What an absolute honor it is for me to address our members, supporters, and partners as the League’s President! I have some big and beautiful shoes to fill considering the many amazing women that have come before me. Some of the strongest and most passionate women I know have served as the Junior League of Scranton President, and to be counted among them is the privilege of a lifetime. While I regret having never met Dr. Carolyn Pencek, I have heard from her friends about her tremendous contributions to the League. I hope to bring a fraction of the dignity she brought to this position.
When I joined the League back in 2009, I had hoped to one day be President, though I never could have imagined how unique this presidency would be. The concerns facing our community, state, country, and world are innumerable, but we as a League must remember the opportunities we have to make a positive impact for our fragile, but intrepid community.
We must double down on the traditions and mission of the League, while we also commit to creativity, change, and adaptation of how we carry out this most worthy cause. Pat Summitt, as quoted by Vicki Clark at the recent AJLI Special Meeting, said “the willingness to experiment with change may be the most essential ingredient to success at anything.” The League’s commitment to learn, grow, and improve as an organization will ensure our long-term success.
This commitment involves adapting most of our meetings to a virtual setting. It means updating our agendas to better reflect our members’ and community’s most urgent needs. It means reviewing reports in advance of the meeting, so we can make the most of our time together. It means infusing training, strategic planning, inquiry, and inclusivity into every meeting. Not everything has worked perfectly, but our members report over a 95% satisfaction rating with our new practices, and we will continue working until this reaches 100%.
We have also posed critical questions to our membership and we have turned these ideas into projects. Our members observed the need for blood donations, so Gretchen Wintermantel arranged a successful blood drive at the Tripp House on October 24th. Other members mentioned their concern for senior isolation during the pandemic, so Noelle Griffiths and her Community Research team organized a letter-writing campaign. Countless more ideas are being put into action by our League leadership based on feedback from our members.
Like never before, we must live up to our mission to promote voluntarism, develop the potential of women, and improve our community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. We are exclusively educational and charitable. We have the opportunity to demonstrate this mission in everything we do, while finding ways to help our neighbors through these difficult and turbulent times. I believe the League is as relevant and important today as it has ever been. We look forward to living up to this mission in 2020 and beyond.