Member Spotlight: Kristin Armstrong

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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.

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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.

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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 lbrown0086@gmail.com.

 

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Little Black Dress Initiative

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The Junior League of Louisville (JLL) embarked on its inaugural Little Black Dress Initiative from October 22-26, 2018. Fifty League members and several other community members wore the same black dress or outfit for 1 week. The purpose was raise awareness of the issue of generational poverty and the impact it has on education in our community. This was just a tiny representation of the limited choices that people in poverty face. The experience as a whole impacted supporters in many different ways and helped us all gain a new appreciation for the options we do have. It also was a great tool to start conversations in our community shedding light on what many here face. From share nights with local businesses, guest speakers at our breakfast panel on poverty held at Spalding University, and the sponsorship of our kickoff event, we were grateful for the support from our members, the community, and our extended networks in making our first year so impactful.

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You can view our sponsors in the images below. With their support we were able to raise $16,200, surpassing our initial goal of $10,000. The JLL has many projects in our community which support both educational initiatives and meeting basic needs. Money raised from this initiative will help the JLL continue to serve our community and train women to become civic leaders. It will support projects such as filling our 6 Little Libraries with free books, help sign kids up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in partnership with Wave 3 News, fill backpacks with food for children in need, help provide meaningful mentoring and events for children in crisis and so much more. Thank you again for supporting the Junior League of Louisville and we look forward to continuing this event and the conversation again next year! 

Impacts of Poverty on Education Panel Discussion

The Junior League of Louisville (JLL) is proud to host a training panel on the Impacts of Poverty on Education on October 26th. This event will take place at Spalding University in the College Street Ballroom (812 S. 2nd St.) Breakfast and networking from 8:00- 8:30 with panel discussion beginning at 8:30. This event will come at the end of the JLL’s Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI) Week (Oct. 22nd– 26th). Members of the JLL will be wearing the same black dress/outfit for the week as a small representation of the limited choices poverty presents members of our community. The main focus of the week will be adDressing how generational poverty affects the education of children in the Louisville community. Many JLL projects and programs aim to help combat these educational setbacks such as Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the 6 Little Libraries the JLL fills and maintains in our community.

Panelists include:

Krista Drescher-Burke, JCPS Department of Diversity, Equity, & Poverty

Lisa Dejaco Crutcher, CEO Catholic Charities of Louisville

Daryl W. Unseld Jr., Chief Equity Officer, Metro United Way

Leigh Anne Burke-Schaad, President, Junior League of Louisville

Full bios of our wonderful panelists can be found below. We would love for you to join us for this event. There is a suggested donation of $10 for non-Little Black Dress participants and proceeds will benefit the LBDI which you can learn more about by visiting this website. If you plan on attending please RSVP by clicking the link here.

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Drescher-BurkeDr. Drescher-Burke has been the Community Data Specialist in JCPS’s Department of Diversity, Equity, and Poverty since 2016. She works with community organizations and supporting philanthropic funders to evaluate the impact of community programs on academic outcomes for JCPS students. She is also actively involved in the implementation of the recently-passed JCPS racial equity policy. Krista and her husband, Bill Burke, are both Louisville natives and have three kids, all of whom attend the same JCPS elementary school (for one year—WOOT!). She graduated from UK and UC Berkeley.

CrutcherLisa DeJaco Crutcher is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Louisville, a position she has held since April 2017. Business First recognized her as an up-and-coming community leader in its “Forty Under 40” class of 2013. She has been active in a wide variety of civic and church activities, and has participated in Leadership Louisville, Bingham Fellows, and Leadership Kentucky. She currently serves on the Boards of Directors for Dare to Care and the Louisville Free Public Library Foundation and is the Archdiocesan representative to the Boards for St Joseph’s Children’s Home and Boys and Girls Haven. Her previous board services include the Americana Community Center, the Junior League of Louisville, and Volunteers of America Mid-States, where she was Chair of the Board for three years.

Prior to coming to work at Catholic Charities, Lisa spent more than 16 years as a commercial litigator in private practice at Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, one of Kentucky’s oldest and largest law firms. A sixth-generation Louisvillian, Lisa earned her Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude from Furman University and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. She is presently pursuing a master’s degree at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology.

UnseldDaryle W. Unseld Jr. serves as the Chief Equity Officer for Metro United Way – charged with providing executive leadership, strategy development, planning, execution and accountability for Metro United Way’s focus on internal and external equity, diversity and inclusion.

Prior to his service at Metro United Way, the 11-year U.S. Air Force veteran held positions in Louisville Metro Government and the YMCA of Greater Louisville.

Daryle earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Louisville, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Saint Leo University and a Certificate in Nonprofit Executive Leadership from Indiana University.

Daryle is a member of numerous civic and professional organizations including, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc, 100 Black Men of Louisville, the National Black MBA Association, and Louisville Chapter of the NAACP. He currently serves on the governing boards of the West Louisville Performing Arts Academy and 15,000 Degrees. He was selected as a 2015-16 Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE), Connecting Leaders Fellow and is a member of the 2018 Leadership Louisville Bingham Fellows class. He and his wife Cecily are proud parents of two daughters, Jasmyne and Natalia.

Burke-SchaadLeigh Anne Burke-Schaad has been a member of the Junior League of Louisville since 2009. During her time in the League she has held positions in fund development, community and communications prior to becoming President in 2017. Leigh Anne is the first President to serve a two-year term under a new organizational structure implemented in 2016.  During her time as President she has presented to other mid-size leagues at national conference, formed a task force for diversity and inclusion and fund development.  She is also very passionate about ensuring every child in the Louisville community has access to a quality education by visiting with community partners and exploring opportunities for partnerships.  Leigh Anne also serves on the Leadership Louisville Board of Directors and as Vice Chair for Alley Cat Advocates. In her professional life Leigh Anne works in marketing for Metro by T-Mobile.

Little Library in Memory of Pia Posadas-Miller

On September 20th The Pia Posadas-Miller Memorial Little Library was revealed by the Junior League of Louisville (JLL) and the family of Pia Posadas-Miller! Located right in front of the entrance to Engelhard Elementary this little library will provide all students with the chance to borrow or keep a book for free. Pia Posadas-Miller was a Junior League of Louisville Member who had a special place in her heart for Engelhard Elementary. Her favorite volunteer opportunity was helping with Blessings in a Backpack at Englehard, so much so she started coming on Friday mornings even when the Junior League did not.  Blessings in a Backpack is a national organization that provides children with food to eat over the weekend and is headquartered here in Louisville.

Her husband Brian Miller and daughter Sophie were on hand to dedicate this library in her honor and memory. Sophie also provided the beautiful artwork and donated a few of her own books to help fill the library. The Junior League’s “Pia Posadas-Miller Fund” also made a donation of $1,500 to Engelhard Elementary. We hope this little library will inspire children to love to read as much as Pia did! What a wonderful event! This is the JLL’s 6th Little library that they have opened and keep stocked in the Louisville community.

Pia Posadas-Miller Memorial Little Library

 

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Louisville

The Junior League of Louisville READ committee partnered with the Chestnut YMCA at their back-to-school event on August 4th and MetroPCS on August 10 to get children signed up for Dolly Partons Imagination Library.  At the events, the Junior League of Louisville also passed out free books to children and adults!

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Louisville was founded in 2016 through a partnership between the Junior League of Louisville, WAVE 3 News and the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation. Its mission is to put more books in the hands of Jefferson County children in an effort to foster a child’s love of reading and prepare them for kindergarten. We believe that by improving early education in our community, we can contribute to the lifelong success of Jefferson County children.

In its first year, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library of Louisville served 500 children under the age of 5 who live in the 40202, 40203 and 40208 zip codes. For 2018, the Imagination Library of Louisville has expanded to five new zip codes and will now serve up to 2,500 children. The added zip codes are 40209, 40210, 40211, 40212 and 40215. Anyone living in the 8 zip codes Imagination Library serves, regardless of family income, is welcome to sign up their pre-school children to receive free books. Community partners will continue to work to expand the program to include every zip code in Jefferson County.

The Junior League of Louisville is incredibly grateful to the partners and support we have been given to get this Project off the ground!

 

 

 

Founders’ Award Recipient Spotlight

Each year the Junior League of Louisville honors its most outstanding sustainers, supporters and community partners with the JLL Excellence Awards. 

Congratulations to the 2018 Founders’ Award Recipient Michelle Black White.

The Founders’ Award is presented to a Sustainer that has demonstrated continued Civic and Charitable Leadership on behalf of the League and the Community.  The Founders’ Award was started in 1982 to honor a Junior League of Louisville Sustainer for her ongoing impact in the Louisville Community. It is the most prestigious award given by the Junior League of Louisville to honor a woman who has used her League training to continue to contribute to the betterment of our community. This award is intended for a member who is community minded, lives the mission of the JLL through her actions and services and inspires others to reach their dreams with courage, strength and love to others.

Michelle has taken her JLL Leadership experience and served on several community Boards such as the KMAC Board and Operation Brightside. She also volunteers for her son’s schools as well, as a mother to 3 boys. What I think it great about Michelle is that although she has been a Sustainer for many years, she has remained involved by spearheading the JLL Book Club for over a decade, she created the monthly Sustainer Lunch Bunch to create more connection for sustainers and she returned to serve on this year’s Board of Director’s as the Sustainer Director.  Michelle re-vamped the Sustainer Advisory Board to get more sustainers involved and made the meetings more effective and impactful. I had the opportunity to witness this first-hand as she led the CAB/SAB members through several exercises to generate many ideas and feedback that have already proved to be useful.

Most sustainers launch from actively serving JLL to go out in the community to make a difference. What makes Michelle unique is that she did this while actually staying involved. I believe Michelle’s consistent connection to the organization made it a win-win… she used her JLL experience to go make an impact in the the community, and then brought her wisdom, loyalty and elevated skills from those experiences back to make our organization an even better place. I would like to see Michelle recognized for continually exemplifying JLL Leadership both within the organization and in our community.  One last note, Michelle has also used her JLL experience to make women feel good and beautiful by creating a successful business through W by Worth. She serves many women in our organization by helping them look and feel their best….I know because she has done that for me!

                                                                        -­ Jennifer Blair, JLL Past President

Tulips and Juleps Art and Gift Market Testimonial Tuesday

Tulips and Juleps is an event I look forward to every year, but normally I just attend for the unique shopping experience. This year I decided to make a weekend of it! I booked a babysitter and got to have a fun night out at Juleps After Dark with fellow Junior League members Allison and Jade (with our significant others in tow). We cashed in our drink tickets at the bar, and Allison and I jumped in the long line of fashionable women waiting for Kendra Scott baubles in the jewelry pull while Jade snapped photos for @juniorleagueoflouisville and the guys ran off to try their luck at the bourbon pull. It’s not like you can really lose when you know there’s Kendra Scott in the box, but I did happen to score a gorgeous necklace that’s worth a lot more than what I paid! We reconvened, bourbon and jewelry in hand, snapped a photo with Dolly Parton, and wandered through the silent auction items that we ended up (obsessively) bidding on all night. Allison and I might’ve been caught up in watching our auctions on the HandBid app, but it paid off when we both won! I can’t wait to attend the Focus Louisville class that I fought for- sorry bidder #100!

In truth I was probably a little bit overzealous. I worked at the JLL merchandise table all day, and after seeing everyone walk by with their shopping bags I was dying to find some treasures for myself! I ended up with an adorable board book from Usbourne Books & More for my son, candles from Graceful Bloom, a mini bundt from Nothing Bundt Cake, and a charming Derby-themed wooden sign from 52Home. My favorite purchase was definitely the spicy seasoning from Dan-O’s, though! It was a hit with our entire group, and it just might be what inspired us to head to dinner downtown to wrap up a great evening.

I came back the next morning with my son for Story Time at Usbourne with Shannon Cogan from Wave 3 News- he had a great time, but I don’t think he realized he was in the presence of a local celebrity! After hearing some fun stories, buying more candles from Ball & Twine, and a ‘Talk Derby to Me’ throw pillow from Rekindled Creations, it seemed like a good time to save what was left of my bank account.

I’ve been in the League for a few years now, and I think this was one of our best markets yet! I was truly impressed with the quality of our vendors and the value of their products, and events like Juleps After Dark and Story Time make it easy to enjoy the experience no matter who your squad is. Next year I hope to attend more of the scheduled events, and maybe I’ll have the discipline to save up in advance so I don’t have to cut myself off quite so early! Thankfully (perhaps mercifully?), our vendor list is shared on the JLL website, so I’ll be doing a little shopping in between, too. Overall, Tulips and Juleps provided a fantastic weekend for having a fun time with friends and family, supporting a worthy cause, and shopping great products from unique vendors you might not know about otherwise. Hope to see you there next year!

Kristin Armstrong, JLL Member, VP Membership