Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Celebrating Women’s History Month at NMWA

On Sunday, March 12, the Junior League of Washington’s (JLW) Esprit and National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) Committees teamed up to celebrate Women’s History Month by co-hosting a museum tour and brunch. NMWA is the “only major museum in the world solely dedicate to recognizing women’s creative contributions,” according to the museum’s website – an ideal place to celebrate the contributions of women throughout history, as well as the powerful band of women who make up the Junior League of Washington.

The tours were led by two JLW docents, Sarah Bryant, NMWA Committee chair, and Jamela “Jam” Black. Attendees viewed pieces by Lavinia Fontana’s Portrait of a Noblewoman (1580), Amy Sherald’s It Made Sense… Mostly in Her Mind (2011), and many other great works in the NMWA collection. NMWA features pieces that span generations, styles, nationalities, and subjects, with more than 100 works by women from the 16th century to the modern era on display.

Bethany Poteat, a NMWA Committee member, attended the event and said, "Our docent (Jam) structured the tour around the theme 'something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue' and encouraged us to look at seemingly unrelated works from a different perspective. I loved hearing what thoughts and references the pieces evoked for different people."

Attendees pose for a photo in NMWA’s great hall before the start of the tour.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Keys, JLW President
After the tour, attendees enjoyed brunch at Momofuku and continued the conversation on women artists. They also discussed the artists and works featured on “See For Yourself” cards, packets that comprise a self-guided tour. JLW and NMWA volunteers help put the packets together.

Attendees at brunch pose with “See For Yourself” cards and discuss women artists and works they viewed on the tour.
Photo Credit: Jackie Frederick-Maturo

Attendees had a wonderful time learning about women artists and their accomplishments. You can join the conversation too! Join the initiative started by NMWA, use #5WomenArtists on social media and share photos of works by your favorite women artists.

NMWA incorporated as a private, nonprofit museum in 1981, opening its doors to the public in its current location on New York Avenue in 1987. JLW has been associated with NMWA since 1982; today, women from the League serve as visitor experience volunteers, staffing the Information Desk, leading Conversation Pieces, and supporting the museum at a variety of events. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

New Member Kelsey Sullivan Lives Out Our Literacy Focus in Her Mini Placement and Community Experience

Junior League of Washington (JLW) New Member Kelsey Sullivan served in the community for both her mini placement and community experience, gaining eye-opening experiences during her provisional year. Read on to find out all about Kelsey’s experiences in her mini placement and in her community experience.

“I've had the pleasure of completing a wonderful community experience as well as an unforgettable mini placement. For my community experience, I volunteered with the DC Books to Prisons Project, and for my mini placement, I volunteered with the Washington School for Girls (WSG) four Saturday mornings over the course of a few months.

“At the DC Books to Prisons Project, I read letters sent to the organization directly from incarcerated men and women from around the country and responded by picking out and sending books to them I thought they would like. Their letters spoke about their interests, aspirations, and favorite authors and genres, and we worked to carefully select literature, self-help books, and even textbooks that would cater to their requests. It was a very moving experience, because when we think of the criminal justice system in the United States, we think of the millions and millions of Americans who are behind bars. This experience allowed me to get to know a few of these Americans personally. It made an issue that is so vast and at times seems helpless very accessible and personal. I was nervous about my choices, because I didn't want them to be disappointed by the books they would receive. I wrote little notes back wishing them happy reading, and I do hope that they all enjoyed the pieces I picked out for them.

“At the Washington School for Girls, I had the pleasure of working with and socializing with underprivileged girls in grades 3-8. We ate breakfast with them, played some ice-breaker games, and then spent the rest of the time helping them with homework and various assignments. My favorite part of this opportunity was knowing that I was helping these girls solve problems and appreciate the learning process, and hopefully, along the way, acting as a role model for them. Despite coming from families and communities with few resources, these girls are happy, smart, confident young women with bright futures, thanks to WSG. 

“I think I was most inspired by the JLW leader of the WSG partnership. Her passion for WSG and the work the school is doing was incredibly inspiring. While we volunteers spent our time tutoring the little girls, JLW’s relationship manager [Jennie Kronthal] spent her Saturday mornings teaching a girl’s mom how to read. This was so moving, because her work truly was contributing to JLW's mission of literacy promotion. Teaching a mother how to read will not only empower her to read, but it will allow her to teach her children and grandchildren how to read, and the gift of reading will be passed on through generations to come. Improving one person's literacy can have implications that reach far beyond that one individual. [Jennie] really inspired me to think about the ways that I can contribute to society, and to JLW, in my own future as a member. This was definitely a ‘mission moment.’

“I joined JLW because I wanted to be connected with opportunities to volunteer, and I must say, it has exceeded my expectations. I have volunteered more in the last four to five months than I have in the last four to five years of my life here in DC. Additionally, I have made some great friends so far, which I honestly didn't expect. I knew I'd meet some lovely young women with similar goals and aspirations as me, but I didn't really expect to meet young women with whom I would click so fast – that has been a wonderful bonus to my JLW experience so far.

“I am sincerely looking forward to becoming a full member and joining different committees. This has been a great experience, and I have encouraged many, many friends and acquaintances to consider joining JLW. I am so excited about the coming years of good friendships, leadership experiences and most importantly, opportunities to give back to those around me who are in need.”

Thank you for sharing your experiences, Kelsey! Now, it’s your turn. What have been some of your favorite JLW experiences volunteering in our community?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Get On Board Enabled Me to Get on a Board (and Stay There)

By: Laura Lieberman

One of my favorite things about the Junior League of Washington is that it has helped me develop skills that have allowed me to enhance my usefulness in the areas in which I volunteer, allowing me to take my involvement to “the next level.” For example, my first-year community experience participation with Iona Senior Services led me to be the Meals on Wheels coordinator for my church. But another major example that stands out for me is participating in Get On Board.

When the first Get On Board class was announced in spring 2015, I’d just been recently nominated to serve on the board of directors for the Lee-Fendall House Museum and Garden. The Executive Director, John Christiansen, had nominated me because he believed that my volunteer experience (the museum is my Historic Alexandria Docents placement) would provide insight for the board’s governance. I was pretty nervous about this, so I thought taking the Get On Board classes would help.

And they did! My nomination to the board was approved right about the same time as the first Get On Board class, so the timing was perfect. Through the span of four lessons, I was exposed to a lot of important information, such as a board member’s responsibilities, optimal relationships between the board and the executive director, what documents a board member should access and familiarize herself with, and how to identify problems within an organization’s board.

The material taught was all useful, but learning the proper role of a board member in a tight-knit organization has proved to be particularly helpful for my own situation. The Lee-Fendall operates on a small scale—small staff, small group of volunteers, and small board. Because I’m also a volunteer, it can be easy for these roles to overlap. However, learning how to keep my involvement in these two positions separate from the beginning has been a good way to enjoy being engaged without overstepping boundaries.

The course was also a good way to learn more about nonprofit governance generally. Coming out of the sessions, I felt much more knowledgeable about the structure of both nonprofit board and staff. Additionally, I definitely recommend the program for anyone who is on (or is considering) the Targeted Grants and Volunteer Resources Committee—learning about the elements of a stable organization can be helpful when reviewing grant application documents.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Celebrating 25 Years of Fabulous Finds!

The Junior League of Washington (JLW) will host its 25th annual Tossed & Found rummage sale on March 25 and 26, 2017, in Crystal City, Virginia. One of the Junior League of Washington’s largest fundraisers, Tossed & Found provides DC-area families and community groups with quality, gently used household goods at bargain prices.

“The Junior League of Washington is looking forward to opening the doors of our Tossed & Found rummage sale for the 25th year running. We welcome not only savvy shoppers, but also members of our community in need of bargain household goods and clothing to help them get back on their feet,” said JLW President Elizabeth Keys. “Since 1993, Tossed & Found has been a fundraiser that directly connects our members to our mission by improving our community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. In celebrating Tossed & Found’s silver anniversary, we are celebrating 25 years of being able to continue promoting voluntarism and giving back to our community.”

Support Tossed & Found through the following ways in 2017:

Buy Community Cash Cards – The concept is simple. You donate to Tossed & Found’s Community Cash Card program, and we give a $40 gift certificate for the sale to a JLW community partner, neighbor in need, or a charity or church of your choice. These gift certificates allow women, men, and children, often dealing with homelessness, extreme poverty, or crisis situations, to shop the sale and get much-needed items, like pots and pans, furniture, clothing, and baby items.

Attend Our EventsThis year’s sale will take place at 2200 Crystal Drive, 6th Floor in Arlington, Virginia – space generously provided in partnership with Vornado/Charles E. Smith and the Crystal City Business Improvement District. The rummage sale is free and open to the public.

Hoops & High Heels Preview Night
March 24, 2017
7 p.m.
The 25th Annual Tossed & Found Rummage Sale
March 25, 2017        March 26, 2017
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.        9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Invite Your Friends - All of our events are open to the public – show your friends and family one of the many ways JLW supports the DC area.

Work a Shift – Come have fun with the committee as we sort, organize, and set up for our events. Get to know some new people and earn a membership credit.

Over the past quarter-century, Tossed & Found has raised over $2.1 million cumulatively; in 2016, the sale raised more than $150,000. Proceeds from the sale are used to advance the League’s mission. JLW focuses its financial and volunteer resources on the issues of literacy – adult, child, and cultural – and works with a diverse group of community partners, including Horton’s Kids, the National Museum for Women in the Arts, Iona Senior Services, and N Street Village.

For a complete list of events and more information on JLW’s Tossed & Found, please visit And to get a sneak peek at some of the fabulous finds from this year’s sale and learn a little more about the history of the sale, visit our Facebook event.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

New Member Tess Terrible Experiences Passionate Strategic Planning

The Strategic Planning Committee focuses on the long-term goals of the Junior League of Washington (JLW) and develops and maintains the League’s Strategic Plan. Tess Terrible, a New Member, experienced the passion and knowledge that goes into our strategic planning in her mini placement – an 8-10-hour sample of what it’s like to be an active JLW member for our New Members.

When asked about her experience with the committee, Tess said, “Walking into the Strategic Planning Committee meeting, I did not know what to expect. I knew I would be surrounded by some of the most experienced minds in the Junior League of Washington, so I was fairly nervous. I chose this mini placement because I wanted an opportunity to learn more about the League, leadership within the League and, perhaps, become more comfortable speaking my mind. I am an introvert, but I aspire to be a leader in my industry, and I knew I wanted more experience

“I couldn’t have picked a better time to join this committee. In my first meeting, I learned the committee was tasked to draft the League’s next five-year plan. My first meeting, I hardly spoke. I took some notes and listened to the conversation; the depth of knowledge and insightfulness of these women was truly inspiring. Conversation was civil, but these women don’t hold back. They are passionate about the League and the direction it goes, and they bring a wealth of experience to ensure that JLW continues to grow and improve the lives of women in the Washington, DC, area.”

We asked Tess about what she enjoys most about being a part of JLW, and she said, “I do not have a legacy of Junior League women in my family; I learned about the Junior League through the women in my professional life. These are women of outstanding character, grace, and ambition. What I love most about being a New Member is being part of this circle of elite women. I feel like I have a sea of advisors who constantly inspire me and seek to elevate me as I go forward in my career. In parallel, I truly feel like I am working to better the lives of other women in the Washington, DC, community who need it most. It is a cycle of mentorship and improving and inspiring women to reach their greatest heights that I am completely honored to be part of.”

We’d love to hear about your experiences in JLW! Share what you love about being a member in the comments.