The 2019-2020 Junior League of Omaha year was led by President Kerri Palmasano as the 101st president of the Junior League of Omaha.
The year started with 80 new members and a successful Bargain Bash on August 10-11 and sold 50 presale tickets in addition to the funds raised from sales. Altogether the Fundraising Council raised over $17,000 with the help of 60 volunteers completing 177 volunteer hours.
The 2019-2020 League year also included the debut of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee. The Committee had the main goal of making a place where all are included while following the diversity statement as follows: “The Junior League welcomes all women who value our Mission. We are committed to inclusive environments of diverse individuals, organizations and communities.”
There were a wealth of volunteer opportunities for the women of the Junior League of Omaha in the 2019-2020 League year with over several Done-In-A-Day shifts with 15 community partners. Additionally, 600+ volunteer hours were completed by ladies of the Junior League of Omaha among 3 focus areas.
The full 2019-2020 Annual Report can be found here which includes all the details of the League year.
Junior League of Omaha members Colby Jensen, Alyson Manning and Alysia Radicia are not just leaders within the League, they are leaders in business and service, earning the 2020 Midlands Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 award. The 19th edition of the prestigious awards program for Omaha’s entrepreneurs, executives and professionals was announced in September.
“I was blown away when I found out I was among the other great professionals on the 40 Under 40 list,” said Colby, an Audit Senior Manager with BKD, LLP, and the League’s Diversity & Inclusion Treasurer and a Nominating Committee member. “Receiving this award displays my commitment to my career and community and acknowledges the progress all recipients have made professionally and in the greater Omaha area. It provides reassurance to ‘keep up the good work’ to create rewarding opportunities and experiences to those surrounding us, allowing others within our community to flourish and thrive. I’m so thankful to part of this list and a citizen on the Omaha community.”
Alyson, Employee Relations Director for Kiewit Corporation, agreed.
“It’s a true honor and privilege to be awarded this honor, along with the 39 other individuals recognized with such impressive volunteer and professional credentials,” she said. “Recognizing the great accomplishments of young people in these areas in our community each year also helps set a precedence for everybody to understand and agree on. More so, it can help inspire others to exceed these standards and foster the continuous improvement in our society.”
Alyson became a Sustainer after serving as the 2018-2019 Recording Secretary. She also previously held the positions of Executive Vice President, Cookbook Chair and American Girl Models Coordinator Chair, among others, throughout her time as an Active Member.
Alysia is the Executive Vice President-Elect. She works as an interior designer at RDG Planning & Design while balancing her roles in the League and other community organizations.
“I don’t do the work I do for the title or the recognition,” she said. “In my role as a designer I strive to design spaces that best position the organizations for success; same is to be said for the work I do as a volunteer. The best recognition I can receive is when the organization is able to meet their goals and better serve the community due to the design or volunteer time I have done. In this instance, receiving a 40 Under 40 Award solidifies that the work I do matters and makes a difference.”
Over the next several days, JLO Connections will profile Colby, Alyson and Alysia. Each woman will also be featured in the Midlands Business Journal’s Dec. 8 edition.
Each year the Junior League of Omaha has nominations for slated positions that are included in board and management. Included in the positions are:
Board of Directors
President President-Elect Corresponding Secretary Executive Vice President Financial Vice President Member-at-Large Member-at-Large Diversity and Inclusion Vice President Nominating Committee Chair Recording Secretary
Executive Vice President Executive Vice President-Elect Communications Council Director Communications Council Asst. Director Community Impact Council Director Community Impact Asst. Director Finance Manager Fundraising Council Director Fundraising Council Asst. Director Membership Council Director Membership Council Asst. Director Recording Secretary Bylaws Vice Chair
The nominations of these positions are important as it allows the committee to hear names of people they may not otherwise know or be aware of that could be a good fit for the position. The majority of the slated positions prefer League committee experience paired with some professional experience in that field.
Nominations are every fall. The deadline for nominations for 2020 is November 20 with applications due December 13. To nominate someone for one of the positions email email@example.com.
This month we are getting to know Executive Vice President Jessica Sock.
Jessica is in her seventh Active Year in JLO and has held a variety of roles, including Community Impact Council Director, Done-in-a-Day Committee Chair and Board Member-at-Large. Her favorite role has been EVP as it allows her to connect with so many amazing members.
Jessica, her husband Don, and their five year-old Eliot enjoy camping, having fun outdoors and spending time with family.
On a cool Saturday morning in September, members of the Junior League joined the Training Committee for a yoga training at the Highlander Accelerator hosted by Lindsay Decker.
The Highlander Accelerator is a 65,000 square-foot commercial and public complex aimed at connecting the community through education, engagement, and enrichment. The Highlander Accelerator is part of the broader Seventy Five North community whose mission is to facilitate the revitalization of a healthy, sustainable, mixed-income community in the Highlander neighborhood. Seventy Five North works to break the cycle of poverty and community deterioration by partnering to create high-quality housing, thriving schools, recreational facilities and other neighborhood enrichment amenities. By holding the yoga training at the Highlander Accelerator, League members were able to visit this vibrant community and learn more about its mission.
The yoga training was held on the beautiful community lawn where the Highlander has offered free workout classes to the public throughout the summer. All CDC guidelines were practiced to ensure the safety of all participants. The training was a great opportunity for League members to practice yoga and to build strength, awareness, and harmony, in both mind and body.
During these difficult times, the Training Committee is diligently working to hold fulfilling and enriching trainings for our League members that provide the opportunity for personal and professional growth. Keep an eye out on Digital Cheetah for upcoming trainings. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Junior League of Omaha President, Katie Triplett is excited to introduce a new autumn campaign for all our members: the JLO Fall 2020 Bucket List. She has pulled together some fun ways to enjoy the season, engage with League volunteer and development opportunities and support community partners.
As you work through this list, be sure to snap a pic, post on social and use the hashtags #jlofallbucketlist and #jlomaha. Each social post will be entered into a drawing; at our December GMM, one lucky winner will receive this super stylish (and functional!) tortoise shell mask chain. If your social accounts are private, you can post in our Junior League of Omaha Facebook group, or email a screenshot of your post directly to Katie.
This month, we are getting to know Financial Vice President Lauren Hellman. Lauren is in her sixth Active year in the Junior League of Omaha. Lauren is married and has a very sassy 2.5 year-old daughter, Lucy.
She loves being outside and active, including running and hiking on trails. She has had so many great League experiences, but planning the first-ever bRUNch 5K was one of her favorites. Her committee was amazing, and the experience made her want to continue being in the League year after year.
The Junior League of Omaha Diversity and Inclusion Committee is proud to bring Eric Reiter from OutNebraska for Trans101 training on September 23 from 7-8 p.m.
The mission of OutNebraska is “To empower, celebrate and grow LGBTQ+ communities in Nebraska” and their vision is “Nebraska communities that embrace and celebrate the full spectrum of LGBTQ+ people.”
In this training, participants will learn about the history of the trans community, correct language and how to use it, how trans people intersect with multiple other identities, how present-day trans people are being affected by public policy and discrimination in the public sphere, as well as how folks can become accomplices to trans liberation.
As a League, we aim to be inclusive and welcoming to all women. The Diversity and Inclusion Committee sees value in helping JLO members and sustainers understanding the ins and outs of the LGBTQ experience as well as the trans community.
From Diversity and Inclusion committee member Sheena Helgenberger on the training: “Being an ally to the transgender people in my life, and to transgender people overall, begins with understanding the basics. Our presenter Eric will cover trans history, terminology, and ways to be advocates. I hope you can join us in this interactive zoom session!”
We also see value in understanding the experiences of the trans community based on the volunteering that JLO members do. From Community Impact Council Director Catherine Harrington: “As human beings, we are all so different and I think it is so important to learn and appreciate how other people experience life. It helps me keep an open mind and be a better advocate for equal human rights. Most of all I think people want to be heard and respected for who they are and me listening is the first step.”
Members: sign up for Trans101 on Digital Cheetah today!
Brunch 5K. Project Hope Pack. The Jumble Shop. And multiple cookbooks including 2018’s A Century of Serving: A Centennial Cookbook Celebration. Some projects and events, past and present, are what the Junior League of Omaha is known for around the community.
Others quietly inspire within the League, like Mentorship, which during the 2020-2021 League year celebrates eight years of engaging and retaining current members by fostering relationships between Active Members with 1-2 years in the League and those with three or more.
Mentorship is a “unique way to make connections with others in the League,” said Sustainer Lizzy Darling, who was a mentee for one year and a mentor for three. “As someone newer to JLO, it was an awesome way to build relationships with more seasoned members who could offer guidance on League involvement. Everyone involved in Mentorship seems to be eager to get to know one another, help and raise each other up. It’s an incredible program.”
“I believe that Mentorship strengthens the League,” said Lakelyn Hogan, a former Mentorship Chair and current Mentorship Committee Sustainer Advisor. “It allows members to form new connections and it gives newer members a chance to connect with someone who is more seasoned.”
The Mentorship program is for first- and second-year Active Members (mentees) who are paired with a mentor who is a minimum three-year Active Member based on common interests.
“The most rewarding part of Mentorship for me was getting to meet women that I normally would not have encountered during my time in JLO,” Lakelyn said. “I was always paired with great mentors and mentees. Because of that, I have made a lot of good friends through the program.”
Matches are made in the fall and introduced at Mentorship’s kick-off where they undergo a brief training to discuss the program expectations.
“You have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Lizzy said. “If you enjoy socializing with your peers, getting brunch or a glass of wine, playing a round of golf or doing a craft project, you will love being part of this program. The matching process is quite intricate and impressive. There is a lot of thought that goes into making a good connection between you and your match. Participate in this program to make the most of your League experience.”
The Mentorship Committee pairs together a mentor and mentee(s) to help facilitate social interactions outside of the normal League engagements and offer a special 1:1 or 2:1 connection. Through the program, participants can gain a deeper understanding of the League, find opportunities to network and form new friendships.
“By far the relationships” are the most rewarding part, Lizzy said.
“Make the most of your match,” she said. “Try to connect often, even if only by email. Everyone is busy. Agree what amount of time you can give and then be responsive. Everyone in the match has something to learn and to impart.”
Mentorship requires only a commitment for the League year, but many find themselves coming back year after year.
“I’ve been involved with Mentorship for seven years,” Lakelyn said. “I was involved from the very beginning. It has been my favorite part of my League experience.”
“Books are incubators.” Jason Reynolds’ words resonate. I imagine books hatching open worlds, creating images, and stories not only of things we love but questions and conversations. Right now, we need the incubators of stories to cultivate empathy.
Librarians curate book collections, which represent our students, their backgrounds and stories. They are mirrors into their lives and windows into someone else’s life.
Now think of that favorite book as a child or even a current one. Did it mirror your life? What is it a window into someone else’s life? What is a sliding glass door where you became part of the story? When was the last time you or your family read a book with a character that looked different than you? Or had a religion or an experience that you did not understand?
I ask this because our books lack diversity, creating singular viewpoints of stories. Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her Ted Talk explains when she was young, she only saw windows into other people’s lives and didn’t know that her story too could exist in literature.
When we only hear one continual narrative about a culture, it creates stereotypes and that is the only story we hear. The need for diverse books is to expand the single story and use stories as incubators to begin the work of cultivating empathy and allowing us to have hard, vulnerable conversations.