t the turn of the century, Dallas was shifting from an agricultural economy to focus on banking, insurance and retail. There was a newly minted Federal Reserve Bank. Oak Cliff had been annexed, and it was home to the 15-story Praetorian, the first skyscraper west of the Mississippi River.
A modern Dallas was being shaped.
Two years after the 19th Amendment was approved, 10 Dallas women, mostly mothers, decided to form the 22nd Junior League in the United States in 1922. That decision kickstarted 100 years of philanthropy, focusing on issues from education to domestic violence. From buildings and parks to the most impactful philanthropy, Junior League women have been instrumental in molding Dallas.
“We have shaped the impact that women can have in all parts of the functioning of our community and our city. The League trains volunteers, but we train leaders, too,” says League president-elect Christa Sanford.
Genesis Women’s Shelter CEO Jan Langbein developed her passion — fighting domestic violence — as a League member. Our Friends Place, an organization dedicated to assisting abused, impoverished and homeless young women, was started by League member Susybelle Gosslee. Artist and former Christies vice president Carolyn Burns Foxworth served on the Dallas Museum of Art board and was appointed by Gov. Bill Clements to the Texas State Fine Arts commission. A League president in 1967, Sally Freeman McKenzie was involved in national political campaigns beginning with Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidential run in 1956. She was a delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, served on the board of more than 20 organizations in Dallas and held several C-level corporate posts. That’s only four women out of thousands who have been League members.
“I don’t see the history of the League as building a grand monument one year, and then 10 years later doing something less magnificent. It is just a very steady river of assistance to the whole city of Dallas,” says sustaining member Margo Goodwin.