NYJL’s Advocates for Public Policy Working for Change

The New York Junior League is a powerful force for the betterment of women and children in New York. In recent years, the determined efforts of our Advocates for Public Policy (APP) committee have spurred legislative change related to human trafficking, paid family leave, the ban on salary history, and more. So we’re celebrating Women’s History Month by highlighting the amazing work of these women who have driven change in our community.

  • In 2008, APP successfully advocated for the provision of funding for domestic violence shelter services for victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. Governor Spitzer signed the legislation into law in September that year.
  • For over a decade, APP worked to bring human trafficking to the forefront of the legislative agenda, urging the New York State Assembly and Senate to enact a strong, comprehensive state law that recognizes human trafficking as a crime, punishes traffickers and establishes services for victims. APP continued its work through advocacy for the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA), a bill recently signed by Governor Cuomo, along with 7 other bills in the Women’s Equality Act.
  • In 2015, APP traveled to the state capital to meet with Senators to advocate for the Paid Family Leave Act. Shortly thereafter, Governor Cuomo included a Paid Family Leave Program in his 2016 budget.
  • In 2017, the committee successfully advocated for the passage of an NYC bill that prevents employers from seeking salary history from their applicants.

While this month is about women’s history, we’re also excited about continued impact in the future. In 2019, APP will once again be traveling to Albany to meet with state representatives. The committee is now focusing its efforts on the Separated Children Accountability Response Act, also called the SCAR Act, demanding more transparency in the reporting of unaccompanied alien children.

The Advocates for Public Policy committee invites all NYJL volunteers to learn more about how to participate in our advocacy efforts. To learn more or to join us in Albany in May, contact advocates@nyjl.org.

Advocacy for Women and Children

The New York Junior League champions policies that support women and children and works to hold local and state government accountable to the women, children and families it serves.

For more than a century, the NYJL has been on the forefront of some of the city’s most defining moments: civil rights movements, political reforms, cultural evolution, technological transformation, and the ongoing crusade to realize equity in health care, education, economic stability, and political voice. 

The NYJL began its work in New York City’s settlement houses, addressing the health, education, and social welfare needs of immigrant families living on the Lower East Side. As an early supporter of women who sought professions outside the home, the NYJL operated a hotel for single, working women during the early twentieth century and launched a childcare program in the 1930s. From 1970 to 1990, the NYJL focused on advocacy efforts from children’s rights to education, job discrimination, medical insurance coverage, domestic violence, the Equal Rights Amendment, and reproductive health. And as a longstanding advocate for survivors of domestic violence, the NYJL has supported policies that protect survivors of violence, such as the Clinic Access and Anti-Stalking Act, which became law in 1999.

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Recent Advocacy Achievements 

  • 2005: NYJL advocated for the Sex Offender Registration Act, or “Megan’s Law,” creating a state-wide registry for convicted or formerly incarcerated sex offenders when it was signed into law in 2006. 
  • 2006: The NYJL convened a forum of service providers, legislators, and government agencies to spark dialogue about the complicated policy issues surrounding foster care. The NYJL went on to advocate for the reduction of cases assigned to caseworkers and the provision of Medicaid to youth aging out of the foster system. 
  • 2007: In partnership with the National Organization of Women (NOW) NYC, the NYJL advocated for New York State’s first comprehensive anti-human trafficking legislation.
  • 2008: The NYJL successfully advocated for New York State funding for shelters protecting survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking. 
  • 2010: Alongside the Women in Prison Project, the NYJL began advocating for the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act (DVSJA) to grant judges discretion when issuing sentences to survivors of violence who are convicted of crimes related to their abuse. Under this law, judges may order lesser sentences or send survivors to community-based programs instead of prison. Governor Cuomo signed this bill into law in May 2019.
  • 2012 to 2015: The NYJL called for the passage of the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA) to place greater accountability on traffickers and purchasers and to defend survivors of trafficking from prosecution for sex work. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the TVPJA into law, along with seven other bills in the Women’s Equality Act, in late 2015. 
  • 2015: NYJL met with state senators, urging them to pass the Paid Family Leave Act. This legislation took effect in January 2019.
  • 2017: The NYJL advocated for a bill preventing employers from asking for applicants’ salary histories, a practice that exacerbates the wage gap between white men and people of color, especially women. In 2019, the bill became law in New York State.
  • 2018 and 2019: NYJL actively advocated for the passage of the Separation of Children Accountability Reporting (SCAR) Act. While this legislation passed the State Senate in May 2019, as of November 2019,  the legislation is still under consideration and awaits passage by the full Assembly.  

Be a Voice for your Community • Community Boards

  • Applying to your local Community Board is a great way to become more civically engaged and advocate for needed changes in your community! See below for more information about Community Boards by borough.
  • Bronx Learn More
  • Brooklyn Learn More
  • Manhattan Learn More
  • Queens Learn More
  • Staten Island Learn More

Education Councils

  • The Community and Citywide Education Councils give parents a powerful voice in shaping the policies and priorities for New York City schools. From advising the Chancellor to working directly with the district superintendent and reviewing district educational programs and needs, the 32 Community Education Councils and 4 Citywide Education Councils play a major role in education policy and help make our public schools the best they can be.
  • Community and Citywide Education Councils are elected every two years.
  • Learn More

Congratulations to the NYJL’s 2019 Outstanding Sustainers and Volunteers!

Please join the New York Junior League in congratulating our 2019 Outstanding Sustainers and Outstanding Volunteers! Toast to this year’s honorees and hear stories about them from their friends and family during the upcoming Outstanding Sustainer and Outstanding Volunteer Announcement Party, taking place on Friday, November 16, 2018 at the Astor House.

Our Outstanding Volunteers for 2019 are Beth Batiuchok-Colon, Shelby Spears Carroll, Dayna Cassidy, Leighanna Morbey and Allison Davis O’Keefe. Our Outstanding Sustainers are Robin Stratton Rivera and Dee Dee Scarborough. The awards represent the highest honor that a NYJL active or sustainer can receive. 

Join us at this year’s Announcement Party to make the evening an extra special event for this year’s honorees. All members, friends, and family are invited to attend.

Congratulations again to these extraordinary women who will be honored on February 23, 2019 during the 67th Annual Winter Ball at Pier Sixty.

Celebrating the Newest NYJL Volunteers

The New York Junior League recently honored the latest class of provisionals for completing their requirements at the Spring Provisional Graduation. The ambitious and generous 196 women who make up the Spring 2018 provisional class, represent one of the largest provisional classes in NYJL history.  President, Suzanne Manning, congratulated the women and welcomed them as incoming Active Members of the NYJL.

The 2018 Provisionals on the Move, honored for their character, leadership, volunteerism, and other qualities that will make them a successful active Junior League member, are: Alexandra Carmel, Brittany Dotson, Cait Gillespie, Christina Mangels, Delainey Farris, Devin Brooks, Lauren Cook, Lee Fabiaschi, Natalie Rodriguez, Regan Purcell, Samantha David.

Jennifer Barnes acknowledged that she enjoyed learning about the NYJL mission and volunteering with the Playground Improvement Project during her Provisional training. Caley Taylor and Sabrina Fruci bonded during the neighborhood assignment project and are also both excited to volunteer more during their NYJL careers.

Meshal Rao served as social chair of her provisional group, planning happy hours and other events with her fellow Provisionals, and is excited to continue to meet other members in the upcoming Junior League year. Veronica Rogala was also drawn to the NYJL for the opportunity to socialize with like-minded women, and counted the Provisional Graduation as one of the most exciting moments of the Provisional semester.

The New York Junior League is thrilled to have these new members become Active Members, and encourages other interested women to attend an upcoming orientation to learn more about the NYJL.


From left to right: Devin Brooks, Kristen Morea, Suzanne Manning

NYJL Sustaining Member Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney awarded AJLI Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award

Congratulations Congresswoman Maloney!

We are proud to share that the 2018 Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award recipient is one of our own! NYJL Sustaining member Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney made her name as a community leader in our own backyard—New York City. Congresswoman Maloney has used her experiences in both public service and the Junior League as a launching pad for policies that have helped support so many women leaders of tomorrow.

Congresswoman Maloney joined the NYJL in 1975, and in the words of President Suzanne Manning, “…is a terrific example of someone who started at the NYJL as a volunteer and really took it to the next level and the level after that.” Carolyn embraces our mission and develops bills that support women because when women succeed in the world there’s less violence, less terrorism, and more focus on education and healthcare.

Carolyn Maloney receives AJLI Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award • New York Junior League

Congresswoman Maloney was honored at this year’s AJLI Annual Conference for her dedication to serving the public and identifying and addressing the challenges women face in within their communities and nationwide. Through her work in Congress and in the Junior League, Congresswoman Maloney has helped, supported, and encouraged women and inspired them to become leaders themselves.

It’s never too late get involved

When Congresswoman Maloney was younger she admits that she didn’t have dreams to serve in government. “I never had a plan to go to Congress or even to go into public service. When I talk to my male colleagues they say ‘Well when I was two I knew I would go to Congress’ and ‘I’m going to be President.’ They always had these huge aspirations, but sometimes women don’t—until recently—have the same aspirations.” Maloney believes it’s never too late to get involved, and the support of the Junior League can help women develop the leadership skills they need to improve their communities.

Carolyn Maloney receives AJLI Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award • New York Junior League

“I feel that Mary Harriman and I worked on a lot of the same issues….The League has always been an important part of my work in Congress. I can’t tell you how much support means when you’re trying to get something done and everyone’s saying no, no, no. And then you can lean back and think ‘Well I’ve got the Junior League supporting it. I’m not alone!’ It’s an outstanding organization and I’m very proud to be a member of it.”

The Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award

In recognition of the vision of the founder of The Junior League, the AJLI Board of Directors established the Mary Harriman Community Leadership Award. This award honors and acknowledges an individual Junior League member whose volunteer efforts provide a contemporary link to Mary Harriman’s sense of social responsibility and her ability to motivate others to share their talents through effective volunteer service. Since 1990 when the award was established, it has been given to Junior League members whose leadership exemplifies our mission, vision, and values.

If you’ve ever wanted to use your voice to advocate for others, we invite you to learn more about the NYJL and our advocacy work. We build community leaders, and we support women who want to serve in public office.