Past Presidents: Where Are They Now?

Junior League Edmonton has a rich history in Edmonton. The women who have been a part of the league are diverse in their backgrounds, professions and experiences. To take the helm of the Junior League is a big responsibility. We wanted to talk to some of the brave women who served their time as President and hear how the League impacted them and where it has taken them. Each women had a unique perspective and lots of wisdom to share.

Here is the first installment in this series.

Shelley Svidal

TBT to Shelley during her time as President

Shelley during her time as President

When did you serve as the Junior League President?

I served as president in 2001/02 and as co-president with Jackie Campbell and Luci Comparelli in 2005/06.

What inspired you to join the Junior League?

Anne Henderson, a sustaining member whom I knew through work, invited me to attend a couple of general meetings, and the rest, as they say, is history. I was very impressed by the energy and enthusiasm in the room and by the opportunity to make a positive difference in the community.

What do you do?

I am employed as the assistant to the executive secretary of the Alberta Teachers’ Association. Since becoming a sustaining member of the Junior League of Edmonton, I have volunteered for the Edmonton Southeast Soccer Association and currently serve on its board of directors as soccer director for Capilano Community League. Together with Fulton Place and Gold Bar community leagues, we make up Hardisty Soccer and have approximately 250 children and youth in our indoor and outdoor programs.

Present day Shelley with her daughter, still rocking awesome bangs

Present day Shelley with her daughter, still rocking awesome bangs

If you could describe the league during your tenure with one word, what would it be and why?

Courageous. Our active membership numbers were down significantly in the early 2000s from the previous decade, but we soldiered on and started doing some things differently in an effort to rebuild.

Describe a setback or failure you experienced as president and what you learned from it?

I guess the biggest setback we faced was the deterioration of the wooden sidewalk surrounding the C&E Railway Station Museum. It was an expensive public safety issue, but we were ultimately able to have the sidewalk repaired, thanks in large measure to the efforts of sustainer Betty Ross.

What are you most proud of from your time as President?

I am most proud of the Active of the Year Award, which was established during my tenure.


What was the biggest personal highlight for you from your time as President?

In April 2001, as president-elect I travelled to New York City to attend the Annual Conference of AJLI celebrating its 100th anniversary. Not only was the conference awe inspiring but I had the wonderful opportunity to see Fosse on Broadway and to visit the United Nations. The evening I attended Fosse (with Luci Comparelli and Judy Davies) marked the last performance of dancer and choreographer Ann Reinking, Bob Fosse’s ex-spouse.

If you could give a piece of advice to an incoming JLE member what would it be?

A quote often misattributed to Dr. Seuss: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”


How has your experience with the League positively impacted your life?

It has improved my organizational skills and my understanding of board governance. It has also given me a lifelong appreciation for the value of voluntarism and the extent to which it positively impacts our society.

What is your favourite quote?

“I believe in aristocracy—not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are found in all nations and classes and through all ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos.” —E. M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy