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Readers on the Run 5K, New Members featured in local news

JLKD was featured on ABC-7 Chicago (WLS) with live shots the morning of the run, plus coverage in the 6 pm and 10 pm news.

Readers on the Run was also featured in:

  • The Beacon-News
  • Neighbors of Lisle Magazine
  • West Suburban Living – Charitable Events Guide

JLKD’s Fall 2013 New Member class was featured in:

JLKD’s summer recruitment socials was featured in:

Junior League PIBs 2

Donation to Humanitarian Service Project

Junior League PIBsJunior League of Kane & DuPage Counties, Inc. donated 31 “Party in a Bag Kits” to Humanitarian Service Project (HSP) on Friday, September 27. This was part of the League’s Done in Day projects.

Part of HSP’s Children’s Birthday Project, the party kits contain birthday cake mix, candles streamers, balloons and decorative plates, cups and napkins.  All the necessities for throwing a great birthday party are included!

Children’s Birthday Project reaches out to children ages 3 to 11 who live in poverty in DuPage and Kane Counties. HSP’s goal is to create wonderful memories to last a lifetime by giving birthday packages to children on their most special day — their birthdays! HSP provides gifts to 900 children a year. There are over 37,500 children under 18 years old in DuPage and Kane Counties who are living at or below the poverty level. Read more about the Children’s Birthday Project.

JLKD has been longtime supporters of HSP and in the past have volunteered their time wrapping gifts for CBP and have also donated other beautiful birthday kits and school supplies for the children.  Thanks to HSP for continuing it mission to alleviate the pain and suffering that poverty brings to needy seniors and children living in DuPage and Kane Counties, Illinois, without distinction of gender, race, creed, caste, or color.
Junior League of Kane & DuPage Counties, Inc.
Fall 2013 ODI Nominations

Thank you to the JLKD membership for so passionately supporting your fellow league members. We had nominations for 20 different JLKD members to attend Fall Organizational Development Institute! It was an extremely difficult decision but we chose four women based on their passion for JLKD, strong leadership amongst their peers and potential within the League. We believe these ladies will represent our League well and continue to have an impact on JLKD and our community.

Here are the lucky ladies chosen along with the courses they will be attending at ODI:

  • Stephanie Quirk – Diversified Fund Development
  • Tisia Joseph – Membership Development
  • Amanda Nagele – Achieving Community Impact
  • Jen Steffgen – Governing for Excellence

Congratulations to Stephanie, Tisia, Amanda and Jen on their ODI nominations!


Breakfast bags help local students

In addition to recruiting new members, our R&A Committee has been busy helping our Communities too. At the New Member Socials, attendees assembled 180 “breakfast bags” in total, that were distributed to two of our Community Partners.

The first of those was the St. Charles based Salvation Army after-school program. Pictured here are just some of the children who were the benefactors of those breakfast bags.  They have 30-60 children each day participating in this program and snacks are scarce. Breakfast is so important because we know that hunger distracts kids from learning. Nutrition is an important part of literacy!

We will be doing another “project” with them in October, so watch the calendar for opportunities to participate.

The second group who received breakfast bags is Elmwood Elementary in Naperville. Elmwood provides a breakfast snack to approximately 120 students, 5 times a week so they go through about 600 breakfasts a week.  They receive some funds through Naperville Education Association to provide the food, but they also rely on individuals and organizations like JLKD to assist.

We are working with this school on another opportunity to provide volunteers to stuff backpacks with healthy weekend food for these same children. Should that come to fruition, we will be adding that as a volunteer opportunity to the schedule as well. Stay tuned!


Backpacks packed for Smart Steps

During our summer socials, prospective members helped us stuff donated backpacks with donated school supplies. These were delivered to children at Smart Steps in Aurora. We received the following thank you note and pictures of the children receiving their backpacks for school. Thank you to all who donated and who helped us put these together. Because of you, these children are that much more energized to begin a year of learning!

Junior League, Thank you very much for all your help and support. The children and their parents were so happy and appreciative.

Junior League of Kane & DuPage Counties, Inc.

Junior League focuses on Kids in the Kitchen

By Nicki Anderson For The Sun
3 April 2013

Obesity continues to permeate the lives of more than a third of U.S. adults and children. Many are doing their part to combat it in a way that is educational and practical, including the Junior League of Kane & DuPage Counties.

The group will host a family event, Kids in the Kitchen between noon and 3 p.m. April 20 at Whole Foods Naperville.

“The Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. Kids in the Kitchen initiative began in 2006 with the goal of engaging kids in the preparation of healthy meals as a means to educate them and their parents about nutrition and healthy lifestyle choices,” said Jessica Salasek, vice president of communications for Junior League of Kane and DuPage County.

The Junior League of Kane & DuPage Counties Inc. is one of more than 200 leagues providing lessons and demonstrations related to preparation of healthy meals and snacks in partnership with local community organizations, chefs and nutritionists. One of those partnerships includes Whole Foods in Naperville.

Whole Foods will host the Kids in the Kitchen event that aspires to teach parents and their children how to eat well and have fun, too. Deb Kwiatt, marketing and community relations specialist at Whole Foods Naperville, is excited about the event given that it ties so closely with their mission of food education.

“One of our core values is healthy food education, so we thought it was a perfect fit,” she said. “Our healthy eating specialist, Angela Dennison, worked along with our marketing department and the JLKD to put together an event that aims to inspire kids to have fun with healthy foods.”

This is cooking up to be a fantastic family event.

“We have a little bit of everything,” Salasek said. “We’ll offer snacks, activities and cooking! Kids will be given a chef hat they will decorate and wear as they work their way through a scavenger hunt throughout the Whole Foods store.

They will have the chance to sample different foods, make something with other food educators.

In addition to food education, The Fry YMCA of Naperville will be holding a light fitness activity geared toward kids.”

Other food educators include Two Mother’s Café and local food blogger Momma Cuisine who will both offer cooking demonstrations at 1 p.m.

“Kids will learn how to make Rainbow Carrots and Edamame Fried Rice with Watermelon Fizz for a drink,” Kwiatt said.

“Best of all, this event is completely free and no sign up is necessary. However, seating is on a first-come basis for food demos, so I encourage planning for that.”

The goal of the event is to inspire kids to not only think about making healthier food choices but encouraging families to make it a group effort.

It’s always been my belief that, if kids can learn that healthy food is not only good for you but tastes good, too, they will be more likely to make healthier food choices throughout their life.

“We hope kids will enjoy tasting healthy foods while having fun at the same time,” Kwiatt said.

“When each child brings their chef hat home, they’ll be encouraged to cook with their parents and be a part of the process. It’s about making a child a part of their own food choices and leading them in a healthy and engaging way. Basically, we just want kids to have a little food fun.”

Junior League of Kane & DuPage Counties, Inc.

Junior League tackles issues for youth in need

Christie Willhite – Daily Herald
6 March 2013

The Junior League of Kane and DuPage Counties has a habit of starting projects members don’t intend to finish. More than a habit, really. A mission.

But rather than setting the league up for failure, the approach is the Junior League’s secret to success.

Over and over, league members look for needs in the communities of DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties and dream up ways to solve the problems. Over and over, they start new projects to meet the needs they’ve identified and oversee them for a while to make sure they’re effective.

Then the league turns over the successful endeavors to other organizations that will sustain the programs for the long run.

Several years ago, members wanted to help boost the self-esteem of high school girls from low-income families who couldn’t afford to go to prom. In 2005, they launched Cinderella’s Closet, allowing the girls to select donated dresses and accessories for free to enjoy prom with their classmates in style without the burdensome expense. In 2011, the Junior League turned the project over to the Elgin Junior Service Board.

In one of the Junior League’s current projects, Kids in the Kitchen, members seek to address childhood obesity through an annual event that focuses on preparing healthy meals and snacks and touches on fitness and other aspects of wellness.

From time to time, league members drop in on an existing volunteer effort for a day, providing needed volunteers who wrap presents for the Humanitarian Service Project’s Children’s Birthday Project or redecorate a room at the Mutual Ground Shelter to provide a study and break room for teens.

Members even see the league’s goal of promoting voluntarism and developing women’s leadership potential as merely the start to a lifetime of leadership and service. Members receive training through the league’s national organization that aims to help women master the skills needed to excel in service and in careers.

On Sunday, March 10, the league’s Spring Fling luncheon and market will raise money for its latest project, Story Wizards, which sends volunteers to shelters, transitional living facilities and preschools to read with children and help with activities meant to enhance literacy skills in children at risk.

League President Alissa Johnson Tripas tells us more about the organization.

Q. What is your organization’s mission?

A. The Junior League of Kane and DuPage Counties is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.


Q. How do you work toward accomplishing that goal?

A. Our current strategic plan allows us to focus on school-readiness and literacy. We do this through targeted relationships with area service agencies, public libraries, underserved schools and educational/literacy-based organizations utilizing our Story Wizards project.

Our Done in a Day projects enable us to help fill emergency needs through community partnerships and an effort that can be completed in a day’s time.

Our Kids in the Kitchen project offers us the opportunity to put our collective life skills to work using literacy and action to teach children about healthy foods and nutrition to combat childhood obesity.

We also are working to further enhance our State Public Affairs Committee presence in Illinois to enable us to make a greater impact.

Q. Who do you serve?

A. We serve at-risk youth in the four-county areas of DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will.

Q. When and why did your chapter start? How has it grown?

A. The organization was formed as a volunteer group for women in 1992 and affiliated as the 284th member of the Association of Junior Leagues International in 1995. As a Junior League, we began making a positive impact in our communities in DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties.

Today, JLKD’s growth has been marked not only by the number of members but the caliber of projects we have initiated (and turned back to) our community while remaining true to our mission to serve those most at-risk.


Q. What kind of successes have you had?

A. A recent success centered on a project we created from the ground up to serve young women who could not afford to attend the prom. We created the concept, developing deep relationships across all our communities to put gorgeous donated gowns in the hands of deserving teens to give them confidence, a sense of belonging and a positive memory of a milestone in their high school years.

Through that process we also were able to introduce this population to services they and their families needed. A true mark of the project’s success was that once we had the project firmly established, we were able to transition it back to the community, where it continues today.

An additional example of our successes lies in the varied community partnerships we have had over the years, which has increased our ability to serve those who need us most.

Q. What challenges does JLKD currently face?

A. We are always looking for new and innovative ways to serve at-risk youth in a way that delivers service and dignity, and to continually grow our membership base.

Q. What would surprise most people if they spent a week with the Junior League?

A. I think many would be in awe of the training and growth opportunities we, and the Association of Junior Leagues International, offer to our members. Helping our members further develop their skills as trained volunteers positively impacts the work we do in our community, not only as current Junior League members but as future community leaders. Many have referred to us as volunteers possessing “professional” volunteer capacity.

Q. How can readers get involved?

A. The best way to get readers involved would be to join us in serving our communities through membership in the Junior League of Kane and DuPage Counties, and by supporting our organization through direct donations and by attendance at our fundraising events. A visit to our website,, can provide additional details.

Junior League of Kane & DuPage Counties, Inc.

Good Cause: Junior League of Kane & DuPage Counties

Michelle Linn-Gust for The Sun
4 March 2013

Junior League. For many people, the name brings up images of women in the 1950s having lunch with white gloves on. And for others, it’s about the regional cookbooks the organization publishes as fundraisers. Still, few know much about what it does or that notable women, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Laura Bush and Sandra Day O’Connor, were members.

While the service organization is more than 100 years old, its existence as a chapter in DuPage County spans only 20 years. The chapter was organized to serve the needs of the western suburbs rather than the city, where the focus is often different because of the population variety.

For women in Naperville though, “the league,” as they call it, has been instrumental in their lives for multiple reasons.

“We are all about volunteerism,” said Alissa Johnson Tripas, president of the Junior League of Kane & DuPage Counties Inc. While the league works to help those in need, it also seeks to develop and promote women by giving them training in both skills and leadership.

“We send our trained volunteers into the community and make sure we’re serving those who need us,” she added.

Johnson Tripas, 44, grew up familiar with Junior League because her mother was a member in Wisconsin where they lived. Since her mother’s death, she sees her Junior League role as a way of honoring something that was important to her mother.

The league is involved in a variety of activities, although the current focus is on school readiness for at-risk children. Sometimes the organization takes on what it calls “emergency projects” where the circumstances are just right and the skills of the women are needed.

At the heart of the organization is giving women the opportunity to challenge themselves while learning new skills they can use in the community.

Jessica Salasek, 29, joined when she moved from Chicago to Naperville with her husband and wanted to meet other women but also do community work. The head of publicity and advertising for Quest Books in Wheaton learned invaluable leadership skills in her three short years as a league member.

“I work for a nonprofit publishing house, so I don’t have a team working under me,” she said. “This allowed me to cultivate and learn a skill set (of managing a team).”

For Natasha Bonomo, 43, she was looking to make social connections but also for networking opportunities. She didn’t expect the greater benefit.

“I learned a lot about myself in the process,” she said regarding the variety of activities she immersed herself at the league. The vice president of wealth management at Northern Trust didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a banker, although it was logical to find her on the finance committee.

When Bonomo ran a fundraiser, something she said didn’t see herself as having the skills to do, she realized that her organizational skills allowed her to make it happen. She also served as president of the organization.

Although she remains a league member, she has taken what she learned there to become a board member at the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and United Way.

“Not only do I have the business perspective,” she said, “but also the fundraising and nonprofit perspectives as well.”

The women acknowledge that the club allows them to change their involvement as their lives ebb and flow. Career women might be involved heavily until they have children and then back off until their children are older and they can contribute more. Members include women who are lawyers, doctors, engineers and stay-at-home moms. Single professional women might be looking for something different from the organization than the mothers with young families.

Salasek appreciated that she no longer had to drive into the city to meet with a group of women to eat dinner.

No matter what the reasons, the league is ultimately about giving back.

“It allows us to bring our skills to the table to help our community,” Johnson Tripas said.

Spring Fling 2013: Shopping for a Cause
7 January 2013

January 07, 2013, Naperville, Ill. — The Junior League of Kane & DuPage Counties, Inc. (JLKD) is excited to announce Spring Fling 2013: Shopping for a Cause, a fundraising event to benefit at-risk children and their families throughout DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will counties. The event will be held on Sunday, March 10 from 12 – 4 p.m. at the Hilton Lisle/Naperville.

Spring Fling will include a ladies’ luncheon, silent auction, spring market and raffles. The vendors represent a wide array of quality products and services, and the raffle prizes include a weekend getaway to one of three destinations, an iPad3 16G Wi-Fi and a Tory Burch handbag. Event tickets are $50 and raffle tickets are $25 each or three for $70. Ladies interested in attending can learn more and purchase tickets at

Important Details

Date: March 10, 2013

Time: Noon– 4pm


Regency Ballroom at the Hilton Lisle/Naperville

3003 Corporate West Drive

Lisle, IL 60532

Ticket Price: $50.00

RSVP Deadline: February 22


JLKD is a 501(c)(3) organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Now in its 18th year, members continue to serve at-risk children in DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will Counties in Illinois through signature literacy programs and projects, including Family Literacy Night, Story Wizards reading events, book donation drives and more. 100 percent of the proceeds raised at Spring Fling will go directly into these essential community programs.

“Our Spring Fling ladies’ luncheon and market fundraiser will enable us to raise the funds needed for our literacy and outreach programs that help at-risk children in the four county area, while providing an afternoon of shopping and socialization for our guests,” explains JLKD President Alissa Johnson Tripas.

Please visit to keep up to date on the latest sponsors and donations. If you are unable to attend the event but would like to contribute, please contact JLKD Fundraising Chairs at

If you would like to attend Spring Fling as a member of the media, or if you would like to set up an interview please contact JLKD Communications VP Jessica Salasek at