From Inspiration to Implementation: JLM LEAD Program

Contributed by Grace Weil, Director of Development, Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region & JLM Member

My inspiration to seriously consider a lasting career in the nonprofit industry was developed in La Carpio, Costa Rica. In the summer of 2010, I was awarded a Mertie Buckman International Internship from Rhodes College. Having spent much of my previous coursework learning about development in third-world countries, I was interested in seeing this first hand. I made my way to La Carpio to work with the Costa Rican Humanitarian Foundation, set on working with the health clinic to learn about medical issues in the small town outside of the capital city, San José. I had no idea that my 10 weeks in this slum-town would change my life forever.

These stories and experiences lit a spark within me. It was easy for me to sit in a classroom of impoverished “Tico” children and tell them to reach for their dreams and leave their community for somewhere better, but I learned that instead of haphazardly giving them what I believed to be good advice, I could instead address their education, social, psychological and health needs through individualized social services programs and the utilization of community resources. I was able to realize that I had the skills, and more importantly, the passion to carry my new drive home with me once this internship was completed.

Realistically, inspiration can only take you so far in the nonprofit field; you can’t affect change without the appropriate skills and knowledge.

This is where LEAD comes into play.

I was introduced to the LEAD (Leaders Evolving and Developing) program by a JLM member while I was serving as the Marketing and Outreach Coordinator at Hope House, a Memphis nonprofit dedicated to serving children and families impacted by HIV (which was founded by the JLM!). As a recent college graduate, the LEAD program was vital in jumpstarting my nonprofit career. Not only did we acquire skills ranging from Personal Branding and Time Management to Technology and Networking, but I also made connections with some of Memphis’ most inspiring nonprofit leaders, and it even inspired me to join the JLM the following year!

As a nonprofit employee, you have to wear many hats and the LEAD program was a wonderful asset in helping me gain the skills necessary to progress forward in my career. Since completing the LEAD program, I was able to leverage and apply my new skills toward earning my dream job! I am incredibly grateful to the Junior League of Memphis for providing this valuable opportunity to nonprofit employees throughout Memphis. I strongly recommend this program to anyone seeking an opportunity to advance their career or learn or refresh their professional skill set.

LEAD collage

LEAD (Leaders Evolving and Developing) is looking for LEADers for its Fall 2015 Cohort! This program, sponsored by the Junior League of Memphis, is open to men and women who serve our city within the nonprofit arena. Over the course of 10 classes, participants will acquire skills ranging from Personal Branding and Time Management to Technology and Networking. Upon completion of the LEAD Program, participants will be equipped with the knowledge and skills that will empower them as leaders within their organizations.

Night classes will be held weekly from 5:30 to 7 p.m., beginning on Sept. 16 and lasting through Nov. 18 at Hutchison School. The participation fee is just $50 and covers all notebooks and materials.

Click here to access the application.

For more information email LEAD Chair, Asia Diggs at

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