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Thought Leader Uncategorized Leadership in Action

Launching a Second Century of Service

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By Rebekah Henry Murphy, 2017-2018 President of the Junior League of Atlanta

For our entire history, The Junior League of Atlanta (JLA) has played a major role in bringing about many of the services and social reforms that our community has needed – from providing free school books and lunches in the Atlanta Public School system beginning in 1918, to advocating for domestic violence survivors, from developing a solution for families living in homelessness to supporting our city’s vibrant arts community.  Across a century, we gave life to organizations by helping establish the Atlanta Speech School, Trees Atlanta, Literacy Action, Chris 180, and others.  

Yet in a rapidly changing, global 21st Century, one must beg the question – is the Junior League still relevant in our community today?

On April 24, the JLA awarded $1 million in grants in honor of its Centennial Anniversary.  These transformative projects are the the response to such a question, recognizing that in today’s civic climate, measurable impact is best achieved through collaborative thought and action.  

As we launch our second century of serving the Atlanta community, our mission is unfaltering – to develop women as exceptionally qualified civic leaders who can identify a community’s most urgent and pressing needs, build coalitions for change, and address problems with relevant solutions, that not only improve lives, but change the way people think and act.  Our organization is unique because of its ability to empower women to lead through voluntarism.

So what is the relevance of a women’s organization in today’s world?

Women-only organizations like The Junior League were founded to provide women with opportunities that could not be found elsewhere in earlier decades.  Today, the League still does by providing unique opportunities for leadership development, service and civic leadership.

JLA recognizes the incredible power and perspective of women. Women’s more collaborative and inclusive leadership styles, paired with visionary approach and the ability to multi-task, results in our unique ability to bring diverse people and organizations together to arrive at innovative new solutions for change.  

Poet and scholar Adrienne Rich said, “The connections between and among women are the most feared, the most problematic, and the most potentially transforming force on the planet.”

Our 3,500 members are relevant, nimble, and modern women, who stand at the forefront of tackling the most pressing and thorniest issues affecting women and children – acting as advocates on commercial sexual exploitation, early childhood education and poverty.  They are women who are creative in their ideas and courageous to be a part of the solution.  We value the opportunity to come together with like-minded women, united in a common goal.  As trained civic leaders, we are not afraid to roll up our sleeves to do the hard work, make connections, or lend our voices to combat the challenges facing women and children in Atlanta.  

As we face the horizon of our second century of service, the women of the JLA are prepared and eager to continue to make lasting transformation in our community.  

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