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Guest Post: The Public Policy Institute (Junior League of Charlotte)

Guest Post by Eleanor Norman, PMA Consultant

eleanor-normanEleanor Norman serves as a Consultant for Special Projects with Patton McDowell Associates. She brings diverse experiences from business, religious, and non-profit organizations to her role at PMA. Eleanor is a trained Level II Interim Minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and a certified Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation Management from Appalachian State University, a Masters in Sport Management from The University of Georgia, a Masters of Divinity and a masters in Christian Education from Princeton Theological Seminary.

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In January 2013, the Junior League of Charlotte, Inc. (JLC) launched the second class of the Public Policy Institute (PPI).  The Public Policy Institute is designed to inform members on the local, state, and federal government structure and prepare them to be advocates for issues that are important to them as members and individuals.  The program is an opportunity for PPI participants to meet with key officials and activists as they learn about ways they can make their voices heard.  The program focuses on issues related to women and children in the Charlotte region, in line with JLC’s mission. The program is modeled after the award-winning Junior League of Los Angeles’ advocacy program.

Members of the Junior League, like members of any service-oriented non-profit, volunteer their time to address issues in their community on the ground level.  As a result of their work “in the trenches,” many members become experts on issues facing their communities and the needs that are not being met.  In addition, most volunteers become extremely passionate about the projects they are working on and want to do more.  PPI is designed to help members use their knowledge, passion, and experience to become advocates on the local, state, and federal levels.  Kimberly Williams, who chaired the inaugural class last year, says: “the program gives the women of the Junior League a voice when they did not feel they had a voice – due to inaccessibility, lack of knowledge, or perception.”

After an introductory session, participants learn how difficult it can be for elected officials to make decisions through budget simulation sponsored by the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. The following sessions are led by elected officials on the city, county, and state levels.  The final two sessions specifically focus on advocacy training and participation of women in politics.  The six sessions of the program are designed to be interactive, allowing participants to become comfortable in speaking with officials.  In addition to the informational session, PPI participates in NC Nonprofits Day.  Moreover, last year the class composed a resolution against Human Trafficking that was passed by JLC and several other North Carolina Junior Leagues.  As a result of that resolution, JLC hosted a public forum on Human Trafficking for elected officials, city employees, and other non-profits in January.

Due to the success of the inaugural class, the Junior League of Charlotte has expanded the program this year to members of neighboring Junior Leagues and community partners.  The hope is to eventually open the institute to all nonprofits in Charlotte who would like to help empowered their members to become advocates.  According to JLC President Whitni Wilson-Wertz, “PPI truly exemplifies the mission of JLC to develop the potential of women and improve the community through effective action. “

PPI will concludes its program in May 2013. For more information Public Policy Institute, e-mail PPI at