|Since its founding in 1901 by social activist Mary Harriman, The Junior League has evolved into one of the oldest, largest, and most effective women’s volunteer organizations in the world, encompassing more than 140,000 women in 291 Leagues in four countries.|
Founded in 1901 by New Yorker and social activism pioneer Mary Harriman, the Junior Leagues are charitable nonprofit organizations of women, developed as civic leaders, making a demonstrable impact on their communities. In 1921 the Leagues joined forces as an association, which is today known as The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., in order to bolster their power and amplify their voice through shared knowledge and common causes.
True to their mission, today’s League members work at the forefront of social reform, tackling the toughest and most critical issues of the day—including childhood nutrition and obesity, human trafficking, foster care, juvenile justice, teen self-esteem, cybercrimes, literacy and the environment, among others—for the purpose of enhancing the social, cultural and political fabric of civil society.
As a result of this work, The Junior League—and the more than 140,000 women in 291 communities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico who comprise its ranks—has amassed an archive of tangible results and a reputation as thoughtful and influential change agents dedicated to the public good.
Today AJLI is a charitable nonprofit organization that provides continuity and support, guidance, and leadership development opportunities to its member Leagues. Through regional, national and international meetings, comprehensive resources, customized consultations, and League and member benefits, it supports its member Leagues in the fulfillment of The Junior League’s Mission. AJLI is governed by a 19-member Board of Directors, which is accountable to the Leagues and comprised of women who are members of the Junior Leagues in their communities. The Association’s New York City-based staff, under the leadership of the Executive Director, provides services to Leagues that support the established goals.
History of the Junior League
Over the years, The Junior League has had a profound effect on what it means to live in modern society. The League experience cultivates women into thoughtful and seasoned leaders and teaches them how to take on the toughest problems of the day and work collaboratively with all involved to arrive at pragmatic and sustainable solutions that have enhanced the quality of life in our culture.
By populating the pipeline of qualified leadership, they have enhanced the ability and expanded the capacity of agencies and institutions to care for the sick, the poor, the abused, the uneducated and the underrepresented. This is the gift the women of The Junior League have given to their communities and it is the message they have imprinted upon the world.
Among the many reforms in which The Junior League has played a role, either in name or behind the scenes, are:
- Access to vaccinations for children
- Education and provision of healthy food and nutrition for children
- Securing the right to vote for women
- Providing access to the arts
- Advancing literacy for children and adults
- Building awareness for the inadequacies of the justice system for adults and juveniles
- Establishing museums for children
- Legislation to secure safe drinking water
- Awareness for the problem of alcohol abuse
- Support for victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and cyberbullying, and education of the public about the issue
DIG DEEPER INTO THE HISTORY OF THE JUNIOR LEAGUE
|View our interactive historical timeline|