Capital Impact Winter 2020

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Cover photo by Sinitta Leunen





Contributors Jeri Billings Carpenter Lacey Bisnett Barbara Boudreaux Amber Carlson Bailee Carpenter Rockell Otero Brie Parks Kelsey Savage Ashley Watson

Editorial Board Lacey Bisnett Barbara Boudreaux

Editorial Team VP Communications Bailee Carpenter Copy Editor Vickie Hawver Copy Editor Pam Koupal Design Editor Melina Stewart Advertising Editor Lacee Sandgren Assistant Editor Barbara Boudreaux Editor Lacey Bisnett


What a year 2020 has been! We’ve been through so many challenges as a nation, as a league, and as individuals. This has been a year of pain, struggle, and sadness, but it has also been one of focusing on family, building community, and personal growth. This winter edition of Capital Impact encourages more growth as we focus on intersectional feminism. The term intersectional feminism was first defined in 1989 by Kimberle Crenshaw as “a prism for seeing the way in which various forms of inequality often operate together and exacerbate each other.” As Junior Leaguers, we are all familiar with the fight for equality for women. That fight is further compounded by: race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, disabilities, and more. For example, this year we are celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Did you know though, that the 19th amendment only provided the right to vote to white women? As we continue to advocate for the rights of women, we advocate for ALL women. I hope you enjoy the articles in this edition highlighting the diversity of our community.

Lacey Bisnett, Capital Impact Editor

ADVERTISE IN THE SPRING 2021 EDITION! Contact for current ad rates and sizes. 4

FROM THE PRESIDENT Recently I was asked what is required for success from today’s leaders; without hesitation I will tell you it is flexibility and grace. Without either you cannot effectively navigate the world in which we exist today. Being a leader is about more than a title; in fact I would argue it has very little (if anything) to do with your position and more to do with how you approach and handle the everyday tasks and challenges you face. When I took the role of President-Elect in 2019, I carefully planned the theme of my Presidency and pondered what impact I hoped to have on the legacy of the Junior League of Topeka. Two things were quickly and abundantly clear: I wanted to be a leader who empowers the organizations’ members to represent and run the organization, and I wanted to lead from behind, helping lift our ladies up each day. So many of my beliefs stem from the idea that a leader’s success is not in what they publicly are seen to do, but in the leaders that they produce. Since taking over as President, side by side with our membership, we dove into our League year with the intent and theme to “Know Your Why: Once you know your why, you can survive almost any how.” That has become key in every decision made by the women of our League and I’m proud to say that it has in many ways made us an organization who has pivoted through the challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic thus far with great success. Oh it’s been painful, don’t mistake that, but our amazing members have taken on learning new social media resources, digital meeting platforms, and coordinating with one another completely through text, email, and phone communication to still serve our community in what has been one of its most vulnerable times in this century, to date. However, when you are required to be frequently pivoting you run into roadblocks and frustrations. In all times, but most certainly during these times of challenge, we must have grace for one another, and for ourselves. To give grace is to remember that we cannot do or be everything. We must remember that our experiences and current realities are likely not that of the person next to us. Before getting upset, humanize a situation. Step back, put yourself in the others shoes… and most importantly ask yourself, “Am I focused on the facts as I know them to be true, or am I focused on the story I’m telling myself based on assumptions I’m making from my own experience or beliefs?” Too often, what we perceive or decide is happening, comes from our own sense of reality. Together, we will persevere through these challenges and the Junior League of Topeka is proving that the brightest lights can shine in our darkest hours. In October, the League completed its 2nd Annual Little Black Dress Initiative and through our Immediate Impact Projects with our membership and community we were able to donate nearly 460 pounds of food, 120 towels, and over 1,000 period packs to area community partners. The League continues to prove time and time again that together, women of different race, religion, and socioeconomic backgrounds can come together and make immediate, measurable, and lasting impacts on the Greater Topeka community. It simply takes flexibility Kim Sixkiller, 2020-2021 President and grace! 5































Are you interested in learning more about what it means to be a member of Junior League of Topeka? As an organization committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community, our membership requirements are geared toward achieving that goal! Our members are asked to attend monthly meetings, log volunteers hours in the community, and invest in the organization through annual membership dues. Each of these requirements are focused on furthering the mission of the Junior League in Topeka. Through these commitments, members receive training in leadership, organizational development, community needs assessment, mentoring, advocacy, communications, funding development, strategic planning, negotiation, networking, and more. Training, volunteerism, and social events benefit our members and build life-long friendships with others who share the same passion for community. If you would like to receive more information about membership in the Junior League of Topeka, please email All women 18 and over are welcome and we are excited to meet you!


@JLTopeka @JLTopeka @JLTopeka 7

Super Saturday By Kelsey Savage & Barbara Boudreaux


Our Provisionals in the Community event has been a long-lived favorite.


This event takes place on a Saturday morning in October and is typically the second session in our onboarding schedule. During this event, women are paired in teams and sent on a scavenger hunt. Clues led members to locations around the community that have been impacted by Junior League over the years through volunteerism, gifted funds and project work. At each location, provisionals were met by a representative of the Membership Council where they received a brief description of the League’s impact and their next clue. Locations over the years have included Meals on Wheels, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library and the Diaper Depot. Over the last few years, it seemed as if this event was happening quicker and quicker, almost as if it were a race. Instead of just being just a scavenger hunt, how could we create meaningful experience? What did we need to incorporate for this event to be impactful? Last year, the Membership council went back to the drawing board and that’s where we came up with the idea of bringing in our community partners.

“We realize women are busy and their time is valuable - our goal is to decrease barriers to women joining and integrate them into JLT sooner,” explained Carsten. “Many of these changes were actually being developed prior to COVID, so we were able to adapt quickly.” If you are interested in learning more about Junior League of Topeka membership, email membership@ Junior League of Topeka is always looking for new members to join and become committed volunteers in the Topeka community.

Six of the ten current Provisionals and two of their mentors participated in the scavenger hunt around Topeka on Saturday, October 17. Provisionals paired into teams and solved clues leading them to Junior League of Topeka community partners Harvesters, the YWCA, Kansas Children’s Service League (KSCL), and Community Action. Representatives from each organization then gave short presentations to the Provisionals on the services they provide in the community, ways to become involved in their efforts, and how the League has partnered with the organization. “It’s a 10/10 from me!” said JLT Provisional Polly Phinney. “I have lived in the community for 39 years 5 months, and I had absolutely no idea MY community has so many resources and opportunities to volunteer to give others a hand up.” The Provisional scavenger hunt is not the only aspect of JLT recruiting that looks different this year. “We are excited to implement the mentorship program this year, where Provisionals are paired with an active member of League to help onboard them to League, develop relationships, and guide them in their first two years of membership.” said Provisional Chair Renae Carsten. Provisional Coordinator, Renae Carsten, explained how League is embracing a hybrid learning style with classes offered via Zoom or in person. Some online learning and onboarding have been self-guided, allowing each woman to explore the League at her own pace. 9


SPOTLIGHT Julia Carthy Mc

One of the biggest benefits of the Junior League is that it is an international association with Leagues in four different countries so no matter where members go, at least in the United States, Mexico, Canada and the United Kingdom, there is likely a Junior League nearby with a group of strong women who have a passion to give back just waiting to accept you. That’s how the Junior League of Topeka found member, Julia McCarthy.

By Brie Parks

Julia, tell us a little bit about yourself? Sure! I joined the Junior League 8 years ago as a member of the Junior League of Lancaster (Pennsylvania) and transferred to the Junior League of Topeka in 2019. I love to travel, run, ski, hike, bike, read, and watch a good show. I enjoy hanging out with friends and family. For my day job, I am Finance Manager at the Mars site (M&M’s) in Topeka where I make sure we are making the right financial decisions for the site and the business. Some of the skills I have learned through the Junior League that have helped my career would be that ‘how’ you do something is equally as important as ‘what’ you are doing. You must bring people along on the journey. This can be hard if you love to get projects done but looking around the room and having conversations to verify that everyone is on the same page is invaluable.

I could not agree more! While we’re on that topic, what else would you say you’ve learned through your Junior League involvement? What I have learned through the Junior League is that how you present an idea is just as important as the idea. Not everyone is going to be 100% behind you and that’s a part of the process. But if you know why you are doing something this becomes much easier. I think that is why our purpose statement is so important. The Junior League has also taught me to speak up and present my ideas! Even if an idea is not the best thought out, that idea could lead to someone else adding on to it - we are stronger if everyone participates.

With 8 years behind you in the Junior League I’m sure you’ve had a lot of opportunities to work on great new projects and initiatives. What’s been 10

to different cultures/activities so that we are more informed. Obviously, a pandemic has made it harder, but the more we can get out of our own bubble and show up we will become better for it. I don’t think there is one experience that I have done that I have not been scared or at least a little nervous but showing up and giving of myself to that experience has always made me feel more whole and engaged.

When I was a member of the Junior League of Lancaster, I lead the Girls in STEM initiative which opened doors for additional programs in the community in this field. My favorite program we produced was Girls Who Code which showed girls how to code through a 2-hour course each Saturday and provided them with the support system they needed to continue to be curious about programming. Julia – thank you for your time and for Junior Leagues across the country do a variety sharing your stories and experiences with us! of activities to support kids and that’s been really rewarding to watch.

One thing that is certain with most volunteer organizations, but most certainly with the Junior League, is that our members are passionate! Can you share something you’re passionate about? Women supporting women. Hands down, some of the best mentors and supporting people in my life have been the women I surround myself with. Women showing up and supporting each other is essential to feeling included.

I understand that you have recently participated in The Association of Junior Leagues International’s 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge. Can you tell us about that? Do it! I feel like this is one of the best programs I have seen the Junior League put out to empower members. It was very informative and connective. I got to meet women from all over the nation and make connections. Everyday there is reading/listening/ watching information that helps with the discussion within your group. It does take time and is well worth all the effort you put in.

What are a few of the things you learned through this experience?

Sowing the seeds today for a better and more responsible tomorrow, in Northeast Kansas... and beyond.

Although there were many different perspectives and ideas it taught me the main ones were about the history of racism, the different kinds of racism, and how I can be an ally. We can all be allies; we might not have the same experiences as other people, but we can be supportive and acknowledge their experiences. Listening, engaging with others, educating ourselves, and being empathetic are great tools we can use.

How has this inspired you? I think that Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) are important to making every organization stronger and more effective. Different points of view and experiences are essential to creating a solid organization. It is also a journey. We need to continue to educate ourselves and expose ourselves

We are proud to support the work of the Junior League of Topeka



your favorite?


Equality HOUSE

By Ashley Watson


Aaron Jackson, founder of Planting Peace, purchased the Equality House in 2013. Planting Peace is a global nonprofit organization. Planting Peace proclaims “Peace” as its mission stating the organization was, “founded for the purpose of spreading peace in a hurting world. Our projects focus on a range of humanitarian and environmental initiatives, including our multi-national deworming campaign; a network of orphanages and safe havens in develop-

What are some things the Equality House has done? The Equality House made quite a splash when it moved to Topeka to directly combat the hatred from the neighboring Westboro Baptist Church. Travelers have come from all over to see the house and feel supported by its message. The Equality House has hosted many events including: LGBTQ weddings, drag shows, and NoH8 photoshoots. In addition to events, the Equality House has helped to raise awareness and funds to be used for anti-bullying, to help those with HIV/AIDs, and more.

A big thank you, to our Sustaining Member

ing countries; LGBTQ rights advocacy; Equality House and Transgender House; and rainforest conservation efforts in the Amazon.”


What is the Equality House? The Equality House is a symbol of compassion, peace, and positive change in both the Topeka community and world at large. Planting Peace hopes the house, “serves as the resource center for all Planting Peace human rights initiatives and stands as a visual reminder of our commitment, as global citizens, to equality for all.”

For her continued dedication, and her generous donation.

It also makes quite the statement at 1200 SW Orleans St., nestled directly across from the Westboro Baptist Church hate group campus. Visitors are welcome to the House. They are able to walk the property, take photos and help out/help themselves to veggies from the community garden. Also, if able, visitors are encouraged to donate. If you feel compelled you are able to donate at https:// 13


Driving along 12th Street in Southwest Topeka, a brightly painted one-story house stands out from the mid-century homes. Most people know this house as the “Rainbow House” due to its colorful paint job reflecting the Pride flag.


THE MOTT HOUSE By Ashley Watson

Formerly known as the “Trans House,” this house was renamed by Aaron Jackson with Planting Peace the “Mott House” after a beloved LGBTQ advocate passed away unexpectedly.

Stephanie accomplished all of this while also working as a mental health clinician at Valeo. One issue she helped with, but was unable to see come to fruition was Kansas allowing trans people to change their gender and name on their birth certificate.

The house is hard to miss as it sits next to the Equality House, or as many Topekans know it, the “Rainbow House.” Mott House is almost as colorful, sporting the blue, white, and pink colors of the Transgender Pride Flag.

The History of the Mott House Planting Peace owns the Mott House as well as its neighbor, the Equality House. In 2013, Planting Peace painted the house the Transgender Pride Flag. Around this time a group of people were reviving Topeka Pride and three years later, the group determined they needed an Equality Center. A Board of Directors was formed, but they had no location. An agreement was formed with Planting Peace; if Topeka Pride paid utilities, insurance, and maintained the home, they were welcome to use it.

Stephanie Mott, the LGBTQ advocate the house is named after, has an inspiring background. I implore you to look up “In Honor of Stephanie Mott; An Excerpt” by C.J. Janovy. This is an excerpt from C.J. Janovy’s book, “No Place Like Home: Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas” that tells Mott’s story. In Stephanie’s later years she helped found the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, K-STEP, a nonprofit where she served as the executive director and President. She led the LGBTQ caucus for the Kansas Democratic Party. She managed the local chapter of the Statewide advocacy organization Equality Kansas. She traveled across the United States openly discussing being a transgender Christian woman. In 2013, Stephanie was named the Pioneer Woman of the year; her name will forever be among names like Amelia Earhart and Chief Justice Kay McFarland.

Since Mott’s passing, the home now houses a family from El Salvador seeking asylum in the United States with the same agreement as before. The Equality Center is still running operations, they just no longer operate out of that home. The Equality Center offers education on the LGBTQ community to businesses, churches, government, etc. The Mott House has seen a lot of changes over the years. If those walls could talk... Special thank you to Dan Brennan for his insight and time.


Photo by the Topeka Capital-Journal

THE WOMEN OF THE JUNIOR LEAGUE AJLI on Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation By Barbara Boudreaux Junior League founder, Mary Harriman, believed that we all bear the responsibility to learn about the world around us in order to be more effective in our desire to improve it. The Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) states in its Who We Are section that in line with Harriman’s vision, “We should really try to understand the ‘why’ behind something, not just superficially give it lip service.”

Junior League of Tallahassee hosted a LGBTQIA+ Ally Training. Attendees completed a Cisgender and Heterosexual Privilege Checklist and participated in role-playing activities. Members reported that by experiencing shifted perspectives in the training, they learned to be better LBGTQIA+ allies in their communities. AJLI seeks to provide its members tools so that a member can better understand and reduce her biases. The Resource Library offers tools such as the General Guidelines for Reducing Bias: Writing Clearly and Concisely. This style guides contains recommendations to avoid stereotypical expressions in writings of ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities. It guides the writer through common problematic phrases and suggests preferred language. For example, the Guide encourages a writer to avoid the label “homosexual relationship” and instead specify “gay male relationships” and/or “lesbian female relationships” to foster inclusivity in writing.

As a core value, “The Junior League welcomes all women who value our mission. We are committed to inclusive environments of individuals, organizations, and communities.” Inclusivity as it relates to membership policy is one area in which AJLI and individual Leagues are transforming. Individual Leagues are given autonomy to craft their own statements of membership inclusion in harmony with the policies of AJLI. JLT’s policy affirms that it does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. Membership is open to any woman 21 years of age or older who maintains a principal place of residence in Topeka or its vicinity.

AJLI leadership notes that the time is now for inclusivity, proclaiming, “We must be intentional and proactive in our actions to build diverse and inclusive Junior Leagues….for the good of the community, the wellbeing of our society, the strength of our relationships, the magnitude of our impact, the scope of our visibility, the quality of our leadership, the reality of our relevance and our essence as human beings.” Join with AJLI as it proceeds with its vision to be “Women Around the World as Catalysts for Lasting Community Change.”

AJLI has committed itself to diversity, equity, and inclusion including looking inward to a more inclusive understanding of womanhood itself and its application to expanding a League’s membership. Many Leagues are beginning to extend membership to members of the transgender community who identify as female. The Junior League of San Diego was the first League to officially accept transgender members who identify as female. This inclusive policy recognized the role of gender identity in the League’s membership. Gender identity is defined generally as the personal sense of one’s own gender. It can correlate with or differ from the sex assigned to a person at birth. As it marked its centennial year in 2017, the Junior League of Denver extended membership to those who identify as female. “It’s one thing to say we embrace diversity and inclusion and quite another to actually do it,” JLD President Becky Schaub stated in an interview at the time. “We not only want to attract a diverse and inclusive membership, we want to make everyone feel welcome.” In an effort to become more inclusive and forge partnerships with LGBTQIA+ organizations, the 15


1”Black Women & the Pay Gap”, AAUW,, Accessed 10.15.2020 2”Women in Management: Quick Take”, Catalyst, https://www.catalyst. org/research/women-in-management/, Accessed 10.16.2020


all the special projects you’re working on allows you to knowledgeable ask for what you deserve. It is also important to position yourself so you are not afraid to walk away if you are not being offered a wage that matches the value you bring to the organization.

As students, we were conditioned to believe we could have it all - the job, the family, and more. While we have made major strides in gender equality over the past century, the reality is that women today still live in a culture where there is an expectation that working mothers pull the daily “double-shift” in which they go to work during the day and then come home and work the night shift of cooking, cleaning, dishes, and supporting the children. Working the “double-shift” is part of the reason why women today still earn $0.82 to a man’s dollar for the same job. And if you’re a black woman in the United States it is far less – a mere $0.63 to the dollar according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW). Historical injustice and discrimination further stack the deck against women of color.

2. Talk About yourself! In order to get what you deserve you must be your own marketing manager. Women often stray away from bragging about their accomplishments for fear of being off-putting. But this important act can help ensure you are remembered when it comes time for promotions and raises. To further reiterate this, every time you get a rave review from a happy client or co-worker be sure to file it away and use that when pushing for that promotion. 3. Seek out promotions

In 2019, only 29% of senior level roles globally were held by women. White women hold just over 30% of all management positions while women of color held just over 10%.2 Why are women today still fighting the war for equal pay? The primary reason for the gender pay gap is often still attributed to a 1950s antiquated tale that a job requires long hours and constant availability or the belief that women are more likely to step away from the work force or require more flexibility for families. For black women the wealth disparity is so great that not even education can make major strides in closing that gap today. The AAUW reported that the median white adult who dropped out of high school has 70% more wealth than the median black adult with some college.1

While we are talking about promotions, one of the easiest ways to get a bump in pay is to plan out your career path and take advantage of every opportunity possible in preparation for going for promotions. Once you have done that, you cannot be afraid to actively seek out those promotions and use that experience to show how qualified you are. The gender pay gap is real and there is no better advocate for your future than you. With these simple tips we can do more to close the gap.

In today’s society equal pay matters more than ever. Eighty percent of Black mothers are the breadwinner for their household meaning that an equal salary could be the difference between providing for their family or struggling to make ends meet.1 With so many factors working against women today, what can be done to close the gender pay gap? Share salary information We have been conditioned our entire lives to not talk about what we make, however only when we release this information into the world will we begin to truly inform ourselves in a way that allows us to advocate for what is fair and for our true worth. 1. Negotiate your salary, always Let’s take this one straight from a man’s playbook. You will never get what you do not ask for and given the large discrepancy in pay this is even more important for women of color. To do so starts with doing your research. Knowing the market and industry average pay scale for your role and adding in 17


As children, we were told we could be whatever we wanted when we grew up.

Junior League of Topeka

Throughout the Year





Haskell has been a transformational step in many alumni’s educational journeys, and it has prepared students to be successful in their graduate programs. Because Haskell is known for fostering strong communities internally, this carries forth with us into our next step in life. Haskell not only provides a culturally responsive educational environment for Indigenous students, but it propels you forward to take these unique teachings into spaces where it may not exist.

The United States Indian Industrial Training School opened in 1884, one of three original tribal boarding schools. Today, we know it as Haskell Indian Nations University. In the late 19th century, assimilation was the federal policy applied to native people. Students who attended Haskell in its beginning were forced to comply with these policies. This included the removal of tribal clothing and items, the cutting of long hair, and tribal song, dance, and language were prohibited.

Native women were denied the right to vote even after the 1920 ratification of the 19th amendment and after the passing of the 1924 Snyder Act due to state policies aimed at disenfranchising Native people. Today we see a seeing a record number of Native people, specifically women, in Congress and significant increases in registered and voting Native people.

Today, Haskell stands proudly as a 4-year University that offers a quality and affordable education to indigenous students. Haskell continues to integrate American Indian/Alaska Native culture into its entire curricula.

What does this mean to you as a Native woman and what impact does an all Native University have on native women and politics?

We interviewed Haskell alum, Krista Catron, for an eye-opening account on her experience at Haskell University. Krista Catron is a member of Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. She graduated from Haskell in 2014 with a degree in American Indian Studies with a Social Welfare emphasis. Subsequently, she attended Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work and Public Health as a Kathryn M. Buder Scholar receiving her Master of Social Work. Today, Krista works as the Assistant Social Services Administrator for the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Social Service Department and is true role model and strong voice for indigenous women.

The representation of Native peoples, and specifically women, has been very inspiring as a young Indigenous person. Even outside of politics, our visibility and presence within other fields and industries have increased and I am confident that you will continue to see a rise of successful Indigenous people. I was not aware of the complex relationship between AI/AN Nations until I attended Haskell and learned about the voting issues and citizenship of AI/AN people. The university can play a vital role in preparing Indigenous women for that next step in their life and provide us the space to grow into our moccasins and bring that with us wherever we go next.

Haskell Indian Nation’s University started as an Indian boarding school in which assimilation was forced on native children, attempting to strip them of their culture. Today, Haskell’s mission is quite the opposite. Can you tell me about the importance of getting an education at a University where indigenous culture is integrated into studies?

Native women experience domestic violence at a significantly higher rate than non-natives. You have your MSW (Master’s in Social Work) . Can you tell us what your education and experience has taught you about why this happens and what we can do to make a change?

Haskell provided me an opportunity to experience the college life being away from home, yet it availed me the privilege of being close to my support system. Haskell has created its own unique relationship with Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work program located in St. Louis, and attending this university was life changing for me. The relationship between the two schools has flourished because

We are living a world that is not meant for us. Those who are perpetrators are a product of forced assimilation, failed federal Indian policies, genocide, cultural dismantlement, and many other forms of oppression that continue today. Much of the disparities and issues we have in Indian Country were absent prior to colonization. Reclaiming our traditional beliefs and ways of living can be one way to push back against 20

things like domestic violence. For example, a lot of ceremonies and traditional lifestyles, such as harvesting, teach us to be gentle and kind to the Earth so that it can take care of us in return. If we take these simple traditional teachings and apply them to our everyday interactions, this can move us towards a significant shift in how we maintain healthy relationships with one another.

the importance of all our roles in life. What isn’t next? Indigenous women are powerhouses! I think we will continue to see examples of Indigenous women who continue to breach spaces that we may have typically been absent from or just haven’t made our way there quite yet.

The Capital Impact Magazine’s theme is intersectional feminism this fall, which means a focus on feminism that is diverse and recognizes the different identities of women, such as race, and how those identities impact the experiences of oppression and discrimination that a woman faces. How has Haskell helped shape your idea of Indigenous Feminism and while there has been progress, such as the right to vote, what is next? I attended Haskell at a very influential point in my life. It put me in places that challenged me and onto a path of discovering and exploring who I am. To be candid, I feel that my understanding and immersion of Indigenous feminism is still developing. I don’t identify as a feminist, and I believe that is what is truly at the core of Indigenous feminism. Non-conformity into boxes that do not support for fluidity and holistic understanding of collective well-being and 21



MOHAI/Seattle Post-Intelligencer Photograph Collection

THE FIGHT CONTINUES By Jeri Billings Carpenter

August 26, 2020 marked 100 years since the 19th Amendment was adopted by the United States of America, officially granting women the right to vote. While several states had already extended some voting rights to women before 1920, the ratification of the 19th Amendment further solidified that right. However, even with an official Amendment in place, many women still battled discrimination and obstacles at the voting polls. Over a century later, the fight for women’s suffrage continues.

worth celebrating, but let it also serve as a reminder to keep pushing for change until there comes a day where women and minorities are no longer facing exclusion, voter suppression and other tactics used to silence voices. Until then, in the words of Bleiweis, Phadke, and Frye, “the promise of suffrage—and with it, the promise of American democracy and the promise of true equality—has yet to be fully realized.” Center for American Progress ( “100 Years after the 19th Amendment, the Fight for Women’s Suffrage Continues” by Robin Bleiweis, Shilpa Phadke, and Jocelyn Frye (

Despite the contributions made to the suffrage movement by women of color, many of these women were still unable to vote after the 19th Amendment came to fruition in 1920. Black women, especially those living in the Jim Crow era of the South, were suppressed from voting by implementation of intimidation tactics, literacy tests, poll taxes, and even violence. Chinese Americans found themselves in a similar situation until the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943. All other Asian Americans did not receive the right to vote until nearly ten years later in 1952.



K N O W . . .


Passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920 gave U.S. women the right to vote, however it took decades for women to obtain other basic rights and opportunities including:

1970 Obtain a “No Fault” Divorce. Prior to California introducing the first “no fault” divorce law, parties could obtain a divorce only on limited grounds of behavior which could be more easily overturned.

RIGHTS 1972 Run the Boston Marathon. Women runners were first acknowledged in 1972.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) acted as a catalyst for change by banning literacy tests and ultimately poll taxes. The Act required voting materials to be translated into various languages that would allow for non-English speaking voters to exercise their voting rights. Despite all of this, voter suppression tactics continued on and to this day, still target immigrants, LGBTQ, disabled, and people of color. According to the Center for American Progress, this is in part due to the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelly County v. Holder. This Supreme Court ruling overturned VRA voter protection provisions which many advocates fear could result in even more cases of suppression and voter intimidation.

Use Birth Control when Single. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Massachusetts law banning doctors from distributing birth control to single women.

1974 Hold a Credit Card in Her Own Name. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act allowed a woman to apply for credit in her own name without a male cosignor.

1975 Serve on a Jury. In Taylor v. Louisiana, the U.S. Surpreme Court held that states could not systematically exclude women from juries.

1978 Keep Her Job While Pregnant. Until the 1978 passage of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, a woman could be fired from her workplace for being pregnant.


So, the question becomes what can be done to further incite progress in the women’s suffrage movement? In the article, “100 Years after the 19th Amendment” authors Robin Bleiweis, Shilpa Phadke, and Jocelyn Frye state that the US needs to revamp some of its voting practices. We need automatic and same day registrations, pre-registration for 16/17 year olds, longer early voting periods, “no excuse” absentee voting, a plethora of in person voting options, and more flexible paid time off for voting, among other reforms. The 100th year anniversary of women’s suffrage is

Become an Astronaut. In 1979, NASA hired female applicants to train as astronauts. Sally Ride became the first female astronaut to explore space in 1983.


Wear Pants on the U.S. Senate Floor. Carol Moseley-Braun, a Democratic Senator from Illinois, broke this unwritten rule when she wore a pantsuit, ushering in the “Pantsuit Revolution.”


1980 Report Sexual Harassment. Courts first recognized sexual harassment in the workplace in 1977, but it was not until 1980 that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defined sexual harassment.



VOTING By Bailee Carpenter

“Go out and vote!! It’s your civil duty!” We have all heard our family and friends, and even ourselves, say something along those lines. Voting should be easy and assessable for all, but in many cases, there are barriers that suppress votes. Voter ID Requirements In many states, including Kansas which is one of six states that has the strictest photo ID requirement, you have to show a government issued ID to vote. These strict requirements can suppress the votes of people of color and younger voters. While having a government issued ID may seem simple, there are many barriers to obtaining one that take time and money to unravel. This blocks many from being able to vote at all. Many states do not require an ID at all, while some might encourage voters to bring an ID. Laws requiring a physical street address discriminate against groups that are more likely to have P.O. Box addresses, such as Native Americans living on reservations.

Language Barriers While the English-Language requirements of voting is in the past, many Americans who do not read or speak English might run into issues at their polling places. If voting materials are not properly translated, or translated at all, this can provide a huge barrier to minority groups. In Kansas for example, to register to vote online the only languages supported are English and Spanish. At the polls, there needs to be 5% or more of the county that speaks a language for that language to be represented. Finney, Ford, Grant, Haskell, and Seward are the only counties in Kansas that meet this requirement. Voter Purges Every election year, millions of registered voters’ files are deleted. This is usually happening under the guise that they are reviewing names to remove duplicates, deceased individuals or those with felony convictions. If you are unaware that your voter registration is no longer valid and you show up to vote, you will be denied and have no way of voting in the current election. I personally have been registered to vote since I turned 18 years old and have since voted in every local and national election. This year, I suddenly was no longer registered to vote. Luckily, I found out before the state deadline and re-registered, but some are not so lucky.

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Polling Place Closures/Consolidations

Dr. Scott Hamilton | Dr. Gena Hendrickson | Dr. Don Wilson 24

Having a close and assessable polling place is critical to ensure that everyone can easily go out and vote. Those who do not have reliable transportation or work long hours need a voting place that is close to where they live or work. When polling places close or consolidate, usually in areas in poor places, this creates huge barriers for some voters to be able to get out and vote. This occurred in Dodge City, KS in 2018 when the only polling place was moved out of city limits.


CHALLENGE By Lacey Bisnett

In a time in our country’s history when tensions are high due to racial injustices, the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) stepped up with a virtual 21 Day Racial Equity Challenge. This was a great opportunity to educate oneself on what is required to be a strong ally for minority groups. This challenge included Junior Leagues nationwide and participants were divided up into small groups. My small group included Junior League members from Kansas, Texas, Arkansas, and Alabama. We met virtually for an hour each day to discuss assigned readings, videos, and reflections. Then weekly, all members met and shared their small groups’ feedback.

Lastly, the topic that impacted me the most was the amount of violence against indigenous women that occurs both in the United States and Canada. There is quite literally an epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous females. Native America women are murdered and sexually assaulted at rates as high as 10 times the average in certain areas of the United States. Often missing teen females are assumed to be runaways and their cases remain unsolved. In 2010 it was found that more than 84% of American Indian/Alaska Native women experience violence in the lifetimes and 41% had been physically injuring from violence by intimate partners, stalking, and sexual violence.

This challenge was not for the faint of heart. It was an intense amount of time each day and the topics themselves weighed heavy on my mind. For example, according to Nonprofit Quarterly, in 2014, while 60% of nonprofits primarily serve people of color, 9.5 out of 10 philantropic organizations were lead by whites. It was eye opening for me to see how many nonprofits have been built up with institutional racism by the thinking that people should come in to ‘save’ a population rather than diving in and working together with that population to build them up.

With the information from this challenge, I feel better equipped to support community groups and efforts. We become better allies by doing the emotional work of educating ourselves. I encourage all to continue to explore and educate ourselves on this topic.

The practice of redlining is something I had learned about only slightly prior to this challenge. In case you are unfamiliar, redlining was the practice of banks to prevent people of color from buying homes in white neighborhoods but denying mortgages. This practice was made illegal in the 1968 Fair Housing Act, however institutional racism is still alive and well in lending practices today. During the challenge we learned how this history of redlining has actually put people of color more at risk for a variety of things including health issues, and most recently, COVID-19. That is because often the areas banks would allow people of color to get mortgages for were areas with heavy air pollution. In fact, one’s zip code is a reliable indicator of educational attainment, lifetime earnings, along with life expectancy.

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We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change. SHERYL SANDBERG



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It is said that an organization cannot empower its community if it is also not looking inward on itself. In 1978, the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI) adopted a “Reaching Out Statement” to welcome “women of all races, religions, and national origins who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to voluntarism.”

Impact conference and participated in a workshop on Diversity and Inclusion led by the amazing Vicki Clark. My understanding of D&I changed dramatically during that workshop,” Carsten explained. “I appreciated gaining an understanding of what diversity and inclusion steps AJLI and JLT had already taken and was excited and empowered to help continue this initiative at JLT.”

Over the next forty years later, AJLI continued this internal reflection on working to build a more inclusive organization. In 2017, AJLI launched Advancing Diversity and Inclusion by Design to continue the next phase of Junior League action.

AJLI has assembled, Advancing Diversity and Inclusion by Design: A Guide for Building Vibrant Junior Leagues, a 136-page guide to assist individual league leaders with taking intentional, systemic

League President, Kim Sixkiller, recently created a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) Taskforce. It is a stand-alone group reporting directly to the Board of Directors; JLT’s President Elect holds a permanent seat on the taskforce. Active and Provisional members self-nominated for a position on the taskforce in addition to their council placement and commit to serve for one year.

action to make diversity and inclusion central to their organization (D&I Guide). This publication provides a guided approach to achieving more diverse and inclusive Junior Leagues, beginning with an assessment tool to gauge a League’s starting point and priorities. The league can then craft a course of action to advance, embed, and champion diversity and inclusion and track its progress.

The JLT DEI Taskforce is comprised of Chair Renae Carsten, President Elect Brie Parks, active members Ashley Watson, Lacey Bisnett, Julia McCarthy, and provisional member Polly Phinney.

“Many on the JLT Board attended the D&I workshop and began following the D&I Guide and taking the initial steps,” said Carsten. “I was honored to be asked to chair the taskforce and organize this group of passionate and driven women to help meet this need in our community,”

“In September 2019, I attended the Small League, Big 26


A diverse league membership makes the Junior League more relevant, more culturally fluent, and better able to lead in the community. “Diversity and inclusion enhance an organization’s ability to overcome bias, make better decisions together and create places where everyone can thrive,” notes the D&I Guide.

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A league is made stronger internally by the diversity of members, expanding its talent pool, improving problem-solving, and making the League more open to innovation and new ideas. “We are on this construction project together, and we know it’s a project that will never be ‘done.’ Our world is constantly changing, and how we think about the dimensions of diversity and inclusion is constantly changing, too,” stated Susan Danish, AJLI Executive Director in her introduction to the D&I Guide. “We know that being diverse and inclusive is foundational to our future. We know that creating societies that are inclusive and equitable is critical throughout the world. We are ‘women building better communities.’ Let’s do that by building those diverse and inclusive houses where everyone can live and thrive.”

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The D&I Guide provides a framework for a league to know where its journey starts and track progress from there. The league is guided to examine to areas of focus to (1) Make the Commitment; (2) Embed Diversity in Your League’s Operations and Member Development; and (3) Champion Diversity and Inclusion Outside of Your League. At each step, league leaders self-reflect upon what their league is working toward and how that goal can be achieved. “Our first year will be focused on set up a foundation for the taskforce and establishing goals,” explained Carsten, “The more training I do and after speaking with Board members about diversity, equity, and inclusion, the more I realize how important going about all of this the right way is going to be, including taking small organic steps within our League and acknowledging the steps we have already taken and how far we have come with everything from civil rights to women’s rights.”

is proud to support the work, the partnerships, and the projects of The Junior League of Topeka

The AJLI D&I Guide is located in the Member Resource Library at A library of materials on antidiscrimination, diversity practices, and cultural competence can also be accessed in the Resource Library.

”We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill



INITIATIVE By Amber Carlson

This October the Junior League of Topeka held its 2nd annual Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI), a poverty awareness and fundraising campaign. Members and community partners acted as Advocates by wearing the same black dress for five consecutive days to illustrate that when you lack options, you lack opportunity. This year, to bring more awareness and more relief to those effected by poverty, members undertook several initiatives during that week.

Project Topeka helps to support seven food banks in Topeka, and those that utilize those banks. Representatives from both the Topeka Rescue Mission and Project Topeka were able to then join League members at their monthly meeting to talk about their organizations, the people that they serve, and how the donations will help in the community. Lastly, members put together 1,000 packs containing menstrual hygiene products and delivered them to Topeka Rescue Mission, the Topeka YWCA, and Community Action.

First, was a towel drive to benefit the newly formed Operation Clean+Healthy spearheaded by the Topeka Rescue Missions Streetreach Team and Valeo Behavioral HealthCare’s Hope Connect team. This mobile shower and washing unit will serve the unsheltered population in our community. 120 towels were collected, purchased, and delivered during LBDI week to help with this endeavor.

Envista Credit Union chose Junior League of Topeka as the EnvistaCares beneficiary of October to coincide with LBDI. On October 30th, Junior League of Topeka was presented with the matching donation of $2,500 to help support its mission.

Next, members collected, purchased, and delivered 460 lbs. of non-perishable food to Project Topeka.

If you would like information on participating in 2021’s Little Black Dress Initiative, please reach out to

A big Thank You to Sustaining Member,

BETTE MORRIS For her continued dedication to our League, and her generous donation.





Engage in critical self-reflection. Hold yourself accountable for recognizing and pushing back against your own biases before asking others to do the same. Share your own stories of vulnerability, learning, and growth. Be the first to uncover and role model these behaviors to others.


Say to others, “I am a diversity champion. I recognize that I have biases and I am working to identify, acknowledge, and address them.” The effects of those small statements will amplify as they are repeated and enacted by others across the organization.


Ask questions to understand the root causes of biases. What forms of bias are occurring? What forms of covering are occurring? How do they affect you, your colleagues and teams, your workplace, and your business?


Make personal connections and spend time learning how your coworkers experience your workplace. Don’t assume you know what and where solutions can be most effective—ask!


Help employees understand their role in making change. Engage stakeholders from a range of backgrounds to help make decisions more inclusive.


Everybody has unconscious biases. Hold your people accountable for relying on structure to modify their judgments and behaviors rather than their own willpower.


Give others—particularly those who are different from you—a chance. Be open to learning from them as much as they can expect to learn from you. Intentionally mentor and sponsor people who are not like you.


Reach out to other champions with proven track records of success inside and outside your organization. Find others with shared passion and commitment and engage them as partners.


We all have biases that change and evolve even when we confront them. Remain committed to sustained action over time.

“You will not be as successful as you could be if you cling to biases.” —Ellen Moore, President & CEO, Chubb Insurance Company of Canada

updated: 16 July 2018 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons AttributionNonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.




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