Community Impact Series - Junior League

New Orleans, LA – Community IMPACT Series: Junior League of New Orleans | Sept. 14, 2010

Lauren Hebert, a young New Orleans event planning professional, had racked up a lot of experience volunteering for various community causes. But eventually she wanted a different outlet for the time she invested in her community.
"As a Junior League member I have been involved in the community as a volunteer kind of on the front line of things and I wanted the opportunity to be more in the back scenes of things and actually participate in putting an organization together and seeing a mission statement carried out from a different perspective," Hebert says.
To make the leap to leadership, Hebert accessed a unique program offered by the Junior League of New Orleans. It's called Get On Board and as the local nonprofit sector continues to grow, this program is supplying potential new board members who are not only eager to serve, but trained to make the most effective impact.
The six-week Get on Board course covers both the nuts and bolts of nonprofit board service and its long-term responsibilities. Participants finish the course with a grounding in how nonprofits work, and a powerful network of contacts within the sector.
"When participants come out of the program, they're not only prepared but they feel like they were a part of a class that has that camaraderie and support for the future," explains Junior League president Jennifer Couvillon. "So they can come back to their Get on Board training class and help each other and be a support system for the future because sometimes they need that professional or board member support as they go through making tough decisions in a community that is transitioning like New Orleans."
Get on Board is open to anyone committed to community service, so participants don't have to be Junior League members. There's a fee for the program, but scholarships are available to help make it accessible to a more diverse cross-section of New Orleanians.
"The program was originally designed by the Junior League and we certainly support the program but we want it to be community based and community owned," says Couvillon. "A lot of times we are able to match people up with a nonprofit they didn't know they wanted to become involved in and maybe they were getting an orientation to a new area of the community or something that expands their horizons."
No matter where their service takes them, Get on Board is designed to make sure they can use their time and talents most effectively for each nonprofit's mission and the community's overall benefit. Hebert is now serving on the board of the Make-a-Wish Foundation and she explains the difference her own Get on Board training has made.
"Really, just the whole educational aspect of the training really makes you more prepared and makes you more ready to take on your next task," says Hebert. "It is a confidence boost to have training behind you for anything in life. So I think it's the only way to approach something. If you want to get more involved in a different side of things you should be more prepared for that."