At AJLI’s Winter Leadership conference in Las Vegas late last month, delegates voted in favor of adopting an External Policy Resolutions Process by which the Junior Leagues could agree to act collectively on public issues when there is broad and deep support across the Association. To adopt an External Policy on an issue requires 85% of the votes cast by the Junior Leagues. The decision to adopt enables the Association to speak out on the issue on behalf of the Leagues. Following adoption of the new External Policy Process in place, the AJLI Board then proposed consideration of a motion to adopt an External Policy on the Prevention of Childhood Obesity. This proposal was discussed and defeated. Finally, the delegates also adopted an Advisory Resolution asking the AJLI Board to provide more detail about the External Policy Resolution Process, and specifically about its financial and capacity implications.

The importance of the proceedings, which drew the participation in person or by proxy of representatives of 207 Leagues, is that the Junior Leagues have again adopted a process by which the Association can speak publicly with a collective voice about social issues when there is deep and broad support among the Junior Leagues; the 85 percent vote threshold underscores the importance of that depth of support.

Examples of the kinds of collective action taken by the Junior Leagues under a previous process include:

  • adoption of the first federal legislation to address family violence, the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act;
  • passage of legislation permitting non-itemizers to benefit from the charitable tax deduction; and
  • increased funding for programs designed to prevent child abuse and neglect and to strengthen families so children were less likely to be placed in foster care.