We recently had a brief interview with Kristin Armstrong to discuss not only why she joined the League, but how it has positively impacted her career and personal life. Kristin’s League experience has been nothing short of impactful. She is currently an active member of the Junior League of Louisville, and serves as the VP of Membership.
When did you join the Junior League and what motivated you to become a League member?
I joined in the fall of 2014. I was a graduate student in a specialty program at the Kent School of Social Work, so my time was slim and split between classes, practicum, and homework. I wanted to volunteer in the community but couldn’t commit to daily or even weekly involvement, and the Junior League allowed me to give my time on an irregular schedule while still making a big impact. I wanted to volunteer, but I also wanted to get to know my city and meet strong, smart, community-focused women. The League offered me all of that in one place.
What are some of the skills you have learned/honed through your roles within the Junior League? Have these skills helped you in your career? How?
Earlier this year I made a career shift from social work to nonprofit fundraising, and I was able to do so in large part because of skills I honed serving in League leadership. I was able to organize and facilitate training events, lead teams of volunteers, engage in strategic planning, manage a tiered budget, fundraise for a meaningful cause, collaborate on a marketing campaign, create tactical plans for recruitment and outreach, and more. During my job search I was able to provide concrete examples of this work to potential employers, and even though I’m new to the field I entered the job market with multiple competing offers. I’m convinced my League experience was a major contributor to that positive outcome.
What is your favorite JLL memory, event or committee and why?
In April, I was selected to attend the Organizational Development Institute for the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI), a conference for Junior League leaders from across multiple countries. We shared ideas, learned new approaches to leadership, and more of your typical conference activities, but what really stuck with me was hearing about the incredible collective impact being made by our members. There are Leagues working to address human trafficking, environmental concerns, refugee resettlement, domestic violence, health services, and here in Louisville, the effects of generational poverty on education. As only one woman, it’s easy to think I can’t make much of an dent in those large, systemic issues, but in the Junior League we have over 140,000 women working together against them, and in those numbers we’re pretty unstoppable.
There are occasionally stereotypes about what it means to be a member of the Junior League. How is Junior League relevant to you?
The Junior League isn’t a stagnant organization- they’re willing to make changes in order to meet the needs of the changing role of women in society. When the Junior League began it was an organization for socialites, and that’s simply not what life looks like for most women. In 2018, our members are teachers, business women, mothers, students, judges, civic leaders, women from absolutely every walk of life who need an organization that’s willing to adapt to that changing demographic. You can see that forward movement through elements like our Diversity & Inclusion task force (a watchdog group for increased League accountability), our Advocacy Committee (to educate members on public policy issues and civic engagement), and the Voice & Choice implementation (to maintain the League’s flexibility for women with increasing demands on their time and talents). I attended a training event recently where a representative from the Association of Junior Leagues International told us, “if you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” I strongly believe the League will never be irrelevant because as an organization we’re willing to make the difficult changes necessary to effectively meet the needs of our members without compromising our mission.
What do you wish you could share with individuals who are not in JLL, but may be interested?
Set aside your preconceived notions and give us the opportunity to surprise you – come see who we are in action. I invited a friend to attend a Junior League recruitment event, and afterward she came up to me and said, “I really wanted to hate this. I thought it was going to be an organization for bored housewives, but I think everyone in this room has at least a master’s degree.” She filled out her Junior League application that same night. It’s funny, but it’s also true – this is a group of incredibly accomplished women, but it’s also a group for women who are just starting on their path and want to gain practical skills or engage with their community in a way that will one day help them be one of those incredibly accomplished women, too. Empowering women and communities is what we do, and I can promise you’ll believe it when you see it.
If you have a Junior League of Louisville Member (active or sustainer) that you think should be highlighted in our blog, please contact Lindsey Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.