New York, May 23, 2017 – Celebrating a 116-year history of challenging assumptions, embracing contradiction, changing the game and reframing the conversation about civil society and the problems it faces, Junior League leaders from four countries gathered in Minneapolis-St. Paul for Disrupt Convention, the 95th Annual Conference of The Association of Junior Leagues International from May 18-20.
“We live in extraordinary times,” said AJLI President Carol Scott, a member of the Junior League of Pasadena. “There is civil discord in many of our cities. It is times like this, however, that prove the value of organizations like The Junior League and demonstrate the value of women committed to achieving real change in their communities.”
Echoing those themes, Suzanne Plihcik took home the 2017 Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award. Ms. Plihcik’s work as a young member of the Junior League of Greensboro led her on a journey that has made her into one of the foremost white anti-racism speakers and advocates in the U.S. Among her many accomplishments was co-founding the Racial Equity Institute, an alliance of trainers, organizers and institutional leaders devoted to the work of creating racially equitable organizations and systems.
Following Ms. Plihcik’s Mary Harriman Award win, Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League and former mayor of New Orleans, addressed what he sees as challenges to our core values of justice and equality and offered guidance on what Junior League members across the Association can do to find ways to help their communities and to respond along with them to deal with civil unrest and strife.
Drawing focus to the work that many Junior Leagues are doing to combat human trafficking in their communities, a panel of three outspoken advocates for victims of human trafficking shared how their passion on this issue developed and what other individuals and organizations can do to fight this modern-day slavery. Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairman and former CEO of Carlson, one of the largest privately held travel and hospitality brands in the world, was joined on the panel by retired FBI Special Agent Anna Brewer, who managed an internet crimes against children task force and established and managed a child exploitation task force to combat child sex trafficking, and John J. Choi, Ramsey County (MN) Attorney and a national leader in the fight against human trafficking. The panel was moderated by Lee Roper-Batker, President and CEO of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota.
Other highlights of the three-day conference in the Twin Cities included a keynote address by Cheryl Strayed, New York Times best-selling author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. This stirring tale by a noted American memoirist, novelist and essayist is grounded in her experience, as a young woman, in overcoming life challenges and personal demons by doing a solo trek of 1,000 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mohave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State.
About The Junior League
Founded in 1901 by New Yorker and social activism pioneer, Mary Harriman, The Junior League is an organization of transformational female leaders who set bold goals, open their circles, disrupt convention and change the conversation for the betterment of civil society. Today, there are Leagues across the United States, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
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Tracy Van Buskirk
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