Having in mind IAVE’s presence at the National Conference on Volunteering and Service organized by Points of Light, this month I had the pleasure of speaking with Susan Danish, Executive Director of the Association for Junior Leagues International (AJLI), the IAVE National Representative for United States. Here are a few thoughts from our conversation about the activities of AJLI and its role withing the wider IAVE global network.
“The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. is the umbrella organization for the 293 Junior Leagues in four countries (Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and the U.S.),” Susan explains as she offered more information about the organization she represents.
“We are an organization of 155,000 women who do volunteer work to improve their communities. The work is different in each community because it is based on that community’s specific needs. Throughout out 112 years we have built children’s museums, domestic violence shelters, playgrounds, parks and zoos; have been instrumental in passing legislation from recycling to domestic violence to juvenile justice; have founded numerous nonprofit organizations that we have turned over to the local governments. We have tackled issues from AIDS to clean water, often in the very forefront of the issues. The Association provides women’s leadership training, resources and tools to enable our League members to do their volunteer work locally.”
AJLI has been multinational since 1912, when the first non-U.S. League was founded. “We believe that volunteering is universal and value the unique role that IAVE plays,” Susan said talking about the AJLI’s decision to apply for the position of National Representative for IAVE in the US.
“As a National Representative we work to raise the visibility of IAVE in the U.S. One of the ways we do that is through the annual National Conference on Volunteering and Service, where we host a booth for IAVE in the exhibit area. That brings IAVE in touch with the many thousands of delegates from across the U.S.”
Susan also touched upon the challenges of taking on such a role, explaining that “the nonprofit sector is quite large in the U.S. There are approximately 1.3 million nonprofit organizations. Therefore, volunteers have many choices and it is challenging to do what we need to, to build IAVE membership and awareness in this country.”
Susan ended our discussion by pointing out why she is passionate about contributing to the development of volunteering, “The nonprofit sector tackles societal issues in ways that business and government cannot or do not. Ultimately, I believe in the power of people to change lives, and see the volunteer as a necessary force for good.”