It is not unusual in The Junior League for a member to really dig into an assignment and become an expert as well as a catalyst for change in that area of focus.
Consider Joy Burkhard.
Joy is co-founder and Executive Director of 2020 Mom, a national nonprofit dedicated to closing gaps in maternal mental health care through convening, collaborating, advocacy and education. She also is a founder and Chair of the National Coalition for Maternal Mental Health and sits on the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative Executive Committee and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology working group on maternal depression.
Because of her incredible commitment to maternal mental health care, she has received the Women’s Health Emerging Leader Award from the U.S. Health and Human Services Agency’s Office of Women’s Health as well as the Volunteer of the Year award from Cigna, her long-time employer, where she is a compliance project manager. Both awards were made in 2016.
Before founding 2020 Mom, Joy had a rich volunteer life with the Junior League of Los Angeles, serving most recently as its representative with the Junior Leagues of California State Public Affairs Committee (Cal-SPAC). She was recognized by JLLA in 2013 with its Founder’s Cup award. During Joy’s tenure with Cal-SPAC, the group championed legislation which declared May as maternal mental health month in perpetuity.
Joy’s says she was moved to action as a mental health advocate during her little brothers struggle accessing care for his mental health disorder which culminated after his suicide. She also experienced her own anxiety after the birth of her first child and new other women didn’t have the same support and resources to get through it as she did. The many heart-wrenching stories of loss, including the story of Jenny Gibbs, the twin of an Olympic athlete who tragically took her baby’s life and then her own, whose story inspired a young junior league member to submit the idea for Cal-SPAC’s legislation. This coupled with her understanding of the complex health care system, need to understand root causes, and passion for improvement put her on the path to doing more.
“If I hadn’t joined the Junior League I wouldn’t be doing this incredibly rewarding and important work. I was able to gain skills, knowledge of the problem and the confidence to do more.
My advice for other Junior League members is to look for overlap in your personal, professional and volunteer lives and take advantage of doing something when there is overlap in multiple circles. Causes need dedicated women like us.”
*This article was originally published in connected, an official publication of The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., and has been reprinted with permission.