Spotlight on Sustainers


Sustainers at the 2015 Annual Dinner

As we continue on with the tradition of making an impact and empowering the future, Junior  League of Tucson recognizes our sustaining members who have contributed to the community and the League.


Our featured sustainer is Emily Kittle Morrison and here is a brief Q&A with her.

1. Are you a Tucson native? If not, where are you originally from and what brought you to Tucson?
I came ‘sitting on a phone book and talking the whole way’ – I’m told – as I was 3. We came (like many) for health reasons – my father had had Rheumatic Fever, it was 1945 … he died in 2005!

2. How did you get involved in the League?
My father was a member of Catalina Rotary, and later president, and last surviving Charter member – and my mother joined the JLT in 1948, and served as VP one year, attending convention in Lake Placide NY. They were both involved in the community – and PTA, and such. I thought that’s what people did ! As a teenager I was involved with things like the Milk Fund Drive, and Peanuts for Polio. I served as an officer in the Service Club while at Catalina High School (on Pima – I now sit on their CHS Foundation Board and am in their Hall of Fame).

3. What committees/board positions did you serve on?
I was a JLTucson provisional myself in 1966 – a courier brought an invitation to my door when I was in graduate school at the UofA. As a Provisional I wrote a paper in defense of why Arizona should offer kindergarten to ALL children (and it ultimately did). I spent my first actives years in the Denver League – as I moved there after I was married. I served on the Placement Committee (and again in Phoenix). In 1970 we settled in Phoenix and I served first on the Public Affairs Committee and helped orchestrate the first Earth Day Conference, to raise awareness among city and county officials and local business leaders. I was Chair of the Advisory Planning Committee – the year before the assignment was assumed as a responsibility of the Vice President. I edited the Bi-Centennial issue (1975-76) of the Pacesetter – which was the JLP news magazine, and carried all the reports of each committee chair. Then I was names Training Chair for the JLP. Each year I seemed to Chair something, and In 1980 i was appointed Regional Training Chair for AJL – and produced the Trainer Newsletter, as a part of that assignment (in addition to serving as the Liaison to all the Leagues in my area). I moved back to Tucson in time to ‘go Sustaining’ in 1982 – and served at sustaining Advisor to the Training Committee, helped coordinate more then one “On Board” community training events for local Board members, and facilitated the LTD (Leadership Training & Development) program for potential JLT leaders/Board members – who were each given a copy of my book, “Leadership Skills” (Harper Collins). This book was possible because of my League Training, and it opened doors to my decades of involvement as a National Leadership Development Trainer – taking me around the country doing Leadership Workshops for Non-profit agencies (for a handsome fee ! 🙂 ) – often including Board Orientations and other topics for Juniors Leagues in various cities, but mostly other agencies that depended on volunteers for their manpower.

4. You were integral in our 80th Anniversary celebration. What were your takeaways—fond memories?
I served on the 80th Committee, and proposed that we put out a ‘book’. I served as Editor (researching and writing the text), working closing with Carried Durham and Angela DiFuccia. I arranged for under-wrting to pay for it and dealt with Arizona Lithographers to have it printed in time to distribute at the 80th celebration. I loved every page of research, as it took me back to people and places of my own past – when my mother lived and breathed the Junior League of Tucson. I especially loved the ‘sharing’ by the “80i n the 80th”, and do so wish these comments had been video typed. There is no getting that back

5. What is your hope/vision for the League in the next 5 years?
While the world is changing, and the role of women requires much more of then that in “my day” (nearly 50 years ago) – I would hope the League in general, and the JLT specifically, will adapt and continue to serve an important role in the community. Had Rotary not admitted women I doubt that they would have survived. Had we not gone to ‘Open Enrollment’ we might not have either. While I acknowledge this, I would still like to see membership in the Junior League as a badge of honor – and one that carries with it privileges – but also real commitments and obligations. It troubles me that it has become a bit of a ‘stepping stone’ (to connections, as an item on a resume, as a means to ‘Angel ‘membership, etc.). Those of us who joined decades ago – felt we were making a life long commitment. We expected to stay active until we were 40 (that meant SIXTEEN years for me), and to hope for Training, which we could then use in positions of leadership in the community … and that’s just what most of the women did. We immediately joined the Sustainers group, where ever we were. We developed friendships with incredible women – many of whom had transferred from other Leagues … and we offered to help as advisors to Active committees. I would hope that regular “Needs Assessments” would be conducted, so as to know what direction current Actives might want to take, and that we are listening to the obstacles that might impinge on the availability of members to dependably commit to JLT projects. However, I also feel very strongly that potential New Recruits must clearly understand – before joining – what is expected of them, as well as what they can ‘get’ from affiliation. And, I wish they were inspired to consider it ‘their family’ (as we once did) – and that they’d approach it as a life long commitment, not just a little something to do ‘for now’.