01 Nov About – History – AJLI
Association of Junior Leagues International
Who Are We?
The Association of Junior Leagues International. AJLI is a not-for-profit organization that brings together 296 Junior Leagues in four countries. Our 193,000 dedicated and creative women members come from varying backgrounds and interests and share a commitment to volunteering. We are: Doctors, Artists, Lawyers, Accountants, Nonprofit Administrators, CEOs, Bankers, Broadcasters, Clergy, Police Officers, Disc Jockeys, Aerospace Engineers, Journalists, Judges, Homemakers, Teachers, Government Officers, Stock Brokers, and Psychologists.
Our Association is rooted in the belief that a group of women can be a powerful force for change. The Junior Leagues offer women the opportunity to implement change in their communities and to connect with other women with a concern for present and future generations. AJLI develops and empowers women leaders to increase the impact that Junior Leagues make in their communities.
What Do We Do?
The Junior League can be credited with implementing changes and improving conditions in almost every sector of our society. Junior Leagues provide hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours every year to address issues in their local communities including:
Senior Citizen Care
Child Abuse and Neglect
Affordable Day Care
Substance Abuse Prevention
Health Research for Women
AJLI’s current program priorities are in the areas of domestic violence, school readiness and promoting international voluntarism.
How are we effective?
Membership in the Junior League provides women with access to invaluable training from AJLI-from leadership and organizational development to community program work, diversity training and fundraising. Through this unique training, our members learn to manage and train volunteers, unite communities and form partnerships. AJLI organizes regular conferences and meetings to create opportunities for networking, collaboration and shared learning.
When were we founded?
The first Junior League was founded in 1901 by an 18-year-old New York City college student named Mary Harriman. Moved by the suffering she saw around her, Mary mobilized a group of 80 other young women to work at a settlement house in lower Manhattan. The Junior League idea spread rapidly across the country. In 1921, more than 40 Leagues joined together to form the Association of Junior Leagues.
Where are we located?
AJLI headquarters are in New York City. We serve Junior Leagues in Mexico, Great Britain and across the United States and Canada.
The Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) offers the following personal benefits and services to JLL members. Support of these services generates additional revenue to advance the work of all Leagues. Members interested in these services and/or benefits should contact the AJLI 1-800-955-3248.
Junior League Credit Card
Guest Rooms at the Waldorf-Astoria
Deluxe Tours & Cruises
Junior League Discounts in U.S. Hotels
Car Rental Discounts
Mary Harriman, a 19 year-old woman from a socially prominent family, founds the first Junior League in New York City to involve those more fortunate in helping people in need. Through the new organization, called the Junior League for the Promotion of the Settlement Movement, volunteers work in settlement houses on New York’s Lower East Side to improve child health, nutrition and literacy.
Eleanor Roosevelt, at age 19, joins the Junior League of the City of New York and teaches calisthenics and dancing to young girls at the College Settlement House.
The Junior League of Montreal becomes the first Junior League outside of the United States.
The founders of the Junior League of St. Louis march for women’s suffrage. The Junior Leagues are active in World War I efforts, selling bonds and working in Army hospitals. A Junior League unit of the YWCA serves in France.
Thirty Junior Leagues form what will become the Association of Junior Leagues International to collectively advance their work. Dorothy Whitney Straight is named first President of the newly formed group.
In response to widespread economic depression, special volunteer bureaus are created to reach those most in need. These bureaus establish nutrition centers and milk stations to aid the hungry. Junior Leagues’ State Public Affairs Committees (SPACs) are started to influence public welfare policy. The Junior League of Mexico City joins the Association in 1930. By this time, over 100 Leagues have been established.
Oveta Culp Hobby, a member of the Junior League of Houston, leads the Women’s Army Corps. Many Junior League members serve their countries in World War II. The Junior League of Montreal is active in the Canadian Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.
Junior League members are active in postwar development. Many Leagues work to improve public schools, launch children’s television programming and start children’s museums.
The Association, now with over 200 Junior Leagues, addresses urban issues by developing programs in education, housing, and social services. AJLI begins to focus on increasing membership diversity and leadership skills.
The Leagues continue efforts to diversify their membership. Leagues collaborate on the issue of juvenile delinquency with the National Commission on Crime and Delinquency and the U.S. Justice Department.
Sandra Day O’Connor, a member of the Junior League of Phoenix, becomes the first woman Supreme Court Justice of the United States. Among the Leagues, there is a growing emphasis on women’s leadership, empowerment and achievement. The Junior League of London expands the Association across the Atlantic in 1985. In 1989, the Association receives the U.S. President’s Volunteer Action Award.
Don’t Wait to Vaccinate, an Association-wide immunization campaign, was launched in 230 Junior League communities in four countries. The Junior Leagues adopt a Plan of Action for a Public Awareness Campaign on an External Policy on Domestic Violence and its Effect on Women and Children. The 295 Junior Leagues with a membership of over 193,000 women renew their dedication to improving their communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. The Association of Junior Leagues International prepares for its centennial celebration of 100 years of volunteer community service and leadership. Clotilde Pérez-Bode Dedecker becomes the first Spanish-speaking woman to become the President of the Association.
Notable AJLI Members
Former First Ladies Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan and Barbara Bush
Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Conner
Former Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia Shirley Temple Black
Former Secretary of Labor Lynn Martin
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives: Jennifer Dunn, R-Seattle, WA; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, CA; Tillie Fowler, R-Jacksonville, FL; Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, NY
The Association is divided into six geographical Areas. Each Area has an Area Council, an Area office, and staff to provide services to the Leagues in that Area.
The Board of the Association is comprised of two Directors from each Area, and five Association Officers. The Board is the planning arm of the Association. The Leagues remain autonomous units, restricted only by the Bylaws and Policies adopted by representatives from all Leagues at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Junior Leagues International.
The Junior League of Lincoln joined the Junior League of America in 1921. It is now one of 50 leagues in ‘Area Four’ of the Association of Junior Leagues International. Area Four includes Leagues from Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Manitoba, Canada.