Member Spotlight

Laura Harrison
2021-2022 Executive Secretary

Where did you grow up?

I have lived in Topeka for 24 years now.  I moved here from Acworth, GA, when I was 13 years old because of my dad’s job in the shoe business. 

What do you do for a living?

I am currently a sixth grade teacher at Auburn Elementary.

How long have you been involved with the Junior League?

This is my 3rd year in league!

Why did you join the Junior League?

One thing that I love about League is the opportunity I have been given to learn more about my city and how I can help. 

What positions or roles have you held in League?

My first year active I was a member on the Funding Council and now in my second year I serve on the board as Executive Secretary. I participated in LBDI when I was on the Funding Council and was blown away by the stories people shared with me about their struggles with food insecurity.  

What do you love most about League and what keeps you coming back year-after-year?

One thing that I love about League is the opportunity I have been given to learn more about my city and how I can help. 


What advice would you give to someone wanting to join the Junior League of Topeka?

It will be the best decision you make. You create lasting friendships, you learn about organizations in Topeka, and you learn how to be a leader in the community. 

What are you involved in outside of the League?

Outside of League I am active in my church, part of the Leadership Team at my school, and spend any other free night playing chauffeur for my four children and all their activities.   

Tell us something else about you?

I love to read books! 

Member Spotlight

Amber Carlson
2021-2022 President-Elect

Where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Topeka, and after leaving at 18, didn’t ever plan to return. However, life has a way of bringing everything full circle, and 18 years later we returned to be closer to family. Putting effort into the community that we raise our family in, has been a keystone in this journey.

What do you do for a living?

I am the Vice President of Operations for a company that specializes in providing specialty physician services to underserved communities. Though the bulk of my career was spent in advertising sales management and publishing.

How long have you been involved with the Junior League?

I am proud to be in my seventh year as an active member of the Junior League.

Why did you join the Junior League?

Truthfully, at that time, I joined League to get my identity back. After years of working outside the home, I found myself lost in the daily life of motherhood. I needed an outlet for my entrepreneurial energy, and I found my niche in the League. 

What positions or roles have you held in League?

I helped to formulate the plans for, and helped to launch our semi-annual magazine, Capital Impact, and served as the Editor of the Inaugural edition. I then briefly served as VP of Communications, a Member-at-Large, Recognitions and Obligations Coordinator on the Leadership Council, VP of Funding Development, and now I am honored to be President-Elect. 

What do you love most about League and what keeps you coming back year-after-year?

Being part of an organization that works for the betterment of our community is such an honor. Having a hand in facilitating change, and working hand in hand with like-minded women, has been such an empowering experience. The friendships that I have made in League through this shared journey are incredible.  


What advice would you give to someone wanting to join the Junior League of Topeka?

I would advise her to jump in with both feet! As with everything else in life, you will get out of League what you put into League. Become enthusiastically involved, create your space in the League, and prepare to grow in ways you didn’t foresee. 

What are you involved in outside of the League?

I have homeschooled four of our six children for the last seven years. 

Tell us something else about you?

My husband, Kris, and I have a big family! In addition to our six children, we have one son-in-law, and a toddler grandson. Our house is always filled with lots of noise, copious amounts of chaos, and thankfully, love. 

Capital Impact Leadership Summit

The Junior League of Topeka is pleased to announce Lauren Dreher as our keynote speaker for the 2022 Capital Impact Leadership Summit.

Lauren is a mindset speaker and the author of Go With Your Gut: Then Keep Going. She grew up with facial scars and after a childhood of subconscious negative self talk found herself in her mid twenties with low confidence, self esteem and needing direction. Her dream was to help people get past their outer image and build inner confidence. She discovered how important your mindset is. She loves to help people shift perspective and learn to manage their mindset. After all, our mindset is our choice.

Are you an educator or student in Topeka and surrounding counties?

Kansas’ Rich Civil Rights History

Written by Lacey Bisnett

Kansas has a rich history in the fight for civil rights. One of the most well known cases of this was Brown V Board of Education. This case was initiated by members of the local NAACP chapter in Topeka, Kansas. Thirteen parents volunteered to participate.

Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site 02
Photo curtesy of JoLynne Martinez.

In the summer of 1950, they took their children to schools in their neighborhoods and attempted to enroll them for the upcoming school year. All were refused admission. The children were forced to attend one of the four schools in the city for African Americans. For most, this involved traveling some distance from their homes. These parents filed suit against the Topeka Board of Education on behalf of their twenty children. Oliver Brown, a minister, was the first parent listed in the suit, so the case came to be named after him. Three local lawyers, Charles Bledsoe, Charles Scott and John Scott, were assisted by Robert Carter and Jack Greenberg of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

The case was filed in February 1951. The U.S. District Court ruled against the plaintiffs, but placed in the record its acceptance of the psychological evidence that African American children were adversely affected by segregation. These findings later were quoted by the U.S. Supreme Court in its 1954 opinion.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

Galentine’s Day Social

Join members of the Junior League of Topeka on Saturday, February 19 from 10 a.m. – noon at Ash Boutique, 921 S. Kansas in Topeka. Socialize, shop and learn about the Junior League! Brunch hors d’ouvres will be available along with mimosas (for 21 and over only). In coordination, Junior League members will be collecting gently worn professional women’s clothing for the Center for Safety & Empowerment.

Do You Know the Red Flags?

Would you know if someone right in front of you was trapped in a trafficking situation? Know the signs.

Call for Nominations: 2022 Community Volunteer Award

The Community Volunteer Award is awarded annually to outstanding volunteers in our community. Award Winners are given the opportunity to designate a donation to their charity of choice from of the Junior League of Topeka in their name. These individuals have given selflessly of their time, hard work, and acts of kindness to our community and deserve to be recognized. 

Any new, active, or sustaining member of the Junior League of Topeka may submit a candidate.

WHO WILL YOU NOMINATE? 

Online Safety Helps Prevent Human Trafficking

Technology is one tool Traffickers use to target and groom victims of human trafficking. But teaching our kids safe Internet practices in an age appropriate way can be challenging and overwhelming. That’s where Into the Cloud™ can help! Into the Cloud™ is The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s online safety program geared toward children ages 10 and under. 

This online, animated show, uses information and data from CyberTipline reports, and focuses the content of each episode on a different topic related to online safety, “from strategies for handling cyberbullying to recognizing and reporting unsafe/inappropriate interactions and content.”  

In addition to the animated series you can find talking points and questions to guide conversations with the kids in your life. There are also resources for educators to help with consistent information on a more widespread level. So if you work with kids, take some time to check out the show together! 

January is National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month in the United States (previously referred to as National Human Trafficking Awareness Month). The Defense Department defines human trafficking as a crime in which force, fraud or coercion is used to compel a person to perform labor, services or commercial sex. In 2019, Polaris, who runs the National Human Trafficking Hotline, identified 22,326 victims and survivors along with 4,384 traffickers in the US.

Lit Leaguer’s in Action

Active and Sustaining members of the Junior League of Topeka come together once a month for Lit League – the Junior League of Topeka Book Club. November’s pick: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Books coming up:

January: These Tangled Vines by Julianne Maclean
February: Pure Will by Kriti Pelton
March: The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones
April: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown by Heather B Moore