Friday, June 14, 2019

Sustainer Spotlight: Brennan Grignon

Brennan Grignon has been a part of the Junior League Washington for 12 years. She became a Sustainer member just last year. Brennan and her mom (a fellow JL member), had just returned from a walk with her very friendly dog Duma, who ended up falling asleep at my feet while we laughed and chatted easily.  She lives with her husband and Duma in a beautiful house in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC.  

On a lovely fall afternoon, I was given the opportunity to sit down with her at her house to interview her for this column.  Brennan grew up in Long Beach, California.  Despite working very long hours (60-80 per week) for the past three years at the Department of Defense, volunteering and being active within the community is a big part of her life.  Brennan and her four brothers feel you must “take care of where you live”. Brennan has served as the Rising Co-Chair for Kitchen Tour, Chair and volunteer for the 826DC – Reading All-Stars, and as Chair and Vice Chair for several years for the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

How has the Junior League influenced you?  JLW has given me the ability to connect with a network of women who supported me through our shared desire to volunteer in our community.  I have had the opportunity to volunteer at varying places like at the Sunflower House, 826DC – Reading All-Stars program, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and each experience had its own set of rewards and challenges.  I was the Chair for the Corcoran Committee when the gallery closed in 2015.  The Junior League volunteers provided incredible support to the Corcoran staff during the final summer the gallery was open, and we gave the last tours on the final day, which was bittersweet.  Evolving the JLW’s relationship with 826DC – Reading All-Stars, from providing grants to providing volunteers, was a unique and enriching experience, especially as I was able to help children learn and improve their reading skills.

Besides working full time and volunteering, what do you do in your very little spare time to decompress?  Anything that keeps me physically active like riding my bike to work, running, swimming.  I love to cook and bake.  Baking sweet treats are my specialty, and I love to make them for neighbors, friends, coworkers, etc.  My husband and I like to travel especially anywhere we haven’t been before.  We recently took a trip to Croatia, driving through towns eating delicious food and wine that was all locally grown.  My favorite vacation spot is anywhere I haven’t been.  Next trip: Patagonia, Chile.

What advice would you give to a fellow League member; Provisional, Active, or Sustainer?  My advice to other members is that it is okay to say “no” when you need to take care of yourself.  One year I was co-chairing a committee and realized that I could not be as dedicated a JLW leader as I wanted to be due to work commitments.  I was working 80-90 hours per week, bringing work home and working on the weekends for months at a time.  When I realized I couldn’t provide the support to my co-chair and my committee that I expected of myself, and still balance work and the other aspects of my life, I knew I needed to scale back my volunteer commitments, so I went from being a co-chair to being a Sustainer.  It was one of the hardest decisions I made as a JLW-member, but the League leadership at the time was tremendously supportive and understanding.  Be sympathetic to fellow members who have to make that choice between work, family, or other priorities. Everyone needs to prioritize things differently at different points in our lives, and the more we can support each other through those times, the more invaluable our JLW experience becomes.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Sustainer Spotlight: Megan Morgan Burgoyne

Between You and Me: a Conversation with Megan Morgan Burgoyne

Megan Morgan Burgoyne has been a member of the Junior League of Washington for 15 years.  She has been an active volunteer from 2004-2017, serving on the Folger Shakespeare Library and Targeted Grants and Volunteer Resources (TGVR) Committees.  She was the Committee Chair for the Folger Shakespeare Library from 2007-2009 and the Vice Chair of TGVR in 2010-11.

Megan was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and raised in Columbia, South Carolina.  When not volunteering, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, traveling, and working out.  Her favorite activity in Washington, D.C., is walking and running in Rock Creek Park.  She has an 18-month-old son and has a great time exploring all the kid-friendly D.C. activities.

How has the Junior League Influenced you?   I volunteered at a variety of places growing up in South Carolina and while attending Connecticut College.  The Junior League of Washington allows me to continue serving the community.  JLW has afforded me many options and opportunities to make a positive impact in D.C., particularly towards literacy promotion.  The most rewarding part of the League is seeing the impact on children's literacy.  I love seeing kids eyes light up as our members tutor, read aloud, hand out books, and encourage them to read their first Shakespeare sonnet on stage!

What has been your favorite JLW experience?   My favorite experience would have to be my years spent volunteering and chairing the Folger Shakespeare Library Committee.  Being a member of JLW has allowed me to meet people from all walks of life through volunteering in the community.  I have to say I also love my JLW Book Club.  I like to read anything and everything; it’s impossible for me to choose a favorite author.

What advice would you give a Provisional?   When you go to JLW events, put your phone away and talk to the person next you.  You never know, your future roommate, boss, running partner, or best friend may be sitting next to you.

Ok, let’s get some answers to a few non-League related questions:

Favorite Snack - Diet Coke and Twizzlers

Favorite Vacation Spot - Virgin Islands

Favorite Flower - Peonies

Favorite Quote - "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do."  Mark Twain

Finally, Megan what is the best advice you have been given?   Remember who you are and where you came from.

Sustainer Spotlight: Luciana Gray

Between You and Me: A Conversation with Luciana Gray

Luciana Mashore Gray has been a member of the Junior League of Washington for 14 years. She has served as a volunteer for the Friends of the JLW (2015-16), Assistant Director for the Literacy Council (2010-11), Chair of Community Outreach (2010- 11), and Co-Chair New Members.  Luciana was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, and graduated from Howard University.  She is currently a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton focusing on project management.

Tell me how the League has influenced you?   

The Junior League has expanded my understanding of insufficient literacy and how that can negatively impact our community.  The League has also influenced my approach to strategic planning and project implementation when serving in other non- profit organizations.

Now that you are a Sustainer, looking back, what advice would you offer a Provisional?   

My advice to a Provisional is to choose a secondary placement early in your Junior League life that may take you out of your comfort zone.  Choose something that is in a space you cannot see yourself.  Those are the placements that can expand your knowledge and understanding in very meaningful ways.

Of all the placements and experiences you have had with JLW, what has been your favorite experience?   

Serving as an N Street Village Volunteer.  I always enjoyed Sunday Dinner with the residents and their love of books was always a delight!!  It is the most rewarding experience of all my years as a member.  I developed a deep understanding of the occurrences in life that can place a woman in transitional housing and I experienced the constant reminder that morsels of knowledge and blessings come in so many unexpected ways.

So, between working and volunteering, what is your favorite activity to do in the DMV and how do you decompress?   

My favorite activity is taking friends and family to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.  I have been more times that I can count, and it is a joy to take someone who has not ever been.  New visitors are always overwhelmed with the impressive level of detail, artifacts, and information housed in such a beautiful space.  I decompress by reading or enjoying good conversations with family and friends.  During this past year I began devoting a lot more time reading and studying the Bible.  I'm also focused on renovating and decorating my home along with serving in other service-based organizations.

Finally, what comes to mind when I ask:

Favorite Vacation Spot - Dubai
Favorite Snack - Pita chips and roasted red pepper hummus
Favorite Flower- Hydrangea
Favorite Author- Ernest Gaines
Best Advice - Listen more than you speak
Favorite Quote - " Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor."- James Baldwina

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Meet The Nominating Slate!

JLW’s Nominating Committee is the epitomy of empowered women empowering other women. This unique committee is a body of 11 women with leadership experience who identify and slate all League leaders for the following year. 

Our active members shape this committee by voting for its members each spring as part of our annual ballot. Today, we are introducing you to the 16 passionate and well-qualified women who make up the slate for the 2019-2020 Nominating Committee, and learn more about how these League leaders spread the #JLWLove!

Carol Der Garry
Carol Der Garry is one of two Sustainers on this year’s Nominating Committee slate. Did you know Nominating Committee always includes one Sustainer? Carol’s favorite leadership memory is helping select the winner of our Meg Graham College Scholarship during her tenure as Sustainer chair in 2017-2018. “This process reinforced how important JLW is to the DC community and what a huge difference we make in people’s lives!” As a member of the Nominating Committee, she wants to spread the #JLWLove by supporting diversity and elevating qualified JLW members who are new to leadership.

Rosemarie Hamm
Rosemarie Hamm has been a JLW member since 1998 and over the years, has worn many leadership hats - helping revamp the former Hotline newsletter (before it was League Lines) as committee chair, serving on the inaugural Website Task Force, and initiating Sustainer General Membership Meetings as Sustainer chair. But she says her mission moment is more low-key: “serving as a volunteer at the National Book Festival by fulfilling our organization's commitment to literacy, and being a small cog in the wheel to help make this important annual event a success to the community.” Rosemarie, one of two Sustainers on the Nominating Committee slate, hopes to find qualified, dedicated volunteers to serve as the next generation of leaders and continue building JLW’s legacy.

Ashlyn Holeyfield
As JLW’s Transfer Committee Chair, Ashlyn Holeyfield had a chance to hear every Transfer’s proudest moments, which reinforced her leadership mission to help JLW’s “high-caliber” volunteers find where they want to make an impact in our League and our community. Ashlyn believes the “continued success of JLW depends on women who are willing to ask, how can we do this better?” and she looks forward to find these women as a member of JLW’s Nominating Committee, if elected.

Zoe Louise Jackman
Having served as chair of the 60th annual Holiday Shops fundraiser, Zoe Louise Jackman knows that JLW’s network of volunteers is strong and supportive. “I have loved serving in a number of roles in the League, but I am the most inspired when other women in the League tell me they feel empowered to self-nominate for a leadership position because they realized they could rely on other League members for support and guidance throughout their time serving,” she says. Zoe believes a busy job or personal life doesn’t have to get in the way of getting involved in the League, and if elected to the Nominating Committee, she’ll “help other women in the League find their moment to shine in leadership roles.”

Adrianne James
Nominating Committee candidate Adrianne James is uniquely connected to the Transfer experience. After joining the Junior League of Washington in 2010, she spent six years in the Junior League of Philadelphia, where she chaired its Thrift Shop Committee, before returning to DC. Currently wearing two hats as the Transfer Committee’s Vice Chair of Community Experience and the Membership Development Assistant Council Director, Adrianne keeps a close eye on the member experience - not just for Transfers, but all members. She wants to continue spreading the #JLWLove on Nominating by “treating my fellow committee sisters with love and respect… because we are stronger together.”

Sarah Jorgenson
Sarah Jorgenson knows that the most rewarding JLW moments are ones that both excite our members and improve the community. When she served as chair of the Resolution Read Committee (now the Literacy Events Planning Committee), she says that planning the D.C. Public Library’s Letters About Literature contest. “It was incredible to see committee members get involved as a team, and it was inspirational to listen to the winners present letters to authors about how books impacted their lives.” Sarah hopes to continue her current work on JLW’s Nominating Committee next year in this same vein - “helping to empower and grow our current and upcoming leaders to positively impact our community, inside and outside the League.”

Jennifer Lim
Did you know that the Nominating Committee slate typically includes 1-2 returning members? This helps support continuity and the transfer of important information each year. Jenni Lim is currently on the Nominating Committee, and shared this highlight: “I was able to offer a woman who had been my new member years ago her first leadership position! That really brought home the importance of what we do in the Junior League - we all help grow DC’s best volunteers and future leaders.” If re-elected, Jenni hopes to continue improving the Nominating Committee’s communication with the League, something she has spearheaded this year.

Ashley MacLeay
Current Board of Directors member Ashley MacLeay knows how effective JLW volunteers can be in the community - and it inspires her to lead. When the child she mentored was able to read a new book aloud for the first time, “it was then I knew the League made an impact and I wanted to do more to empower women across community placements and the entire JLW to create more moments just like this one,” she said. She looks forward to doing so on the Nominating Committee next year, if elected. Ashley hopes to find “a diverse group of empowered women who are thinking strategically about the future of JLW and serving our community with respect and integrity.”

Alex Moses
For her first few years in JLW, Alex Moses primarily volunteered in roles that serve JLW’s members, including the Development & Training and Loughborough House Committees. This year, she answered the call to serve in the community as chair of JLW’s Calvary Women Services Committee - her first community-facing placement - but she hasn’t looked back. “Hearing the residents tell us how much they appreciate our contributions to the shelter reminded me why it’s important to be a leader in JLW,” she says. If elected to the Nominating Committee, she wants to encourage women to “put their name in the hat” even if it’s outside of their comfort zone or experience - because she knows first-hand how rewarding it can be!

Emily Patt
As Co-Chair of JLW’s New Member Committee, Emily Patt helps JLW members find their footing as volunteers and leaders from the get-go. Emily says it’s a privilege to watch members she’s advised develop into leaders and make a positive impact on the League. If elected to the Nominating Committee, she hopes to pay it forward by finding a new group of JLW leaders who will train and empower the next generation of League leaders. “I look forward to encouraging women to try new leadership roles and grow as leaders,” she says.

Phoenix Ricks
You may have seen Phoenix Ricks’ picture before in our 3039M magazine accompanying the Letter from the Editor. As chair of the Magazine Committee in 2017-2018, she was inspired by volunteers on her committee: “Seeing their months of hard work in the final publication is a feeling I will never forget!” Phoenix will bring her talents from the Communications & PR Council to the Nominating Committee to help keep the nominating process accessible to all members, ensuring the “nominating process is transparent and communicated in a timely manner.”

Laura Sherrod
Laura Sherrod is the current co-chair of JLW’s Tossed & Found fundraiser, but her leadership experience extends beyond the League. When her mother asked her to serve as campaign manager for her re-election as a judge, Laura says, “I decided if I can do this, I can do anything.” Laura will bring that can-do attitude to the Nominating Committee by “approaching every member with professionalism, respect, and up-to-date knowledge” if she is elected.

Laura Shull
Laura Shull knows how important JLW’s leaders can be to our members’ experience in the League. When serving as a committee leader, Laura reached out to a rock-star member on her committee to thank her for being a dedicated and outstanding member. “She let me know that she had been close to leaving the League, but she changed her mind due to how our committee was run. It felt really fantastic to have made such an impact on one member.” She will continue to empower women across the League if elected to the Nominating Committee by finding the strongest leaders to take JLW forward and by being open minded and thoughtful in every decision.

Aimee Picard Soller
Immediate Past President Aimee Picard Soller has done a little bit (or a lot of) everything in the League - and it shows. She says that, for her, mission moments happen all the time: “When a members says ‘Because of JLW…’, our impact in the community, friendships formed, skills gained and applied - too numerous to pick just one!” For Aimee, this translates to a wealth of opportunities along a League career to get involved, develop, and grow leadership skills. As a member of the Nominating Committee, she says, “I would like to see more women start on that path and more women continue on that path in new areas.”

Onika Williams
Onika Williams says she is inspired any time she is given the opportunity to represent JLW’s National Museum of Women in the Arts Committee - which is often, given that she serves as that committee’s chair this year! Onika also spreads the #JLWLove by sharing her path to leadership - something she will continue to do if elected to JLW’s Nominating Committee. “By hearing leaders’ stories, members will realize there is more than one way to lead in JLW,” Onika says.

Carolyn Wilson
Carolyn Wilson has been a member of JLW since 2010, and over her years in the League, she’s held leadership positions across three different councils. Because of this, she says she can’t pick just one moment that stands out the most: “I love being a part of an organization that gives me such a variety of volunteer and training opportunities.” Carolyn views leadership as a chance to share joy and appreciation for the JLW with other members, and she looks forward to doing so if elected to the Nominating Committee.

Active League members in good standing will have the opportunity to elect the members of the Nominating Committee as part of our annual ballot, which opens on April 10. Keep an eye out for the link to the ballot in your inboxes!  

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Recap: A Weekend at AJLI's Organization Development Institute

By Sadie Cornelius, Graphic Design Committee Chair

The Organizational Development Institute (ODI) is an AJLI leadership development series  held three times a year to provide Junior League members with mission-based training in key areas critical to the healthy functioning of a League. At ODIs, delegates from across the country build organizational capacity by learning about:

  • Innovative approaches to developing Junior League members as effective volunteer leaders in their communities
  • Powerful ways to design community programs and partnerships that have significant impact
  • Strategies for sustainable and diversified fund development
  • Keys to building strong internal operational controls
  • New approaches that enable the League to be governed strategically and effectively
  • Ways to build relationships, engagement and understanding through marketing and communications
  • Leading the Junior League to be more diverse and inclusive
The Junior League of Washington (JLW) sent Colli McKiernan, Onika Williams, Deena Smith, and me to represent JLW at the 2019 Winter ODI held at the Hilton Bayfront in downtown St. Petersburg February 22-24, 2019.

The opening plenary started with remarks by Summer Jensen, president of Junior League of St. Petersburg followed by a general history of the League and an overview of resources available from AJLI by its Chief Learning Officer JuWon Choi, Ed.D. JuWon showed us a number of tools available on including a league-wide directory where you can see the breakdown of membership, dues and requirements and search for and find contact info for others in similar roles as you anywhere in the world (and even export data) as well as a library of templates, training materials and online learning (not to mention a new placement tool that’s been in the works).

Pictured Left to Right: Deena Smith (Community Affairs Council: Assistant Director) Sadie Cornelius (Graphic Design Committee: Chair), Colli McKiernan (Cultural CP Council: Director), Onika Williams (National Museum of Women in the Arts: Chair)

In the Diversity and Inclusion breakfast session, Dr. Johnny Lake, an international consultant, trainer and speaker, told personal anecdotes about how the people in our life shape our perspectives and emphasized the importance of building community. The “Celebrating Leadership” luncheon featured Keynote speaker Elise Minkoff who gave her personal story about why she joined and then went on to become the president of the St. Petersburg league and later serve on the AJLI board. Both were impactful and inspirational.

However, the most invaluable part of the conference was the interaction and exchanging of ideas among other leagues during the breakout sessions. The four, two-hour sessions focused on various tracks including Communications, Diversity and Inclusion, Governance and Membership and more. As the representative from JLW’s Graphic Design Committee, I participated in the Communications session while others from JLW also attended the session respective of their role in the League. Hearing and sharing our struggles and success in a more intimate setting sparked conversations and helped broaden perspectives for bringing creativity into our roles and committees.
Attending the Marketing & Communications breakout session with Abby!

An enlightening takeaway is that we are not alone - there are 140,000 women in 291 communities across the world all striving for the same noble mission. To help aid in this effort, there are dozens of private Facebook groups to keep the dialogue going in between these semi-annual gatherings. In addition, all conference materials are available online (from not only ODI St. Petersburg, but all meetings from the past 10 years) so any League member can take advantage of these at anytime.

There was also a marketplace to shop all things Junior League, a kick-off mix and mingle with beach music and morning exercise activities including barre and a walking tour. It was a packed weekend, but we made the most of our time to soak in as much knowledge as possible to bring back, share, and implement within JLW.

It was affirmation that we are already excelling in numerous aspects yet exciting to know that there are so many opportunities for improvement and growth. I was inspired by 354 hardworking, talented delegates from 110 leagues all in one place. Full of new friendships, optimism for the future and the assurance of knowing no matter where you live, we have a network and backbone of a more than 100-year legacy to support our efforts. And to think it all started with “one woman” Mary Harriman at the age of 19.

Junior League of Washington with the Junior League of Atlanta (3,000+ members and 3rd largest league) 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Sustainer Spotlight: Q&A with Tina Cleland

Meet Tina Cleland, one of JLW’s accomplished Sustainers living in Kensington, Maryland. Tina joined the Junior League in 1976, and previously served as the 1985-1986 JLW President and served as Chair of the  Development & Training and Strategic Planning committees, among many other JLW positions. Tina had a lengthy career focused on healthcare financing and quality improvement, domestically and internationally, including USAID.

What is your favorite local hidden gem?
The Potomac Boat Club. It is a great, old house with a big porch and, I think, has the best view in the city. I could sit there and watch the river all day long, particularly when having a picnic lunch and a glass of wine with my husband.  

Do you row?  
I do. I didn’t start rowing until the age of 60, when I joined a rowing group for survivors of breast cancer. I not only row by myself, but also in 4+ or 8+ woman boats. There’s nothing like being out on the water. I love it!

I understand that, among your many JLW accomplishments, you were personally involved with an effort by the JLW to increase diversity within its membership.  
I was indeed. When I was on the JLW Board as head of Development & Training, the AJLI launched an initiative to increase diversity in the League. I knew that achieving racial and religious diversity in the League would make it an even more vibrant and effective force in the Washington area. So, I began to think about how I could help to achieve this goal.

I was serving, at that time, on a community board with several African-American members, one of whom was a particularly good friend and also a native New Orleanian, as I am.  While she was over the age for active membership, I asked for her help in direct recruitment of African-American women from her own personal network who might be interested in JLW membership.  She invited her friends (and their daughters) to a tea at her home to meet me and the leaders of the JLW to hear about the mission of the Junior League and its work in the Washington community. Through this event, a number of African-American women learned about, and subsequently joined, the JLW.

While the JLW had African-American members prior to this, my friend Marie Burbridge really gave the League the big boost it needed, and then other efforts began to take off. It goes without saying that a more diverse membership has enriched every aspect of the JLW’s community impact!

What lesson have you learned from the JLW that you have applied to your professional and personal lives?  
There certainly is more than one, but I particularly recall my participation in the JLW Facilitator course. Not only did I develop lovely friendships, but it also improved my understanding of management. In particular I recall the wise guidance summed up as “people support what they help to create.” I continue to rely on this insight into my retirement!

When you think of JLW, what comes to mind?
I feel a great sense of pride in what the JLW does in DC and also think immediately of my connection to my cherished League friends. The history of the Junior League, in general, is one of recognizing social issues within one’s own community and building on the unique abilities of women to improve these communities and promote volunteerism. I think of the JLW as a training ground for women who make an impact beyond the JLW in their communities. For example, many years ago I was recommended by a JLW friend as a candidate to serve on the board of directors of a community organization and was able to take my JLW training to that board and also take what I learned on that board into my professional and volunteer life.  

You mentioned that you are from New Orleans.  What are some “can’t miss” spots for someone traveling there?  
Well, certainly there is lots to see in the French Quarter – Preservation Hall to hear great jazz (the music of New Orleans is in my blood), Jackson Square (the cathedral and street performers), Café du Monde (for beignets), and good food everywhere you turn!  But I really love Audubon Park. You can take the St. Charles streetcar and get off at the University.  From there you can walk around the lagoons and golf course under the shade of the huge oak trees, wander up to the zoo and walk back via the labyrinth that was built as a healing place after Katrina. There are also great walking tours of some New Orleans neighborhoods – like the Garden District and Uptown (where Audubon Park is located). Going on a cemetery tour is very interesting as well and very specific to New Orleans.

About JLW Sustainers
One of the most important benefits of membership in the JLW is the lifelong connections to the JLW community and to women who care about serving the Washington, DC, area. Our members, after a minimum of seven years of active JLW service, may choose to go to sustaining membership status. The JLW is deeply grateful to our sustaining members who have given their time, financial support, and leadership skills to improve both the League and our community. Sustainers use their Junior League training and experiences to share with other community organizations and within the League to help New, Transfer, and Active members grow within their roles.