The Hilton Bayfront in sunny St. Petersburg was the backdrop for an inspiring
weekend earlier this year with impactful Leaguers. The Association of Junior
Leagues International (AJLI) hosted it annual Organizational Development
Institute (ODI) conference in The Sunshine City from February 22nd to 24th.
Over 300 hundred League members representing 21 different Leagues and
two countries embarked on a weekend of learning, training and engagement,
accompanied by nine of our own Junior League of Clearwater-Dunedin (JLCD)

JLCD sent nine members who were recognized for future leadership roles within the League. Each of these women received specific training in various key areas offered at the conference such as: Membership, Marketing and Communications, Governance, Diversity and Inclusion, and Fund Development. Throughout the conference excitement flourished as attendees demonstrated an eagerness to learn, grow and improve their respective Leagues. JLCD members quickly made new friends, and instant bonds were built, a byproduct of being around like-minded women who strive to improve their communities.

JuWon Choi, Chief Learning Officer at AJLI, opened the conference with a challenge to all: “Be agents of change in your own League.” She encouraged members to stay true to the mission of “promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.” She closed the day with another challenge, asking participants to always consider their actions and ask themselves, “Does this add value?”

In 2015, AJLI approved the Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Commitment statement, and the importance of D&I in all Leagues was a pivotal point of discussion on the second day of the conference. Dr. Johnny Lakes, Assistant Professor of Education at Northwest Christian University, a scholar and presenter who specializes in teaching and learning around issues of leadership and cultural competency, delivered an engaging presentation. He posed the question, “How can you make people in your League feel at home?” His challenge was for all League leaders to step out of their comfort zones and to reach out to people around them who are different from the status quo. His presentation reminded Leagues of their commitment to be diverse and inclusive organizations. The motivational speakers and training at the conference inspired JLCD leaders with new ideas and fresh perspectives, but also solidified that we as a League are not alone in our endeavors. There are 291 Leagues worldwide, 140,000 women who are change agents, and together we are UNSTOPPABLE.

Article by Candyce Miller and Beth Chernes.