Author: Erica Bock
Embracing Empowerment and Inclusivity
The Junior League of Cincinnati kicked off the new year and the back half of the League year with a spirited General Member Meeting (GMM) on Tuesday, January 9, 2024, at the Columbia Center. Thank you to Swensons Drive-In for generously providing dinner for the event. The evening began with a warm welcome from League President, René Robers, who set the tone for an exciting and impactful year ahead.
A highlight of the meeting was the Empowerment Lead Sponsor spotlight featuring Renée Grace Bridal. Ashley Rouster, Managing Director, introduced Steve and Teresa Eklund, the owners of Renée Grace Bridal, who shared their journey in creating a fantasyland for the feminine bride. Since June 2020, Renée Grace Bridal has offered a unique bridal gown shopping experience, blending traditional romanticism with modern silhouettes. Teresa shared with us how Renée Grace Bridal came to fruition, beginning as a young girl in hand-me-downs and a sewing machine; following her experience in fashion design at the University of Cincinnati, she designed bridal gowns early in her career, and at age 50, decided to create a business. She is one of the only bridal designers who also creates the gowns in the U,S, and has grown into the one-of-a-kind bridal experience offered locally. We hope JLC brides will visit Renée Grace Bridal as they plan their special day! Stay tuned for opportunities to visit the boutique.
Lyne Watts, M.Ed, Founder of Learn, Lead, LIVE LLC, the JLC’s DEI&B consultant, was the keynote speaker for the evening, focusing on inclusivity and incorporating exercises to raise awareness of one another’s life experiences. Through these activities, attendees better understood the League’s demographics and their own personal circles of influence. Participants actively evaluated the League and their actions, considering individual and organizational aspects to ensure alignment with our core values. Building on this reflective process, Lyne conducted an inclusivity training session emphasizing the critical importance of diversity within the Junior League of Cincinnati. This session was designed to empower members by providing them with knowledge and tools to foster an inclusive environment within the organization, and also in how we support our community and show up to volunteer with our partners.
Important Notes and Updates
The meeting continued with significant agenda items, including a vote on the 2024-2025 leadership slate and a proposal for a member dues increase. Kelly Barber, President-Elect, Sarah Houseman, Legal Advisor, and Byrd Bergeron & Meg Anaker from the Nominating Committee presented the slate. Both measures passed the membership vote. The incoming leadership slate includes:
- President-Elect: Katie Dulle
- Executive Vice President-Elect: Mary Taliaferro
- Board Member At Large: Tara Mosley
- Board Secretary: Sam Zehnder
- Strategic Planning Director: Erica Bock
- VP of Communications: Elizabeth Desrosiers
- VP of Finance: Lauren Krebs
- VP of Membership: Katie Arendt
- Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging (DEI&B) Vice Chair: Endia Crabtree
- Nominating Vice Chair: Erika Lundstedt
- Nominating Committee: Lisa Dye, Nichole Clarke, Taylor Dewald, Amy Jo Jones, Sara Kemerer, Sam Markle, Erica Roig, and Katie Ziegler
Congratulations to our incoming leadership team!
Katie Arendt, Chair, and Mary Frances Harsh, Vice Chair, of Membership Recruitment discussed the Prospective Member Referral Program. Members were encouraged to refer friends, colleagues, or neighbors interested in joining the JLC, with a chance to enter a raffle for exciting prizes.
Partnership Updates and Community Engagement
Emily Keller, Vice Chair of Program Acceleration, provided an update on the Family Nurturing Center partnership. The committee emphasized the importance of community engagement and involvement. We are in our final year of the 3-year partnership with FNC and look forward to supporting them in many ways during Child Abuse Awareness Month in April and at their annual Prom For A Purpose fundraiser on Friday, April 19. More details on both initiatives will be available soon!
Save the Dates: New Spring Fundraiser and Committee Placement Fair
Members were excited to learn about the new spring fundraiser, “A Night in Monte Carlo,” on Saturday, April 13, 2024, at The Cincinnati Ballet’s Margaret and Michael Valentine Center for Dance. The event promises an evening of fun with blackjack, Texas hold’em, and craps with refreshments and entertainment. Details about the event and ticket information can be found at jlcincinnati.org/springfundraiser.
Additionally, the Membership Satisfaction Committee is hosting its annual Placement Fair on Tuesday, February 8 directly before the February GMM, beginning at 6:00 p.m. Members are encouraged to arrive early to explore potential committee opportunities to be prepared for placement during the membership renewal process this spring.
Growing Together: Little Leaguers Loft
Be sure to check out the Little Leaguers Loft and Mother’s Room on the third floor! This space is dedicated to accommodating members with children visiting Columbia Center. This DEI&B initiative aims to make JLC meetings and events more inclusive for members with families and meet them where they are.
As the Junior League of Cincinnati continues its mission to advance women’s leadership for meaningful community impact, the January GMM set a positive and empowering tone for the back half of the League year. Members left the meeting inspired and motivated to make a difference in their community. Cheers to a year filled with collaboration, growth, and impactful volunteerism!