Since our founding in 1924, the Junior League of Spokane has promoted civic and community leadership among women by helping women gain experience as nonprofit leaders, philanthropists, and advocates. Originally founded in 1901 in New York City, the Junior League is one of the oldest and largest women’s volunteer organizations—empowering women to improve their local communities through voluntarism. I have had the personal privilege of being a member of four different Junior Leagues since I first joined in the fall of 2007. I joined in order to connect with other women who shared common interest in improving our community—and found that, but also much more. Over time, I found that I had assembled the tools to be a community leader and the confidence to see myself as one.
While part of a worldwide women’s movement, our mission is local and focused on a thriving and vibrant Inland Northwest. Over our history, the women of the Junior League of Spokane have worked to improve our community—including having a hand in the creation of many programs and other nonprofits that many folks take for granted today. A few representative examples include:
- District 81’s Express Program (originally known as Latchkey)
- The Innovia Foundation (originally known as the Greater Spokane Community Foundation and later the Inland Northwest Community Foundation)
- The Childhood Express (red wagon sculpture/play structure designed by artist, Ken Spiering)
Our current focus in the community is to increase the rates of childhood literacy using a variety of methods—our own projects, book grants to teachers and organizations, partnership with other community organizations, and advocacy. In the current environment of remote learning, children and their teachers, parents, and caregivers will need continued support from schools and creative nonprofits. This year has been challenging, for our organization, our members, and the community we serve—as it has been for most people. These challenges have also provided new opportunities for growth—our members have learned new technologies, re-envisioned our typical events, and sought out new ways to serve the community. For example, our typical Touch-a-Truck fundraiser was re-envisioned as a fun virtual event for children to learn about various vehicles—however, without the ticket sales from this event, our ability to address current community needs and advance women’s leadership has been compromised.
We cannot do this work without you. We envision a world with empowered women leaders who have the tools to address society’s most intractable issues. We would like to invite all women who are interested in developing the skills to tackle this work to learn more about membership in the Junior League of Spokane. We would also like to invite the people, organizations, and businesses of the Spokane area to partner with us to support this vision—whether via financial gifts, advocating together for a just and equitable future, or working jointly to build lasting coalitions to make Spokane a better place to live, grow, and learn.
President, Junior League of Spokane, 2020-2021