance changed since the League’s beginnings?
Voluntarism refers to the concept of a civic sector, distinct from the private or government sectors, that is supported by individuals and institutions who provide services in the form of leadership or labor without monetary compensation. Junior Leagues believe there should be a strong sector of nonprofit organizations delivering services and programs to those in need in communities. Voluntarism is so important in today’s world because it is distinctly different from volunteering, which refers specifically to the act of giving time or service without compensation. Focusing on voluntarism enables the Junior League to have a more meaningful impact within the community than simply providing bodies to staff volunteer events.
When the Junior League began it was to equip its members to participate in the ‘civic’ life of their communities and through their expert volunteer service to support the multitude of “voluntary” organizations providing services in the community…..it was through Junior League volunteering that communities would enjoy a vibrant voluntary sector.
What are some of the League’s primary goals for the future?
We have just unveiled our new five-year strategic plan, which outlines the following five goals:
- Training & Leadership: provide both formal and informal learning opportunities to develop leadership skills our members can apply personally, professionally, and civically.
- Membership Culture: cultivate an engaged community organization that promotes lifelong membership, leadership, and learning.
- Visibility & Identity: positively and consistently promote the Junior League brand, mission and members internally and throughout the Baltimore community.
- Finance: sustain a financially healthy and viable organization with diverse revenue sources.
- Governance & Sustainability: ensure structure and policies are in place that promote strategic leadership, sound management, and ongoing mentorship.
Your Mission specifically states that the Junior League, “reaches out to women of all races, religions, and national origins.” How does this message of inclusiveness fit into the League’s core values?
The Junior League of Baltimore Inc. values the power of voluntarism, the diverse community in which we live, the talents, commitment, and contribution of our members, and our history of community impact and involvement.
What are some ways that newcomers can become involved with The League? Where can they find more information about your activities?
Our website, www.jlbalt.org, is a great resource. We accept new members twice a year (fall and spring). We will be holding open house style recruitment events between now and August where women can learn more about The Junior League. The information for these events can be found on our website and Facebook page.
If you had to describe the Junior League of Baltimore in three words, whether one phrase or three separate words, how would you describe it?
Voluntarism; trained volunteers
What excites you most about being involved with Femstock?
We are thrilled to be involved with Femstock! The theme of the 2017 AJLI’s (Association of Junior Leagues International) Annual Conference, which took place just last week, was disruption. Junior League women are historically known for disrupting the status quo and inspiring change within their communities. Gaining the right to vote is certainly one of the most disruptive and important changes in the history of women’s rights, and we are proud to be aligned with Femstock’s celebration of this accomplishment.
Join us on Sunday, June 4, 2017, as we celebrate great women in music on the anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s initial proposition before Congress! We will be rockin’ from 7 pm until Midnight at The 8×10, located in the heart of Baltimore. See you there!