By a fortunate accident of the calendar, this year’s Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc.’s Annual Conference comes during National Volunteer Week (April 15-21). That makes this a particularly good time to celebrate the power of the volunteer.

Because voluntarism is both the legacy and the mandate we received from our founder, Mary Harriman, we applaud National Volunteer Week, now in its 38th year, for shining a light on the power of the volunteer in creating lasting community impact.

But the missing link in many volunteer experiences – and the thing that sets The Junior League apart from other volunteer-focused organizations – is leadership training. We believe in the power of the trained volunteer in bringing about change. Leadership potential is particularly important in an era of cutbacks in funding at all levels for essential community programs. That’s why training is a key focus of Annual Conference itself, as The Junior League continues to ramp up our new master curriculum, including online training programs available to all of our more than 155,000 members.

Webinar Wednesdays were launched last October and will run through early May this year. These semi-monthly, hour-long sessions have provided all Junior League members with opportunities to hear from experts on many aspects of women’s leadership and community impact. Each webinar is also available on-demand on the AJLI website.

The five-part Issue-Based Community Impact series, offered live at Fall and Annual Conferences, was also offered via webinar, and Parts 1–3 are now available on-demand on the AJLI website. Part 4 will be available online before the end of this year. Part 5 will be offered live at the 2012 Annual Conference and after that will be offered via webinar and online on-demand.

Plans for this year included the development of two asynchronous modules. The first, “Blazing Trails,” was developed last fall and is available as a self-paced module on the AJLI website. We have deferred the production of the second module until the next phase of the curriculum development with Cedar Interactive, our adult learning consulting firm.

Work progressed significantly on the curriculum plan with Cedar Interactive. The high level plan, which we received in January 2012, recommends the development the Junior League Community and Civic Leadership Institute (CCLI). The CCLI will include in-person and online learning opportunities for all Junior League members, each of whom will be able to create and track her own individualized learning path. The high level plan will be developed into a more detailed working plan during the last six months of this fiscal year. In total, the CCLI is a three- to five-year initiative and an investment of $1.7 to $2.0 million. A brief overview of the high level plan was presented at Winter Leadership and it will be shared again at Annual Conference during the Service Dialogue.

You can access AJLI’s online learning programs here.

Thanks! And don’t forget to check out the new programs!