JLCU Hosts Juleps and Jockey’s, Champaign-Urbana’s Premiere Kentucky Derby Party

JulepsOn May 2nd, approximately 100 people gathered at Jupiter’s at the Crossing to enjoy the excitement of the Kentucky Derby, which is also described as the “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports”.  Attendees enjoyed heavyMorgan appetizers, mint juleps, off track betting, a photo booth, and a new game – Roll the Dice. There were several elaborate “Derby” hats and our very own, Ashley Morgan, took the top prize in the Best Hat Competition.  The event also featured many great silent auction items, including tickets to both Cubs and Cardinals games, a photo session from Pixels by Emily, spa gift certificate from BJs Grand Salon & Spa, and a Breakfast Lovers package. These silent auction items helped the JLCU raise almost $7,000 to support the Junior League community projects. We want to thank all who attended the event or supported it in any way.  We look forward to seeing you out at our event next year.


JLCU Members Participate in the IL Marathon Weekend!

JLCU Marathon Participants

Junior League of Champaign-Urbana is pround to support our members that participated this past weekend in the Illinois Marathon events.

Please join us in congratulating Amber Drew, who ran the 5k in support of a friend with cancer, Donna Cockburn, who was a relay runner, Katie Bourbeau, who rocked the mini I-challenge (pictured from left to right), and Tara Harris (not pictured), who also ran the mini I-challenge.

Congratulations on your hard work and training!  It paid off!

Where We Stand…. JLCU’s Position Statement

JLCU has a long tradition of Public Affairs & Advocacy. Here’s a bit more about what we do and why we do it.

JLCU Position Statement:

JLCU is committed to introducing, supporting, and acknowledging the creation and enforcement of legislation and programs that support its long-term strategic impact area, Basic Needs for School Readiness, such that all children are prepared for success in the classroom by having stable resources.
As such, the Junior League of Champaign-Urbana may advocate within each of the following impact areas, as they relate to Basic Needs for School Readiness:

School Preparedness

Additional Position Statements
Advocacy efforts are targeted to legislation and action within JLCU’s long-term strategic impact area but may also include other focus areas, as approved by the Board and/or the general membership. Focus area(s) include or have historically included:

Arts and Culture
Domestic Violence
Human Trafficking
Well-being and Growth

Public Affairs & Advocacy encourages JLCU to take a public stand regarding the importance of quality, affordable child care in Illinois, as it relates to our position statement and impact areas.

Unfortunately, the Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) in the State of Illinois ran out of state funding early this year. The program is funded up to 45% by federal funds, therefore this leaves the CCAP underfunded by the nearly $300 million needed to keep the program running through June 30, 2015. If not addressed, this problem would continue into the next fiscal year and beyond.

Paying the unsubsidized (full) cost of child care is nearly impossible for most families using CCAP. New children may be denied access to the program while children already in the program may be unable to stay in quality early care and education programs and before/after school programs. Child care providers may not be paid on-time by the state for their services, which may make it harder for them to serve families. The effect of having child care providers shut down due to late or unavailable state payments will also negatively impact families relying on these centers for child care. The employers of these families would also be negatively impacted should families be unable to replace the unexpected loss of child care. Eligibility requirements for CCAP may also change, which would disqualify many families, or split child care access for families where younger children are covered, but older children are not. This may lead to additional young children not being well cared for while parents are working.

JLCU Public Stand
Recognizing that quality, affordable child care is critical to the success of working families, and that the immediacy of this issue is currently negatively impacting thousands of Illinois children, women, and small business owners whose livelihoods and financial stability are impacted by lack of funding for child care:

The Junior League of Champaign-Urbana (JLCU) acknowledges the urgency of finding funding for Child Care Assistance in a manner that addresses the critical need through the end of this fiscal year.  JLCU also encourages the development of a long-term solution that sustainably supports child care assistance in the future.

PA&A’s plan to advocate for a solution to the childcare funding problem:
The PA&A committee is currently researching bills and legislative efforts that focus on solutions to the child care funding deficit.

In April, we will begin a letter writing campaign in order to communicate our public stand to local legislators.

As well, PA&A will reach out to other local community partners and non-profit organizations to determine if other groups are also advocating for this issue. If so, we may be able to work together to create a stronger voice for the cause.

Schedules permitting, PA&A plans to meet with local legislators and educate them about the JLCU and our mission, position statement, and public stand, in an effort to show our potential, non-partisan support for legislation that relates to our areas of interest, particularly focusing on a long term solution to sufficient CCAP funding.

*If you have any interest in these areas or working on behalf of JLCU, please contact the Public Affairs and Advocacy Committee. 

JLCU March Madness!

March Madness means different things to different people. Sure, there’s basketball, but the madness of March hardly ends there. We have the madness of the never-quite-ending winter (which seems to finally be on its way out), getting ready for a much-needed Spring Break, and of course, the balance of the last months of the JLCU year for our members.

The March General meeting is always packed with great information. If you were with us, thank you for making the time. If you missed the meeting, here’s a little about what happened:

• We slated our placement advisors for the 2015-16 year, including an additional spot to help meet the needs of the new member class for 2014-15
• We activated 33 new members
• Completed a DIAM for Daily Bread Soup Kitchen (don’t fret if you missed it…we will collect more fresh fruit for this worthy community partner at the April meeting with another DIAM)
• Heard an update from the Public Affairs and Advocacy Committee- If you want to read more about this important committee’s work, we will be posting details soon.
• Awarded three CAF grants
o $400 to the Reading Group to purchase books for children reading below their grade level
o $950 to the Dream Girls Academy Inc. for curriculum assistance for girls (6th grade and up) to foster life-ling learning and the prevention of domestic violence and child abuse
o $140 to Girls On The Run (part of the Stephens Family YMCA of Champaign) to purchase books about life skills for girls (grades 3rd-6th)
• Hosted the Spring Council meetings, which included a chance to talk about what goals the Councils want the Management Team to consider when outlining goals for 2015-16
• General announcements included information about:
o Juleps & Jockeys, the 3rd annual Kentucky Derby event, Saturday, May 2nd at Jupiters at the Crossing – Tickets on sale now! $25 ($30 at the door)
o Congratulations to the Fundraising Committee for all their hard work – we are getting closer and closer to our goal! We are especially proud to share the Gala committee spent well below our $.28 per $1 – going to great lengths to keep costs down and still hosting a great Mardi Gras Gala!
o The proposed volunteer package for 2015-16 – a few changes for sure – check in with your advisor to make sure you know what your requirements will be next year
• Shining Star for March, 2015 – Congratulations to Fundraising Chair Jennifer Large!

The April meeting (which promises warmer weather, right?) will be Tuesday, April 21st at the Champaign Country Club at 7 pm! See you there!The April meeting (which promises warmer weather, right?) will be Tuesday, April 21st at the Champaign Country Club at 7 pm! See you there!

February 2015 Happenings…..

Junior League of Champaign-Urbana has been busy these winter months fundraising, bonding, learning and strengthening our community!  Here are the highlights from this past month…


JLCU and members of the community came out for a fun night of dinner and dancing at our New Orleans themed Masquerade Ball held February 21st at the Champaign Country Club.

The funds raised by the event are going to support Junior League Bright Starts and help our kindergarten readiness project grow and sustain past its inaugural year.   The live auction featured some great packages like a Ski trip to Breckenridge, a Family trip to Disneyworld, a Chicago Shopping trip and the Princess Package for the Daddy Daughter Dance next fall.  The live and silent auctions and the paddle raise helped JLCU raise over $30,000 to support Junior League Bright Starts and we are grateful to all who attended and participated.

One of the highlights of the event was the speech given by sustaining member Amy Armstrong, who helped launch Larkin’s place at the Stephens Family YMCA in honor of her daughter, who was born with Downs Syndrome and other severe conditions.  Amy was eager to point out the great institutions that are part of our community today thanks to “Junior League at work.”

February General Member Meeting

This past month’s meeting featured the reading and vote on the bylaw change for Article 5 Dues and other Financial Obligations. There was also the reading and vote for the 2015-16 Nominating Slate. We would like to congratulate the following members to the Board of Directors, Management Team and other slated positions: President Elect Jennifer Romine, Secretary Katie Blum, Sustainer Representative Amy Chamley, Executive Vice President Danielle Wilberg.  Treasure Elect Andrea Singh, Communications Council VP Ashley Morgan, Finance Council VP Stacey Kresge, Membership Council VP January Boten, Community Impact Council VP Sara Olson, Assistant Nominating Chair Emily Wickstrom Neal, and Nominating Committee Member Denise Poindexter.

The guest speaker for the evening was Deborah Frank Feinen, a partner at Tummelson, Bryan & Knox, LLP, and a Champaign City Council Member. Deborah spoke about how JLCU is important to Champaign and how much they give back to the community. She also spoke about being a strong community member by speaking and spreading the word of our mission.

With 2015-16 placement opening, members were introduced to committees in a new way. The “Placement Speed Round” was where a representative from each committee provided information about the tasks on their committee and any other pertinent information about their committee.  The Speed Round took the place of the Placement Fair that we have had in years past.

February’s Shining Star was Jen Schmidt, who was nominated by Jami Houston for her excellent work on the nominating committee during this busy and exciting time!

Fund Development Creates Fun Nights Out!

Art Party StudioThe most recent Fun Development event was also a Game Night/Girls Night Out!  11 JLCU members attended a special event at the Art Party Studio to paint, enjoy wine and refreshments and raise money to support JLCU.

Where Are They Now:  Past President Danielle Wilberg

The League Life Blog is about sharing the impact that Junior League of Champaign-Urbana has on the community, the people it serves, and its members.  It is important to look back at past members or participants in JLCU’s programs to reflect on JLCU’s mission and what lasting changes have been made.

***When we first tracked down Danielle for this interview, we wanted to share her story of her years with JLCU, her presidency and what she was up to since she went sustaining.   During this process, however, she re-activated her membership, has been very active with the Public Affairs and Advocacy Committee and is now slated to the 2015 – 16 Management Team as Executive Vice President.   So, our “Where is She Now” story is instead a feature on a strong and influential member of JLCU and we are excited to share her contributions on our blog. ***wilberg_danielle

Our first interview is with past president Danielle Wilberg.  JLCU is grateful to women like Danielle and all those take on roles in the JLCU Governance Board and Management Team.  This is a full time responsibility that they choose to take on,  in addition to all of their other daily activities.  These women are what make Junior League an amazing place to volunteer and to give back to our community.

Danielle was president of Junior League Champaign-Urbana in 2011-2012.  Prior to being president Danielle had served on many committees with in JLCU, including FOT (2005 Chair), Membership Development, and Nominating & Placement (Chair 2008).  She is currently working on the Public Affairs Committee as our League’s SPAC A Representative (State Public Affairs Committee) and is on the Governance Committee for AJLI (The Association of Junior Leagues International).

After her presidency, she chose to go sustaining, but then re-activated her membership this year.  Her decision to go active was to continue to help JLCU in new ways and through new opportunities from what she learned serving at the international level.

Here is a little background information on Danielle. She was born, raised, and is raising her family in Champaign.  She got her B.A. at the University of Illinois and is working at Activate Alumni as Chief Strategy Officer.  She is married with 2 kids, 11-year-old Ricky with is in 6th grade and Murphy is 8 and she is in 3rd grade.

Danielle may not be a JLCU legacy, but with her mother and mother-in-law being members of Junior Women’s Club (an organization for women to volunteer in their local community) it’s no wonder that she has made volunteering a big part of her life. Besides being active in Junior League of Champaign-Urbana, Danielle volunteers for multiple organizations like: Association of Junior Leagues International Governance Committee, United Way Power of the Purse Chair, and Volunteer Coordinator for the 6th Grade Basketball Team.  What little time Danielle does get to relax, she enjoys watching Bravo and having a glass of red wine.  This just shows you how amazing our JLCU leaders are and how they continually want to give back to their community.

Danielle says, “I owe more to JLCU than I ever thought possible.”  She was able to do work that she loved while helping out the community, she learned skills to help both her professional and volunteer experiences, she learned about leadership, how to take risks, how to run a non-profit, how to deal with conflict, how to raise money, how to better a community as a collective voice and finally the friendships that she made.  These are all amazing skills, traits and experiences that other women can have when they join JLCU.

We asked Danielle for some information on AJLI, since not many local people are aware of what AJLI is and how they can become part of AJLI.  She got started with AJLI as part of their dues task force committee.  “I believe in the Junior League movement and I believe in where AJLI is going in the future.”  With her position on the governance committee, she has to understand where the association is heading, as they are responsible for recruiting a board that will be able to understand both sides of the future vision.  AJLI is expanding their ways of recruiting new leadership and are offering several opportunities for Junior League members to get involved internationally.  If anyone is interested in AJLI, Danielle encourages you apply to attend ODI, watch the AJLI emails for special task force announcements and don’t be afraid to apply for a governance position.  She also wants to make it known that you do not need to have been president, to serve with AJLI.

Finally, Danielle’s advice to current JLCU members and those interested in becoming a member, “Keep doing the spectacular work that you’re doing.  I think of all the projects that JLCU has started that have made CU a better community and I can’t wait to see what’s next.  I also want to say thank you for the commitment you’re putting in – that commitment will pay off threefold if you stick with it – I promise!”

January General Meeting

Were you unable to make it to the General Meeting on Tuesday, January 20th? This is what you missed:

IMG_1965The evening started off with a provocative Community Panel on “A Conversation about Advocacy” with panelists (Starting on the right) Lynn Stuckey, a Unit 4 School Board member, Kerris Lee from Storyboard Café Inc., Cris Vowels, Principal at Urbana Early Childhood School, and Danielle Wilberg from My Super Marketer. We learned about the roles that each panelist plays in our community, how we can work together, and what we could learn from one another.

Principal Cris Vowels shared her thoughts on how JLCU’s mission statement is a great way to start advocating for funds to support Early Childhood Education. She mentioned that for every dollar spent on preschool, $7-$14 dollars come back into the community through a reduced need for spending on other services. This is a great way for Junior League to promote our new project Bright Starts and to get more funding to help this project develop and grow. Danielle Wilberg continued on about the next steps to advocate for preschool and to think about the larger picture. “You do not want to get pigeonholed into only one statement.”

Kerris and Lynn left us with great motivational pieces about how perseverance is key and not to be afraid to be the one to take the lead.

After the community panel we heard from Paula Massey from International Hospitality Committee. The International Hospitality IMG_1966Committee (IHC) is a volunteer organization founded in 1952. IHC offers programs to help international University of Illinois students, faculty, staff and their families during their stay in the Champaign-Urbana community. The goals of the IHC are to promote an enjoyable experience for international visitors, to facilitate their adjustment to their new environment, to aid them in improving their English skills, and to encourage understanding and friendship between local residents and people from other countries. This also benefits you and your families in broadening their experience with other cultures and languages. For more information about IHC you can go to their website


We finished the evening off with the announcement of our Shining Star Award. Ashley Miller (New Member) nominated by Meghan Fisher (New Member)

Ashley took the lead on putting together the Princess Package to be auctioned off at the upcoming Gala event. As part of the team who is helping gather donations, I have been thoroughly impressed by Ashley’s organization and responsiveness throughout this process. Any time I have reached out to Ashley she is very quick to respond, and provide even more information than asked. I’m so thankful she is leading this, and her hard work deserves to be recognized!

We hope you will be able to join us for the next General Meeting on February 17 at the Champaign Public Library.

League Life