Our History

Internationally, the Junior League has almost 300 Leagues in four countries with more than 155,000 members. Eleanor Roosevelt played an important role as a member in the early years. Many other well known community leaders have been members of the Junior League over the years including former First Ladies Laura Bush and Betty Ford, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Shirley Temple-Black, and Katherine Hepburn.

The Junior League of Madison (JLM) began in the spring of 1988. Mary Pat Berry, a Junior League member from Milwaukee who had relocated to the Madison area, took the initiative to establish a Junior League in Madison. The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. (AJLI) had provided a list of non-resident active members from other cities who were living in the area. By August of that year, eleven women, most with former Junior League experience and all with a vision, formed the first JLM steering committee.

The new organization became known and was incorporated as the Junior Service League of Greater Madison (JSLGM). The first membership meeting was held in October 19, 1988 at the Governor’s Mansion.

Sixty new members were in attendance. The first speakers included a panel of civic leaders: Chamber of Commerce President, Robert Brennan; Dane County Executive, Rick Phelps; and David Mollenhoff, Downtown Madison, Inc. They welcomed the League into a long range partnership to work for the future of Madison.

In 1992, the JSLGM began the formal application process to become an official Junior League by completing and submitting a detailed application to AJLI.

Finally, on July 1, 1993, the Junior Service League of Greater Madison was voted into the Association of Junior Leagues International, becoming the 283rd League.