Tuesday, July 19, 2016

All About ODI

A Q & A with Junior League member, Tarina Charleston

ODI is not just another Junior League acronym. ODIs – Organizational Development Institutes – are a part of the benefit of being a member of the Association of Junior Leagues International – an extension of our mission to provide trained volunteers and develop the potential of women.

ODIs are a series of educational training meetings – with several held each year. Leagues from all over send representatives to receive effective, informative training to improve their League leadership. These trainings focus on “Building Internal Capacity,” “Fund Development,” and “Governing for Excellence,” among others.

Tarina Charleston, chair of the National Rehabilitation Hospital Committee, recently attended an ODI training. Here, she shares a glimpse into the experience and what she learned.

When and where did you attend ODI?  What was the weekend like?
I attended ODI on June 3-5 in Houston, TX. The weekend was a mixture of small and large group sessions and networking opportunities. There was also plenty of time to shop and buy Junior League merchandise.

What session did you attend and what were the overall topics and themes?
I attended the Achieving Community Impact: Creating Lasting Changes for Healthier Communities session. The overall topics and themes were the following:

       Decline in the scope and impact of Leagues’ community work
       Disconnected volunteer experience that fails to leverage member skills and interests
       Limited League capacity to collaborate and build community relationships that sustain responses to the community
       Is the League viewed as a viable partner?

What applications did you see to JLW as a whole? To your role or council in particular?
As leaders in the League, we must recruit to our mission so that our members are excited about our mission and work in the community. We should focus on what the member is learning, not just what they are doing. [We should] strive to have a stronger relationship with our community partners and provide updates to our committee members regarding the progress we are making. And we must have continued open communication with our members so that they see the value in what we are doing.

How do you think ODI did develop your leadership skills?
ODI gave me the opportunity to learn how to both think critically and evaluate the outcomes that we want to attain for our members, the League, and the community.

ODIs provide an opportunity to exchange ideas with other Junior Leagues. What did you learn from members of other Leagues?
I found it interesting that many of the Leagues actually perform a community service activity at their membership meetings, such as making gift baskets for the holidays or packing backpacks for back to school. Many of the other Leagues use apps like Go to Meeting and/or conference calls and video conferences to make sure everyone has access to the meetings.

Would you recommend ODI to another JLW leader?
I would recommend attending ODI because it gives one a good perspective of what we are doing well in our League and what we could improve on. In addition, it gives one the opportunity to meet members of other Leagues and discuss things that they are doing in their League. For instance, a League in Pueblo, CO, provides babysitting during their meetings along with a playroom for children. I thought that this was a fantastic idea because, as a mother, I think a lot of women would like to be more active but childcare can be a deterrent.

To learn more about training opportunities that AJLI provides, including online training webinars, please visit www.ajli.org.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

She Who Tells a Story at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA)

What do you think when you see a women wearing a headscarf or a veil? Works by artist Boushra Almutawakel explore the perception of sartorial hijabs across Islamic and Western cultures. Discussion of the veil is a contentious topic—some Westerners believe all veiling is compulsory, and that women are forced to cover their faces, hair, and bodies; many Muslim women argue that wearing of the veil (be it a hijab, niqab, or burqa) represents devotion to their faith and that doing so is a choice.

In a series of nine photographs, entitled Mother, Daughter, Doll, Almutawakel, her daughter Shaden, and a doll dress in progressively more conservative forms of veiling, moving from street clothes and a colorful headscarf in the first image to a black, full-body niqab in the eighth. The ninth photograph contains only the empty, black backdrop against which the trio had posed, sardonically asking how far veiling can go. While there are pros and cons to wearing a veil, Almutawakel notes that veiling should not be synonymous with weakness or ignorance, and that strong, liberated women can choose to veil.

Middle Eastern artists, like Almutawakel, challenge Western viewpoints on the political and social dynamics at play in Iran and Arab nations using contemporary photography in She Who Tells a Story. Weaving tales through images instead of words, works of 12 notable female photographers are currently on display at the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA); more than 80 large-scale photographs are included in the exhibition and chronicle the artists’ notions of identity, protest, and war using portraiture, documentary photographs, and visual narratives.

Seen through the lenses of women embedded within Iranian and Arab culture, photographs included in this exhibition endeavors museum patrons to move beyond headlines surrounding the Middle East today and to engage in thoughtful discussions on life in a society that is different (or, at times, not so different) than what most Westerners know.

She Who Tells a Story will be on display at NMWA through July 31, 2016. Additional information about the exhibition can be found on the NMWA web site: http://nmwa.org/exhibitions/she-who-tells-story. NMWA urges visitors to share their opinions on She Who Tells a Story using the hashtag #SheWhoTellsAStory. Use of non-flash photography throughout the exhibition is encouraged.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts was incorporated as a private, non-profit museum in 1981, opening its doors to the public in its current location on New York Avenue in 1987; NMWA is the only museum in the world whose sole focus is on celebrating the accomplishments of female artists. The Junior League of Washington has been associated with NMWA since 1983; today, 22 women from the League serve as visitor experience volunteers, staffing the information desk, leading conversation-pieces discussions and tours, and supporting the Museum at a variety of events. Please contact NMWA committee chairwoman, Lori Vitelozzi, at lori@rcn.com with any questions about the committee.