Elections and the Junior League

Elections and the Junior League

Today is Election Day; have you cast your vote yet? The 2018-midterm elections are taking place all across the country with pivotal state and national races. Just four years ago, we saw a 70-year low with voter turnout at a mere 36.4% of eligible voters. With already 36 million early ballots counted, the stage has been set for a big midterm turnout and potentially big surprises tonight.

Founded in 1901, by New Yorker and social activism pioneer Mary Harriman, the Junior League is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.

From personal experience, as a former board member with the Junior League of Billings, it is a safe place to learn how non-profits work internally, grow your leadership abilities and sphere of influence, and impact the community through service projects. True to our mission today, Leagues work at the forefront of social issues – including childhood nutrition and obesity, human trafficking, literacy, poverty and homelessness, and juvenile justice.

Since the 1930s, individual Junior Leagues have played an active role in the political process through public education and advocating for legislative change through PACs (Public Affairs Committees), SPACs (State Public Affairs committees), and LICs (Legislative Issues Committees) on issues that are relevant to our mission. In addition to these groups, the Junior League has developed women leaders who have run and successfully been elected to public service positions, see the substantive list below:

U.S. House of Representatives
Margaret Chase Smith, Maine, 1940 – 1949
Judy Biggert, Illinois, 1998 – 2013
Frances Payne Bolton, Ohio, 1940 – 1969
Susan Brooks, Indiana, 2013 – Present
Jennifer Dunn, Washington, 1993 – 2005
Anna Eshoo, California, 1993 – Present
Mary E. Pruett Farrington, Hawaii, 1954 – 1957
Tillie Fowler, Florida, 1993 – 2001
Isabella Selmes Greenway, New York, 1934 – 1937
Carolyn Maloney, New York, 1993 – Present
Lynn Martin, Illinois, 1981 – 1985
Doris Matsui, California, 2005 – Present
Ruth Sears Baker Pratt, New York, 1929 – 1933

U.S. Senators
Margaret Chase Smith, Maine, 1949 – 1973
Kay Hagan, North Carolina, 2009 – 2015
Amy Kobachar, Minnesota, 2007 – Present

State Legislature
Jackie Toledo, Florida House of Representatives, 2017 – Present
Emily Anne Staples Tuttle, Minnesota State Senator, 1977-1980
Martha Bedell Alexander, North Carolina General Assembly, 1993 – 2013
Roseann Knauer Bentley, Missouri State Senate, 1995 – 2003
Kamia Brown, Florida House of Representatives, 2016 – Present
Carol Bush, Oklahoma House of Representatives, 2016 – Present
Eriin Grall, Florida House of Representatives, 2016 – Present
Beth Halteman Harwell, Tennessee General Assembly, 1998 – Present
Florence Shapiro, Texas State Senator, 1993 – 2013
Elizabeth “Betty” Simms, Missouri State Senator, 1995 – 2002

Judicial Branch
Sandra Day O’Connor, Supreme Court Justice appointed 1981
Alisa Kelli Wise, Appellate Court, Supreme Court of Alabama 2011 – Present
Tamara Ashford, Presidential Appointment to US Tax Court
Donna Berlin, 12th Judicial Circuit of Florida Judge, 2007 – Present
Pam Bondi, Attorney General of Florida, 2011 – Present
Samantha Schosberg Feuer, 15th Judicial Circuit of Florida Judge, 2015 – Present
Jennifer Growcock, 38th Judicial Circuit of Missouri Judge, 2017 – Present
Tierra Jones, 8th Judicial District Court Judge of Nevada, 2017 – Present

The well-known adage, “Behind every strong man is a stronger woman” holds true for four Junior League members who served as First Lady of the United States; each woman promoted specific initiatives that were near and dear to her heart.

Eleanor Roosevelt – was an early champion of civil rights for African Americans, as well as an advocate for women, American workers, the poor, and young people.
Nancy Reagan – was a champion of recreational drug prevention and founded the “Just Say No” drug awareness campaign.
Barbara Bush – motivated by her son Neil’s dyslexia, focused on advocating the issue of literacy.
Laura Bush – dedicated her service to advancing education and promoting the well being of women and families worldwide.

We WANT you to join the Association of Junior Leagues International and join the growing list of incredible women! Will you be the next Junior League member to serve in a political or elected office?


By Dana Henry

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