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Many of us have experienced that moment. The phone call or email comes with the ask, “Will you attend this event? Donate to this silent auction? Participate on this fundraising committee?” We may experience excitement about the opportunity and maybe a tiny bit of dread about what that request entails.

Come springtime, similar phone calls will be made by our incoming Junior League of New Orleans (JLNO) Board of Directors. This coming year, I will have the honor and privilege of serving on the JLNO Board for a second time. This opportunity comes with a commitment of time and energy to help the League and its members continue its legacy. For 95 years, we have been making a positive impact in the community and training members to facilitate that impact both through League activities and their lives outside the League. This opportunity also brings with it the promise of a connection with a group of women who have similarly committed their efforts to their Board year.

It was not until I first served on the Nominating Committee immediately following my initial term on the JLNO Board that I realized how lucky I was to have had that experience — and how close I was to having missed out on it.

The thing is, when the Nominating Committee knocked on my door to ask me to serve on the incoming Board as the Communications Council Director, my head said, “No!” I knew the hard work it would entail to be successful in that position. With that said, like many other League leaders, even if I have the inclination to decline a leadership or volunteer opportunity, I will inevitably say yes. And I am so grateful I did, because I would have missed out on so many truly special experiences and relationships had I not accepted the position.

I share this now as the incoming Nominating Chair, and I will be sitting down in the spring with our amazing incoming Board to select the members who will serve on their Councils as chairs and vice-chairs.

For anyone curious about how you get from first-year Active to potential Board member, I can say unequivocally that it starts with saying yes. I said yes during my first active year to my placement as a Buy Save Serve committee member, and again when the Co-Chair asked if anyone had graphic design experience. Another yes came the following spring, when I received a call from the incoming Communications Council Director asking me not only to serve as the Graphic Design Chair the following year, but also to assist in this capacity for the remainder of the current year. From there, I was able to express my interest within the Council where I found my niche — having no communications background, by the way. JLNO is a training organization, after all! Finally, as a fifth-year Active, I received that knock on my door.

With that request to say yes, I add the caveat to know yourself and where you will succeed. If there is an area of the League you are interested in exploring, or if you would like to advance on a committee you are currently serving, express this in the leadership surveys when they are distributed. If you receive a request to fill a position other than the one you had your heart set on, don’t let that be a no. There are many intuitive leaders within the League, and our League careers are long. I believe the strongest leaders end up in placements where they are positioned to shine brightest. The more you devote yourself to the League, the more rewarding your experience can be. I encourage everyone reading this to give careful consideration to any leadership request you receive. Be open to saying yes.