2019 AJLI Annual Conference - Mary Harriman Award Presentation
In recognition of the vision of the founder of The Junior League, the AJLI Board of Directors established the Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award. This award honors and acknowledges an individual Junior League member whose volunteer efforts provide a contemporary link to Mary Harriman's sense of social responsibility and her ability to motivate others to share their talents through effective volunteer service. Since 1990 when the award was established, it has been given to Junior League members whose leadership exemplifies our mission, vision and values. This section lists the current and past Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award recipients since 1991.
Read more about Mary Harriman, founder of The Junior League Movement.
In her early League years at the Junior League of Atlanta, she began by rolling up her sleeves and volunteering in the community. She worked alongside other Junior League of Atlanta members to serve people experiencing homelessness and abused women and children. Then when her beloved brother Paul, a public defender for human trafficking victims, passed away, Julia began the Paul Meyers Foundation, where she continued to serve the community through his legacy of defending victims of human trafficking.
The Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award is bestowed upon a transformational female leader who has set bold goals, opened her circle, disrupted convention and changed the conversation for the betterment of civil society. Over the last two years, we’ve had absolutely outstanding Mary Harriman Award winners who we were not able to be celebrated in person. In order to give space to properly honor them while we’re all here together, we will be acknowledging our 2020 recipient, Former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley from the JL of Raleigh and Fayetteville North Carolina, and our 2021 recipient, the Honorable Susan Brooks, in lieu of presenting a 2022 Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award.
Susan Brooks joined the Junior League of Indianapolis in 1992 and has become an accomplished leader with a long history of tackling difficult issues, as a volunteer and public servant. She has served as a strategic advisor to companies, nonprofits, educational institutions, and hospitals during organizational change. She often shares with Junior League of Indianapolis members her incredible journey and encourages them to take advantage of the leadership and networking opportunities the League provides.
The Junior League of Raleigh and the Junior League of Fayetteville
Chief Justice Cheri Beasley is a woman whose calling in life is service, and she has made deep and lasting impacts on the lives of countless North Carolinians throughout her career — not only with decisions she has made in the courtroom, but also with her immense dedication to engaging with the community.
Senator Margaret Rose Henry, a paragon of public service for more than 30 years, displayed the fearless determination, trailblazing spirit and undeniable community impact reflective of Mary Harriman herself.
It’s a fitting coincidence that this year’s Mary Harriman Award recipient made her name as a community leader in Mary’s own backyard. Just as Mary started a community of women dedicated to changing New York City and ended up sparking a much larger movement, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has used her experiences in both politics and the Junior League as a launching pad for policies that have helped support so many women leaders of tomorrow.
Anyone who doubts the ability of committed Junior League members to create lasting civic impact has obviously never met Suzanne Plihcik. Like Mary Harriman, Suzanne stepped outside of an inherited cultural role, working to guide others to understand, and address, racism as the root cause of many issues facing our country today.
Martie is truly someone whose dedication to creating lasting community impact reflects the example set by Mary Harriman more than 100 years ago. A trailblazer since joining The Junior League at 21, in addition to the many leadership roles she took on within the Junior League of Toronto, she has served on close to 20 nonprofit boards.
Though she committed to donating the entirety of her holdings to charity when she joined the elite Giving Pledge in 2010, Lyda Hill of The Junior League of Dallas has never seen her wealth as the limit to her ability to serve in all aspects of her life—as a philanthropist, volunteer, entrepreneur and booster of public institutions.