Blog: My JLW Membership Value

By Carol Der Garry, Sustainer 

What do I get out of my Junior League of Washington (JLW) membership? Do you ponder this question every year when deciding to renew your JLW membership? As a sustaining member with over 20 years of service in the Junior League, my League training and experiences have provided unique opportunities to develop leadership skills and knowledge.

By leading other volunteers, serving as committee chairs, and serving as a Board member twice, my League experiences in Washington DC, Los Angeles, CA and Sarasota, FL taught me about leadership, philanthropy, fundraising, endowments, strategic planning, communications strategies, nominating procedures, and board governance. And, of course, time management!

Working on teams and committees with other League members helped me develop valuable traits that serve me well on other boards. These traits include diplomacy, expressing appreciation, remaining calm under stress, and listening skills. Being in small groups with other League members also provided safe spaces where I gained confidence to speak my own mind, even when my thoughts were not the views of the majority.

The League also opened doors for me to serve on other nonprofit boards, including Rice University’s Alumni Association Board and Foxcroft School’s Board of Trustees. In the League, I’ve observed best practices for nonprofit organizations and board governance, which I’m able to easily recognize or propose at other nonprofits or boards. Individuals at other organizations who have partnered with Junior Leagues know they are getting volunteers or Board members who can come in and hit the ground running.

Of course, League involvement depends on us, as individual members, to embrace opportunities within the League and to devote time and effort. These commitments don’t come without sacrifices of time, sleep, and less time spent with family and outside-the-League friends. But, I believe the benefits and lifelong League friendships far outweigh the costs! I encourage each JLW member to be proactive about seeking value in her League membership so she can get the most out of her years in the League.