Inspiring a Legacy of Leadership

What’s in a Name?

Some of us have never met Barbara Forster but Barbara embodies the Junior League of Minneapolis’ commitment to civic engagement and advocacy. Barbara is celebrated as an outstanding member of the Junior League of Minneapolis, who has used her talents and resources to improve the social and economic conditions of others. Throughout her career, Barbara was a highly active civic leader in the Minneapolis community and beyond, leading by example and holding numerous volunteer leadership roles. Her list of roles is extensive and far-reaching, from the medical community to financial and educational systems. Visit our press release here.

Rising to the Occasion

Barbara Forster with members of her family.

How can one accomplish a level of civic engagement that we read in newspapers, on podcasts, or hear about in the news? Answer: Find Your Niche. Oh no, there’s that eye-roll worthy phrase. So, in the Minnesotan spirit, let’s say…Find Your North Star. 

With all the successful women involved in the League and in our lives, it can be challenging to find exactly where you fit in or how to even make that first step in discovering your passion. At the Legacy of Leadership awards ceremony held at the Minneapolis Club on October 2, 2019, Barbara said she took advantage of her opportunities in the League, learning “how to engage with other members, build an organization, and manage a nonprofit.” Soon, Barbara was sought after around the community for her ability, reputation, and expertise. Please view this video for more details about Barbara’s powerful engagement within the community

One of the community projects Barbara became involved in after her active years in the League was fundraising and advocating for the Center for Victims of Torture, an international nonprofit dedicated to healing survivors of torture and violent conflict. Peter Dross, Director of Development at CVT, briefly spoke about Barbara and her “full-throttle approach” to all aspects of the organization’s advocacy programs. She played a major role in collaboration within the community through fundraising and program development to raise the organization’s visibility,  making CVT one of the largest organizations of its kind in the world. In her acceptance speech, Barbara remarked that she genuinely believes everyone has the ability to engage in and contribute to their community on some level, even if they don’t think that they are capable or have something significant to offer.

In an exciting announcement, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey officially made October 5th “Barbara Forster Day” in the City of Minneapolis.

Call to Action

Henry David Thoreau said “It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” Are we involved with things which fulfill us and that we enjoy? How can we as members of the Junior League share our knowledge and passion to make our own mark on the community and beyond, just like Barbara? The goal is to feel fulfilled in your life’s work, but more importantly, to share your knowledge and experience with those who are without and in need. Listed below are some opportunities to get started on your commitments for the year and to begin making your mark in the community through the League!

Be on the lookout for future opportunities to engage with Center for Victims of Torture.

Volunteer in the month of October in honor of Barbara’s leadership example in the Junior League October community calendar.

Elise Sarvas, Advocate for Children’s Oral Health

Elise (second from right) with her pediatric dental residents in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

How are you an advocate?

I am the Public Policy Advocate (PPA) for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. You can read more about the position here. Basically, I serve as the representative for the AAPD on the state level to promote children’s oral health in state policies. Every state has their own unique needs for their PPA. In Minnesota, I am concerned with raising the reimbursement rate for children’s oral health services. We like to think of Minnesota as a progressive state when it comes to taking care of our children, but the reality is that we rank dead last in paying for dental services for kids. This means that children who are on state insurance like Medicaid or Medical Assistance programs can’t get the care they need because the dentists get paid too low to see them. So while they “have dental insurance” they can’t use it because the dentists can’t pay for staff, supplies, and time to see them. We are the worst in the country – it’s really shameful. 

How did you learn to be an advocate?

I’ve learned on the job! There is no one way to do advocacy and how I approach it changes on the day and who I’m speaking with. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is to investigate who all the stakeholders are. Once you understand their perspective, you can start to make some ground. There are so many issues that seem like they have easy solutions, but if they were that easy to solve, I’d like to think we would have already done it. Once you understand who all is involved, you can reach out to them in a personalized way. 

What are skills that would be good to know?

I was at first a reluctant advocate. It’s outside my comfort zone to talk to people I don’t know. But whatever squeamishness I have is far outweighed by the chance to do good for someone who can’t speak for themselves. And that’s my trick – I’m not asking for something for me, I’m asking for someone else who needs it. It gets me outside my head and that’s the only skill you really need. That and some persistence 🙂

Every year Elise takes her pediatric dental residents to DC to learn how to talk to lawmakers. Here she is with her team and with Representative Betty McCollum (District IV – DFL, Minn).

General Post – SPECIAL FEATURE Marta Haynes – Defining Sisterhood

Sisterhood: Fostering an enviroment of authencitcy, empowerment and success

Last week, I attended the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit in Phoenix, Arizona.  My leadership chain (all men) nominated me to attend and provided sponsorship.  To be totally honest, I felt both honored and nervous.  I am 100% caucasian, and I didn’t know how I would be received by fellow conference attendees.  Nonetheless, I was excited to attend and firmly committed to listen with big, wide-open ears; afterall, how many times do I as a white person get a chance to be “in the minority”?

The moment I set foot on the conference site, I could feel the amped up energy.  Once I put on my conference badge, I was approached by many conference attendees – greeting me, asking me where I was from, welcoming me… I was actually feeling quite sheepish and shy!  This all felt like a lot to take in, and I wanted to retreat into a protective shell.

As I attended sessions, I noticed the distinct themes of authenticity, personal integrity, and sisterhood.  The importance of being seen for who you really are.  I actually felt quite envious as I heard story after story of woman helping woman.  How can I find a group like THAT?  I would love to have some of what they have!  Why have I never truly experienced this? Do I REALLY feel seen?  Am I REALLY comfortable with expressing my authenticity?

About a day and a half into the conference, I had my big “aha” moment:  the discomfort and self-consciousness I was feeling was not the result of any experience I have EVER had with any community of women who were different from me.  All of the insecurity I was feeling came as a result of my experience with interacting with groups of caucasian females – women just like me!  Tears immediately sprang to my eyes and I turned to the ladies sitting next to me, and with all the raw vulnerability I was experiencing in that moment – I shared my heart.  And you know what happened next?  My heart was unabashedly received.  The lady sitting next to me grabbed my hands and leaned forward and thanked me – “do you promise to come back next year and bring other people who think like you, too?  This conference is for everyone – and now that you know our struggle, now that you hear our voice, you are in a better position to help us.”  I asked the three caucasian ladies in my work group (total conference attendees = 1,500), and they too shared stories of competition, woundedness, judgment and rejection, all from predominantly caucasian groups of women.

Ladies – of COURSE I thought about the JLM.  We want to stay true to our mission and foster an environment that truly empowers women.  We want to continue to attract and retain a diverse base of members – so that a broad range of women’s voices will be represented.  The following list summarizes some key learnings from the conference… If you think this sounds remotely interesting, I encourage you to consider attending the conference next year!  I will be.

 

  • Individuals who are being truly authentic foster supportive environments. When we show up as individuals – honoring our unique abilities, physical attritbutes, and ways that we bring value, we create an environment that gives others permission to do the same.  Individuals are inspired to action in these environments.  Teams achieve goals in these environments.  It is perfectly acceptable to take risks, set big goals – and even fail – in these environments.
  • When one lady wins, we all win! This entire concept of celebrating others’ successes as if they were are own was discussed frequently throughout the conference.  It really boils down to a worldview of abundance versus scarcity.  What do I mean by that?  I celebrate others’ successes as much as my own because I realize that there are abundant opportunities for me to win/contribute.  I do not live in a “zero-sum game” kind of world.  A world view of scarcity comes from deeply rooted fear and insecurity: “when she wins, I lose”, “there is not enough for me and her”, “I will not have enough”.  This does not foster an environment of sisterhood, much less an environment of high-performance.
  • Support your sisters publicly, protect the “inner circle”. This concept basically highlights the importance of presenting a unified front to the world.  What does this look like?  It means presenting a unified image to our JLM community partners, it means discussing conflict 1:1 in a private setting with the indivdual(s) directly involved, it means refusing to engage in gossip or discussion that reduces another in the eyes of others.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us…. Love is what we are born with.  Fear is what we learned here.”  ~~ Marianne Williamson

JLM Advocacy: Providing Education to inspire action

DO Something about it: Action to Advocacy

Policy Action Center, their homepage states: keeps you informed on important education issues, helps you find and track legislation, connects you with Congress and gives you the tools you need to be a successful education advocate.

Here is the Education Minnesota’s main site: http://www.educationminnesota.org/advocacy

JLM Advocacy: Providing education to inspiring members to action

How to track State Legislation

Trying to track State legislation?  Check out these links!

Tools for tracking state level legislation:

 

JLM Advocacy: Providing education to inspiring members to action

How Else can I track Legislation?

Here are some resources for tracking legislation.

National Conference of State Legislatures

GovTrack

Education Week

National Education Association

JLM Advocacy: Providing education to inspiring members to action