Leadership Spotlight: Sarah Berg

1.   How long have you been in the Junior League of Washington (JLW)?

This is my sixth Active year.

2.    Tell us a bit about your first JLW leadership experience. What inspired you to lead?

When I joined [the Junior League of Washington], my mini-placement was on Finance Council, which I thoroughly loved because I was able to understand how the League worked operationally. It’s important to follow the money in any organization. That said, my passion for community involvement led me to Horton’s Kids, where I tutored on Capitol Hill. The community partnership is strong and I was drawn to the great management of the committee chair. Not only was she organized, engaged, and enthusiastic, but she was actively grooming the next leader. Leadership isn’t about perfection; it’s about growth and there are many opportunities to thrive in the League. Regarding community partners, it’s important to have personal experience with the partnership before actively leading it; therefore, I later became vice chair and chair of the committee.

It is SO important to self-nominate! Talk to other leaders to get a realistic perspective on the role and other obligations and ask for friends to nominate you. Initially, I had to get over the “embarrassment of the ask” but this is the only helpful indicator of interest to the Nominating Committee!

3.   Tell us about the other positions you’ve had and what you’ve experienced through the process of developing your leadership in JLW.

After being Horton’s Kids Committee chair, I had the opportunity to be an assistant council director, which enabled me to understand how other community partners work. It also gave me a vantage point to work across other councils while managing League-wide mandates. Currently, as Council Director for Youth and Family Community partnerships, I have the chance to lead tactically and strategically. You make many friends, and it is a lot of fun!

The League excels at developing the potential of women, not only because it is organized and offers mentorship opportunities, but it encourages growth. Taking on a new role is an invitation to the unknown; it is mutually exciting and scary but so worth it. It is a privilege to work with such talented women, children, and community partners who are making a huge impact in the lives of our DC community.

4.  Share an example of how your leadership skills have grown or evolved as a JLW leader.

I tutored a strong-willed, young girl for a few years who challenged authority in every way. I fondly remember one of her blow-out temper tantrums in front of a congressman I knew, on the floor of Rayburn House Office Building. Leading can take many forms. Despite many tear-stained drives home, this girl showed me the power of determined commitment. The presence of consistently showing up speaks volumes. It gives worth and encouragement and it makes an impact. I could see it in the eyes of this young girl week in and week out.

Part of leadership is about living out the “Golden Rule” (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you). As I serve the League, our volunteers, and the little boy I now tutor on Saturday mornings, I recognize that the best leadership rests on showing up and leading by example. Are you willing to show up? 

5.   What is the number one piece of advice you would give a JLW woman who is considering a leadership role for the 2017-2018 year? 

Just do it. Show up. Have Fun! The rewards are innumerable. 

Are you or someone you know interested in JLW leadership? Nominations for assistant council director and committee chair and rising chair positions and willing-to-serve forms are now being accepted. Be sure to nominate or self-nominate by February 1, 2017! If you have any questions about the nominating process, contact Brooke Horiuchi. Here are links that provide the 2017-2018 Chair descriptions and  ACD descriptions. Find the Nominating form here.