JLE Takes Orlando: ODI Recap

By Kemi Kufuor-Boakye and Keely Evans

Organizational Development Institutes, or ODIs, are a series of educational training workshops delivered throughout the year by the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI). Year after year, ODIs demonstrate their effectiveness as informative, inspiring and innovative destination training programs.

The first ODI of the year was held in February in Orlando, Florida. The Junior League of Edmonton sent two delegates; Kemi Kufuor-Boakye, the 2017/2018 Secretary, and Keely Evans, 2017/2018 Fundraising Communications Chair. These leaguers were be thrilled to be sent from chilly Edmonton to sunny Orlando in February. Here’s what they learned at ODI Orlando.


I took the Achieving Community Impact: Creating Lasting Changes for Healthier Communities track which was led by Janine Le Sueur, Director of Programs at Junior League International (AJLI). One of the main motivators when I joined the Junior League of Edmonton was to give back to my community in a more impactful way so I was excited to participate in a session that helped me better understand how we could do that even better! AJLI has created a framework for achieving lasting community impact called the Junior League Community Impact Model. During the sessions Janine led us step-by-step through how the model works and what is entailed in each step. The model involves six steps: 1.) making the commitment, 2.) understanding your community, 3.) selecting issues, 4.) focusing your community efforts, 5.) developing the programs, and 6.) preparing to implement. Outside of walking away with a better understanding of how the community impact model works I also had the following key takeaways:

  1. Taking a data driven approach to selecting your community issue can enable individual leagues to select the issue that is most impactful in their communities. For a league like Edmonton that issue may be very different than a league in another city. The magic of Junior League is that through this process we’re able to have an incredible collective impact on our communities as a whole.
  2. Doing the planning up front for how you’re going to activate on your community focus during the year and then clearly communicating that to members allows them to opt-in for what interests them and creates a more engaging, rewarding Junior League experience.
  3. AJLI is shifting the culture to members being co-authors of the league’s future which is incredibly exciting to me. JLE has so much power and opportunity to work collectively together and be even more impactful in our community. I loved hearing how other leagues have shaped there areas of impact through engaging their members in that journey.


Amber Levy – AJLI Director of Membership AJLI led the session I attended – Creating Tomorrow’s Community Leaders under the Membership Stream. As a former New Member Chair with the league, I was interested in what the session would offer around Member Engagement and retention. There is a direct correlation between how Members are being recruited and the low retention rate. When there is a mismatch between recruitment and experience, Members become dissatisfied. AJLi is challenging leagues to shift the membership paradigm from prescriptive to a member-centric engagement model. The 3 pillars highlighted for effective recruitment include: 1. Messaging 2. Intentional Outreach 3. Onboarding. To this end AJLI is rolling out a Recruitment Toolkit which would be available on the website for Leagues who decide to utilize it. Amber also highlighted the New Membership Experience framework which requires an annual commitment built on shared interests of the member and the league.

The following were things that I took away from the sessions:

  • Shift the membership paradigm from prescriptive to a member-centric engagement model
  • Encourage and facilitate Members’ voice and choice to be front and center
  • Build a recruitment strategy that is “on mission” to attract the right member from the start
  • Change the culture of the League to be a “learning organization”
  • Create a membership development plan that results in a continuum of support for lifelong membership
  • Align placements with desired opportunities for skill building and development

What else did we get up to?

There isn’t much time to spare during the conference. We landed at 10:30 am on the Friday after catching the red eye and took off on Sunday shortly after the conference wrapped up. We did manage to make it out of the hotel complex both nights though! The first night we went to the mecca of all American retailers. You guessed it, Target. The American leaguers laughed the next day when we told them where we spent our Friday night but we loved it! The second night we snuck in a visit to Disney World. 5 hours sans kids proved just enough time to hit some rides, eat carnival food and check out the amazing fireworks. (Seriously have you seen the Disney fireworks, unreal!) Keely snuck in some pool time before we headed out on Sunday after the conference wrapped up and Kemi took a much deserved nap before we headed back to chilly Edmonton.

We are so grateful to Junior League of Edmonton for the incredible learning opportunity and experience and had such a great time meeting intelligent and enthusiastic leaguers from across the U.S. Being part of a volunteer organization that invests in YOU while you’re investing your time in the community is truly an amazing thing!