Anne Dalton

AJLI Chief League Operations Officer, Anne Dalton, speaks at Joint Council Celebration. Photo by: Shawn Marie Scott.

 

As consistently reiterated throughout this issue of Lagniappe, training women leaders for the communities, businesses and institutions of today is an ongoing opportunity Leagues across the country are rising to provide.

While JLNO’s own chronicle of building women leaders stretches back 95 years, our national governing body, the Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. (AJLI), pre-dates our own organization and continues to promote this legacy nationwide.  

Founded by Mary Harriman in 1901 in response to the growing poverty in industrialized areas, the women leaders of the first Junior League lived in a drastically different time than our current members.

In a recent visit to New Orleans and presentation to JLNO’s Joint Council, AJLI’s Chief League Operations Officer Anne Dalton shared that the values of the original League founders are still alive today. She also outlined a new vision of management AJLI is promoting in Leagues across the country. This new model blends the community values of our founders with the modern management and membership trends of today.  

“What we [Junior Leagues] are really in the business of doing is creating an environment of women leaders,” said Anne. In this respect, the focus of the League is unchanged since the early days of Mary Harriman, yet the execution of this mission has evolved. Unlike our predecessors at the turn of the century, the women coming into Junior Leagues today need more specialized training and often have more formal education.

Under this modern construct, Anne feels “our learning environment needs to capitalize on the experience in the room.” AJLI’s own analysis confirms this: in a 2005 research effort, the organization found that nationally, the League’s value proposition was declining. The rigid structure of many Junior Leagues was failing to meet members’ expectations and the quality of community impact was diminishing. To better equip AJLI member organizations to meet these expectations and reverse negative trends, Anne and her colleagues undertook the mission of redefining impact and leadership models.  

While the governance of a League is focused on central aspects of organizational sustainability, the management undertakes leadership accountability. Through this structure, Leagues can focus on their true niche: developing high-quality female leaders and further core competencies of leadership instead of monitoring member obligations. Anne emphasizes that the Junior League experience shouldn’t revolve around a placement, title, age, committee or years in the League. Instead, the member’s time in the League should cultivate key competencies of communication, teamwork, leadership, patience, program delivery, time management, vision and community awareness.  

JLNO has been leading the way in this capacity for years. Anne notes, “I was around for Katrina, and I continue to use that as an example of what makes a League a player in a community: how you all took a look at the non-profit sector and realized the lack of leadership after the storm and recognized that JLNO could come into that space.” Anne further cites key JLNO initiatives such as Women of the Storm and Get on Board as continued examples of our League’s extraordinary ability to convene across sectors.

“People are looking for meaning,” Anne said, “to be able to connect to more intimate spaces is a real gift.” The new membership credit system and ongoing efforts to push the JLNO into policy change, further non-profit partnerships and an expanded membership profiles all speak to our leadership’s efforts of growing a more inclusive and impactful League. Through JLNO’s partnership with AJLI and internal commitment to our mission, opportunities for personal, professional and communal impact are limitless.

 

Anne Dalton

JLNO Current President Alice Franz Glenn, AJLI Chief League Operations Officer Anne Dalton and JLNO Immediate past President Kristen Koppel, pose at Joint Council Celebration. Photo by: Shawn Marie Scott.

 


 

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