Capitalines Spring 2021

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CAPITALINES Spring 2021 |



Power of Relationships









after outgrowing its downtown Austin office. The new location is purpose built to be a modern space for clients and a world class workplace for staff. The new office is under renovation and will open in summer 2021. 1101 South Capital of Texas Highway, Building G, Suite 200, Austin, TX 78746

Leslie J. Bollier leads

the firm’s Family Law practice. Leslie is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a Texas Super Lawyer, as published in Super Lawyers Magazine and Texas Monthly Magazine.

Anthony Ciccone leads the firm’s Civil Law section. Anthony is Board Certified in Construction Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is rated AVPreeminent by Martindale-Hubbell. He also provides volunteer legal services for military veterans.

CONGRATULATIONS to Shannon Creekmur! She was selected to be the Junior League of Austin's first Black president. She'll lead for the 2022-2023 year and serve as President Elect in 2021-2022.

KUDOS to Bollier Ciccone LLP attorney, Rekha Roarty. She was the JLA Capitalines Magazine editor during 2020, an exceptional year for nonprofits and publications.







5 Letter From the Editor

15 Networking Within JLA By: Britni Rachal

8 Leadership

26 Coats for Kids

10 Letter From the President

By: Jennifer Wu

15 Letter From the President-

33 Training and Education


IMPACT 21 Financial Impact Report


By: Lauren Neil-Jeffrey

38 2021 Austin Entertains


Photospread by Junior League of Austin Members

By: Kimberly Batrice

25 Spotlight on Shannon Creekmur By: Jennifer Wu


30 Diversity and Inclusion

41 Past Presidents

By: Rekha Roarty

42 Spotlight on Tara Stowers

37 Congratulations to

the Second Annual Austin Entertains Culinary Winners! By: Rekha Roarty

By: Britni Rachal



45 Volunteer Extraordinaire By: Lauren Neil-Jeffrey


Tara Stowers and Lina Palomares exchange a basket of FIT bags with nutritious foods to be delivered to students in Del Valle ISD. Photo credit: Caity Colvard Design credit: Megan Nyitray

IN EVERY ISSUE 5 Letter From the Editor 10 Letter From the President 8 Board of Directors & Masthead 41 Past Presidents

The Junior League of Austin  3




The word I would use to describe this League Year is “pivot.” Every time we faced obstacles when planning a signature event or program—whether it was A Christmas Affair, Coats for Kids, or Austin Entertains—instead of just throwing up our hands and canceling everything, members of The Junior League of Austin seamlessly pivoted to reinvent and reimagine traditional programs and events. This spring, Capitalines pivoted to provide the community with our first-ever, digitalonly edition of Capitalines. The move to a virtual edition of the Spring 2021 magazine was thoughtfully made as a way to ensure wider distribution of the publication, allowing readers to access the content as soon as Capitalines is published. Additionally, as nonprofits have Photo by: Missy Sharpe been stretched thin this year, converting the spring issue to a digital only format allowed the League to budget additional funds to go towards our signature programs dedicated to helping Austinites, many of whom have been financially devastated by the pandemic. This issue explores pivots that the community and League members made and how we managed to come together and grow as a League. Inside we feature how members use the League for networking purposes; our Training and Education events designed to help members learn new skills; and spotlights Tara Stower— one of the ladies featured on our cover—who has been a League member for two full decades. Despite an unpredictable year, the League has not slowed down and remains steadfastly committed to serving and bettering the wider Austin community. As this is my last issue as Editor, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the entire Capitalines team (including past committee members), my friends, my coworkers, and especially my family for the extensive encouragement, time, and support they have given me over the past year as we worked to put together the Fall Issue, the A Christmas Affair Shopping Guide, and this Spring Issue. I have thoroughly enjoyed my Capitalines journey—from Head Writer to Editor-Elect, and finally Editor— and I sincerely cherish my time working on nine issues of our publication, and am excited to see what the Capitalines achieves in the future. I know we all hope we are done with emergency changes and last-minute shifts, but if future plans need to be revamped, reimagined, or completely redesigned, I know The Junior League of Austin is more than capable of expertly pivoting when needed. Thank you for everything!

Rekha Roarty Capitalines Editor 2020-2021 2020-2021 Capitalines Committee Photos by: Caity Colvard

The Junior League of Austin  5

WE INVITE YOU TO BOOK OUR SPACE! An event at the Community Impact Center enables The Junior League of Austin to sustain and expand our programs to provide support and solutions for the challenges in our community. Centrally located at the intersection of Loop 360 and Spicewood Springs Road, the Community Impact Center offers over 15,000 square feet of beautifully designed indoor and outdoor spaces to host fundraising galas, parties, weddings, corporate summits and smaller meetings. For more information about the Community Impact Center, contact: 512.888.9014

5330 B L U F F S TONE LANE | AUS TIN, TX 7 8759 | 512. 888. 9014| W W W. JL A U ST I N . OR G/ B OOK - OUR-S PACE

Save the Date Nov.17-21, 2021

The Junior League of Austin  7

LEADERSHIP 2020-2021


Photo by: Jennifer Kalinowski


OUR MISSION The Junior League of Austin is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.


8  The Junior League of Austin


A New JLA event!

July 14-18, 2021




As we come to the end of another League year, I find myself reflecting not only on the past 12 months, but on my League journey as a whole. The voyage from my first admissions meeting in 2009 to writing this letter today was not one I would have predicted, could have prepared for, or even thought was one I would have wanted. Thankfully, it is the path I was meant to have and the journey that brought me to this moment in time with each of you. If we can be real, this year has been difficult. So many canceled events, disappointments, missed milestones, isolation, fear, emotional stress, unstable security, and unfortunately loss of life. There were moments I felt I had found the limits to what I could handle and wondered if I even had anything left to offer. Turns out, I did– as a mom, as a sister, as a daughter, as a friend, and as JLA President. Throughout this struggle I discovered my capacity for resilience, strength, flexibility, and hope. I have always felt that it is in our times of trial where we find the most growth. Stripping away the excess and noise of daily life, I suddenly found time to focus on what was really important and what truly mattered. Not only for me personally, but for The Junior League of Austin. I’ve learned it can be easy to allow ourselves to get buried under the weight of what we have lost. Plans we never got to complete and dreams unable to bring to fruition. Faced with adversity, true growth is found when we pause to take the time to look not just at the struggles we faced, but how we responded to them. Collectively for The Junior League of Austin, I would like to do just that and reflect over the past year.

Photo by: Cat Mattingly Photography

In the last 12 months, The Junior League of Austin truly built community from the inside out. We... Ë Held our first ever July General Membership Meeting, and sustained record attendance with monthly meetings of 650–700 members. Ë Implemented an inaugural summer FIT – Food In Tummies delivery by distributing 1,400 food bags and 2,000 disposable masks even when school was out of session. Ë Hosted the first ever virtual A Christmas Affair (ACA) marketplace which supported 150 small businesses. Over 80% of merchants were minority and/ or women owned. Ë Updated and developed the JLA Strategic Plan to include, for the first time, a goal focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Ë Helped develop and operate our own ecommerce website to support the ACA virtual marketplace while also learning all of the virtual meeting technology capabilities to support membership activities, including Training & Ed opportunities inline with our mission statement. Ë Distributed much-needed necessities to the community through our FIT program, including 60,000 meals, $2,500 in Lyft codes, 40 holiday turkeys/hams, 35,000 N95 masks, and 4,000 disposable masks for students in Del Valle ISD. 44 FIT Committee women volunteered 200+ hours weekly to ensure JLA could continue to support the needs of our community. Ë Launched JLA University as a brand new placement fully focused on our mission of training and developing women.

Ë Executed not one, but TWO weeks of Coats for Kids sorting and distribution out of our very own Community Impact Center, moving to a mobile delivery model and increasing the number of coats given directly into the hands of children by 7%.

Ë Organized an emergency recovery response with Del Valle ISD and FIT in response to the winter storm. We provided 200 emergency meal kits inclusive of nonperishable pantry staples, 2,000 bottles of water, and 600 gallons of water to families in partnership with The Austin Firefighters Association.

Ë Served over 130,000 volunteer hours through our Active, Provisional, and Sustainer membership.

Ë Selected 38 Community Agency Partners for the 2021-2022 League year.

Ë Increased grant funding by 200% compared to the average of the last five years. This includes grants to the DEI Committee by the AJLI Accelerator Fund, COVID-19 response grants, the City of Austin CARES Act funding, and the All Together ATX Fund.

Ë Created opportunities for child development and learning for JLA families with the resurgence of Kids Giving Back. This team hosted approximately 12 events, collecting thank you notes for our HealthCare Heroes at UT Health & St. David’s Medical Center;

10  The Junior League of Austin

1,630 meals for The Central Texas Food Bank; 325 Homeless Helper Bags for Mobile Loaves and Fishes; 59 Back to School Backpacks for Foster Angels of Central Texas; 200 coats for Coats For Kids; 70 FULL snack bags for soldiers at Ft. Hood; adopted 54 children benefitting Mainspring Schools, and more! Ë Presented a virtual Austin Entertains where we not only highlighted women in the Austin culinary community, but were able to put direct support back into their hands presenting the 2nd Annual Austin Entertains Fellowship Grant of $12,500. Two fellowships were awarded: Elisia Velasquez, Teddy V. Patisserie and Paola Guerrero Smith, Buenos Aires Cafe Ë Our newest signature program, Kids in Cool Shoes (KICS), found a way to work around school closures and piloted a new distribution model in order to distribute 900+ shoes to children in our partner schools in Del Valle ISD and Austin ISD. Ë Hosted our first DEI book club, reading White Fragility by Robin Di Angelo. Ë Launched and created our first ever in-house Organizational Self Assessment (OSA) survey

executed 100% by our Strategic Planning Committee instead of an outside vendor. Ë Brought our community together by using The Community Impact Center as a polling location on the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage–a first for our building. Ë Established the Bluebonnet CARnival as a drive thru in-League event to celebrate and thank our members. Ë Reduced JLA costs by 40% while continuing to run all of our community programs, keeping all of our staff fully employed, and serving our 2,600 members—an incredible example of fiduciary responsibility by our leadership. Ë Launched the first JLA President Instagram account (@jlaustin_president) and hosted our first ever FIT takeover. Ë Published the inaugural digital spring Capitalines magazine. Ë Responded swiftly to unplanned CIC building operations, including water damage, city mandates, and the need for a surprise porta potty to meet our community goals. Ë Graduated our first ever fully virtual Provisional class of 189 members!

Elizabeth McCormick is the leading lady behind the scenes. With over a decade of marketing and client services experience, Elizabeth is a serious "helper" with her day job as a REALTOR® and Freelance Graphic Designer. If you're looking for custom and creative jobs or experiences; she's the one for you! Elizabeth is also the co-founder of Party Hearty Box who often hosts balloon-garland workshops for JLA members. Follow her on for the latest in party ideas, home trends, or Thai cooking tips.



Don't be shy! Email the next time you’re looking for a home, assistance on a design project, to plan your next Insta-worthy party, or just drop a friendly hello.

The Junior League of Austin  11

As a League, we all felt the uneasiness of not knowing our path this past year (many of us have never even met in person!), but as a membership we truly found new strength in ourselves and in each other by focusing on what was important; to come together and serve our community. Without a doubt, we triumphed through uncharted territory to redefine our capabilities on the road ahead of us. This past year was one of the most challenging and most rewarding experiences of my life. Looking back, all I can do is smile. Even with the chips stacked against us, we stayed the course and we persevered as women building community. I would never have imagined walking into my first admissions meeting that The Junior League of Austin would forever change me as a person and have such a profound impact on all areas of my life. I am incredibly honored to have had the privilege to be your 2020–2021 President and serve alongside you all as an Active member of JLA. I am thankful for the gift over the past 11 years of being a part of the creativity, resilience, determination, grace, sacrifice, friendship, and service that is the community of The Junior League of Austin. Thank you for this incredible journey...we got this!

Lyndsey Crawford President, 2020-2021 The Junior League of Austin

Austin Entertains successfully pivoted due to the snowpocalypse and COVID-19. Photo by: XXX

12  The Junior League of Austin

Photos by: JLA Photography Committee

Thank you, Lyndsey Crawford, for outstanding leadership and the Junior League membership for outstanding service and dedication to the community during this difficult time of COVID and the snowpocalypse!

Half Page Ad INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Apply master to page 2. Right click the page in the “Pages” panel then click “Override all Master Page Items: 3. Delete this Text Box 4. Select the Frame, then click “File > Place.” Select the ad and it will paste into the frame.

The Junior League of Austin  13

Sustainers, we need you.

Be a powerful voice for children who’ve been abused or neglected. If you’re looking for a new way to make a diierence in the community, please consider becoming a CASA of Travis County volunteer.

14  The Junior League of Austin

Learn more at

You can also refer a friend or organization at



center stage in June, and it was imperative that we confront the racial injustice that exists in our community and evaluate our own racial biases and tendencies. We are taking steps to see the change. With open hearts and minds we can learn and grow. Then in February, our entire community was devastated by the winter storm that left people without power, warmth, food, and water. The League worked directly with its service partners and agencies to see how we could offer support and help, and. we saw many wonderful acts of kindness from our members reaching out to one another to offer support.

Photo by: Caity Colvard

In the 2020 Spring Capitalines "Letter from the President-Elect," Lyndsey Crawford began with “The last 12 months have seen great change for The Junior League of Austin.” Twelve months later, this is still our reality, and we continue to adapt and evolve as we face truly extraordinary circumstances. Throughout these 12 months, we saw remarkable leadership. I want to celebrate and acknowledge the hard work of this year’s leadership team to ensure JLA is in a position for continued growth and success. President Lyndsey Crawford exhibited such grace and agility. With each challenge she displayed courage, flexibility, and collaboration, all while allaying fears and remaining poised. She and the rest of the leadership team have truly adapted at every turn! All of the teams, committees, and programs showed tenacity as we reimagined how we’d operate—from virtual meetings to our successful first-ever virtual A Christmas Affair. Our signature programs Coats For Kids, Kids In Cool Shoes, and FIT – Food In Tummies continued to collect and deliver coats, distribute shoes, and ensure kids had food on the weekend, and our members continued to work with each of our community partners to provide much-needed support despite the challenges we all faced.

"This year JLA members have exemplified how resilient and strong women are when they join arms to help each other and the communities they serve."

The need for our mission has never been stronger. We will continue to focus on developing women and improving our community. Research shows that women have been negatively impacted by the pandemic as they took on new roles as teachers and caretakers while balancing work and volunteerism. This year JLA members have exemplified how resilient and strong women are when they join arms to help each other and the communities they serve. We weren’t deterred by our challenges, and we learned to operate and connect in a new way. We obtained new technology skills—700+ in attendance at a General Meeting)—navigated crises, became virtual event planner extraordinaires, and intensified our work in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) with the AJLI 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge, trainings, book club, and having more courageous conversations. I am extremely proud of the work we have accomplished, and I am looking forward to entering this new League year with each of you. In the coming year, our focus will be on membership and connection—I know this is an area which has been incredibly difficult as we have all stayed socially distant); DEI— it is critical that our work in this continues as it is a lifelong journey); and sustainability. We will continue to be flexible, open-minded, and creative and we will focus on our members—meeting them where they are, supporting each other, and lifting each other up! And finally, I look forward to bringing back our members, giving them a sense of belonging, and breathing life back into the Community Impact Center. Best,

Tania Leskovar-Owens President-Elect 2020–2021

The pandemic was not the only challenge we faced this year. Social justice took The Junior League of Austin  15


Networking Within JLA

Lasting Bonds: Networking and Friendship Built through The Junior League By: Britni Rachal McCasland. “She is really good about getting our small group of girls to put a monthly meeting on the calendar. We have done things like brunch and picnics. It’s also a tradition now for us to do a Christmas pasta dinner at one of our houses.” The ladies from McCasland’s Provisional year have attended each other’s weddings and supported one another throughout different life events. Member Lacey Pumphrey’s experience is similar. Not only has she made strong, supportive friendships, but her League membership also proved to be beneficial for her career.

JLA Fund Development VP Kimberly Batrice and A Christmas Affair Chair Keri Bellacosa Walling pose together in front of an ACA Christmas tree. Batrice and Walling became friends through serving in JLA together.


ith thousands of Active, Sustainer, and Provisional members, a significant benefit of joining The Junior League of Austin is the relationships made with others. Regardless of when you join, you are bound to gain at least a handful of new, meaningful friendships through both service within the League and in the community. One of the advantages is immediate, as Provisional members are paired into small groups based on their geographic location. Lindsey McCasland still meets regularly with some of the girls from her Provisional small group. “April Willis in the League has become my best friend,” said

16  The Junior League of Austin

“Lesley Soha helped me get a new job as a Senior Accounting Consultant at Ark Financial,” said Pumphrey. “I think as long as networking within the League is done the right way and tasteful, it’s very beneficial.”

Regardless of when you join, you are bound to gain at least a handful of new, meaningful friendships

Junior League members regularly visit a private Facebook page to ask for recommendations for everything from a plumber or an attorney. “We all know Julia Null and trust her for legal services,” said Pumphrey. “It’s nice knowing you can be so well connected. If it happens to help careers in the process, that’s great because I’d rather hire someone who I’ve already been working with in a volunteer setting. Turnover is exhausting and expensive, so this can be a huge time saver.” Oftentimes, League members are willing to help others with networking—when they haven’t even met in person. Page Sponsored By: Ana and Rusty Willingham

Members Shelly Johnson, Jessica Rabe, Liane Conte, Melinda Boe, Lacey Pumphrey, Amber Myers, and Neely Cox travelled together to Napa Valley, California after connecting through JLA.

“I think it’s really exceptional that there are strangers willing to help you, just knowing that you are part of the League,” said Amber Myers, who has also helped connect members to other members who could help them get a job. “I’ve also looked at people’s resumes and connected several with my husband for networking opportunities because he works for the state.” Another advantage to friendships in the League that Pumphrey points out is being inclusive. “We aren’t cliquish. My friends in the League love it when other people join us,” explained McCasland. “It consistently became the five of us that would show up, but we love when other Junior League members can join us randomly. Sometimes someone will bring an outside friend and we are happy to tell other Austin women about Junior League.” If you’re looking to meet more people within JLA, try attending a networking or social event. February is a month when the majority of League training and education events happen. Also, consider trying an In-League placement, where you can work closely with other League members. The longer you stay in the organization, the more you may notice cross connections forming. “A person who may have been an acquaintance could end up being a great friend,” said Myers. “Our League is different because we are so big, but it’s getting more diverse in terms of what other women are doing around Austin or within their professional careers.” The COVID-19 pandemic affected how friends within the League meet—with most choosing to meet virtually or through social distancing. As the pandemic hopefully comes to an end, meeting in person and resuming traditions formed is something members are Members Missy Sharpe, Julia Null, Risé Candelaria, Kristen Reynolds, Lisa Filemyr, eagerly awaiting. Sarah Charbonnet, Fallon Allison, and Hadley Hempel served together on The Junior League of Austin Nominating Committee in 2018-2019 and have remained close friends who meet regularly, including via Zoom, ever since. Page Sponsored By: Araminta and Tom Sellers

The Junior League of Austin  17

Half Page Ad INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Apply master to page 2. Right click the page in the “Pages” panel then click “Override all Master Page Items: 3. Delete this Text Box 4. Select the Frame, then click “File > Place.” Select the ad and it will paste into the frame.


Half Page Ad INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Apply master to page 2. Right click the page in the “Pages” panel then click “Override all Master Page Items: 3. Delete this Text Box 4. Select the Frame, then click “File > Place.” Select the ad and it will paste into the frame.


Full Page Ad INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Apply master to page 2. Right click the page in the “Pages” panel then click “Override all Master Page Items: 3. Delete this Text Box 4. Select the Frame, then click “File > Place.” Select the ad and it will paste into the frame.

13910 North FM 620 Austin, Texas 78717 (737) 255-4100


Financial Impact Report

2020-2021 Financial Impact Report By: Kimberly Batrice


he 2020-2021 League year has been one of innovation and bold leadership during times of adversity as we began the year with many unknowns surrounding the global pandemic. We faced them bravely by shifting to a mission-based fundraising plan, reimagining every aspect

Members of the A Christmas Affair committee hosted the first ever virtual ACA. Party packs were bundled for participants to enjoy the festivities at home. of our signature events and programs. Together we worked to ensure the training opportunities for our membership and the financial impact we have long made in the Austin community will be here for years to come. Thanks to the continued support of members, lead partner Whole Foods Market, and other donors, the Food In Tummies (FIT) program was the first signature program to successfully expand under COVID-19 guidelines. Beginning 20  The Junior League of Austin

in Spring 2020, FIT implemented safety measures— including temperature screenings, social distancing, and mask- and glove-wearing policies—during all bagpacking shifts, deliveries, and bag return pickups in order to ensure the safety of volunteers and recipients. After school closures in March 2020, the FIT program adjusted to ensure food delivery continued from April to May, nearly doubling its impact by providing 12,000 FIT backpacks at the nine Del Valle ISD (DVISD) meal pickup locations and 1,000 bags of hard-to-find items such as toilet paper and paper towels. In June 2020, FIT provided its first summer delivery of 1,400 weekend food bags and 2,000 disposable masks. In August and September 2020, while students participated in 100% remote learning, FIT provided food to students at the four largest remote meal pickup sites, and stocked food bags at schools across DVISD to be given to any family in need. Throughout the remainder of the school year, FIT has operated in a hybrid model, distributing weekend food bags to in-person students at Baty and Hillcrest Elementary schools, as well as three remote-student meal pickup locations. The dynamic FIT team continues to go above and beyond to ensure the families of DVISD and the surrounding community are supported. A Christmas Affair (ACA) was our first signature event to be completely reimagined in response to the global pandemic. While facing the reality of closing our in-person holiday market—the main source of JLA funding—the fearless leaders of the 45th Annual A Christmas Affair Committee embodied the League’s mission creating an opportunity to develop themselves and learn new skills by launching an ecommerce platform, presented by The Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships. Our traditional in-person holiday market was transformed into a virtual space of shopping and celebration, during which we hosted seven virtual events for all ages. Following city health and safety ordinances, tradition continued in the form of holiday and Santa portraits at the Community Impact Center (CIC). As a result of this innovative thinking, we were able to put Page Sponsored By: Patty and James Huffines

a revamped Coat Drive and distribution, while maintaining safety standards for volunteers and recipients alike as local area COVID-19 numbers increased during the fall and winter months. Despite the odds, CFK successfully collected 28,465 coats for Central Texas children in December 2020, exceeded its fundraising goal, and raised a recordbreaking amount of individual donations! The program reworked its model to bring 11,200 coats directly to Del Valle ISD and Austin Junior League FIT Volunteers delivered food to children curbside this year to ensure that ISD children through distance learning did not prevent kids from being fed. a coordinated preregistration and delivery effort with the school districts. over $350,000 back into the local economy, supporting We brought Coats for Kids home to the CIC, utilizing our 150 merchants—over 80% owned by women and headquarters and the open-air secure parking garage as minorities—and raised over $300,000 for the work of the League. We could not have done this without the support of our generous donors: CenterPoint Energy, Capitol Chevrolet, Springhouse Foundation, Whole Foods Market, Kelly and John Breeden, Westbrook Metals/ Metals4U, Hyde Park Schools, IBC Bank, Primrose Schools of Pflugerville, MFI Foundation, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and many more! Shortly after the conclusion of A Christmas Affair, the Coats for Kids (CFK) committee executed

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, members of the FIT committee ensured that students still received weekend nutrition by safely packing and delivering food for them.

The Junior League of Austin  21

the sorting and distribution center, allowing for a safe volunteer experience. In addition to our partnership with DVISD and AISD, JLA distributed another 17,275 coats to area nonprofit agencies that prioritize children and families in need. After the success of the 2020 Coat Drive and distribution, we will now replicate these efforts moving forward, continuing to serve the community from within our building. We appreciate our media partners iHeartMediaAustin and KVUE for helping us reach Austinites by driving awareness to a new audience for coats and donations. Additional thanks to our Coat Drive Partner Jack Brown Cleaners for the continued support collecting and cleaning coats to go back into the hands of our Austin and Central Texas community. Despite the logistical disruptions caused by COVID-19, the Kids in Cool Shoes (KICS) signature program carried on with the support of members and donors. The KICS team pivoted operations to continue to serve over 1,000 students in Central Texas while keeping the schools, committee members, and volunteers safe during its third year. Throughout the school year, the KICS Committee adapted to the ever-changing guidelines affecting schools, partnering with teachers and parents to collect student shoe sizes and holding outdoor distribution events and school-lead distributions to facilitate shoe deliveries. To increase volunteer engagement and increase support

to families disproportionately disadvantaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, an adopt-a-family program was established with one of our recipient preschools. The program delivered critical household items to families through a generous sponsorship by the employees of The Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships, and JLA’s Kids Giving Back member program partnered with KICS to also deliver new books and games. Like all of our signature events and programs, we are using the challenges posed by the 2020-2021 year to innovate, and It is our goal to make permanent changes to the KICS program that will allow for doing greater good, on a larger scale. Closing out the League year’s signature programs in March, Austin Entertains sought to support our local culinary industry as it continued to be impacted by the pandemic. The Austin Entertains Committee faced not only the constraints of hosting an event to support and promote local female chefs and artisans, but also a mid-February winter storm that deprived most Texans of power, water, and basic services, and ultimately forced the rescheduling of the original event. In partnership with Pettengill Productions, the Austin Entertains team worked tirelessly to produce a dynamic virtual event, amazing auction packages, and a Peloton raffle. In addition to entertainment, participants enjoyed unique to-go culinary experiences with our restaurant and dessert partners:

As part of a Kids Giving Back Initiative to deliver Christmas presents, Kiran Roarty (son of member Rekha Roarty) "assisted" in wrapping presents. 22  The Junior League of Austin

Carol Huntsberger (Quality Seafood), Krystal Craig (Intero), Jess Maher (Lenoir), Paola Guerrero Smith (Buenos Aires Cafė), Beth Selbe Lasita (The Grove Wine Bar), Amanda Rockman (Café No Sé), Amanda Wadsworth (Tiny Pies), Lori Schneider (The Cupcake Bar), Elisia Velasquez (Teddy V. Pâtisserie). On March 25, 2021, Austin Entertains premiered a brand new look thanks to presenting sponsor Sewell Jaguar Land Rover, and presented the second annual Austin Entertains Culinary Fellowship to both Elisia Velasquez of Teddy V. Pâtisserie for $10,000.00 and Paulo Guerro Smith of Buenos Aires Cafė for $2,500.00. Thanks to the support of Carrie and Chas Semple, Mary Nelson, and Catherine-Marie and Todd Pettengill! We are thankful for our donors including Keri & Greg Walling, Trademark Weddings & Events, Remington Family Distillers, and the many businesses whose in-kind donations allow us to ensure that proceeds from the event support The Junior League of Austin’s signature programs and our restaurant participants. The Community Impact Center was hardest hit when it came to fundraising during the pandemic. The Stage 5 risk guidelines issued by Austin Public Health in December 2020 necessitated the rescheduling of more than thirty clients over an eighteen-month rebooking window, but the CIC Committee looked tirelessly for new ways to execute on-site and safe events, raise awareness of our facility for future client engagements, and engage the community. We welcomed the general public for outdoor fall harvest pumpkin picking, Coats for Kids pickup, holiday photos, and more. Using our building for Coats for Kids sorting and distribution brought our longest running program back into our home and forever transformed our ability to connect with the community. To date, we held four COVID-conscious events (including weddings) and hosted two Election Day polling sites. Hosting voters on the year of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage was an incredible honor, and it truly impacted our community in partnership with Travis County–our mission in action! While we are optimistic for the future, this year has been quiet for the Community Impact Center. If you are interested in renting our facilities or hosting meetings, including outdoor space, please contact With the end of the 2020-2021 League year on the horizon, we know the challenges that beset this year will remain much the same, but as we begin anew, we are changed for the better. Innovation and ingenuity are at work in The Junior League of Austin; combined with bold and thoughtful leadership we strive to fulfill our mission,

JLA Member Jennifer Wu and her son, Austin, made a delivery to Mother's Milk Bank. In the spirit of JLA's Kids Giving Back initiative, members and their children have found new ways to give back to the community throughout the year. provide the most positive impact on our community, and ensure the next 86 years of JLA. Thank you to our membership; we are in awe of your time, talent, and tireless devotion. To our donors and partners: we could not have succeeded or made nearly as great of an impact in the Austin community without your generous support; thank you. As we look towards the future of our organization, we know we will need more support than ever to recover from the impact of the ongoing global pandemic so we can continue to support our community through our signature programs and community partners. Whether it is a donation of $20 for a new coat or $50,000 to ensure the success of our signature programs, we are grateful for the continued partnership of our donors and look forward to welcoming new supporters.

Contact the JLA Fund Development Vice President at for more information or to make a donation.

The Junior League of Austin  23

Better Approach. Better Results.

At Walters Gilbreath, PLLC, we provide our clients with unparalleled, modern counsel through divorce, child custody suits, and other family law matters. We’re the firm the other side wishes they hired. Jake & Sarah Gilbreath, Partner & CEO, with their family 24  The Junior League of Austin

(512) 812-7319| | 316 West 12th St., Ste. 110, Austin, TX, 78701



Meet Shannon Creekmur 2021–2022 President-Elect By: Jennifer Wu


ennifer Wu (JW): Congratulations on your nomination as 2021–2022 President-Elect of The Junior League of Austin (JLA)! Thanks for giving our Capitalines readers this amazing opportunity to get to know you better. Please tell us about


Shannon Creekmur (SC): I am a born and mostly raised Austinite, but first generation Texan. As an Army brat, I have lived on Army bases here and abroad. As a result, I love to travel and see new places. I am aiming to visit all 50 states someday. (I’ve hit 22 so far!) I am an Aggie and enjoy going to Aggie football games. I love reading and am always looking for book recommendations! JW: Tell us about your experience with JLA. SC: I joined JLA 14 years ago. Then and now, our mission resonated with me. I joined JLA to volunteer, meet new friends, and be part of a women’s organization that is involved in our community. 2,500 women tapping into their potential to improve the community is powerful. As the years passed, what I gained from the League has exceeded my expectations. I learned new skills and formed relationships that will endure for a lifetime. JW: You are making history as JLA’s first Black PresidentElect. What does this mean to you? SC: It is a great honor. I am humbled by the outpouring of support and well wishes from not only our members, but other Leagues and the Austin community too. I am excited to be in a space where I can influence key decisions in expanding our reach and partnerships in the Austin community. I look forward to the day where women of color becoming president is no longer a rarity or the exception, but rather common. I am also thrilled to represent the League to those who do not always connect JLA with diverse membership. To me, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is about creating a culture and environment that is supportive, respectful, and welcoming.

Photo credit: Lauren Creekmur In the past few years we have made more concerted efforts to diversify our membership and embrace women from all walks of life. By continuing our DEI work, we embrace growth and future sustainability. JW: What is your vision for JLA in the coming years? SC: I see us working to reengage and connect our membership after the COVID-19 pandemic in the “new normal” space in which we find ourselves. I see us taking things that worked well, like Zoom meetings, and incorporating them into our future. I see DEI embedded in our culture and permeating all aspects of League operations. I hope we continue evolving so all members feel valued and welcomed. JW: Thank you for sharing. We are excited to see what is in store for JLA under your leadership! Interview edited for length and clarity. The Junior League of Austin  25


Signature Programs


New Playbook, Same Mission By: Jennifer Wu


achel Pry, 2020 Coats For Kids (CFK) Chair, found herself at a crossroads a year ago last spring. In March 2020, life as the world knew it changed overnight as businesses, schools, and community organizations just like The Junior League of Austin (JLA) pivoted to adapt to a new way of life and weather the significant changes brought on by a global pandemic. Though Pry had only recently begun her term as CFK Chair, she knew early on that planning for December’s annual coat drive would look very different from years past. For 33 years, JLA had partnered with Jack Brown Cleaners and Austin’s local news and radio stations to plan, promote, and execute one of the largest community coat drives in the country. They had worked together to collect, clean, sort, and distribute hundreds of thousands of coats over the years.















26  The Junior League of Austin

“Even in a global pandemic, JLA has our community’s back. We are here to serve our wonderful city for years to come.”

Historically, each November JLA members and community volunteers hosted hundreds of local coat drives across town through schools, businesses, and neighborhoods to collect new and gently used coats. These coats were then dropped at Jack Brown Cleaners locations around Austin for cleaning in preparation for distribution. Traditionally, the first week of December each year was earmarked for hundreds of JLA and community volunteers to gather at Palmer Events Center to work together and size, sort, and label tens of thousands of coats. These efforts culminated in one big “Distribution Day” bright and early on a Saturday in December, during which members of the community in need would arrive at Palmer, be paired with a volunteer, and “shop” for the perfect coat for that winter season. But, due to the global pandemic, CFK’s 34th year was destined for a major overhaul. Though December was still nine months out, Pry found herself in the challenging position of having to predict what the year would bring to make the difficult decision early on about whether CFK could be safely executed in light of all circumstances. After several months of discussion with JLA leadership and longtime community partners Jack Brown Cleaners, iHeartRadio, and KVUE, Pry and her CFK Chair Elect, Sharon Morgan, ultimately decided to move forward with planning a modified format for CFK. Page Sponsored By: Sundiata Connor

Sorted and sized coats in the Community Impact Center Garage.

Members of the 2020–2021 Coats For Kids Committee and JLA President Lyndsey Crawford (far right) with Paul Brown of Jack Brown Cleaners.

At the outset, the most significant change Pry and Morgan made was to move CFK “home” from Palmer Events Center to JLA’s newly constructed Community Impact Center (CIC). After the CIC opened its doors in September 2019, all of the CFK supplies—racks, hangers, bins and extra coats— were moved from external storage to the CIC for yearround safekeeping. Making the move to host CFK at the CIC would mean not only significant savings on logistics, since it would no longer require moving everything into and out of Palmer, but also the flexibility and freedom to fully utilize the CIC, its facilities and, most importantly for 2020, its outdoor garage. Jack Brown Cleaners, iHeartRadio, and KVUE heartily supported the move, particularly given the ability to be outdoors, enforce social distancing protocols, and maintain additional safety measures.

were unable to choose their individual coats as they had in years past, but modifying CFK in this way allowed JLA and its community partners to continue to deliver coats in volume sufficient to meet the significant demand of our community.

Additionally, the CFK Committee made the decision to change the distribution process from one single Distribution Day to a twelve-day operation. Pry, Morgan, and their team built upon prior years’ successes with mobile site distributions, during which “pre-orders” were placed for set quantities and sizes, and scaled that format for 2020 CFK. JLA coordinated with its well-established partners in the community—Austin and Del Valle Independent School District schools, other community agencies, and nonprofit organizations—to take advance coat pre-orders. These requesting groups completed forms with detailed size and color details, and JLA members and community volunteers spent their shifts “shopping” through inventory to complete and pack each order for citywide delivery or curbside pickup. In this new format, recipients

This modified format required extra coordination since, due to space and timing constraints, the CFK Committee had to coordinate a continuous flow of inbound and outbound coats throughout the entire twelve-day volunteer campaign onsite. Throughout the

2020–2021 Coats For Kids Committee.

The Junior League of Austin  27

entire process, all volunteers remained vigilant about safety and masking measures and stayed sufficiently distanced. Despite the long hours and extended hours together, none of the Committee members or volunteers reported to JLA any positive COVID cases in connection with or as a result of their time spent together on CFK. Most importantly, the Committee’s hard work and ingenuity in redesigning a new CFK process allowed the community to maintain our thirty-four-year-old tradition of serving the children of Greater Austin and keeping them warm for the winter. When asked about her biggest lesson learned as a result of her CFK Chair experience, Pry summed it up perfectly: “Don’t be afraid to make big changes! Even in a global pandemic, JLA has our community’s back. We are here to serve our wonderful city for years to come. CFK is going to keep getting better and better and we can’t wait to see what this next year’s campaign brings in Sharon’s capable hands.”

Members of the CFK Committee showed their appreciation for their generous and tireless supporters.

Story Photos Credit: Mildred Hammond

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28  The Junior League of Austin

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Look for this seal on hundreds of groceries throughout our stores. To verify social and environmental practices and working conditions, Whole Foods Market works with internationally recognized third parties, including Fair Trade USA, Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade America, Fair Food Program, and the Equitable Food Initiative.

The Junior League of Austin  29



D iversity , Equity,

& Inclusion

Efforts Within The Junior League of Austin By: Rekha Roarty


n recent years, The Junior League of Austin has taken significant steps towards promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the League. A Diversity and Inclusion Committee was established in 2017, and Zenette Dorsey currently serves as the committee chair for the 2020-2021 League year. The committee strives to ensure that population demographics are appropriately reflected in participation, leadership, and decision-making of the League and ensuring that all members feel welcome and able to meaningfully contribute to the group. “As a relatively new committee, we work to ensure that DEI is becoming enmeshed within all councils and committees, as well as general League life. These efforts include Jennifer Wu, Meredith Clarke, Rachel Plymire, Dionne Barner, attending all council and committee meetings, conducting numerous trainings for League members, and planning activities, such as a book club for League members to and Sarah Nigrini wait outside discuss issues related to DEI,” shares Dorsey. “The first and most important thing any the home of 2021-2022 JLA President-Elect Shannon League member can do is ensure that they are practicing JLA’s Diversity Statement: Creekmur to surprise and ‘The Junior League of Austin welcomes all women who value our Mission. We are announce her nomination as the committed to inclusive environments of individuals, organizations, and communities.’ first black JLA President Elect. If all of us are committed to act accordingly to this statement, that is the first step in becoming a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization.” Committee members also actively seek advice and suggestions from other members of the League who are not part of the committee. In fact, the committee members encourage people throughout the League to submit suggestions to help the committee understand the needs and wants of membership. The committee hopes that by encouraging outside participation, members will gain knowledge allowing them to practice DEI efforts in their life outside the League, as well. “Knowledge is so important. Being open to reading books, listening to podcasts, and Stephanie Winfrey reads for other media that challenge some of our long-held beliefs is the first step in anyone’s the Kids Giving Back/Diversity DEI journey. We each have to open our hearts and minds and do the work to confront and Inclusion Committee our biases,” explains Dorsey. The committee’s efforts have been well received by the collaboration called "Mirrors, membership and training, such as a class entitled “Microaggressions and Unconscious Windows, and Doors Book Club". Bias Training,” have seen large numbers in attendance. Additionally, the committee was awarded the prestigious AJLI Accelerator Grant which will be used to hire an outside consultant to help the League with future DEI efforts. While much improvement has been made, there is still work and continuing training to be done. However, Dorsey believes that the DEI efforts so far have been strong and well -received and, most importantly, will continue to improve DEI in the League. Sustained future efforts will help the League move towards becoming a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization that continues to serve and better the Austin community.

30  The Junior League of Austin

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Training and Education

Taking Training and Education Digitally Forward By: Lauren Neil-Jeffrey


he Junior League of Austin’s (JLA) mission statement includes a commitment to “developing the potential of women.” As a training organization, JLA strives to educate its members and encourage leadership development in all its placements and community partnerships.

Each year, the League serves to further the development portion of its mission through the Training & Education Committee. Members in this placement work together as a committee, and as a community, to find the latest and need to know information available to bring to membership. In years past, the League held monthly classes on topics such as how to run a meeting and how to cultivate a donor. Each February during Training and Education Month, JLA plans and coordinates dozens of events in a wide range of topics without fail, taught by community partners willing to share their expertise with members. Family members and guests are welcome at some, depending on capacity, and many events are offered at no cost. General meeting credit is also offered to Active JLA members for attending at least one February event. Last year, as the world fell under a global pandemic, many businesses, organizations, and families closed their doors to the world in an attempt to save lives. This tragic circumstance left the Central Texas community with even more dire need. Those charged to help went in search of new ways to continue community outreach while maintaining public safety. JLA made a brave and innovative decision to continue its mission both supporting the community and each other. When daily routines were unpredictable, JLA chose not to let this uncertainty interrupt the importance of member development. According to Missy Sharpe, 2020-2021 Training & Education Chair, she and her committee looked within the League for support. With help from the Communications Committee, Technology Committee, and brilliant committee members

JLA member and early literacy advocate Maya Payne Smart taught a virtual workshop called “How to Give Your Child a Smart Start” for mothers preparing to get their kids ready for reading. The Junior League of Austin  33

within Training & Education who carried the necessary experience, they were able to hold events, albeit with an altered structure. Meetings were moved to Zoom as fast and effectively as everyone learned to use it. Many previously scheduled events were held digitally. While COVID-19 brought innumerable challenges, it also brought to JLA the advantage of adding new content with no need for in-person visits to the Community Impact Center, along with new attendance capabilities. JLA members were able to shift to accommodate the new circumstances as they made it work, learned, and grew from these new experiences. This year, the world is slowly reopening and attempting to go “back to normal.” There were some Training & Education events held in person in February 2021 with social distancing and other safety precautions taken. Additionally, the League expanded offerings to members by taking advantage of an opportunity to increase the quality of a digital experience and the ability to include many more members. All in all, members benefited from these expanded options, furthering the commitment of JLA to train and educate its members. Going forward, JLA members can share an improved capacity for bringing knowledge by broadening the reach of the message and giving our women an option. In 2021, members took a Yoga class at CorePower Yoga and a Barre3 class in the park, interacting in a safe, socially-distanced manner. Members took lessons for preparing a brisket and baking challah bread from their homes, where they could execute the lesson in real time and share the experience with their families. Other classes focused on helping members with starting their own business and building their brand, writing a resume, and tax preparation—all digitally, affording them the opportunity to share the information with others in their home, or simply to participate without the need to find childcare. Now, because of these forced changes, members will be even better educated and better equipped in both their lives and volunteerism. By introducing innovative ways to serve the community, JLA reminded its members of their resilience and perseverance especially when fulfilling The Junior League of Austin mission.

Photographer Mary Beth Koeth led a Photography Training over Zoom during Training and Education Month in February 2021. 34  The Junior League of Austin

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Congratulations to the Second Annual Austin Entertains Culinary Fellowship Winners! By: Rekha Roarty


ustin Entertains is an event created five years ago by The Junior League of Austin to highlight female chefs and mixologists in the Austin area, featuring established and up and coming talents. Attendees can sample food and drinks from the various chefs and mixologists at one event and learn more about their culinary experiences. The menu served includes savory entrees, sweet desserts, and creative cocktails, served tapas style to allow the foodie attendees to experience small bites of as many different restaurants as possible. Austin Entertains aims to raise money for signature League programs, such as Coats for Kids and Food in Tummies. The phenomenal female participants generously volunteer their time, food, and drinks to help further the mission of the League. While the five-year-old event is relatively new compared to more established League affairs, Austin Entertains has already become a favorite tradition for many people. This year, like many other celebrations, Austin Entertains happened remotely with attendees either picking up their meal or having the meal contactlessly delivered accompanied by a broadcast event, a silent auction, and a raffle.

on her website which also serves as a culinary journal. To learn more about Teddy V. Pâtisserie, please visit https://www. teddyvcookies. Elisia Velasquez of Teddy V. Pâtisserie com . Photo credit: Teddy V. Patisserie Guerrero-Smith was awarded the $2500 fellowship. Buenos Aires Cafė has served “Austin-Grown Argentine Cuisine” for sixteen years and boasts three locations. Guerrero-Smith serves her grandmothers' and mother's recipes to honor her roots and traditions. One of the most beloved dishes is the empanadas, which keep customers coming back over and over again. To learn more about Buenos Aires Cafė, please visit https:// . The Junior League of Austin again congratulates Elisia Velasquez and Paulo Guerrero-Smith and wishes them many years of future culinary success!

Last year, the event expanded to add a grant which was awarded to top chefs to help them further their business endeavors through either business or educational development. The 2020 recipient was Krystal Craig of Intero. This year, JLA is proud to introduce the 2021 winners: Elisia Velasquez, of Teddy V. Patisserie, and Paula Guerro-Smith, of Buenos Aires Cafe. Velasquez, winner of the $10,000 fellowship, will be able to use this towards her business Teddy V. Patissierie. Formed in 2019 and named after Velasquez’s dog, Theodore. Velasquez specializes in desserts, particularly chocolate chip cookies. “I love carbs: cooking, eating, and, fortunately, sharing them, too,” Velasquez shares

Paulo Guerrero-Smith of Buenos Aires Cafė alongside her mother Paulo. Photo credit: Mildred Hammond The Junior League of Austin  37


Austin Entertains

2021 Austin Entertains

Elisia Velasquez of Teddy V. Pâtisserie receiving her award from JLA president, Lyndsey Crawford. Photo credit: JLA Photography Committee

38  The Junior League of Austin

Page Sponsored By: Rekha, Chris, and Kiran Roarty

2021 Austin Entertains attendees enjoyed the event remotely and sampled tasting packages from participating restaurants at their own homes. Photo credit: JLA Photography Committee The Junior League of Austin  39

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For the last 19 years, Austin Woman has been the heartbeat of women’s empowerment and advancement in Austin. Join our community and connect with like-minded women!

• Monthly print issues • Digital content • Weekly newsletters

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Past Presidents The Junior League of Austin

Gladys Greenlee Bowman+ Ruth McCelvey Bremond+ Mamie Ray Earnest+ Julian Devereux Weeks+ Margaret Ann Caldwell Scarbrough+ Ina Williams Walker+ Hilda Rudd McElhenney+ Frances Coopwood Morgan+ Mary Tucker Muse+ Julia Matthews Perry Robinson+ Virginia Nalle Page+ Elizabeth Schneider Rogers+ Mary Helen George Ammann+ L. Ellen Steck Ross Carter+ Eleanor Niggli Tyler+ Frankie Gist Peterson+ Eleanor Stayton Gammon+ Mary Ireland Graves Dougherty+ Mary Lee Wilson Crusemann+ Hallie Groos Slaughter+ * Elora Watt Smith+ Sue Kone Drake+ Beverly Nash Bell+* Mary Lucile Wicker O’Brien+ Elinor Willis Pittman+ Marjorie Dodge Granger+ Irene Hopkins Harwood+ Alice Kleberg Reynolds Meyer+ Nancy Price Bowman+ Barbara Louise Davis Neff+ Eugenia Betts Miller Shelby Reed Hearon+ Diane Hierholzer Finch Grant* Marian Marley McCrummen+ Alison Gray Kimberlin* Josephine Klotz Roche Josephine Drake McRee+

1933-1934 1934-1935 1935-1936 1936-1938 1938-1940 1940-1942 1942-1944 1944-1946 1946-1947 1947-1948 1948-1949 1949-1950 1950-1951 1951-1952 1952-1953 1953-1954 1954-1955 1955-1956 1956-1957 1957-1958 1958-1959 1959-1960 1960-1961 1961-1962 1962-1963 1963-1964 1964-1965 1965-1966 1966-1967 1967-1968 1968-1969 1969-1970 1970-1971 1971-1972 1972-1973 1973-1974 1974-1975

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." Eleanor Roosevelt, Junior League of the City of New York

Barbara Leonard Smith* Margaret Craig Cowden Susan Dean Stayton* Susan Page Driver Carolyn Kellam Curtis Marilla Black King Nancy Chapman Collins Ann Johnston Dolce Clare Ritchie Hudspeth Regan Kimberlin Gammon Mary Gideon Herman* Elizabeth Snyder Malone Pamela Pitzer Willeford Cynthia Hendrick Kozmetsky Christina Kazen Attal Judith Allen Shelton Elizabeth Walters Atherton^ Melissa Owens Jackson Paula Thompson Herd Kristen Jones Holland Cookie Gregory Ruiz Hallie Powell Cardwell Emily Heebner Baker Nancy Cummins Prideaux Nancy Schoenvogel Edsel MariBen Ramsey*^ Joan Granger Talley Amy Johnson Dunham Suzy Balagia Diane Catalani Falkenberg Laura Wolf Beth Nance Smith KaLyn Laney Melissa Greenwood Morrow Kathi Livingston Haralson Sandy Segura Alcalá Morgen Cesarano Hardin Cathy Knapp McHorse Kelly Breeden Gregory Noack Casie Kaluza Wenmohs Sarah Moore Valenzuela Julie Hall Amy Hurt Carrie Semple

1975-1976 1976-1977 1977-1978 1978-1979 1979-1980 1980-1981 1981-1982 1982-1983 1983-1984 1984-1985 1985-1986 1986-1987 1987-1988 1988-1989 1989-1990 1990-1991 1991-1992 1992-1993 1993-1994 1994-1995 1995-1996 1996-1997 1997-1998 1998-1999 1999-2000 2000-2001 2001-2002 2002-2003 2003-2004 2004-2005 2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015 2015-2016 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020

* Denotes additional service at the regional level ^ Denotes service on the AJLI Board of Directors + Deceased The Junior League of Austin  41



20 Years Active Membership in the League By: Britni Rachal


ecades of family photos at A Christmas Affair (ACA). 12 community placements. 10 in-league placements. 20 years of memories and friendships made. That’s just a minor recap of Tara Stowers’ experience with The Junior League of Austin. Active membership in the Austin League is available for any woman, ages 25 to 45. Showing the ultimate loyalty to the organization, Stowers is reaching a very rare and unique milestone: exactly two full decades of active membership, nonstop.

Tara Stowers with her family, husband Kyle and daughters Brooklyn and Kynsington.




The League Cares committee


Photography Committee


Kids Giving Back


Placement Committee


Impact Areas Committee


Focus Area Committee


Researchers Committee


FIT Program Placement Committee


Cookbook Committee


Partnerships for Children


Caritas of Austin


Partnerships for Children


March of Dimes


Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas Foundation


March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation


Zilker Summer Musical


46th Annual Zilker Summer Musical


Habitat for Humanity


Zilker Playhouse

42  The Junior League of Austin

Stowers joined in the 2001-2002 League year and plans to go Sustainer in May of 2021, at the end of the 2020-2021 League year. “I love just being able to be part of something like this,” said Stowers. “Through the Junior League, we are able to make a difference together in the community. There’s also a social aspect: meeting new people and learning new things about Austin.” Her first year in the League, Stowers was a 25-year-old preschool teacher and newlywed who had recently moved from Corpus Christi. Today, she and her husband have been married for 22 years and live in Pflugerville. They have two children, ages 15 and 7, and she also still teaches at the same preschool. Though some things remain the same, a lot has changed “I think there are definitely more people in the League and there seems to be more diversity,” said Stowers. “But as far as friendships go and the social aspect of the League and having overall community placements, those things are the same.” “Back [when I was a Provisional], we did the resale shop for our provisional project instead of Food in Tummies (FIT) shifts. We also didn’t have Kids in Cool Shoes (KICS).

We still had A Christmas Affair (ACA) and Coats for Kids, but we had general meetings in our old headquarters,” said Stowers, who also incorporated Junior League traditions into her family life, including taking photos at ACA each year. Her daughter, who has also attended volunteer events, recently expressed interest in possibly joining. “I recently told my husband, I just have not had a negative experience with the League. Everyone has just been kind and they want to help others.” Passion is one of the reasons Stowers has stayed in the League for so long.

Tara Stowers and her family enjoying the snow at home in Pflugerville, Texas in January 2021.

“My advice to anyone who has just joined is to jump in with both feet,” said Stowers. “Get to know everyone you can. Try out different stuff. This is a training opportunity. Learn new things. You might find something you really like that you were never aware of. The Junior League really provides a lot of opportunity for that.”

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Sandy Alcalá: 2021 Junior League of Austin Volunteer Extraordinaire Living the Mission


By: Lauren Neil-Jeffrey

he Junior League of Austin Volunteer Extraordinaire Award is presented annually to a JLA Sustaining Member who has demonstrated the very best of what the JLA membership strives to contribute to the community. These incredible recipients flourish during their years as Active members of the JLA, serving the needs of the community, growing as leaders, and becoming mentors to the women around them. As Sustaining Members, these women further expand their volunteerism and mentorship, making a substantial impact within and beyond league service. Previous winners demonstrated knowledge and leadership

learned from JLA through participation in a wide array of service. From nonprofit boards dedicated to social welfare, education, and the arts, to leadership positions in professional organizations and even participation in political campaigns and organized state and national events, these women truly live and embody the mission of The Junior League. This year, JLA is proud to add Sandy Alcalá, Past President of The Junior League of Austin and current Sustaining Advisor for A Christmas Affair, to this illustrious group of women. Sandy is a native Austinite and graduate of UT Austin, and her love for this community and its people is The Junior League of Austin  45

“Without that start in The Junior League of Austin, the web wouldn’t be so big. There is so much that wouldn’t have been accomplished, learned, experienced…so many people I wouldn’t have met without that exposure.”

and sat as the first Board Chair of Con Mi Madre, a program helping Hispanic women achieve higher education with a long history of JLA volunteers. This program was born from the resounding success of a JLA Signature Program of the same mission, The Hispanic Mother-Daughter Program, in which Sandy also previously served as chair. Lyndsey Crawford, current President of the JLA, worked with Sandy during Lyndsey’s first year as an active member on the A Christmas Affair committee when Sandy was serving as JLA President. Lyndsey was (and continues to be) impressed with Sandy’s service and commitment.

evident in many noteworthy personal and professional achievements. Her experience in nonprofit management, planning, and design led to the launch of her business, EPIC Event Design, which she started with her good friend and fellow JLA Sustainer, Cathy Northcutt. Sandy’s path to service began at Austin’s Brackenridge Children’s Hospital, where she and other volunteers arranged and sanitized the hospital playroom for child cancer patients. It was in this position that Sandy first met women from JLA which led her to join. This introduction led to a long-term commitment to the support of organizations focusing on children, women, and education. Through her extensive volunteerism, Sandy received training, mentorship, and the confidence to grow into leadership roles in career and service. Sandy co-founded

Sandy poses with friends shortly after learning she was awarded the 2021 Volunteer Extraordinaire Award. “She was always there for help and advice,” Lyndsey states, “I was struck by how engaged she was with all the membership. She was interested in guiding and mentoring other women and with sharing her experiences and bringing women up with her.” For Sandy, JLA was an important thread in the “beautiful spider web that is [her] life.” “Without that start in The Junior League of Austin, the web wouldn’t be so big. There is so much that wouldn’t have been accomplished, learned, experienced…so many people I wouldn’t have met without that exposure,” recalls Sandy. When asked if she had any advice for new members, Sandy stated, “The purpose of The Junior League of Austin is to provide the training to get into future service work.”

Sandy was surprised by her Junior League of Austin friends with congratulatory signs and banners at the Community Impact Center on April 14, 2021 where she was told she had been awarded the 2021 Volunteer Extraordinaire Award. 46  The Junior League of Austin

The Junior League of Austin congratulates Sandy Alcalá for her extensive impact to better the Austin community and is proud to honor her with the 2021 Volunteer Extraordinaire Award.

Celeb r ate Ever y D ay

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