Ever see that headline before?  Maybe not.  That’s because, compared to Corporate America, Nonprofit America gets a whole lot less attention from the business media.  But, according to industry estimates, American nonprofits of all sizes will require 78,000 new senior managers in 2016, up from 56,000 in 2006 and up four-fold since 1996.  In fact, according to the same source, 10-12% of the country’s nonprofit organizations are experiencing leadership transitions at any one time.

Maybe it’s time for women to step up to the plate.

Women already provide most of the volunteers for the nation’s over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations, 29.4% of women volunteer compared to 23% of men.

Women leaving first-career jobs in the for-profit sector are natural candidates for nonprofit leadership roles.

And women are already often the advocates for change in their communities, taking on leadership roles in existing organizations or even starting their own nonprofit groups.

The Junior League is one of the few national women’s organizations that is grounded in practical leadership programs that train members to affect change, both within their individual Leagues as well as in their larger communities.  Some prominent recent examples are:

  • Before becoming Executive Director of the Girl’s Advocacy Project (GAP), Vicki Lukis served as GAP Committee Chair as part of volunteer work with the Junior League of Miami.  GAP provides gender-specific mentoring and programming to girls detained in juvenile detention centers with the hope of ending the cycle of incarceration.  Moved by the purpose and impact of the project, Vicki went from chairing the League’s GAP Committee to serving on GAP’s Community Advisory then to advocating for state support for GAP as Chair of the Junior Leagues of Florida State Public Affairs Committee before finally joining the organization.  In 2008, she was appointed by Governor Charlie Christ appointed her to the Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises (PRIDE), Inc.’s Board of Directors and served as chairman of then Governor Jeb Bush’s Ex-Offender Task Force (established in 2005 and funded by The Annie E. Casey Foundation).
  • Jennifer Anchors, a Junior League of Gainesville member, has worked in the social service sector for over 20 years.  Now serving as Executive Director of the Midland Florida Division of the Children’s Home Society, which is responsible for protecting children at risk of abuse, neglect or abandonment in 18 counties.  The Children’s Home Society serves these children by providing social services designed to strengthen families and ultimately place children in safe, loving homes.
  • Through a Junior League placement at Genesis Women’s Shelter, Jan Langbein became passionately involved in the shelter’s operations, services and outreach, becoming the organization’s Executive Director only a few years later.  Her work has made a lasting impact on other local organizations, where she is a well-known guest speaker and influential mentor.  Her innovative thinking has led to many new collaborations and tailor-made services for victims of domestic violence.
  • Lifelong volunteer and Junior League of Seattle member, Colleen Willoughby founded the Washington Women’s Foundation to create a funding source supported by women donors to supply grants to nonprofits and to train donors to become effective philanthropists.  She was inspired to develop the organization as women have increased their own earning power over the years.  Over its 10+ year history, the Foundation has granted nearly $9 million to more than 860 worthy nonprofits, including community groups that work to support five main focus areas: arts and culture, education, environment, health and social services.