When I think about my role models growing up, almost all of the people in the positions I wanted to be in were men. I was in college by the time we elected Gov. Kathleen Blanco in 2004. The women who served as my role models were the women who are close to me – my grandmothers, my aunts and my mom. They gave me precious guidance on being a woman in this world when few of the community role models looked like me. It was hard to set goals to achieve positions when I was limited by possibilities, but they gave me the power to challenge assumptions and dare to dream.

When I was young, forming a personality and planning how I would change the world, little girls didn’t fantasize about being the president. We dreamed about being the first woman president. We yearned for role models who looked like us in the community. Our leadership goals usually included a caveat mentioning our gender or glass ceilings.

When I joined the Junior League, all of the limits were lifted. There was no position I could not achieve. All of the leaders looked like me. I received my first copy of Lagniappe and set a goal. I wanted to be your editor. As I worked toward achieving it, I spent three years writing for three amazing women, Jessica Chin, Kelly Walsh and Amanda Goldman. The countless hours we’ve laughed and learned have helped hone my skills and train me to do this job.

As we ride out the election season with the first female presidential nominee of a major party, we catch up with Peggy Wilson, a JLNO sustainer and the first councilwoman in New Orleans. Peggy shared her experience of finding her footing as a councilwoman in a world of councilmen.

The Junior League has given me and many like me permission to set exactly the goal I wanted to achieve and to achieve it without caveats. Our little girls will never have to consider whether a woman can do that job and will always have role models in the community who look like them. I’m thrilled to be your editor this year, and I look forward to laughing with and learning from my fellow editors, three more amazing women – Emma Pegues Smith, Rhonda Stephens and Stephanie Campani. “Developing the potential of women,” is a standard we are setting so that the girls we influence can set their goals without caveats.

Letter from the Editor
Lea Witkowski-Purl
Lagniappe Editor 2016-2017