The Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri: women building better communities.
On September 26th, 2018, the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri (JLKCMO), had our first General Membership Meeting (GMM) of the 2018 – 2019 year, and it was nothing short of inspirational! We are tremendously lucky to have the resources to bring in speakers whotruly empower us, move us, and excite us in our work of promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving our communities.
Jerry Vaughan, Sustainer Emeritus and JLKCMO President 1970-1971
We can learn a lotfromprevious generations and our Sustaining members within the League. Listening to Jerry Vaughan, our members were at the edges of their seats, enjoying every story she told. The flashbacks were interesting, captivating, and had us realize that we don’t take the time to sit and listen to other people tell stories often enough. Jerry inspired us to slow down and be present in the moment -whether it’s putting your phone down or just taking the time to make human connections and listening to other people talk about their experiences.
One of the stories Jerry shared particularly impacted members. Whenshe joinedthe League, she didn’t agree with how the admissions process for new members was handled; Jerry wanted diversity within the JLKCMO membership, but told us that her fellow League members kept going on “without doing anything about it”. When she became President she finally had the chance to make a change. She invited Admission Committee members from the Philadelphia, Chicago, and Denver Junior Leagues to share their diversity stories. In May, 1971, just before her time as JLKCMO President ended, she attended the Admissions Committee meeting when the vote for the next new member class took place. She shared that, unfortunately, the vote did not go the way she wanted. Instead of letting it go, she said to the committee “let’s think about this another minute or two, or whatever it takes…”. She then told us, “after some time they had another vote and for the first time in the history of JLKCMO, there was diversity within our membership”.
What a powerful story and truly a turning point in time for the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri. The feeling in the GMM at that moment was undeniable by seeing the smiles on other women’s faces and the applause and cheers that spread throughout the entire auditorium. This woman had changed Junior League history! Jerry’s reflection truly set the tone for the rest of the GMM, kicking it off to a great start.
Vicki Clark, Nonprofit Consultant of Building the Capacity Organizations
Vicki Clark took the meeting to the next level. She was motivating, inspiring, quite hilarious, and her candor and wit made her intriguing and relatable. As she started to talk about developing the potential of women, members couldn’t take notes fast enough; there was too much good information to ingest! She encouraged us to evaluate ourselves every year. How are we different from before? How have you changed? What have you learned? These reflection questions can apply to us personally and professionally. We should continue to learn and grow, but taking the time to reflect on how that has happened is not something we regularly do. Take a moment to think back. How have you changed since the start of 2018? What lessons have you learned?
One of Vicki’s most powerful ideas was, “the Junior League is all about women. Make it your mission to meet as many women as you can this year”. One member reflected afterwards, “That resonated with me as I reflected on the social hour earlier in the night. I was wandering around looking for familiar faces to reconnect and catch up with instead of finding new connections to make. It isn’t easy to come out of our comfort zone and break the ice, but when I do I never regret it. For example, at the NewMember social in May of 2017, I introduced myself to another NewMember and we started talking about reading. I invited her to the book club I hosted, and she has been coming ever since. We have become great friends all because I started with the ice breaker that I liked her purse (it was really cute!)”. So, members: meet as many new friends as you can! Let’s grow our internal community so we can better build our external one.
Vicki reminded us that the Junior League is our tribe, and that couldn’t be more true. If the September GMM was a preview into the year ahead, it’s going to be a remarkable one!