By: Meredith Shields
The start of 2022 brought many new things to the Junior League of Washington (JLW) – including the return of in person meetings and the development of a new five year strategic plan that will guide the League through the next half a decade. Though the planning cycle is the same as in past years, the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the last two years has made this year’s strategic planning process markedly different.
“No one would have guessed five years ago that the majority of ‘time’ under our Impact 2022 Strategic Plan would be in a global pandemic and largely a remote JLW,” remarked Strategic Planning Committee volunteer and JLW Past President, Carly Mitchell. Mitchell is co-leading the effort to develop the plan with Betsy Bennett, Strategic Planning Committee Chair, and Crystal Jezierski, Strategic Planning Committee volunteer.
The Strategic Planning Committee pointed out that the timing for the development of the League’s future strategy is perfect as they’ve had time to digest and refine learnings from the past two years – from the League’s focus areas to its fund development and even operations. Mitchell added, “We see this new Strategic Plan as one which builds a bridge from our past to a more connected, empowered, agile, and impactful future!”
On March 7, 2022, the JLW Board of Directors approved “Strategic Plan 2027: Building Bridges for Increased Impact and Connectivity.” The framework for developing the 2022-2027 Strategic Plan consists of three parts:
- Backwards-Looking and Bottoms-Up: This is the standard part of the process that includes reviewing individual feedback from JLW’s annual surveys, a survey of JLW’s Board, a survey of League committee chairs, and other inputs to provide a perspective on what is working and what can or should be changed based on current operations.
- Topical Strategic Thinking: Over the last five years, JLW has done significant analysis on targeted topic areas such as diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI); the Fund development strategy; and our focus areas. As such, this aspect of the framework aims to integrate our analysis on critical topics that will impact our future operations and goals. As Mitchell was JLW’s president for the 2019-2020 League Year, she had a lot of experience connecting with and sharing insights from other Leagues, so part of this process included benchmarking JLW against other League’s around the country on key topic areas.
- Future-Thinking and the Hypothetical: When describing this aspect of the framework, Mitchell noted “If we learned one thing from the past five years, it may be that the future is very much unknown!” As such, the third aspect of the strategic planning framework is focused on how JLW can imagine different future directions and environments in order to sustain our impact and relevance for our members as well as our community. As part of this, the Strategic Planning Committee facilitated a scenario planning exercise with the JLW Assistant Council Directors in September 2021 to help imagine many different futures and paths for JLW.
The entire approach was designed around planning for an uncertain future, as Mitchell explained. “Our goal was to develop a strategic plan that integrates the great thinking JLW has had on several topics while also turning an eye to the future and what JLW needs to build to be successful in the ‘uncertain’ future,” she noted.
The roadmap for the new 2022-2027 strategic plan will be launched this spring, and the Strategic Planning Committee is hopeful that members will provide comments and feedback. The next League year will be all about launching the plan… so stay tuned for more communications coming soon that may provide new opportunities and developments for JLW members and community partners!