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.