Joining the Junior League of Atlanta means getting involved in a variety of causes, from educational initiatives to fundraising. For Chris Brodnan, the organization’s new president, making new friends was a major motivation.
After earning a master’s in public administration from UGA in 2011, Brodnan headed to Atlanta to work for the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She also wanted to widen her circle of friends beyond her the pals she made as an Emory undergrad. But she didn’t know a lot about the league.
“I knew that it was a volunteer women’s organization and that I could meet a lot of other women there,” said the Buckhead resident. “Beyond that, I didn’t know all the details. I was 25, engaged and ready to get more involved in Atlanta beyond my work and college network.”
Brodnan’s future mother-in-law was a past president of a league in Florida, and her soon-to-be sister-in-law was part of the Atlanta group. Both encouraged her to join.
“I saw it as a great way to get involved in the community and to do work I wasn’t doing professionally,” she said. “The great thing about junior league is that it gives you the space to stretch and grow outside of what you do professionally. Or you can leverage those skills, too. I ended up marrying those.”
Brodnan’s career took her from Casey to other nonprofits and eventually into her own consulting practice. Each position gave her the chance to work on education equity, a cause she quickly became passionate about. And it’s one shared by the league that’s noted for founding the Atlanta Speech School back in the 1930s and the Journey to Literacy awareness program in 2009.
In addition to its own programs, the league supports a number of local organizations by providing volunteer hours from its 2,400 members. Others work on initiatives to promote and sustain the league.
“By leveraging our skills we can collectively impact the community in so many different ways,” said Brodnan.
This year, Brodnan has taken a break from her consulting work to manage JLA’s operations.
“It has become a full-time job since we currently have no staff, and I oversee the success of the entire organization,” said the mom of two youngsters.
She’s also establishing her vision for the year and beyond.
“I want us to be a catalyst for change by focusing on health, education and welfare of women,” she said. “We have women coming together to make an impact, and the opportunities are so wide. I’m working to make sure our members focus on the needs of the community.”
Information about the Junior League of Atlanta is online at jlatlanta.org.
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