There may still be a few people who cling to the old stereotype of Junior League members as women of a certain age who wear white gloves and pearls at tea.
If so, they need to take a look at Ariel Grace Batungbacal. That’s Air Force Major Batungbacal, actually, and now White House Fellow Batungbacal!
A member of the 2012-2013 Class of White House Fellows – a prestigious program that selects 15 people from thousands of applicants to spend a year working as full-time, paid Fellows to senior White House Staff, Cabinet Secretaries and other top-ranking government officials – Ariel is not too proud to point to her time in The Junior League as a key achievement in her life.
She joined the Junior League of Los Angeles in 2006 and transferred to the Junior League of Washington in 2010. At the same time, she served over five years in overseas assignments, supporting military operations in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, including three deployments supporting Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. More recently, she has served as the Joint Staff J2/Director of Intelligence’s Deputy Executive Assistant and, prior to that, was Branch Chief for Middle East Strategy, leading intelligence efforts for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s policy development.
Ariel follows in the tradition of public service established decades ago by remarkable Junior League women like Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Chase Smith and Sandra Day O’Connor. Naturally, we are pleased and delighted that Ariel believes that her embrace of voluntarism amidst a busy professional life was a factor, among many, in her selection for this prestigious program.
Asked for an example of Junior League community impact, she immediately points to her time as co-chair of a Provisional Training Team preparing 175 JLLA [Provisionals] to be effective volunteers throughout the planning and execution of Kids in the Kitchen events across Los Angeles. She adds, “We reached seven non-profit community partners and about 500 children. Simply incredible.”
Speaking of her rationale for being a Junior League member despite the many demands of a military career, including deployments, she says, “When I’m 80 and look back on my life, I want to acknowledge a life well lived. For me, a large part of this is impacting the quality of people’s lives. The value of an active volunteer life to achieve this life mission is immeasurable. Not only are you working with some of the best people you will ever meet, but you also give yourself a chance to grow as a citizen-neighbor.”
Ariel adds, “I would love to see more League women applying to this program. The application is live here.
Thank you, Ariel, for all your service!