Nancy Viada Douglas
This year was a time to reflect inward and refocus on developing our League members to be strong leaders in the community. The slogan for the year, which helped promote the strong leadership ideas, was “Women at the Helm.” This theme reflected the message that women of the League are at the helm of the community and their own lives, making anything possible.
AJLI’s theme of the “Power of the Vision” helped guide the leadership of the League in the decision making for the future. JLA redefined the Sustainer’s role as a result of AJLI’s Sustainer Task Force.
We began our year with the goals of updating and revising our Public Policy Bylaws and our Strategic Plan. This effort was a good mid-cycle checkup for the League. Our active League’s home is in the state capital, and we are extremely visible. Our Public Policy committee researched current political issues that involve our focus on family support, educated our members on these matters, and lobbied for the passage of related legislation. The strategic plan is the framework for all our endeavors as it is the direct voice from our membership-driven, board-supported organization.
Goal I – Increase member awareness and knowledge of JLA structure and AJLI
- Incoming leaders were part of multi-level training sessions with facilitators from our League (past presidents and members of the Education and Training Committee) and from AJLI. The training began in the spring prior to the year beginning, to encourage confidence and strength in their leadership styles.
- Each General Membership Meeting held a theme of development that built upon the previous year to train the membership about JLA and AJLI.
- Group participation was a key and proved to be very rewarding for all.
Goal II – Increase community visibility and awareness
- We encouraged and invited our Community Advisory Board (CAB) to attend and speak at our General Membership Meetings. This was a revision from previous years when they met only with the Board of Directors. It allowed for two-way communication with our League and the community.
- We successfully sponsored our third Community Roundtable, which offered us the opportunity to spread our mission and become more informed of local needs and issues by collaborating with many other area community service agencies.
- Our visibility was increased and enhanced through year-round publicity via the newsletter, newspaper releases, magazines, cable television spots and the update and renewal of our JLA brochures.
- We encouraged and increased our membership on community boards and involvement in other community organizations.
- Membership voted for Reach Out and Read as a new project and voted out Emergency Baby Pantry which was very successful for three years.
- We awarded grant money to organizations of projects in need.
- Joint collaboration with United Way on our Back to School Bookbag project helped over 1,500 students in the community.
- Awarded Excellence in Volunteerism to an outstanding community volunteer.
- Participated and awarded a scholarship to Scholarship for Scholars to help a local graduating high school senior.
- Our project Kids on the Block again touched the lives of thousands of elementary school children as well as Scouts and church groups.
- Our KIVA Club continued to dedicate themselves to the troubled teens and involved the Navy Academy Midshipmen as mentors and tutors.
- Our efforts with the Public Policy updates encourage the highest attendance at the Junior Leagues of Maryland Night hosted by JLA and the Junior League of Baltimore (JLB).
Goal III – Increasing membership, diversity and retention by at least 20%
- The AJLI software proved to be ineffective and the League is developing a more effective program.
- Members were encouraged to bring guests to all meetings and were recognized for their efforts.
- Our guest speakers were presidents of other Leagues and leaders in the community, which is representative of the diverse background of the League.
- Membership requirements reflect the changing lifestyles and diverse backgrounds of our members. We were extremely flexible in our criteria for meeting requirements and allowing for working members to continue. This was the first year the President of JLA was of Cuban descent, and a full time working mother of two, a testament to the diversity of the League.
- Meetings were held in various arenas to encourage interest in the League.
Goal IV – Plan and implement a JLA Signature Project
- We researched he possibility of a Signature Project. The decision was made that when the focus area is revisited, the membership will discuss the idea of Signature Project again.
Goal V – Increase financial strength
- Our three fund-raisers brought increased income from previous years by more than 10%.
- Working Artists fall fund-raiser was a successful collaboration with the community artists. It was a break-even first time event. The March of Dimes organization has approached us to work with them in the fall of next year on this event.
- We continue great success with our cookbook Of Tide and Thyme having our 6th and 7th printing this year along with participating in local festivals, craft shows and on QVC television. This resulted in a net income of over $65,000.
- Carousel celebrated its 18th year as one of our fund-raisers and was extremely successful with a net income over $32,000 (29% increase).
- Various small fund-raisers were held which added additional income.
The year was a success in the measure of new knowledge gained by all in the areas of the League, the association and the community. The proof was in the April voting meeting, which was one of the most effective meetings all year.