Behind every successful woman is a group of other successful women who have her back. For members of the Junior League of New Orleans (JLNO), Sustaining Advisors are that esteemed class of knowledgeable, poised and powerful women who inspire members and provide counsel to JLNO’s governing body. Their presence as motivators and mentors to all members of JLNO is an invaluable resource of support. These phenomenal women inspire both current and future Junior League leaders while preserving our legacy of sisterhood.
Melanee Gaudin Usdin is a retired attorney who spent many years as an Active member of the Junior League before transitioning to the status of Sustainer. Upon joining the League, Usdin did not anticipate the significant impact JLNO would have on her life. She initially became a member to assist a city in need and make new friends. Over time, her interest in charitable causes piqued.
“My JLNO and AJLI (Association of Junior Leagues International) training gave me access to community boards while I was still an Active League member,” says Melanee. “I transitioned into more volunteer work and eventually went part time as an attorney.”
Her philanthropic efforts led her to serve on the boards of Poydras Home, KID smART, and New Orleans Museum of Art.
Melanee’s expertise in the legal field led her to an advisory position as a Sustaining Advisor to JLNO’s Board of Directors. She credits this role for giving her a new appreciation for how diligently the officers of JLNO work both inside and outside of the League.
“Respect, collaboration and gratitude are skills I learned from JLNO years ago. Being a Sustaining Advisor reminded me of these key components to good governance,” Melanee says.
Katie Andry Crosby joined the Junior League in 1988 when she and her husband, Howell, were raising their young children. Like Usdin, she joined the League to meet like-minded women and give back. As an Active member, Crosby served on the Community Assistance Fund and Placement Committees of JLNO. She is currently serving a second term as JLNO’s Sustaining Advisor and finds fulfillment in her continued connection to the League. She recognizes how similar challenges still surface today as did when she served as President.
“JLNO continues to evolve in their response to membership satisfaction and community needs,” Katie says. “As a Sustaining Advisor, I serve in a supporting role for JLNO’s President, Christine Vinson, and her board members, and I am happy to assist whenever asked.”
She believes her duty as a Sustaining Advisor is to provide support, advice and insight from her past experience that the current leadership may apply to their situation.
Katie acknowledges the Junior League developed the skills she needed to be an effective leader. She reflects how active members acquire such impressive training that by the time they become sustaining members “… JLNO launches those women into the community to continue to make significant impacts.” Katie has been a living example of this observation, serving as a trustee on numerous non-profit boards such as WYES-TV and Children’s Hospital since becoming a JLNO Sustainer.
“I believe strongly in the mission of those organizations and the impact they are having in our city, and I like to think that my involvement with those organizations has made some small difference,” says Katie, who made history as the first female Director of Fidelity Bank.
Alice Wright is a retired Development Director. She has worked in fundraising for most of her career and has benefited tremendously from her membership in JLNO.
“I joined because I wanted to make new friends, assist those in need and talk about something other than raising children,” she laughs.
The experience Alice gained from JLNO’s training gave her the tools she needed for advancement in her position at work, as well as the confidence she needed to serve as a board member with several other organizations. “The League helped me realize trained volunteers have a powerful impact on a community.”
Alice’s tenure as Sustaining Advisor taught her how useful perfecting and duplicating existing methods can be.
“Maintaining integrity while introducing innovative methods and new ideas are essential to keeping the League relevant,” Alice says. She encourages members to utilize the knowledge they have gained in order to make good judgments while governing. “Lead by example. Listen to others and delegate when appropriate.”
Alice finds pleasure in mentoring the League’s new generation of leaders, which includes her daughter, Carrie Wright. Alice’s board involvement includes Café Reconcile and Poydras Home.
Our Sustaining Advisors are to be commended for their outstanding reputation of civic leadership in the community. They are the firm foundation upon which the organization’s success stands. Their continued dedication to meeting the needs of their communities in significant ways embodies the essence of JLNO.