So much has changed.
Saying this right now seems superfluous. We have all been going through a surreal experience over the past few months. A sudden shift from the way things had been for so long. A jolt into a strange new way of life without a clue how to navigate it. A period of forced reassessment to figure out what the path ahead will look like. Truthfully, I’ve been living in that strange new world for nearly a year.
Last June, I began my journey as Editor for the Junior League of New Orleans’ (JLNO) Lagniappe magazine. After years as a writer on the Lagniappe Committee, I was honored to have my achievements acknowledged by being offered the position of Assistant Editor. I dutifully took in every bit of information I could whilst under the tutelage of my Editor, but before I knew it, I was firmly ensconced at the helm of the ship.
A deluge of questions washed over me. What do I do now? How could I possibly improve upon what’s been done before? Who is going to listen to … me? Where do I go when I have questions; I’m supposed to have all the answers!
I was adrift. Although I was confident I could find a way through the challenge ahead of me, I was afraid how it could negatively affect those around me if I got it wrong. And if I did get it wrong, not only would it reflect badly on me but it would potentially impact the image of the organization. On the other hand, I also knew this was an opportunity to flex my leadership muscles, hone my delegation skills and use my creative talents to shine a light on those topics I felt would have the greatest impact. My insecurities had met my strengths head on, and it was going to be a battle royale. I had to get this right.
As it turns out, my fears were baseless. I found myself surrounded by a team of brilliant women who each brought their own unique strengths and insights to the publication. We found original and exciting topics to cover, addressing the latest endeavors the League was embarking upon. Almost unknowingly, I began to transition from the role of mentee to mentor. And I was never at a loss for resources, no matter how long my innumerable questions continued to percolate.
I will recall the body of work produced this past year with a great sense of pride. In my first issue, we emphasized the important strides being made by the emerging Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and we covered the public policy initiatives attempting to reform Louisiana’s domestic violence laws. In the next issue, we tackled the ABOLISH Committee’s mission to advocate for an end to the abhorrent practice of human trafficking and child sex slavery. Following that, we shared the experience of JLNO members parenting children with disabilities, the daily hurdles they face and the support groups they lean on. And in this issue, we shine a light on the growing number of women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields while acknowledging there is still room for improvement. Each of these stories resonated with me in a powerful way, leaving me with a renewed outlook and an informed perspective. That is the purpose I set out to achieve as Editor: to present content that would educate and inform our readers. Knowledge is the catalyst for timely conversation that begets meaningful change.
At its core, the Junior League is a training organization that extracts the untapped potential of each member to the benefit of the families, businesses and communities they serve. It is a collection of women dedicated to service, voluntarism and compassionate stewardship. As I reflect on this past year and the years I have spent in the League, I am humbled to count myself among such a selfless group of women dedicated to improving their lives and the lives of those around them.
So much has changed, but change is positive. Change means growth. Change means understanding. Change means we can continue to improve upon ourselves, our lives and our community. We have changed. I have changed, and I have JLNO to thank for that.
Stay safe, be kind and do good.