June 30, 2011

Get To Know Our 2011-12 Board of Directors, Part XIII

By Michelle Hostrup, Communications Committee 2011-12

This is Part XIII of a series of interviews of our 2011-12 Board of Directors. Be sure to check out our introductory post on 5/19/11.

Jovita Honor Finance VP 2011-12

Jovita joined the League in 2003, and most of her roles since then have been finance related. Her first committee was the Habitat for Humanity IDA program in which she worked with adults who had purchased homes with the help from Habitat on their budgeting and financial skills. From there she went on to serve as the Holiday Boutique Treasurer for two years and was then on the Board as Treasurer and Finance VP. Most recently she was a Provisional Chair, a departure from the rest of her finance related League career, but one she immensely enjoyed.

Having served as Finance VP once before, she couldn’t be more prepared for the role. She has also worked with Meaux on committees in the past, and didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to work with her again. Jovita is especially looking forward to getting to know the other members of the Board. She mentioned that working on the Board allows for the greatest impact, and is the best way to meet more people.

Jovita admitted that this past year allowed her more balance between work and the League because it was not a financial role. I was surprised to hear that since I know that chairing the Provisional committee can be extremely time intensive. But Jovita is accustomed to working hard, because the harder you work, the more you can "play". And Jovita is not one to shy away from the social activities!

When Jovita's not working, she likes to read, plan trips or hang out at home with her husband and dogs. She is always up for a new challenge and trying new things. Although the Finance VP role comes with more familiarity, the economic landscape will certainly put a twist on managing the financial components of the League. But she never walks away from a challenge; to prove it, she just started learning to play golf. Good luck Jovita!

That's it for our Board of Director interviews! Thank you ladies for participating!

June 27, 2011

Get To Know Our 2011-12 Board of Directors, Part XII

By Michelle Hostrup, Communications Committee 2011-12

This is Part XII of a series interviewing our 2011-12 Board of Directors. Please check out our introductory post on 5/19/11.

Rahela Abbas, President Elect 2011-12

Rahela transferred to the JLPA-MP from the East Coast, and started out with only a single friend in the Bay Area. Today she probably has hundreds of friends because of her involvement with the League. She met Vanessa Roach and other members at a JLPA-MP Open House when she first moved to the area and knew immediately that this was the League for her.

Rahela is the President-Elect this year, and although she'll focus on being a sponge to Meaux in preparation for her Presidency, she plans to stay busy with her involvement on the Strategic Planning Council. The Strategic Plan is a huge priority, one which Rahela believes can take our League to the next level. And Rahela is the kind of motivated and organized leader to make those changes happen!

This will be the fourth year Rahela has been on the Board. She is currently wrapping up her position as Membership VP, and in the past has Co-Chaired Spring Gala, Provisional Committee, and worked on Done in a Day and The Shop committees. She is also active in the community as a Board member for Rebuilding Together Peninsula and is currently the Director of Donor Relations in the Development Office at Stanford. She's lucky that her career and Junior League activities are closely related which I'm sure benefits both parts of her life.

Rahela will be celebrating her 10 year wedding anniversary next year, and keeps busy at home with her two children. But aside from her family, the Junior League is her top priority. She is working on saying "no" to other organizations who want her involvement, because her priority is with the League.

Rahela is an events gal - she loves to eat, drink and socialize. But in her free time, what she really loves the most is connecting with friends - old and new. She told me during our conversation that she would walk to the ends of the earth for her friends if she had to. Staying in touch is very dear to her. She shared with me a personal practice that she's implemented into her daily life, something I think we all could follow. Every day Rahela strives to acknowledge four different people in small and big ways. She might thank a colleague for getting her a report, or thank her husband for putting gasoline in her car. I think whether you thank one or four people, just that change in perspective and way of carrying out your day can make a huge difference in the world.

Stay tuned for more Board Member interviews!

June 24, 2011

Get To Know Our 2011-12 Board of Directors, Part XI

By Michelle Hostrup, Communications Committee 2011-12

This is Part XI of a series interviewing our 2011-12 Board of Directors. Please check out our introductory post on 5/19/11.

Polly Neumann, Sr SPAC Delegate 2011-12

For those who don't know what SPAC is, it's the State Public Affairs Committee, and I promise this won't be the last time you hear or read about SPAC within the League. Polly Neumann is the Senior SPAC Delegate for this League year, and she has a busier job than ever. Polly never imagined she would be this involved with government affairs and legislation, but like so many Leaguers, she has a tremendous League mentor that has influenced her to get involved in SPAC. Cat Carlton is the California SPAC 2011-2012 President, a huge honor, and the reason Polly is the Sr. SPAC delegate for next year.

Cat and Polly met as Provisionals and have been close friends since. When Cat began to coach Polly on the power to make changes through SPAC, Polly was immediately hooked. Polly considers herself very fortunate to have found a mentor like Cat, and feels that as a team they can accomplish anything. They have already come so far, celebrating both of their leadership positions and their sponsored bill that will be presented in Sacramento (you will hear more about this soon).

Although my intention was to speak about Polly, I cannot talk about her role and success in the League without mentioning Cat. Without her support, Polly might not have gotten to where she is today, which is an important one because she has the power to make real change in the world. Polly is a real estate agent and works long hours, but she partners with her mom so they're able to balance the work load between the two of them. She also leverages her husband, who couldn't be more supportive of her Junior League involvement. The power of support, whether by friend or family, can allow you to tackle the challenges of the League and might possibly make a difference in the world. And in Polly's case, passing a bill that would give the parents of foster children the same rights as birth parents (in terms to accessing their child's health records), could really change lives.

Stay tuned for more Board Member interviews!

June 22, 2011

Get to Know Our 2011-12 Board of Directors, Part X

By Michelle Hostrup, Communications Committee 2011-12

This is Part X of a series of interviews of our 2011-12 Board of Directors. Please check out our original introductory post on 5/19/11.

Joy Peacock, Membership Development VP 2011-12

Joy Peacock will be championing Membership Development next year. She has recently experienced a lot of newness in her life including a new job at the Santa Clara University Law School. When she started her new job she told her manager, who was already aware of her Junior League involvement from the interview process, that she would be highly involved in the Junior League and that her participation in League activities was a priority. She is acutely aware that she will have a lasting impact on the Junior League community, and her success and learning will allow her to do the same for the law school community. And her boss totally agreed. Way to set priorities, Joy!

Joy is very much aligned with Meaux in terms of membership goals. They both agree that a large part of the strategic plan for the League needs to be towards new member recruitment, training current members and retaining them. Membership Development has combined Membership Enrichment and Training, which were previously separate committees. Joy's focus for next year is to align her committee with active members, ensure that Nominating is placing the right person in the right leadership position, and that overall there is more open communication and interaction.

Joy realizes that it's a huge challenge for non-profits to retain their volunteers, and even harder during a down economy. The JLPA-MP has a healthy membership, but must continue to focus on expansion and growth. She acknowledges that women join the League to meet other like-minded women and to volunteer in the community. But where we take that next step, how we attract and retain, is the same reason Joy continues to be a very active member and not sustain - she constantly meets new and interesting people, who have added to her personal and professional network of friends. And to provide that opportunity to prospective members and current members who may not be as front and center will make the biggest difference in our membership.

Stay tuned for more Board Member interviews!

June 21, 2011

Get to Know Our 2011-12 Board of Directors, Part IV

By Michelle Hostrup, Communications Committee 2011-12

This is Part X of a series of interviews of our 2011-12 Board of Directors. Check out our introductory post 5/19/11.

Meaux Costello, President 2011-12

Meaux Costello didn't plan on being the 2011-2012 President of the JLPA-MP - she actually never planned on being League President. But somewhere down the line, after holding multiple placements and sitting on the Board for four years, she realized all her learning and development experiences had enabled her to be a strong and effective leader. This realization prompted her to get in the line to be a future JLPA-MP President. And as life would have it, everything got moved ahead when the originally slated President Elect had to step down.

Although Meaux had planned to have an extra 12 months to prepare for the role, she accepted the position a year early like a true leader.

Meaux is all too familiar with changing directions. She recently left her job after being a lawyer for twenty years to care for her sister who was recently diagnosed with cancer. It was a big decision, but with the support of her husband and family she has been able to make it all work. The League is such an important part of her life that she accepted the role during a time when it probably would have been easier to focus only on family.

Meaux has a strong sense of pride and ownership in the League and is fiercely committed to its cause. Her top priorities for the year are finance and community. She mentioned in our conversation that the impact on the economy was delayed in how it has affected the JLPA-MP. There has been a decrease in underwriting for the Home Tour, a decrease in donations and purchases at The Shop, and fewer anticipated new members in the League. As a result she is determined to turn things around. Meaux also plans to stay in close contact with our Community Board of Advisors, evaluate our grant process, and ensure that we engage the best projects that are fulfilling for League members while satisfying the Junior League Mission.

Meaux clearly has a lot of big plans for next year, and fortunately has a great team to help her accomplish these goals. Many of the Board members expressed their excitement and eagerness to work with Meaux. She has many supporters and mentors in the League who have enabled her to get to where she is today. The League has helped her in her professional and personal life, including running better meetings and being more persuasive and greater examples like being a better lawyer, sister, wife and friend. Meaux has been inspired by the League and its leaders since she joined, and is a firm believer that the League offers some of the best practices for home, work and life in general. She plans on pushing that philosophy forward and establishing an even stronger sense of connectedness among League members, because she believes that we all have the potential to be great leaders and sit in her seat one day - and she's going to do her best to help us get there.

Stay tuned for more Board Member interviews!

June 15, 2011

Perinatal Depression: Cat Carlton's Interview with US News and World Report

Cat Carlton, CalSPAC Chair and active member of the Junior League of Palo Alto Mid-Peninsula was recently interviewed by US News and World Report on Perinatal Depression. You can read the article below or on the US News website.

Postpartum Depression: Finding Affordable Help
By Kimberly Palmer, US News and World Report
Posted: June 14, 2011

Postpartum depression affects as many as one in eight new moms, and it becomes most serious when it’s left untreated. “It’s rare, but the symptoms are very severe. You start losing touch with what’s real and imagined, you can have delusions and unpredictable actions,” says Catherine Carlton, an advocate for awareness about postpartum depression through her work with the Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula. In the most extreme cases, she adds, women can kill themselves or their babies.

To prevent that tragic outcome, women suffering from postpartum depression usually need professional help, but seeking it out can be difficult, especially when new moms are worried about the stigma of struggling with a mental illness or the financial challenges of paying for treatment. Women are most likely to get postpartum depression if they have a history of depression, experienced other big stresses such as relationship problems around the time of the birth, and suffer from financial problems. Having strong support from family and friends can help reduce the risk. We spoke with Carlton about the best ways to afford treatment for this serious condition. Excerpts:

How widespread is postpartum depression?

Generally, about 80 percent of women across the world experience some form of the baby blues, or just feeling really overwhelmed and cranky and not able to get any sleep. One in eight will really get postpartum depression, where they’re really sad, confused, anxious, irritable, and afraid they’re a really bad mom. And for one in 1,000 women who don’t receive treatment, it can become postpartum psychosis, where people start dying.

Why does it go untreated?

Some cultures are more open about it than others, but even in America today, people might think you’re weak. What should women do if they think they might be suffering from postpartum depression? The initial things that make a difference are just talking about your feelings. Talk with a doctor. It helps to ask friends and family to care for the baby so you have a chance to get sleep and eat a healthy diet. There are a lot of postpartum support groups online and in-person. If you’ve been feeling sad and cranky and it doesn’t go away after three weeks, then look into getting some help.

Can you recommend any free resources?

The great website run by Postpartum Support International has a postpartum scale with ten questions, so you can determine the level you might be at. They also have a Wednesday online chat with an expert, and you can find a map to help you find a list of local coordinators, doctors, and group meetings. It will tell you everything that’s available locally. (Volunteers offer to contact visitors within 24 hours.) Seven states, including Minnesota, New Jersey, and Illinois, have created state agencies to help deal with this problem, too. Postpartum Progress is another great site providing peer-to-peer support.

How do you know if you need to meet with a doctor?

It depends on the level of postpartum depression. If you have the baby blues, then online support might be enough, or sometimes even the information at babycenter.com. It has a good online board you can chat on, which is great for people who don’t feel comfortable opening up to family. It’s a great way to feel like you’re not going through this alone. Statistically, the soon you get help, the quicker you can get over it.

June 14, 2011

Get To Know Our 2011-12 Board of Directors, Part VIII

By Michelle Hostrup, Communications Committee 2011-12

This is Part VIII of a series of interviews of our 2011-12 Board of Directors. Check out our introductory post on 5/19/11.

Amy Aldrich, Treasurer 2011-12

Amy Aldrich has been in the League for seven years, and will be taking on the role of Treasurer next year. This will be a significant change for her since she has spent most of her League time doing community projects. She has always had an interest in finances, so she's especially excited about this role, starting with reviewing the League budget. If there's a better way to manage the budget so that the League can give more money back to the community in grants, then she believes we have an obligation to our members to make a change. And Amy is determined to find improvements! She's highly organized and intensely motivated to do the best job possible next year. And during this economy, she realizes the importance of managing every dollar that comes in and out of the League, which is why she's perfect for the position.

When she's not coming up with better ways to manage the budget, you can probably find her participating in an assortment of activities. She does a lot of needle work and cross-stitch (fourth generation in her family) and runs the family football pool during football season. She's also an avid skier, and has never missed a ski season since she was five years old (except for when she was pregnant). Although skiing and football sound a lot more fun, she's just as excited to get the winning score in her role as Treasurer.

Stay tuned for more Board Member interviews!

June 11, 2011

Get To Know Our 2011-12 Board of Directors, Part VII

By Michelle Hostrup, Communications Committee 2011-12

This is Part VII of a series of interviews introducing our 2011-12 Board of Directors. Check out our introductory post on 5/19/11.

Vanessa Roach, Special Projects/Community Member At Large (MAL) 2011-12

I wasn't surprised when Vanessa Roach told me that she was the JLPA-MP President two years ago; the League runs in her blood. Her mom was League President while Vanessa was in high school, igniting her desire to be a leader at a young age.

Like other Board members, Vanessa is looking forward to working with Meaux in the Special Projects position next year. Meaux actually held the position (Special Projects) when Vanessa was President. In addition to coordinating the Board retreat and working closely with the Community Advisors, Vanessa's main focus for next year will be on the Strategic Plan. She's currently working on the taskforce that will be involved in looking at retention in the League and our community involvement.

Having first-hand experience as President, she can offer Meaux guidance and support. Vanessa mentioned that having a mixed Board (newer members and some veterans) is the key to a successful leadership team, and she is confident the Board this year is going to be awesome. In her specific role, she will focus on the bigger issues the affect the immediate future of the JLPA-MP. In our ever changing world, it's important to have people like Vanessa who can be a cheerleader and also step in and aid in the projects that really matter.

Vanessa has a lot on her plate. In addition to the League, she keeps busy as the Executive Director of the Gamble House, entertaining family and friends, gardening and playing with her dog Kassy. I have to mention that we had such a good time talking, that we ended our conversation with her inviting me to the Glee concert this summer. We discovered that we were both Glee fanatics, and I was tickled that she would on-the-spot invite me to join her at the concert. What a true affirmation of the type of women "League" women are!

Stay tuned for more Board member interviews!

June 08, 2011

Get To Know Our 2011-12 Board of Directors, Part VI

By Michelle Hostrup, Communications Committee 2011-12

This is Part VI of a series introducing our Board of Directors, check out our introductory post on 5/19/11.

Ann-Christel Graham, Community VP 2011-12

Ann-Christel Graham joined the League in 2002, initially because she wanted more volunteer opportunities. She has always considered herself a community person and volunteer-orientated, so it's no surprise that she stepped up to the plate to be the Community VP next year. In the past she has chaired community projects such as Children's Place, First Teachers, and Project Development, never shying away from a new challenge. It's evident that this Board position is the culmination of all her community experiences –-she's earned it!

Ann-Christel has big ideas for the League and is looking forward to executing them in her new position. She especially wants to capture how the Junior League impacts the community (similar to Summer's goal). Her concern is that community members don't understand what the League does, nor are they aware of the difference we make or the impact we have. Ann-Christel talked about the sense of pride she felt after the grant recipients were announced at last year's May Annual Meeting, and having more of that type of transparency in the League so that people will understand us better.

Ann-Christel understands that we are all busy, including herself, and shared practical ways the League could be more efficient. For example, why not schedule more conference calls or Skype calls as opposed to in person meetings? We can all agree that meeting face-to-face is important, but some days it would be much easier to dial in, and might help increase meeting attendance. Ann-Christel see's the big picture, and is eager to start making some improvements.
Bringing new ideas to the table is not something she only does for the League. She likes to explore different kinds of cooking and food, and often experiments on her family. Evidently she's been successful, as a few nights ago her son requested crab for dinner. If she can get her four year old son to eat crab, I'm confident that she can bolster the face of the Junior League to the community and our other constituents.

Stay tuned for more Board Member interviews!

June 02, 2011

Get To Know Our 2011-12 Board of Directors, Part V

By Michelle Hostrup, Communications Committee 2011-12

This is Part V of a series interviewing our Board of Directors for 2011-12, see the introductory post 5/19/11.

Summer Brill, Communications VP 2011-12

As I mentioned in my first blog entry, Summer Brill was the Web Marketing Assistant Chair/Social Media this year and will be the Communications VP for 2011-2012. For someone who has been in the League for only three years (including her provisional year), she has quickly demonstrated how to become a leader, and is a great role model for anyone aspiring to get more involved.

I was shocked and in-awe when Summer told me that shortly after she got married, she quit her Investment Banking job and traveled around the world with her husband for a year. Since then she's gotten settled back in California, started her family and now has two young boys and devotes a lot of her spare time to the League.

Summer credits her initial passion and excitement for the League to her friend and League mentor Jessica Gowdy. Jessica made her feel like she could do anything, and is the person she attributes most of her League success to. Summer admits that while she had an awesome Provisional Year, her first active year was different than what she expected and had doubts about her involvement in the League. But she was reminded by Jessica that she was the only one who could make her League experience what she wanted it to be. And from there, she rolled up her sleeves and put 110% into every project she was involved in. And now she's on the Board of Directors!

The League has never had a Social Media Chair before Summer. Not only did Summer go above and beyond her expected job responsibilities by developing a Social Media Policy for the League and single-handedly managing Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the Blog, but she used the opportunity to meet as many people as she possibly could and truly network.

Summer is excited for her role next year and taking communications a step further than what it historically has been. What's especially important to her is that people (in the community) know what the League does, and what the League represents. She plans to do this by building our image through branding and expanding our internal usage of the Blog and Facebook.

With two young sons she doesn't have a lot of free time, but has found that using her iPhone is a great way to stay connected and communicate with League members. She's been out of the job market since her sons were born, but plans to enter the residential real estate business this year. I mentioned how surprised I was to learn that she quit her job to travel. Well, the surprises don't stop there. When I asked where she'd most likely be on a sunny summer weekend day, she answered, "With my husband and kids in Santa Cruz at a Grateful Dead-esque concert." Rock on Summer!

Stay tuned for more Board Member interviews!