First Person: Push Your Boundaries in the League

How I Almost Said No to a Leadership Position

In 2013, I nearly declined an opportunity to co-chair ROCKETS. In the Junior League, you learn to never say no to a leadership opportunity. But working with 350 children at a First Friday event? Not my cup of tea. I was talked into it, however; and, much to my surprise, I really enjoyed my ROCKETS year and the benefits from that experience keep on coming in.

Earlier this year, I received a phone call from the president of my company, HDR Engineering. HDR has 225 offices and 9,000 employees worldwide. So when I saw his name on my caller ID, you can imagine the double take I made. “Wow. That name is really familiar,” I thought. Another ring later, I realized, “Wait. That’s the president calling!”

I immediately went into worst case scenario. He can’t be calling for good news. I mean, maybe this is how lay offs work. Or it’s a robo call to thank for me my recent donation to the company’s political action committee. Or maybe he’s going to relocate me to the Congo (yes, we do work there). Either way, I wasn’t expecting the news I received.

“Thank you for all your work in the Junior League ROCKETS program,” was what he said and then went on to tell me that The HDR Foundation would be funding ROCKETS for our next administrative year with a $9,350 award. He said our application stood out because the mission of ROCKETS aligned closely with The HDR Foundation. But even more than that, he said it stood out because I believed in it and supported it as the employee sponsor in the referral letter I wrote.

Talk about a pat on the back!

I know volunteering can feel like a thankless job at times. Too often, we get caught up in the details of our committee work and forget to see the big picture. We get roped into the politics and the gossip and forget that we’re all here for the same reason: to push the mission of the Junior League and to push our own boundaries as volunteers and leaders in the community. After saying yes to chairing ROCKETS that year, I’ve found I’m a better JLP member. I’m more understanding to committee chairs, I’m more task and schedule oriented, I’m a stronger grant writer because I have the experience and passion behind me—and, yes, I can work with 350 children and survive.

So I challenge each of you to think of your membership in the Junior League in a more global perspective—to consider the friendships, opportunities, and experiences you’re gaining and to apply that to your network. For me, reaching out to my company and my coworkers, talking to people about what the JLP means to me, and sharing my ROCKETS experience has culminated in many fruitful ways back to the League. Don’t be shy about telling people how you invest your time. People are listening. And they’ll invest it back in you.

by, Kelly Kaysonepheth

*Kelly was the Communications Team Leader in 2014/2015, is our Fund Development Team Leader this administrative year, and was just announced as our upcoming Director of Operations! Congratulations, Kelly!