For 100 years, the Junior League of Columbus has been making central Ohio a better place. From starting non-profit organizations like the Columbus Landmarks Foundation and Action for Children to programs like the Columbus Museum of Art docent program, league members have had a hand in shaping our community. On this centennial anniversary, there is a lot to celebrate.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of us,” said Jennifer Shea, President of Junior League of Columbus.
As this year’s League president, Shea is focused on moving the Junior League into its next hundred years while also celebrating the past.
“There’s still a lot of value in what has occurred in the past. And there are still lessons that we have learned from the women who have come before us,” said Shea.
Women like Mabel Freeman, a former League president.
“I was the president 40 years ago which meant that the Junior League had been around in Columbus for about 60 years. To be a part of something that has a history like that comes with its challenges, especially if you’re trying to move things forward. I think that’s always been a constant with the Junior League, that while we honor our past we know that we have to keep evolving,” said Freeman.
At a time when there were no female CEOs in Columbus, Freeman often found herself being given opportunities to serve on various committees dominated by men.
“As a Junior League president, I thought it was my role to be in those boardrooms. Learning but also helping them learn about what the League means. I think they were surprised by the level of training that many of us had as volunteers. We didn’t just show up and say hello, how can I help you? The Junior League nationally is known for training workshops and development and organizational leadership,” said Freeman.
That rich history is something Nicole Bergman has spent the last few years documenting for future members.
“I feel like every really large organization here in Columbus that is still around, the Junior League has had some kind of part in it either through volunteering or starting a program,” said Bergman, Executive Vice President of Junior League of Columbus. “I think, as an organization, to know where we started from and the things that we’ve accomplished, kind of helps us grow and develop further down the line.”
Other notable projects started by the Junior League of Columbus: Greater Columbus Arts Council, Topiary Park, Franklin Park Conservatory gift shop and restoration of the Palm House, Center for New Directions, Columbus Children’s Theatre, and currently operate the Kelton House Museum & Garden to name a few.
In honor of the League’s centennial anniversary and Women’s History Month, there is a display set up at the Ohio Statehouse that shows a little bit of that 100-year history. You can find that in the Ladies gallery through the end of the month. To learn more about the Junior League and how to join, visit https://www.jlcolumbus.org/