The Children’s Museum of Phoenix (CMoP) recently announced that Junior League of Phoenix Board Member Jennie Elser has been selected as the 2017 Children’s Museum Gala Co-Chair. CLO sat down with Jennie to discuss how being a member of the Junior League of Phoenix (JLP) led to her selection as Gala Co-Chair and how her work with CMoP benefits the JLP.
How long have you been involved with CMoP?
I was first introduced to CMoP as a provisional member of the JLP, which was 12 years ago. CMoP was the first shift I ever did as a member of the league, I will never forget the stapler cramps I got from working with kids to make paper lanterns; each one needed 18 staples! My first two placements were on the CMoP Committee when we they were one of our community programs, before the museum opened. I was so proud to attend their grand opening! I also chaired the CMoP committee organizing educational events in our JLP classroom. This is my third year volunteering with them, independent of the JLP, on their gala committee. I have also been a member of CMoP and taken my kids there for many years. They love it.
Why have you chosen CMoP as one of your personal passion projects?
I appreciate the work they are doing and I have seen it benefit my kids and other kids, which has developed my passion for the organization. I support other causes that don’t personally affect me, but witnessing their work has personally connected me to it and it is something I feel strongly about.
Why do you think CMoP selected you to be the gala co-chair?
I think they picked me, probably, because of a lot of the skills I developed in the JLP. I’ve learned how to be a good volunteer. I was a devoted volunteer for them last year, I went to all the meetings, I worked hard, I volunteered in additional ways other than my role and I think they recognized that and thought I would be a good person to have as the chair, because I will go the extra mile to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Being on a gala committee is a lot of work, and being chair is even more work. Why did you say yes?
I was honored they asked me and I love what the museum does with their Every Child program, plus it is a fun event! I also thought it was something I had the capacity to do, while still stretching myself. I have chaired events before, but this is a big public event for a larger organization and I wanted the challenge.
How do you feel being a JLP member has contributed to your success at CMoP?
I feel like I am a stronger leader because of the JLP. I when I joined, I didn’t have many leadership skills. I am going to be honest, I was a stay at home mom that had not had a long career. The opportunities I had through the JLP are what got me to where I could do something like this. I just never would have imagined myself taking a position like this, even though I would have loved CMoP, my confidence and my ability to serve in this way are a direct result of being a member of the JLP.
How do you feel that service in outside organizations has contributed to your success in the JLP?
It is exactly vice versa, what I got from the league I will give to them and I am going to be doing things in this position that will help me develop fundraising skills that I can take back to the league.
I think any time you’re helping another organization, you’re going to be learning things you can bring back to the league.
What do you think that JLP members bring to the community table that is special and unique?
In most jobs you don’t get to try something new all the time and in the JLP, I’ve gotten to try something new every year. I think the variety of experiences means a lot and helps JLP members spot issues and solutions through all their different experience lenses. I’ve done direct community service, marketing, fundraising and I’ve experienced things I never would have without the JLP. For example, when I first joined the league I was on the community team. It was fun, it was rewarding, and I knew I was making a difference. However, after many years in that part of the JLP, I was asked to join the Development team and chair the Valley Impact Luncheon. I think they picked me because I was a very organized, detailed person, but it was the first time I had every delved into that world. I had never been involved in that part of the JLP or even considered it. And it was a challenge. It was hard. But it was rewarding and I learned a lot. And I don’t think I would have applied to be on the JLP board if I hadn’t learned that. It gave me a completely new set of skills and interests.
Would you be interested in being supported by other JLP members as the gala co-chair?
I definitely would! Anyone that is interested can absolutely reach out to me. I would love to have a committee and guest list full of JLP ladies!
The CLO Community Leadership Spotlight features JLP members engaging in volunteer leadership roles in the community. If you are a JLP member or know a JLP member engaging in a volunteer leadership role in the community, please reach out to the Community Leadership and Outreach Committee Chair at jlp.clo at jlp.org or at (602) 234-3388 x228.