When women join the Junior League of New Orleans (JLNO), they join an international organization committed to social reform through identifying problems and finding solutions. Members spend time throughout the year volunteering, donating and serving on committees servicing various aspects of many New Orleans communities. Whether they realize it immediately or not, they become advocates. The Community Affairs Committee hosted a panel at the October General Membership Meeting to continue the discussion about how League members can advocate for the issues and causes they are passionate about. Members had an interactive discussion with panelists from the nonprofit sector, government representatives and staff members of advocacy groups.
Louisiana House of Representatives – Representative District 93
“The role of advocacy in my work as an elected official is dynamic. Not only do I work to represent the best interests of the people of Louisiana House District 93, but I am also tasked with working cooperatively with other members of the House to make real change for all of Louisiana. Strategically, working across the aisle, in the current political climate is sometimes challenging, but keeping my constituents and Louisiana first helps make accomplishing our goals a little easier.”
“The most effective strategy we use to advocate for our clients is to first make sure we have a genuine understanding of their goal and are not substituting our own priority for theirs. Once we know we have their best interest in mind, we do our homework to make sure we know the best pathway to get there, and then we operate (respectfully) with a very strong sense of entitlement as we approach anyone in power who [has] the discretion to help us reach our client’s goal. Being relentless is often times the most important thing we can be.”
CASA Jefferson – Executive Director
“Children with a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) gain a voice in the court. Advocates provide constant support and are a source of hope in a child’s life during a very uncertain and lengthy time. CASA advocates help children access resources and services they need to heal from their abuse or neglect as well as providing recommendations to the court that can expedite the process ensuring a better outcome in the best interest of the child.”
Great New Orleans Foundation – Vice-President of Community Relations and Public Affairs
“A strong advocate must be informed, courageous, a critical thinker, able to build consensus and always committed to delivering tangible results.”
Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation – Executive Director
“Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation (LPBF) aims to leverage our depth of scientific knowledge to engage officials and businesses to implement solutions to water management and coastal land loss, to support better legislation, and to invest in practical and sustainable outcomes. LPBF also provides the public with digestible data and analysis, as well as opportunities for engagement on environmental issues through volunteering, tours, recreation and events. We are often looking for volunteers to attend meetings on our behalf in various capacities: to listen, to share information from LPBF, or to speak publicly on behalf of LPBF. We also look to volunteers to alert us of information that they have heard of or seen in their respective area. For example, new or proposed developments or projects that perhaps we do not know about. If you have the time and interest in attending things like planning and zoning commission meetings, council meetings, chamber meetings, state public meetings, etc., we would love to hear from you!”
The first step to become an advocate is to learn as much as you can about the issues that you are passionate about.
“The best way to get started is to start and don’t let go till you get results,” recommends Cherie Teamer, Chair of the Community Affairs Committee and Moderator of the panel.
Seek out people or groups tackling the issues you want to support. Join their efforts. And if no such group exists, start one yourself.