Photo by: Norris Gagnet Photography

 

As I reflect on the theme of leadership in this issue of Lagniappe, I am struck as much by what is communicated through the voices of our JLNO peers, community partners and Board Members as what is not said.  In this issue of Lagniappe readers will find calls to action, ways to get more involved in our community, strategies for balancing hectic lives and (hopefully) motivation to step into greater leadership roles within JLNO and New Orleans civic life.

However, what we don’t dwell on in this issue is the downside of leadership, the reason why many well-intentioned, thoughtful women don’t lean in or step up: being a leader is really hard. Many times leadership requires us to spend time away from activities we enjoy and routines we’ve established to instead look into the darker corners of our communities, uncover difficult truths about our lifestyles and take uncomfortable steps outside of our comfort zones. These processes are also often thankless and exhausting.  

Yet here lies the beauty of the Junior League model: as a JLNO member, you don’t have to take these steps alone.  Junior League doesn’t simply build the leadership capacity of individuals—we build a community of empowered women, working to advance our wellbeing together.  This doesn’t mean the problems we face become smaller, but it does provide a network approach to solving them.

As Anne Dalton, AJLI Chief Officer for Strategic Initiatives, described to me earlier this summer in my interview with her, the original Junior League members were women from comfortable backgrounds who willingly undertook training to help immigrant families in over-crowded, inner city tenements at the turn of the 20th century.  I cannot fathom the conditions our predecessors faced when tackling these deeply rooted community problems, but they undertook them together and built a legacy of leadership in doing so.  

As several articles within this issue will illustrate, JLNO’s membership today is better educated, employed and involved than perhaps anytime since our founding in 1924. We are used to being busy, effective women.  As I reflect on the achievements of our founders in light of our capacity today, I hope we all respond to the needs around us and lead one another and ourselves to greater community impact. We deserve it.

 

Letter from the Editor

 

Lacy McManus
Editor 2018-19