JLD Blog: Christa Sanford on JLD’s 100-Year Legacy

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Christa Sanford, President of the Junior League of Dallas sat down with Emmy Award-winning reporter and CEO of Real News PR, Jeff Crilley, to discuss the League’s Centennial year, its 100-year legacy and its future as a leader in Dallas voluntarism.


It started in 1922 with 40 women who wanted to change the community. Today, the Junior League of Dallas is 4,500 members strong and celebrating its 100th year of service. The major milestone brings with it the chance to look back at how the League has grown over the years and to look forward at how it will continue serving the community for many more to come.

A Legacy of Leadership

The League’s force of volunteers has given over nine million volunteer hours since 1922. In exchange, its members receive valuable leadership experience and training throughout their service. Among its ranks of Sustaining members are former First Lady Laura Bush and community leader Ruth Sharp Altshuler. “The mission of our organization is to train and develop the next generation of women leaders and change-makers in Dallas,” JLD President Christa Sanford said. “We’re pouring into women that then go out and change the Dallas community.” 

Those changes include furthering diversity and inclusion in the community and within the League. This year’s board is the most racially diverse in the JLD’s history. “We’re making sure our League is representative and reflective of the community we serve,” said Sanford, who is also the League’s first Black president. 

Devotion to Dallas

The League’s first community partner was Scottish Rite Hospital. It now boasts 38 partnering community agencies supporting six key Issues Areas: health, education, family preservation, arts and cultural enrichment, poverty intervention and violence intervention. The League also supports local nonprofit agencies through its Signature and Centennial Projects. 

For its Centennial Project, the League is rehabilitating the Juanita J. Craft House in a partnership with the Dallas Office of Arts & Culture, Fair Park and Friends of Juanita J. Craft House. The former home of the civil rights activist was significantly damaged when a pipe burst. 

Craft, who served on the Dallas City Council and played a crucial role in integrating the State Fair of Texas, was featured at the Junior League’s Centennial exhibit at the Hall of State during this year’s fair. Considering all Ms. Craft has done for the community, Sanford said it was important to the League to honor her and share her story. Together, the partners have raised nearly $1.4 million toward the rehabilitation project and hope to complete the work by summer 2022.

The Next 100 Years

The Junior League of Dallas is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Formerly a membership-by-invitation organization, the League has evolved to open membership to all women. “Anyone who wants to serve Dallas, who wants to grow in their leadership ability or who wants to develop, we would love to have them join us,” Sanford said. 

Active members give 60 volunteer hours every year in the Issue area of their choosing or in supporting the League’s internal operations in an In-League placement. JLD holds information sessions for new members each fall. Anyone without a sponsor will be matched with current members from the sponsor pool.

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Kathryn Bazan
Story Developer, Public Relations Committee 2021-2022