Since 1976, the Junior League of Collin County has been having courageous conversations with the community. Thirteen visionary women founded the organization, originally called the Junior League of Plano, and committed their lives to improving their evolving community. At the time, Plano was considered one of the fastest growing areas in the country.
Today, nearly 1,000 women call themselves members. They hail from cities such as Allen, Frisco, McKinney, and Plano.
"They are just crazy talented, amazing group of women," JLCC President Amanda Konersmann told Local Profile as part of the Local Leaders series on Facebook Live.
Recently, the Junior League, which recruits members year-round, held a provisional retreat to train members for newly formed committees that address various community needs like family violence and economic insecurity.
The women of the JLCC are committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community. For example, when people took to the streets to support Black lives, the Junior League's diversity, equity, and inclusion committee stepped forward to address the need within the Collin County community.
"They did not skip a beat," Amanda told Local Profile. "The committee started what they called 'Courageous Conversations.' And it was a month-long programming of speaking with members [who are] Black women to hear their stories, to hear the voices of allies."
The Association of Junior Leagues International, which includes the Junior League of Collin County, also initiated a 21-day Racial Equity challenge in honor of diversity month in April. More than 7,000 people registered to deepen their understanding of, and willingness to confront, racism for 21 consecutive days, according to the nonprofit Food Solutions website. The challenge was designed to raise awareness and change understanding to shift the way people behave when confronted by racism.
The AJLI released this statement:
"The Association of Junior Leagues International condemns discrimination, racism, and racial injustice in our communities and in our Junior Leagues. Black women and other women of color have been systematically denied equity and inclusion in our economy, education, civic privileges, and responsibilities in the voluntary sector, including in The Junior League. As affirmed by our member Junior Leagues, we are accelerating our efforts to take action and advance definitive, measurable policies and practices that eliminate racism in our countries, our communities, and our Junior Leagues. When we do this, we unlock tremendous power for our communities and realize our vision of women around the world as catalysts for lasting change."
Like many other Collin County organizations, the Junior League was also affected by COVID-19 and had to adapt to reach community members and to continue their community engagement.
"Not everybody is ready to be out volunteering, they want to be engaged, they want to be in the cheerleader, they want to impact the community, but they may not feel comfortable enough to go volunteer and serve a shift at one of our partner agencies," Amanda says. "So we're doing our best to offer a kind of a virtual flash, sometimes hybrid experience. ... We are now in place with protocols where members can meet with them office."
Other changes include some of the events that they host like the "1010 at 10," which takes place Oct. 10 at 10 a.m. "We're going to keep that '1010 at 10,' but instead of purchasing 'Ladies Night Out' tickets to go somewhere, you'll actually be purchasing a ticket to secure your own Ladies Night in tips. That's going to be filled with all kinds of great swag, and things you're going to love and you didn't. By having it at home, you can enjoy it whenever you want. And you'll also still be able to take part of our Ladies Night Out option. So you will be able to bid from your couch and have the whole weekend to do it instead of just in one night."
The Junior League will be offering an application you can easily download on your phone, which will give them the information on your favorite merchant "so you can still contact them, you can still shop, you can still secure all those Christmas gifts you need," she says. "It just won't be in person.
"So I think we're set up for success," Amanda continues. "And we embrace the change. I'm hoping by spring, we can do a little bit more in person events, because we do still have bingo, which is going to be a great fundraiser. And then we still have our Collin County women of influence awards, and they're both supposed to happen in the spring so we're just going to, fingers crossed that we are still able to move forward with those events and we will find a way whether it's virtually or in person."
Local Leaders by Local Profile is an interview series with local leaders giving incredible leadership and industry insights. Each episode of Local Leaders is broadcast live via the Local Profile Facebook Page every Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.
For information about becoming a member, visit the Junior League of Collin County's website at jlcollincounty.org/