The League Pulse Archives

The Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri: women building better communities.

Celebrating a Century of Service with Hoda Kotb

The Co-Host with the Most Delivers Witty and Inspiring Message

The event was a century in the making. An extraordinary luncheon celebrated the League’s 100th Anniversary on September 20 at Bartle Hall. A breathtaking 100 lighted fixture beaming above the stage greeted more than 800 members and guests. Excitement bounced from table to table as everyone looked forward to hearing from special guest Hoda Kotb.

The 100th Anniversary Events Chairwomen Betsy Ballard, Lisa Hickok and Rachel Sexton kicked off the festivities during the sellout event. They also unveiled a special 100th Anniversary video on the League’s history, mission and programs (available on As the audience enjoyed their lunch, several community partners shared their appreciation for the League.

Kotb then delivered a witty and inspiring message to the audience. The TODAY co-host talked about traveling the southeast United States for several weeks to land her first TV job. She almost gave up until she found a news director in Greenville, Mississippi who believed in her, a reference she used to describe the League’s work in the community.

“It takes one person to change your life,” Kotb said. “You do that every day.”

Kotb has covered major national and international stories for NBC News, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But nothing proved more frightening than her own life-changing event.

“Life couldn’t get any better until I went to the doctor,” Kotb said.

In March 2007, Kotb’s physician diagnosed her with breast cancer. During her heartfelt message, she talked about her mastectomy and how beating cancer taught her to be fearless. One day she asked her boss for a promotion, something she never dreamed she would do. Before cancer Kotb would’ve waited to be noticed, but her new found courage prompted her to ask for the job. She got it and is now a co-host with Kathie Lee Gifford on the fourth hour of TODAY.

As Kotb wrapped up her speech, she offered three tips to the audience: value life, be fearless and spend each day to the fullest. If we take that advice to heart, just imagine the even greater work our League can accomplish in the community.

“It was such an inspiration to be among so many strong, incredible women who have contributed to the League’s history. Hoda brought the star-power, but had a warm presence when sharing her story with us. We were all in awe watching the 100th Anniversary video. It made me feel proud to see where we have been and where we are going,” Brandi Thomas, eBlast Coordinator.


Images by Alise Kowalski Photography

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