First Person: Message from the President

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams

One of my favorite trainers, Vicki Clark, recently shared this John Quincy Adams quote at AJLI’s annual fall leadership conference. It really resonated with me because I have always believed that all members of the JLP are leaders, not just those who serve on the board, the operations team or as a chair.  The JLP offers many opportunities for members to demonstrate their leadership skills. These come in the form of service at community impact shifts, contributions to your committee, and even talking to friends, family and coworkers about the JLP to help people become familiar with the good work we are doing in our mission and our focus area. I encourage everyone to take advantage of these opportunities. You will get out of the JLP what you put into it.

Although it can sometimes be a challenge for JLP women, another important aspect of leadership is self-reflection and assessing your own personal needs. I’d like to encourage you to consider a few questions: What can the JLP do for you? What type of development opportunities do you want? What skills do you want to gain? If you do a deep dive into what you want out of your JLP experience and communicate your needs, we can better respond to them. Our members are the primary customer of the JLP. If members’ needs aren’t being met, we risk losing the ability to serve our secondary customer, the community.

This type of self-reflection has caused several members to take the lead and create new JLP groups. Members expressed an interest in training on public speaking and now we have a JLP Toastmasters Chapter starting this month. Members wanted more social interaction and now we have a moms group, a book club, a movie group and even a travel group. These groups exist not because the League took official action to create a new committee but because members who were interested in participating in these activities stepped up and took the initiative to lead. We don’t need a title to lead, we need a passion to do the things that interest us and courage to say yes when the opportunity presents itself.

Thank you to all of you who have said yes to the JLP, yes to leading a group of women, yes to improving our community, yes to being engaged and involved and yes to developing and growing your skills. We are all a work in progress and I am still learning from many of you every day. I am forever grateful for each member in this organization both within the JLP and other Leagues around the country that have shared their skills and knowledge with me to help me grow, learn and lead.

With Gratitude,

Cathy Comer
President 2016-2018

First Person: Message from the President

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”.

~Author Unknown

cathyI hope everyone is having a fun and exciting summer and getting ready for a great Junior League of Phoenix year. As I have been traveling this summer, I have tried to stay connected by checking my Facebook page and have seen many posts regarding the political candidates up for election this November. (Don’t worry, I am not about to share my personal opinions on any candidate!) The buzz made me think about the importance of voting not just in the Presidential election every four years but also in all elections for state and local candidates. The outcome of state and local elections affects our daily lives and probably has more impact on us personally than the outcome of the Presidential election. I encourage each JLP member to ensure they are registered to vote to make their voice heard on what is important in our community, across Arizona and in our Nation.

The quote above may be as eye-opening for you as it was for me. As Junior Leaguers we exercise our vote every day by volunteering. We decide what kind of community we want to live in as we volunteer to make lives better. For example, we help kids and parents understand the importance of nutrition and exercise with our Kids in the Kitchen Program. We help educate those who live in areas without easy access to high-quality food about nutrition and healthy eating as well as ways to prepare the fruits and vegetables purchased at the Fresh Express Mobile Market. We help foster problem solving, critical thinking, and exploration skills that are critical to future academic success while making learning science fun with our ROCKETS program. We provide cooking and nutrition education to low income families through the Phoenix Day Health Links program. When we volunteer for these important programs, we vote for successful, strong, community members!

We will have another opportunity to decide the kind of community we want to live in later this year as our Community Research and Development (CR&D) group, one of our Board of Directors strategic subcommittees, gets to work researching what programs we will be voting on at our March GMM. We have 2 programs that will be sun-setting at the end of our administrative year and the CR&D group is working hard to identify options from which our members can select.  I hope everyone has had a fun and relaxing summer and is ready for a fantastic year!

With respect and gratitude,
Cathy Comer
2015-17 Junior League of Phoenix President

First person: Message from the President

Dear Junior League of Phoenix Members and Supporters,

AnneWOW! What an amazing two years it’s been as your President! We’ve had so many positive changes, I hope you don’t mind if I just list a few. It’s taken so much time, effort, and gusto to make these all happen and I just want to thank everyone who participated in these awesome JLP achievements:

  • Creation of the Operations Team and the split roles of that team and the Board
  •  Board focus on Long Term Planning while the Ops Team got to manage the day to day
  • 2 year terms
  • Adding and hiring a new position of Development Director
  • Awesome inauguration of 360 Training
  • Increased # of members, and their increased satisfaction (yay!)
  • New Points System test year (instead of the dreaded requirements ; )
  • Highest Provisional class # ever (141!)
  • Invigorating Vicki Clark training
  • Amazing fundraisers: Rummage, Touch-A-Truck, Valley Impact Social, White Party, and other fun events like Kendra Scott
  • Had fun!!

I’ve been in the League 18 years, I wish I could say I joined at age 10, but unfortunately I was 23, and it’s been an incredible experience. I have truly grown up in the league, from being a kid right out of college to now owning a company and being an adult (sometimes.) This JLP experience has been just like life, full of ups and downs, excitements and disappointments, but through it all I was always driven by our mission and so if you’ll humor me one last time, let’s DIP it up!

Develop the Potential of Woman! Improve the Community! Promote Volunteerism! Yay for the Junior League of Phoenix and our commitment and success in fulfilling our Mission!

Thanks for an amazing last two years everyone, I will miss being your humble and fun-loving leader!

With respect and gratitude,
Anne Trauter
2014-16 JLP President

First Person: Push Your Boundaries in the League

How I Almost Said No to a Leadership Position

In 2013, I nearly declined an opportunity to co-chair ROCKETS. In the Junior League, you learn to never say no to a leadership opportunity. But working with 350 children at a First Friday event? Not my cup of tea. I was talked into it, however; and, much to my surprise, I really enjoyed my ROCKETS year and the benefits from that experience keep on coming in.

Earlier this year, I received a phone call from the president of my company, HDR Engineering. HDR has 225 offices and 9,000 employees worldwide. So when I saw his name on my caller ID, you can imagine the double take I made. “Wow. That name is really familiar,” I thought. Another ring later, I realized, “Wait. That’s the president calling!”

I immediately went into worst case scenario. He can’t be calling for good news. I mean, maybe this is how lay offs work. Or it’s a robo call to thank for me my recent donation to the company’s political action committee. Or maybe he’s going to relocate me to the Congo (yes, we do work there). Either way, I wasn’t expecting the news I received.

“Thank you for all your work in the Junior League ROCKETS program,” was what he said and then went on to tell me that The HDR Foundation would be funding ROCKETS for our next administrative year with a $9,350 award. He said our application stood out because the mission of ROCKETS aligned closely with The HDR Foundation. But even more than that, he said it stood out because I believed in it and supported it as the employee sponsor in the referral letter I wrote.

Talk about a pat on the back!

I know volunteering can feel like a thankless job at times. Too often, we get caught up in the details of our committee work and forget to see the big picture. We get roped into the politics and the gossip and forget that we’re all here for the same reason: to push the mission of the Junior League and to push our own boundaries as volunteers and leaders in the community. After saying yes to chairing ROCKETS that year, I’ve found I’m a better JLP member. I’m more understanding to committee chairs, I’m more task and schedule oriented, I’m a stronger grant writer because I have the experience and passion behind me—and, yes, I can work with 350 children and survive.

So I challenge each of you to think of your membership in the Junior League in a more global perspective—to consider the friendships, opportunities, and experiences you’re gaining and to apply that to your network. For me, reaching out to my company and my coworkers, talking to people about what the JLP means to me, and sharing my ROCKETS experience has culminated in many fruitful ways back to the League. Don’t be shy about telling people how you invest your time. People are listening. And they’ll invest it back in you.

by, Kelly Kaysonepheth

*Kelly was the Communications Team Leader in 2014/2015, is our Fund Development Team Leader this administrative year, and was just announced as our upcoming Director of Operations! Congratulations, Kelly!

First Person: Anne, President

JLP_ValleyImpactSocial_2015-2141I cried. Your happy, tough but nice, President cried her eyes out at the Valley Impact Social while asking our attendees to donate money. I did the same thing at last year’s Valley Impact event, so I knew it was coming. When I get in front of a group of strangers, this deep emotion comes over me that I want to convey to them just how important the Junior League and our mission really is, how much it matters! It chokes me up every time because I care so deeply about it and I want them to care too.

After 17 years in the League I’ve given a lot of my time, energy, strength, and of course now tears, and it just reaches deep down that I need to portray to potential donors that they need to donate money to us, it’s imperative!  I hope you aren’t too embarrassed by my tears, I use humor mainly, but a side of crying is okay sometimes too, I guess. If you feel as passionately as I do, then I hope you’ll understand, if you don’t, then please consider giving more of yourself to the league, it will come back to you three-fold!


Fortunately, I did not cry at Touch-A-Truck, and it proved to be another fabulous event! In fact four past Junior League Presidents of other leagues – Indianapolis, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Philadelphia all flew out to Arizona to support us and attend TAT with me – isn’t that amazing? I hope some of you had the opportunity to meet them; I was very proud of you all, as they got to see that we have the BEST members in the country!



First Person: Leadership Reflection

When I reflect on my Junior League leadership experiences since joining in 2004, three words come to mind: Passion, Purpose and Vision. It has truly been a pleasure to serve as a leader to many of the committees, projects, councils (now teams) and serve on the board in two leagues.

One experience stands out the most, serving as the Junior League of Phoenix Foundation President for my third term. When I first served on the foundation it was a part of my role as VP Development. Why does that matter? Well it matters because I was not aware when I took the role that was part of the “job”. I was initially not excited about this additional responsibility and did not know much about the Foundation. In my first year, I developed a PASSION for the Foundation. I am passionate about the foundation because it truly can drive the mission of the Junior League of Phoenix by providing much needed financial resources.

Passion: a strong feeling, irresistible motive for a belief or action. I learned early on from my JLP experience that there are many things out there we can do. BUT, there truly are many people to do them. If it is something that I am not truly passionate about it does not go on my list of activities. Think about it, if you don’t have the PASSION for something then when something needs to be done on a Friday night you won’t do it. Find a few things you’re IRRESISTIBLY PASSIONATE about and pour all your time and energy into those things.

The leader sets the pace for the pack! Leading with passion truly speeds up the work of the pack. If a leader is checked out, using this as a resume builder, or not passionate about the cause the pack suffers. The passion is contagious. If you are lacking passion for something, or lost the IRRESISTIBLE PASSION! Move on or find it again!
purposePurpose: the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. There are numerous books about finding your purpose in life. All of which tie in with doing what you are passionate about. In the terms of the League, let’s look at the purpose for why we do things. As a leader of the Foundation, it’s important for me to have a clear understanding for the why and easily draw the line for those involved. We can raise lots of money, complete all our yearly goals and check off all the non-profit boxes but this begs the question WHY are we doing this? We are doing this because we believe in the Junior League and the impact we have made on the phoenix community. It’s not about the Facebook posts or the minutes… it’s about the community impact. All day every day!

Once you have passion and know the purpose THEN WHAT? Well you need to have a vision. Vision: a clear picture for the future for the organization or project with the power of anticipating that which will come to be and making it happen. This is where many leaders fail by leading following the status quo. I always think about Blockbuster Video. Why? As the world changed they were status quo. They maintained status quo as the red box moved into grocery stores and Netflix started shipping videos. Once they realized what was happening it was too late. As a leader moving the mission and purpose of the organization is essential.
Sometimes the vision is not clear, but a leader must have one. Good leaders can see past the day to day and into the future. Great leaders also know the small steps that it takes to achieve the grand vision. Think about it for a second. If you know you want to go to Asia in a boat and can see yourself there you have vision. But you don’t know anything about how boats run you will never achieve the vision. How does a leader meet the vision? They get people excited and surround themselves with people who have the skills they do not. Then learn from them.

Things to Remember!
1) Find your passion! Do only things your passionate about!
2) Lead with Passion
3) Know your Organization’s Purpose
4) Move the mission and purpose forward with a vision!
5) Surround yourself with people who have the skills you do not; learn from them!

Overall my experience as the President of the Foundation has taught me how to be passionate, know the purpose and have a clear vision. Leadership is challenging and ever changing (remember Blockbuster). Things change daily. But my leadership style has evolved over time. I am proud to lead a great organization and proud of the accomplishments the Foundation board has achieved!

by, Sara Mayer

First Person: Caring

Reflections of a Junior League Experience.

I find it interesting that no one has ever asked those of us who have stayed in the Junior League why we have done so… I am sure there is some tremendous beauty in our various answers.

flowerThere have been times I would have answered that with a “they can’t beat me” after a particularly trying year, but there is one thing that has held constant for me… through the craziness of navigating new programs, implementing new procedures, handling different kinds of people, navigating contentious organizational decisions, you name it… through that, there have always been a group of women that deeply and profoundly cared. It was not passive caring, it was “let me help you get up” caring. There are so many amazingly strong women in our organization, but even strong women face challenges and hardship. The JLP has my loyalty because it has lifted me twice, once when I was put on bed rest at 18 weeks pregnant and delivered a preemie, and another when faced with my cancer diagnosis.

In the first, the visits from members that I knew and did not know were what helped me keep sane. My husband had to work long hours and being alone all day, with permission to only get up to use the bathroom, was daunting. Fresh smiling faces bringing us dinner (which I could not stand up to cook) was one of the brightest spots of my pregnancy. They followed up by visiting and staying in touch when my son was premature. I consider all the women that carried me through this to be some form of godmother to my son, even if only in the gentle remembrances in my head of how much they supported me.

My cancer diagnosis was frightening. There are so many unknowns as one begins navigating that process. For me, I had women who walked that path with me through the countless visits and surgeries leading up to the diagnosis and then on through. Women who helped give my fears and frustrations a voice. Who delivered food, sent flowers and cards, held my hand, offered to throw rocks at walls with me…

These two dark days of my life where brightened by the JLP. In spite of other organizations I belong to, the JLP shone like a bright star for me during my darkest days and pulled me up when I was down.

There are so many other things that speak to the beauty of my JLP experience, but this is closest to my heart.

by, Blair Coe Schweiger

First Person: Developing the Potential of Women

woman readingWhen I first joined the Junior League of Phoenix (JLP), I was excited to be part of an organization that was making a difference in the community. I was initially drawn to an organized way of volunteering in the community. It was exciting to “jump” on the member calendar and find a wide variety of groups I could volunteer with; this was the simple reason I joined JLP in 2006. At that time never did I imagine the ways my membership would lead me to a wide variety of training and experiences that would actually provide development of my leadership skills.

I use to believe JLP was only about volunteering and if someone were to ask me, that response was exactly what my messaging was to others. But… I soon realized JLP is really fulfilling the mission of “developing the potential of women” through leadership opportunities. Today, I am blessed to have evolved in my non-profit career by sitting on several other boards, in addition to the JLP Board, and there have been many times drew upon my JLP training to help shape, organize, and lead these groups. In fact, I am sure that my counterparts are tired of hearing me say “well in the Junior League we do it this way!” But – it is 100% true that my time in JLP taught me valuable lessons about how to run and bring organization to a non-profit group.

As JLP members, our focus is often on the community work we do, but when people ask me today what JLP does, I explain we are organization that is leading change by training women to go out and make an impact in the community we call home!

by, Annette Tanori

First Person: President’s Message

As I reflect on year one of our first two-year term presidency, I think, “who in the world thought someone could do this 2 years in a row?” Haha! I say this in jest because even though serving the league as President is a big (big) commitment of my time and effort every single day, I am SO happy when I hear about all of our happy members and when I see the actual good work we are doing in this community!

The Fresh Express Bus is something that took a lot of money and manpower to get involved with, but the Junior League of Phoenix took a chance on a project unlike what we have done before… like we’ve always done for the last 80 years… and Fresh Express turned out to be an extraordinary program that we can all be proud of! According to our data and membership survey responses, our membership satisfaction is the best it has been in years. When I started my presidency, I stated my intention was to create a fun experience for members; that is one of my personal goals for the league I’m ecstatic about exceeding from the prior year.

by, Anne Trauter

First Person – Rummage

JM2My first rummage sale was rummage by immersion. During my provisional year, I had a difficult time opening myself up to the experience and connecting with other members, so I wasn’t experiencing all the fun that my provisional year could be. As part of my disconnectedness, I was lagging on my provisional placement requirements, including my fundraising hours. I decided to combine two rummage sale day shifts to maximize my availability. I already decided I would not extend my membership into an active status, but I wanted to end my provisional year in good standing with all of my obligations completed.

Well, the morning of the rummage sale, my car decided to blow out its water pump and it COMPLETELY overheated and had to be towed to my mechanic. I called my shift contact and explained the situation, expecting the worst, which would have been I wasn’t going to complete my rummage obligation and be unable to complete my provisional year in good standing. I was in full panic mode. Freaking out like only a world-class spazz can do. Instead, my contact was incredibly accommodating and understanding, assuring me I could complete my shift whenever I could, if I could, get down to the fair grounds. I didn’t want to take any chances on not completing my obligation…. A ride to the mechanic and a rental car later, I was greeted with smiles and friendliness amidst the bustle and hum of the sale day. I explained I would need my phone on hand to receive calls from my mechanic and I was given a placement in a tandem team, which would make receiving calls to address my dead car’s resurrection needs.

I made a choice to make the best of the day and the situation ahead of me. While talking with my morning partner, I found out she was a committee chair who was hosting a meeting that next week and invited me to attend, which would help me complete my missing meeting requirement. She also wanted for me to attend because she thought I might have a connection with some of the women on her committee with whom I had commonalities. I remember thinking, “wow, she doesn’t want me to leave feeling like I never belonged… that makes me feel good.” JM1

During the break between morning and afternoon shifts, the sale briefly closes for reorganization and clean up to prepare for the afternoon shopping rush. While folding and trying to organize a mountain of baby clothes, I recognized a league member, Shelly Forstrom, who I met a few years ago outside of the league. I allowed myself to lapse contact with her, and I could tell she didn’t recognize me so I could retain my anonymity if I wanted (and anonymity IS my comfort zone). I took a deep breath and interrupted in her conversation with her friend and explained how we previously met. She remembered me!! She even recalled our conversation we had about my interest at that time of joining the league and asked me about my provisional year experience. I briefly explained my challenges and my intention to not extend my membership. Well, Shelly was not going to accept that laying down. I found myself accepting an invitation to lunch the next week with some of her friends, who were also league members…. In the course of a matter of hours, I had two invitations – that I accepted (outside comfort zone!) – to meet up with league members.

At the end of my shift, still apologetic for my lateness to my shift, I was assured my time would count and my credit for my work would be granted. It was explained to me, multiple times over, that day, an understanding of the ways life can interrupt our plans and was told how appreciative they were I managed to show up in the midst of that personal chaos and stress. I was grateful for the encouragement and acknowledgement of my efforts to get to the sale.

I completed all my provisional requirements and I extended membership into an active membership. That rummage sale day was eight years ago, and I am still friends with the women I met that day and in the immediate weeks following that sale day. I was ready to give up on Junior League before I even had a chance to learn what my experience could be, but there were league members who weren’t ready to give up on me.

by, Jennifer Mims