All About Junior League!


I’m getting ready to board that ark two by two up here in New York…


And I had my usual breakfast and haven’t worked out yet…so let’s talk about something else.

The non-fitness/weight loss topic I get the most questions about is Junior League, so I thought I’d finally write a comprehensive post about it.

What is Junior League?

According to the mission statement of the Association of Junior Leagues International (yes, we’re international!), “The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. (AJLI) is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.

The Junior League was started right here in NYC and was originally called the Junior League for the Promotion of the Settlement Movement. Started in 1901 by Mary Harriman, the League was founded at a time when many immigrants were coming to New York through Ellis Island and living in crowded tenement housing. Harriman and her friends would organize to help improve social conditions in their city. 110 years later, there are now 292 Leagues with more than 160,000 women in Canada, Mexico, the UK and the United States. The New York Junior League alone has 3,000 women that contribute 250,000 volunteer hours per year.

Why did I join the Junior League?

When I went off to college, I really wanted to join a sorority. Let’s just say my emphasis my first semester was a little bit more on my social life than on my grades, and my grades very clearly reflected that. I really wanted to be a part of a strong organization of women, but my less-than-stellar first-semester GPA meant that I didn’t get invited back to my top two choices during rush. I decided then that I’d try again the next year, but by that point, I’d made a ton of friends and felt less need for a sorority in my life.

When I graduated college, my friend MaryBeth (the one who got married in Aruba–that wedding I lost all the weight for!) had just joined the Junior League of Washington. She loved it, and since she was two years older than me, and I totally looked up to her tried to be like her, I decided that I, too, would join. It was an organization that would help me form strong ties with other women and give back to the community. I did my “provisional year” (it’s your training year when you’re learning about the League and are not quite a full member yet. Probably like pledging but without hazing?) in D.C. 2007-2008. As you may know by now, I moved to the New York area in the spring of 2008, so I transferred my membership up here. I didn’t find a group of women I clicked with in the JLW, but after putting in a year of hard work, I thought I’d give the NYJL a try–and now I’m glad I did!

What do you do in the Junior League?

I’m currently the co-chair of the External Communications Committee, which runs all of the PR and social media for the organization of 3,000 women. This takes up a tremendous amount of my time but is incredibly rewarding. At the time I joined this committee, I was semi-considering switching from being a reporter to working in PR. I have utmost respect for those of you working in PR, but I found out through this committee that I wasn’t interested in PR as a full-time career (although I do enjoy managing it on this volunteer basis.) My committee oversees the PR efforts for our major events…


…like the Winter Ball, one of my favorite events.

We also help get the word out about the hard work our volunteers are doing in the community. We work in the areas of adult mentoring, outreach education, youth education, and youth mentoring to provide life skills in areas like nutrition and health, career, and budgeting so that families and individuals can lead healthier, more independent lives.

I’m also on our new Communications Task Force, which is examining the effectiveness of our internal and external communications and exploring new forms of media. (Clearly I’m all over that last part.)

What’s your favorite thing about Junior League?

I can’t pick just one thing, sorry.


I love my behind-the-scenes work, but I also love getting out in the community and making a difference on one of our Playground Improvement Project Days. I love that our volunteering opportunities are so well-organized.

I love the leadership skills I’ve learned both through taking on a leadership position and our leadership trainings.


I love that we get amazing speakers like Gretchen Rubin.

I love that there are so many talented, amazing women to network with. (I mean, my amazing Junior League “boss” is a senior beauty editor at Women’s Wear Daily and someone I completely look up to professionally.)

But, of course, most of all I love the lifelong friendships I’ve made.

How old are members? I thought it was only women my mom’s age.

It depends on the league, but in my experience in Washington, D.C. and New York, there are plenty of young working professional women. I’d guess that leagues in cities skew younger than suburban leagues.

How can I join?

Oh, I thought you’d never ask. There are a few new member orientations (required as part of the application process) coming up. If you’re outside of the NYC area, check out this map of other leagues in the U.S.

Please let me know in the comments or by email if you have any further questions–this is one of my favorite topics!

Questions: Were you in a sorority in college? Which one? Are you a member of the Junior League or a similar organization?

26 comments on “All About Junior League!

  1. Lizzy

    I never knew you wanted to be in a sorority in college!!! Junior League really looks like a great way to get involved in the community and meet strong, powerful women in a big city. I think its so great you’ve gotten involved in this and are so passionate about it!

  2. Britney

    I’m one of those who emailed you asking about Junior League! I did join the Boston chapter, and I had my first committee meeting last night and I’m very excited to get started.

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Britney: YAYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!! Do you know Sarah Fit? ( She’s in the Boston League. What kind of committee are you on up there?

      1. Britney

        @Theodora: I haven’t officially met Sarah but we’re on the same committee. I need to rectify that. I’m doing JLB Events and we staff events for other organizations that fit within the JLB mission.

        1. Sarah

          @Britney: I’m just seeing this now. Were you at the meeting last night!? I joined because of Theodora too! Next time, we have a meeting (or event we are at) I’ll be sure to come over and introduce myself!

  3. Alex

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I love volunteering and I’ll have some time on my hands during the next year so I think this would be perfect for me. I signed up for the October orientation in NYC. So excited to get involved!

  4. Katherine

    I am planning on going to a JL informational meeting in 2 weeks, so this post is very timely for me!
    I am little nervous because I can be a bit timid and private in social situations where I don’t know many people. One of my goals is to become more outgoing through Junior League.
    Are certain committees more time consuming than others? More interesting? I am very eager to become a member, but I also work full time and have freelance writing jobs, so I don’t know if an extremely time consuming committee would be the best fit for me.

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Katherine: I’m so sorry for just seeing this now and responding. Yes, some committees are definitely more time-intensive than others. For example, my committee meets every other week but works really hard outside of those hours pitching the media and coming up with media plans. Other committees just meet every other week and there’s no work outside of that.

      Did you end up going to the info session? Feel free to email me ( with any more questions!

  5. Aubrie

    Thanks for sharing this!! I’ve wanted to join the JL for years, as my mom used to be a member but 1)figured I should finish grad school first and 2) didn’t know anything about the NYC chapter.

    I was a Chi Omega in college and I really miss the group philanthropy/activities it offered. JL seems awesome 🙂

  6. Laura @ Running Dame

    I am a provisional member in the Cleveland Junior League this year. I was an AOII in college and everything from the events to the names of the officer positions reminds me of a sorority! Is it weird that that makes me giddy with excitement?!??!

    I decided to join to broaden my network and to have easy ways to volunteer.

  7. Sarah

    I am a HUGE nerd and you are the reason I joined the Junior League in Boston which you already knew, and yes I was in Sigma Kappa at U Delaware… I love the League, so Thank You to you for posting about it again… I hope someone else joins as a result of your positive PR – vs The Help…

  8. Allison

    My momma used to be in the JL when we lived in Richmond! We still have a couple of their cookbooks 😛 I was in a sorority in college [Sigma Kappa] and have always thought about joining JL but to be honest, thought it was only for moms!

  9. maria @ Chasing the Now

    Thanks for posting about this. I was a member of a community service sorority in college *not Greek, but we did a lot of the same stuff* and I REALLY miss it sometimes. I’ll look into Junior League a lot more once we settle back into the U.S. sounds like a great way to make some friends.

  10. Sara

    What a terrific post. I’m a member of the JL of Syracuse. I originally joined b/c I was new to the area and my job had me traveling the country. The JL has been a great way to meet new people and connect to (what was then) a new community. I have made some terrific friends. Love the league!

  11. heidi

    awesome post 🙂 🙂

    I joined JL Stamford-Norwalk when we lived in CT and transferred down to Annapolis when we moved here, now I’m the webmaster and social media manager for the league which like you said – incredibly rewarding 🙂 The women I’ve met are so incredible and inspiring, it’s such an awesome organization 🙂

  12. Lara

    I’d always wondered about the Junior League. In Raleigh they have an awesome shopping spree that I look forward to every year!!

    I’m Kappa Delta and am currently an advisor for one of our local chapters. Love watching them grow into strong amazing women!

  13. Laura

    Junior League is something I’ve always wanted to be a part of– my mom is in it, my grandmothers were in it, and a lot of my graduated friends are in it as well. I am currently in college and am in Theta which I absolutely love. I can definitely see how JL is a bit more committed and focused than sororities- don’t get me wrong, Theta does a lot but JL women seem to join for more of the right reasons.

  14. Laura

    This is an awesome information. I didn’t know about junior leagues. I’m part of a Latina sorority and I ended up joining after college (they have graduate chapter for alumnae) because I was passionate about giving back to the community anS connect with other woman. Im def going to check Jl out.

  15. Laura

    I would REALLY like to join the JL, but every single orientation day is on a Monday (I work Monday-Thursday at my client site out of town). Will there be any held on weekends?

    1. Theodora Post author

      @Laura: so sorry for just responding! I don’t know if they ever do info sessions on weekends…but that’s definitely something I can bring up with them. Did you ever get to attend one?

  16. Elizabeth

    Saw your post and wanted to comment — was looking for inspiration to stick-it-out —

    I’ve been in the JL in D.C. for the past 3 years, and I’m still having a hard time finding people to click with. My job (and husband’s) has allowed for travel/relocation and may do so in the future, so I’m staying involved in case we do move.

    I absolutely love the organization itself, love volunteering, etc, but this seems to be a similar feeling of a few other women re the JLW from my basic google searches.

  17. Tiana

    Hi I found your blog by typing in junior league review on google. I love this post. I live in the orlando area and plan to join the junior league of orlando next year since I’ve always wanted to join a professional organization and one that’s not in my field of marketing. And I’m like you as well in college minus the grades tanking. I made enough friends to last me and now since I’m 3 years after college I want to participate and be a part of a meaningful organization and I’ve already met with a girl in orlando who does it and she loves it. Much luck to you in your junior league!


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