Happy October! As the days grow shorter and the weather chillier, I hope each of you is finding creative ways to enjoy autumn while staying safe and healthy. Our members continue to impress me with their flexibility, ingenuity and commitment to Omaha and each other.
Updated COVID-19 Guidelines
Last month, the Board of Directors issued updated COVID-19 guidelines that will be effective through the end of 2020. Large meetings and events should be held virtually, although we have loosened the maximum capacity for smaller in-person gatherings. All meetings should continue to have a virtual option, and in-person attendees should adhere to social distancing and masking guidelines.
General Membership Meetings
Thank you to Chair Maggie McGlade Palmer and the Social & Hospitality Committee for helping to host such a wonderful meeting in September. It was our first ever virtual meeting and it was a huge success! For October’s GMM, we have made some adjustments to ensure all members are able to join and are excited to be hosting a League Leadership Panel. League leaders will be answering questions from our membership. Topics we hope to cover:.
How to develop your own personal JLO career path
How each member can maximize their membership experience
Whom to contact if you are interested in a formal leadership role
Bargain Bash Drop-Offs
Co-chairs Molly Junge and Sarah Schlotfeld and the entire Bargain Bash Committee are hard at work planning for our spring 2021 event. If you have any items you’d like to donate, you can drop them off on Saturday, October 17 and Saturday, November 7 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. Masks are required for all volunteers and donors. Drop-offs are held at ThermoKing Christensen, located at 7508 F Street. If you have any larger items or have difficulty making the drop-offs, please contact the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy September! Every day, I’m amazed by how agile and optimistic our members have been as we all adjust to a new normal during the COVID-19 pandemic. Case in point: we are holding our first-ever virtual General Membership Meeting this month on Tuesday, September 15 at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. I’m excited to bring you an incredible speaker, licensed mental health practitioner and counselor Nicole Crawford, who will be presenting on “Locating Yourself in the Midst of Chaos.” She will give members practical tips and guidance on how to pursue mindfulness and wellness during these unusual times. Be sure to sign up on Digital Cheetah for the Zoom log-in details.
Junior League of Omaha members have been responding to present needs, carefully coordinating community impact programming and adapting our engagement opportunities to accommodate our members. We are also thinking about our future, crafting initiatives to ensure the long-term sustainability and success of the organization. Despite the current state of our world, JLO women understand we need to continue to plan for what lies ahead.
This brings me to the topic of this month’s letter: the future. Our 2020-2023 Strategic Plan calls for JLO to execute on four main strategic goals related to community engagement, member experience, financial sustainability and League growth and visibility. You can view the entire strategic plan here. This three-year plan will help focus our efforts and steer our (rather large) ship in the right direction.
But how else can we ensure our organization is being set up for success? What does success even look like? No one person or group can define how best to move JLO forward. I’m asking for your help, as Junior League of Omaha members. We want to know how we can curate programming to meet your needs and preferences.
Fundraising Research The newly-revamped Fund Development Committee, led by Chair Madeline Haas and Vice Chair Amanda Horn, has been starting to pull together ideas for a new fundraiser. In addition to our current fundraising initiatives, we are hoping to diversify our efforts and stand up a long-term, signature League event.
We are hoping each and every JLO member can take a few minutes over the next month and take our Special Event Fundraiser Research Questionnaire. It should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. The results of this survey will truly shape the next fundraising event, so your input is important!
A special thank you to Fund Development Sustainer Advisor Mikaela Borecky for her leadership and guidance to this committee. As the Senior Director of Fund Development for the Greater Omaha Chamber, her contributions have already proved invaluable during this process.
Bylaws, Policies and Procedures The Governance Documents Special Committee has been hard at work since the spring reviewing and drafting proposed amendments and revisions for the JLO Bylaws, standing rules and policies. Using AJLI’s Bylaws Template Toolkit, this group has taken on the challenge of streamlining our various governance documents, aligning with the most current Nebraska statutes and ensuring there is no duplication or conflict. Led by Executive Vice President-Elect Alysia Radicia, the group has completed a rough version of the newly-proposed Bylaws and has moved into “policy land.”
Over the next few months, you’ll begin to see opportunities to review and provide feedback on these ever-so-important documents. We will send out the Bylaws revisions in a rough draft format in the Hot Sheet, and then will hold various in-person and virtual sessions to answer any questions you may have and hear your thoughts on the proposed changes.
If you have any immediate suggestions for what you think should be included or changed in our governance documents, please email me directly.
Thank you to registered Parliamentarian and JLO Sustainer Lori Bucholz who has been helping our special committee. Her knowledge of and experience with parliamentary procedure has been incredibly helpful as we move through this complex and nuanced process.
Diversity & Inclusion Multi-Year Plan Another important planning initiative we are undertaking is that of the D&I Multi-Year Plan. Under the League Growth and Visibility goal in JLO’s Strategic Plan, there are two objectives that speak to integrating D&I into our League:
Objective 4.1: By 2021, the League will implement an intentional membership recruitment strategy, working to ensure the New Member classes increasingly reflect the lived experiences of those we serve.
Objective 4.2: By 2022, the League will establish an inclusive environment through integration of equity, diversity and inclusion principles into organizational operations and culture.
To ensure we are staying on track, even during these unusual times, a small task force is working with the D&I Committee to compose a multi-year plan that will guide efforts to achieve the goals set forth in the strategic plan.
Do you have an idea about how JLO should strategically embed D&I into our operations? If so, email the D&I Committee.
You Go, Girl! Finally, this isn’t technically a future-related initiative, but it’s so exciting I needed to give it a shout-out! Corresponding Secretary Jillian Humphries has initiated a recognition campaign called “You Go, Girl!”
The Board of Directors would like to know more about what amazing things our members are doing! Do you know a member who has celebrated a milestone? Been recognized for an award? Added a little one to their family? Been an outstanding volunteer? If you know someone who deserves some praise, please complete this form. We will coordinate a special kudos, recognition, or show of support for her.
Stay safe and well! Have a great September, and thank you for all you do for JLO and for our community.
As I write this month’s President’s Perspective, I’m acutely aware we are all feeling the weight of the global pandemic, the deaths of Black Americans across the country and the economic downturn. In the wake of such significant events, it can be challenging to identify how we can help individually and as an organization. While the start of this League year certainly looks different, I’m confident we will continue to thrive and be a force for positive change in the Omaha community. While I’ve chosen to highlight this month the work JLO is doing in our community and advancing equity, diversity and inclusion, I know all of our members are giving back to our organization, to Omaha and to each other. Thank you for your service and leadership during these difficult times.
As a reminder, JLO’s COVID-19 Summer Operational Guidelines can be found here.
For the first time in three years, our League has a new program aligned with our community impact focus area, hunger and access to healthy foods. Despite the social distancing required by the COVID-19 pandemic, our Food Access Committee led by Chair Shannon Lang has been passionate about providing engagement opportunities to members. Throughout June and July, JLO volunteers have been working outdoors in Together’s new community gardens planting, weeding and watering. Together aims to prevent and end homelessness in Omaha. Their case managers utilize tools to either rapidly rehouse or keep a household in their home.
JLO members have been able to sign up to work with Heart Ministry Center, which provides basic necessities, educational opportunities, health outreach and support to individuals and families in north Omaha and surrounding areas. Volunteers have assisted with food pantry operations, including unloading food in the warehouse, packing pantry boxes and loading boxes into cars.
There have also been volunteer shifts scheduled with No More Empty Pots, an organization that provides emergency response to urgent community needs for food relief. Each Wednesday, JLO volunteers portion out the prepared meals then package, label and bag them for distribution to the community.
For those members who aren’t yet ready to volunteer in-person, the Food Access Committee organized various Google Meet virtual shifts in June in which volunteers compiled recipes of quick, easy and affordable meals. They then catalogued the recipes by ingredient so that our community partners can quickly find and print them to share with their clients. These recipes have been provided to local pantries, meal services and community-supported agriculture programs for distribution to community members who are unsure on how to utilize various food items.
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
On June 3, 2020, the new Board of Directors issued a public statement in response to the deaths of George Floyd and James Scurlock, and the nation-wide protests against racial inequality. Our organization calls on each member to “…commit to listening and educating ourselves. We must do the work, we must speak out, and we must be visible.” The full statement is available on our website here.
The JLO Diversity & Inclusion Committee has been working hard to bring opportunities for doing the work, speaking out and being visible. May’s “What is My Role in Advancing Racial Equity?” and “Gender Inclusive Language and Practices” prompted members to evaluate their intrinsic racial and gender biases and intentionally begin reframing thought patterns. “Undesign the Redline,” presented by The Union for Contemporary Art on June 25, was a virtual version of the in-person exhibition designed exclusively for JLO members. Sue Stroesser from The Union engaged our members in a dialogue surrounding the history of the redline in Omaha along with how it is currently impacting our community. The recording of “Undesign the Redline” will be available for JLO members soon – stay tuned!
Communications Project Management Chair Jess Winter, who is a school librarian with OPS, recently wrote a post on JLO’s Connections Blog titled “Books are incubators” – Stories Cultivating Empathy. I encourage you to read it here. My family and I are making a conscious effort to expand our family book collection to include works that incorporate diversity. In her post, Jess discusses why it is important to amplify diverse voices and includes resources for adding to your library.
Also in June, D&I Committee Chair Stephanie Kidd and I hosted our first D&I Leadership Roundtable for committee chairs, Council leaders, Management Team and Board. We will continue these roundtables throughout the year to provide our League members the opportunity to ask honest questions and learn from each other. The next D&I Leadership Roundtable will be held on Thursday, July 30, at 7 p.m. Please sign up on Digital Cheetah. Stephanie and I are looking forward to hosting a roundtable for all JLO members early this fall.
Finally, you may have noticed a new standing feature in the weekly Hot Sheet, the D&I Corner. The committee has been using this space to share information, updates and resources related to equity, diversity and inclusion. Some of the weeks will include links to external resources. I encourage you to take advantage of these learning opportunities and send Stephanie and her team any resources you think might be beneficial to share.
Getting to Know You
Each month we will feature a new League leader to get to know in the President’s Perspective. This month I’m sharing a bit about myself.
I grew up in Dallas, TX and my family lives in Rapid City, SD. I’m married to Adam, who grew up in Blair, and we have two cute kiddos: Tommy is four and Vivian is 13 months. I’m a nurse practitioner and oversee risk management and regulatory standards for Methodist Hospital and Women’s Hospital.
I joined Junior League in Minneapolis, MN and was a member in Corpus Christi, TX before moving back to Nebraska. I’ve held various placement in JLO, including Big Red Block Party chair, communications chair and Executive Vice President.
When I’m not spending time with my family or working, I enjoy reading, trying new restaurants and drinking wine. Adam and I also love to travel; our favorite destinations are Hawaii and Napa Valley.
Stay safe and well! Have a wonderful month and thank you for all you do for JLO and for our community.
I was going to leave you with a John Wooden quote and our photo message for the summer; however, today as I returned home from delivering some Junior League of Omaha gifts and awards, as well as picking up something from headquarters, I began to reflect upon my 10 Active years as a Junior League member. Something made me think of a letter I was asked to write during my Doane Leadership Cadre program. After a lot of digging on my computer, I was able to find it. So, I’d like to leave you with my thoughts from 2014 because I think they reflect my feelings today:
As I have said before, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be part of this organization. Thank you to all the leaders who I have had the opportunity to learn and grow from. I cannot see what the future will bring, but I know we will do great things as we navigate the unknown.
Please see the message below from the 2019-2020 Board and Management Team: