It is incomprehensible to me that we are already at the winter issue of Lagniappe. These past few months have flown by and have been action packed.
The theme that overlays all of the months of activity is that of learning through leadership. Part of the mission of the Junior League of New Orleans is to “develop the potential of women.” At the core of that statement is the belief that as women we all have the unlimited potential to expand our horizons, test our limits and discover hidden talents while making an impact in our community. People unfamiliar with the League and its mission are astounded that it is run completely by volunteers – including the executive board – and that we have been that way for almost 93 years.
While part of that longevity is rooted in the training and development of leadership in our members, the other part of it is in the peer to peer support we give to one another. A past-president once said to me after I had made a mistake, “We learn as we lead,” which freed me from the self-blame and allowed me to absorb the lesson I had learned. Whether it is encouraging a shy leader to speak at a meeting or being positive when another leader takes a calculated risk that may not be fruitful, we should always as members build other women up. That support is necessary as we sometimes lick our wounds when something didn’t turn out right or wasn’t perfect. Success for us as an organization will not always be measured in the dollars raised or projects completed but in the confidence and poise we hope to instill in our members to take the risk of occasional failure in order to build future successes. Risk is scary but I think that sometimes that can be the only way you know what you are truly capable of. The Junior League offers that safe space for our members to learn as they lead and I am grateful for those women who emulated that for me.
My mother used to tell me, “You have more guts than sense.” While my husband may occasionally agree, I am grateful for that quality as this year has progressed. I am not sure that I was 100 percent convinced that I could drive a fully loaded 20-foot U-Haul truck to deliver flood relief, but I had two seemingly fearless co-pilots with strong constitutions as support in the truck. We all had a determination to get the job done. We had no clue what we were getting ourselves into with that 11-hour trek, but we knew that people were counting on us and that as JLNO members we stood by our word to get it there. On that long day, we learned through leadership about the beauty of giving, our limits, each other and Airline Highway traffic. (I am still sorry about that messy U-turn!) That is a memory I will treasure for years.
As we transition from one year to the next, the inevitable self-reflection and goal setting begins. I know that I will be busy making sure that we are accomplishing what we set out to do this League year and that we finish strong. My challenge to our members is to find that one thing that makes you a little nervous because it’s new or stretches what you think you are capable of and then do it. We are here for you and I can’t wait to hear about it.
This issue is jam packed with stories of our flood relief efforts, projects we are working on, useful tips for healthier living and member profiles. As you peruse the pages, please note the leaders- all volunteers- who are putting themselves out there to develop their potential, improve our community and make a difference.
Maria Pardo Huete
Junior League of New Orleans President 2016-2017