The Road to Transformation…..
As the leaders of any large organization know, change is inevitable. Market forces, cultural norms, the health of the economy, the political climate and industrial innovation all exert a profound influence on an organization’s will to thrive. In this complex ecosystem, the survival of the organization pivots on its ability to adapt quickly—and in a way that intuitively ensures its relevance for years to come.
Among the diminishing number of organizations with lifespans of a century or more, the stakes are even higher. Whole generations have lived their lives in the time the organization has been around, and with those generations have come breathtaking alterations of the cultural, political, economic, and philanthropic landscape.
Today, the pace of change has accelerated to an exponential degree, thanks in part to innovations in communications and technology. At a time when many organizations are retrenching, The Junior League is taking bold steps to ensure its legacy as an organization that has cultivated countless women to serve as civic leaders and improved many a community in the time since it was founded more than a century ago.
This is not the first time The Junior League has undertaken so ambitious an endeavor. Consistently throughout its history it has proven to be a nimble and thoughtful organization fluent in the context of its time. In 1921, the Leagues came together to form The Association of Junior Leagues of America (which became The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. in 1988) as a way of consolidating their power for social change. In the 1940s, recognizing their potential for legislative reform, Leagues began to establish the first Public Affairs Committees, actively using a collective voice to put forth meaningful initiatives that improved lives in their communities. In 1979, in an effort to embrace diversity and inclusion in the post-Civil Rights era, the Leagues adopted a Reaching Out Statement that explicitly welcomes women of all races, religions, and national origins. And in 2006, Leagues adopted the Junior Leagues’ Kids in the Kitchen initiative to combat the epidemic of childhood obesity in four countries.
In other words, the transformative process in which The Junior League is engaged in 2014 is an intrinsic part of its heritage. Stay tuned.