Category: Member

Extraordinary Junior League Members

By Shanna Lisberg

March is National Women’s History Month, a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society. Over the years, the Association of Junior Leagues International has had many remarkable members – from First Ladies to authors, actresses, politicians and more. In honor of National Women’s History Month, here are six extraordinary women who have volunteered with the Junior League.

Shirley Temple Black
Known for her curls and dimples, Shirley Temple Black made her first appearance on the silver screen at the age of 4. In 1959 she joined the Junior League of Palo Alto. She would go on to head the Multiple Sclerosis Society, become a member of the U.S. delegation to the United Nations General Assembly and serve as the U.S Ambassador to both Ghana and Czechoslovakia.

Nancy Reagan
Not only was Nancy Reagan a First Lady of the United States, a dazzling movie star in the 1950s, and the spokesperson for the “Just Say No” campaign, she was also a member of the Junior League of Los Angeles. She currently supports the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and advocates for embryonic stem cell research.

Julia Child
Before authoring Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julia Child was a member of The Junior League of Pasadena, where she contributed to the League’s magazine. After joining the League in 1935, Julia Child would go on to become a member of the Office of Strategic Service, author numerous cookbooks and star in various television series.

Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Hepburn may have won four Academy Awards for Best Actress, but she was also a member of the Junior League of Hartford. She sought to challenge stereotypes about women and campaigned for women’s issues during her time with the League. An advocate for reproductive rights, she also spoke out against anti-Communism in Hollywood in the 1940s

Eleanor Roosevelt
The longest-serving First Lady of the United States, Eleanor Roosevelt was a member of the Junior League of the City of New York. After being introduced to the league by her friend, Junior League founder Mary Harriman, Eleanor Roosevelt worked with Junior League volunteers to improve living conditions for immigrants on the Lower East Side. Eleanor Roosevelt was a delegate to the United Nations and served on the UN Commission on Human Rights, where she oversaw the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Margaret Hamilton
You may know her best as the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz, but Margaret Hamilton was also a member of the Junior League of Cleveland. Trained as a teacher, Margaret Hamilton worked with children’s theatre programs and was an advocate of causes to benefit children and animals.

Visit the Junior League of Seattle’s website or The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. to learn more about these and many other amazing Junior League women.

An Evening of Art and Conversation: Three Perspectives

Last month, a few dozen Junior League of Seattle members, along with several guests, congregated at the Woodside / Braseth Gallery for an evening of art and conversation focused on northwest art and artists.  John Braseth, the owner, warmly welcomed visitors and led a tour of the beautiful space.   Jessica, Meredith and Katharine, JLS members, left this event feeling inspired and eager to share their thoughts about art.

Art1

Jessica

I would consider myself to be someone who appreciates fine art, but most certainly not an expert or collector. As we walked through the current Jared Rue exhibit, and stopped to learn about the other Northwest artists also on display, John touched upon a topic that had recently crossed my mind: how does one begin an art collection?

I have been fortunate enough to see renowned pieces in museums, galleries, and even private homes. However, the idea of purchasing a piece of “real” art–meaning, a bigger investment than custom framing on a print that I bought from a One Kings Lane sale–has always seemed a bit intimidating. Original artwork can be very expensive, and what do I know about investing in art, anyway? However, John emphasized that collecting can really begin anywhere–and that a personal attachment to the artist’s work is the most important element. Building a collection goes beyond whether or not something matches your home decor. It’s about the emotional ties that a buyer feels about the piece, and patronage of an artist can start small. While this all seems pretty obvious as I type it out, I realized that I’d attributed too much importance to the notion that art collecting needs to be done in a certain way–which inherently made starting a collection seem daunting and prohibitively expensive. While I didn’t walk out of the Woodside / Braseth Gallery with a painting in hand, the evening inspired me to further explore the amazing art of the Pacific Northwest–and made me hopeful about eventually bring an original piece into my home.

Meredith

For me, Northwest Art is the heart of the Junior League of Seattle.  Perhaps, it’s because the Northwest Art committee was my first placement with the League.  But I don’t think that is the only reason.  I’ve witnessed how a quiet, shy classroom of 6th graders can come alive while discussing a piece of art.  I’ve walked around a classroom and listened to students debate “what the artist really meant.”  As docents, the Northwest Art volunteers prompt the students with questions similar to the following: Art2

  • What do you see?
  • What does it make you think about?
  • How do you feel when you look at the artwork?
  • What do you think the artist was feeling when (s) he made this piece?

Ultimately, the docents are encouraging the classroom to explore and discover the art and the artist.  Very rarely, will students state that they love or hate the art work.  They manage to be open- minded and very honest about what they see.  Part of me wonders if their open mindedness is because they aren’t thinking about the art as something they would or wouldn’t own.  They are just seeing it and appreciating the art for exactly what it is: Art.

Spending the evening with NW Art at the Woodside/Braseth Gallery was lovely.  And listening to John Braseth talk about the history of the gallery and his experience with art, art patrons, and artists, was fascinating.  But I couldn’t help but miss the excitement of the classroom.  Maybe we are all ladies now, and a bit too refined to shoot up our hands or shout out what the paintings make us feel.  Maybe we are scared that we’ll get it wrong.  What if I don’t like the painting but the person next to me loves it?  Or we worry about buying the perfect piece of art.  I’m realizing that we, as adults, are missing out on what the Northwest Art docents are encouraging classrooms to do:  Explore and discover the art and the artist.  Very rarely will you walk into a gallery or museum where someone will prompt you with questions about the art.  We need to train ourselves to ask the questions and really see the art.  We need to be curious and explorative and seek out the art of discovery.  Love the piece or don’t love the piece, but still appreciate the art.

Katharine

As someone who has grown up as a daughter of an artist and has been experiencing life through art for 30+ years, I am always fascinated by learning how other people’s lives have been changed by art. I majored in Art History in college but left school feeling that “art” had a different meaning to everyone. We can analyze a piece to death and know all about the time in which it was created and what the artist was thinking, but none of that really matters if you hate the piece or feel nothing when you see it. Art3

What I appreciated most about the NW Art Training at the Woodside/Braseth Gallery was listening to the owner, John, speak about one piece in particular that made him realize how art can create a physical reaction. This is Morris Graves’ “The Wounded Gull” created in 1943.

Graves created the painting during WW2 to communicate the darkness of war. John said that he first saw “The Wounded Gull” as a very young man, and it was the first time in his life that he realized art didn’t have to be pretty in order to make you feel something. He commented that it is not necessarily the type of piece that everyone wants to have in their living room, but it is something that makes you think or even better, it is something that makes you feel.

I think that many people see art as a way to decorate. That is a completely natural response. But when you first experience having an emotional or visceral reaction to a piece of art, you are forever changed and never look at art the same way. I am so thankful to have been able to see a little bit of what the NW Art program is all about. Spreading the appreciation of original creative works to people who would not normally get to experience it, is a huge task and one that massively impacts a community of growing minds.

John’s call to action is what I left with in my mind. Do not be afraid to look at all types of art. Ask yourself if you have a reaction to a piece. And then, support an artist. An art collection can start with a $25 screen print that you purchased from an artist at a First Thursday art walk. It doesn’t have to be the price of a car. Just get out and experience art.

A cornerstone of Junior League of Seattle is the many diverse training opportunities for its members.  The NW Art Evening of Conversation is just one unique example.  The League also offers trainings in everything from legislative advocacy, to running effective business meetings, to living a balanced life.  If you are interested in joining the Junior League of Seattle, please read more on the JLS website about the upcoming Meet & Greets for prospective members.

Ten with a Provisional Member

The Junior League of Seattle is an organization of nearly 1,300 women who are committed to promoting voluntarism and to improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Membership in the Junior League of Seattle is divided into 3 levels of membership status: Provisional, Active and Sustainer. Provisional status is reserved for members in their first year of membership, which is dedicated to training. Provisional status is followed by Active membership, then Sustainer status.

One of our current Provisional members, Taylor Coughlen, graciously volunteered her time to answer a few questions about why she joined the Junior League and what the Junior League means to her:

What provisional group are you in?

I am in the Panteleoni Provisional group! Most of our group lives in West Seattle: I am one of the outliers residing near Columbia City.

What is your provisional project?

I chose to go with Northwest Art. I have always been interested in learning about art and the motivations behind certain pieces.  I was lucky enough to take art classes all through elementary and junior high school and then to go on to Studio Art in high school. My art teachers were the most inspiring teachers I had growing up, and I can’t imagine missing out on that kind of instruction like some of the kids in this city do. I am excited to get started on the project this spring!

What prompted you to join the Junior League this year?  

I had looked in to different volunteer opportunities when I first moved to the area, but it seemed difficult to get an “in” just as an individual. When I looked into Junior League in Seattle it seemed like the organization provided a lot of structure and contacts within the community that would allow me to volunteer in a variety of roles. Also, as a recent college graduate and transplant from Texas, I missed the group of female friends I met as a member of a service sorority. I wanted to find a group of like-minded women in my new home, and the League seemed like a good place to start.

How did you first hear about the Junior League?

I first heard about Junior League growing up from my grandma when she used a life-changing sourdough bread recipe from the chapter cookbook in Wichita Falls, TX. I looked in to actually joining last year when one of my sorority sisters joined the League in Houston and raved about how much fun she was having.

What are you most excited about for the 2014-2015 year?

Becoming an active!

What most interests you about the Junior League?

I love that the Junior League has such a strong and important history nationally and in Seattle, especially in regards to service to women and children. It feels very cool to be a part of such a network of impressive women and to have the opportunity to continue service to this community that has been happening for over 90 years.

How long have you lived in Seattle?

I have been up here for a year and a half.

What is your favorite Seattle restaurant?

That’s a hard question in a city like Seattle. I love Intermezzo Carmine in Pioneer Square for a fancy date night with nice cocktails, but if I’m really hungry I go for the movie-themed sandwiches and the drink specials at HoneyHole in Capitol Hill.

What is your favorite touristy thing to do in Seattle?

I love going to the market, but especially so when the weather is really bad so that there isn’t such a crowd. I am always up for a Piroshky and tea samples from Market Spice!

What has surprised you the most about the Junior League?

It was surprising that there are so many women who are new to Seattle like I am. I expected JL to be full of native Seattleites.

 

Membership in the Junior League of Seattle is open to women ages 18 and older who express an interest in voluntarism. If you are interested in becoming a member, join us for a Meet & Greet this spring. Send an email to newmemberinfo@jrleagueseattle.org to find out the orientation schedule.

Ten with Megan Isenhower, 2014-2015 President

The Junior League of Seattle’s membership includes 1,200 women who are passionate about becoming leaders and skilled volunteers while creating a powerful impact in our Seattle community.

Through numerous trainings and significant volunteer work, members form close connections with one another.  However, with an organization this large, there is always another JLS member to meet. This year on the JLS Blog, the “Ten with … ” series will highlight Provisionals, Actives and Sustainers.

The women of the Junior League of Seattle have diverse backgrounds, careers and interests. Through this series, we hope to provide a glimpse into the women of the Junior League of Seattle. We kick of the series with our 2014-2015 President, Megan Isenhower.

Megan Isenhower, 2014-2015 President1. When did you join the League?
My provisional year was 2003-2004.

2. What was your provisional project?
My provisional project was planning a pre-camp celebration for Camp Goodtimes, a camp run by the American Cancer Society for kids battling cancer and their siblings.

3. What was one of your personal highlights from the 2013-2014 League year?
2013-2014 was a big year for me. Personally, I got married and had a baby, and personally within the League, the highlight of my year was the passing of the gavel at the Past Presidents’ Luncheon. There was a long line of phenomenal women next to me; there are some mighty impressive shoes to fill!

4. What most excites you about the 2014-2015 League year?
One of the most important aspects of my job, from my perspective, is offering support to committees or groups so that they can achieve their goals. I am excited – and hopeful – that I can lend support so that each group within the League feels that they can achieve what they set out to do. Sometimes a little guidance is needed; sometimes just a “check-in” to say, “hello” or “how can I help?” I also am excited about working on some long-term projects that I hope will benefit the League in the next decade.

5. What advice do you have for members hoping to form new connections or strengthen emerging friendships within the League?
I have several thoughts on this one:
– Introduce yourself to someone new at every League event and don’t sit with your friends only;
– Send thank you notes – I carry some in my purse along with stamps, and I have Junior League ones and personal ones at my office, too; and,
– Pick up the phone (I’m reminding myself!); emails are impersonal, someone can misread it, and the impact isn’t as great as that personal touch achieved by your voice saying “hello.”

6. Junior League of Seattle offers a multitude of diverse service shifts! What advice do you have for members trying to decide where to start?
Think about your year ahead and when you will have the most to do, whether it’s work, personal or League-related. If you know you have a really busy spring, I would try to get my service shifts done early. Think about what you like to do and check the JLS calendar on the website to see if anything is posted. Check back often as service shifts will be posted at various times. Sign up as soon as you can! Be sure that you cancel your RSVP if you cannot be at a shift – as far out as possible – so others can sign up.

7. What is your favorite recipe from the Junior League cookbook?
The Dijon Marinated Shrimp.

8. Which items tempt you most every year at the Premier Event?
Sports-related items and jewelry tempt me the most.

9. What is one passion or hobby you enjoy outside of the League?
GONZAGA BASKETBALL! Go ZAGS

10. Would you rather have the power to fly or be invisible?
With the traffic in Seattle, I would like to be able to fly so I can get places more quickly. However, taking traffic out of the picture, being invisible would be a lot of fun because I could be very mischievous. 🙂