1966-1967 Junior League of Phoenix President and First Woman Appointed to the US Supreme Court
Sandra Day O’Connor joined the Junior League of Phoenix as a member of the 1960 Provisional Class. She joined during the JLP presidential term of Margaret T. Hance, who is another powerhouse woman on our list of Past Presidents (Margaret would go on to be elected as Phoenix’s first female mayor).
Sandra’s placements in the League included:
- 1961-1962: Legislative Committee Chair. This committee was responsible for informing members pertinent information regarding legislation that may be of interest. They also published reminders to vote. During this administrative year, she also served as a regional conference delegate, which was elected by the membership to act as a representative for JLP at the AJLI regional conference.
- 1962-1963: Education Chair. The Education Chair led training opportunities internally and externally to members. An Investment Study Group was started in January during this time. Sandra also gave birth to her third son, Jay, in 1962.
- 1963-1964: Sandra Day O’Connor did not have an elected or appointed leadership placement. She’s very active in the Education and Legislative Committees. 1964 was also a presidential election year and Sandra took this time to volunteer in various political organizations including Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign.
- 1964-1965: Treasurer. Sandra served on the Executive Committee of the JLP BOD. In April 1965 during this term, she was appointed “Head Visitor” at the AJLI Annual Conference by the Nominating Committee.
- 1965-1966: Admissions Committee. This committee is responsible for recommending new members for the Provisional Class. Members of the Admissions Committee were voted in by membership.
- January 1966: Nominating announces the 1966-1967 Leadership Slate and Sandra Day O’Connor is at the top of the list as President-Elect.
- March 1966: Membership confirms the Leadership Slate.
- 1966-1967: President. Under Sandra’s direction, some key highlights from her term
- The Pacesetter, which was the name of the JLP newsletter during this time, sets a theme as “the year of the Super-Leaguer.” This “Super-Leaguer” appears in all the covers of the newsletter during Sandra Day O’Connor’s term.
- Community initiatives included a new gymnasium for the Golden Gate Settlement and the construction of a new therapy building for the Valley of the Sun School.
- The League hosted a “Conference in Miniature” in October 1966, which was a one-day training conference for members.
- The League evaluates new community initiatives. The March 1967 Pacesetter listed several projects which were included for membership vote. Among the list of eight projects presented to members, one of them that was approved is to begin research of an Activity Center at the Phoenix Zoo. This would eventually become the Phoenix Zoo Education Center (constructed in 1973) and one of JLP’s largest contributions in our history ($86,900). Additional community projects that were approved were the Microfilm Library for the Arizona Historical Foundation, additional supplies for the Junior Art Museum, and the Foreign Visitors’ Program through the World Council Headquarters.
- The Board proposed a major governance change to eliminate the role of Second Vice President.
- The Board begins consideration of a “night membership meeting” to accommodate the “Professional Junior League member” (aka members who have a job). Additionally, there are forums to discuss these changes and it is determined that one Junior League general meeting will be held at night that year.
- 1967-1968: Nominating. Sandra Day O’Connor serves on the Nominating Committee, which is in charge of assembling the Elected Leadership Slate for the next administrative year.
- SUSTAINING STATUS: An announcement in the May 1969 JLP newsletter lists Sandra Day O’Connor as a new Sustaining Member. During this time, Sandra Day O’Connor was serving as assistant Attorney General of Arizona. The governor of Arizona appointed her to fill a vacancy in the Arizona State Senate. She would run for and win election for the seat the following year. In 1974, Sandra Day O’Connor was appointed to the Maricopa County Superior Court, serving from 1975 to 1979, when she was elevated to the Arizona State Court of Appeals. She served on the Court of Appeals-Division One until 1981 when she was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan. She retired from the US Supreme Court in 2006 and moved back to Phoenix. She made some appearances at Past Presidents’ luncheons as her schedule allowed. On December 1, 2023, she passed away at the age of 93.
December 1, 2023
The Junior League of Phoenix, Inc. is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sandra Day O’Connor. Before she made history as the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, she left an indelible imprint on JLP, serving as League President from 1966-67. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the O’Connor family during this time as you grieve her loss and reflect upon her life. We pay tribute to Justice O’Connor as the true embodiment of the JLP mission to advance women’s leadership for meaningful community impact. While she will be fiercely missed, we know Justice O’Connor’s legacy will remain a guiding force for good through her life of service. We will forever honor her memory.
2023-24 JLP Board of Directors