Richmond Free Press: Spotlight on president of Richmond Chapter of Jack and Jill of America

11/12/2020, 6 p.m.

     Chris L. Booker-Carlisle assumed the role of president of the Richmond Chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc. in May 2019, taking on a new position in an organization she’d been a part of for 19 years.
One year later and halfway through her term, she’s leading the nonprofit through new challenges and initiatives during its 70th year of operation. And to hear her tell it, there’s nowhere she’d rather be.
     “I love the wonderful women in our organization. The mothers in our chapter are all hard-working and accomplished women,” says Mrs. Booker-Carlisle.
     She balances presidential duties, such as coordination with other chapters, monthly meetings and mentorship activities, while serving on the organization’s Regional Membership Committee and the National Strategic Planning Committee as the representative for the Mid-Atlantic Region.
     Started in 1938 in Philadelphia by Marion Stubbs Thomas, Jack and Jill of America is dedicated to its founding mission of providing educational, cultural, civic, health, recreational and social programs for African-American youngsters ages 2 to 19.
     The Richmond Chapter of Jack and Jill, started in 1950 by 14 mothers, has 67 mother members who plan activities for their combined more than 150 teens and children. The activities are centered around leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving and civic duty, Ms. Booker-Carlisle says.
     Their efforts, like the efforts of other groups, have hit stumbling blocks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While members have been able to hold virtual programs and a few outdoor, in-person activities, in-person gatherings have been reduced. This has forced the organization to seek alternative methods to continue its work, particularly during this election year, when the focus was placed largely on voting. The chapter participated in a national campaign to register voters.
     Even during the pandemic, Mrs. Booker-Carlisle says, “we are continuing to work with our children and educate them on the importance of giving back to their community, philanthropic giving and civic duty.”
     In recognition of its 70th anniversary, the Richmond chapter is hosting a virtual fundraising campaign, “70 Days of Giving for 7 Richmond Area Nonprofits.” The campaign aims to raise $70,000 through Dec. 19 to benefit ART 180, NVA STEM, SwimRVA, Hands on Greater Richmond, The Hilliard House, the Northside Family YMCA and Happily Natural, all organizations that provide services and opportunities to young people around the Metro Area.
     These kinds of efforts seem to be a priority for Mrs. Booker-Carlisle, whose membership in Jack and Jill is set to end in the next few years when her youngest child, now 14, ages out of membership.
Mrs. Booker-Carlisle plans to stay with the organization as an associate member, but for now, she’s looking to leave a lasting impact with her tenure as the 36th president.
     “I have 3 1⁄2 years remaining in the chapter and would like to be an inspiration to our new mothers like many were for me,” Mrs. Booker-Carlisle says.

Meet a planner dedicated to nurturing future leaders and this week’s Personality, Chris L. Booker-Carlisle:
Occupation: Assistant director of admissions for the middle school, St. Catherine’s School.
No. 1 volunteer position: 36th president of the Richmond Chapter of Jack and Jill of America.
Date and place of birth: August 23 in Richmond.
Current residence: Richmond’s Sherwood Park. Education: St. Gertrude and Marshall-Walker High Schools; James Madison University, Virginia Commonwealth University and George Washington University.
Family: Husband of 22 years, Dante A. Carlisle; daughter, Eryn, 21; son, Christopher, 14; and bonus daughters, Bria and Brittany, 27.
Jack and Jill of America is: A membership organization of mothers with children ages 2 to 19, dedicated to nurturing future leaders by supporting children through leadership development, volunteer service, philanthropic giving and civic duty. Jack and Jill aims to prepare its members for a valuable adulthood by ingraining leadership qualities.
Brief profile of members: We seek mothers who are family oriented, generous with their time and talents and honest in character. More importantly, our mothers are women with a desire to improve the lives of African-American children and our community.
Number of members nationally and locally: Nationally, Jack and Jill has approximately 12,000 members, more than 40,000 family members, making up 252 chapters. Locally there are 160 mothers, making up three chapters – Richmond, Midlothian and James River. The Richmond Chapter has 67 members.
What members do: Mother members plan grade-group activities for children, participate in community service and fundraising activities and attend regional and national conferences,
How does one become a member: Prospective members must be sponsored by a current member in good standing of the chapter in which they are seeking membership. We encourage interested mothers to make contact with Jack and Jill members in their local communities to learn about specific membership guidelines and procedures.
How COVID19 is affecting mission: My theme for the year is “Sailing through Uncharted Waters ~ Connecting, Serving and Leading.” Unfortunately, we are unable to get together in person as much as we have in the past. We have been able to continue programming through virtual means and a few outdoor, in-person activities. We have enjoyed working in our community and inviting the public to our fundraising and community events. However, due to COVID-19, only Jack and Jill members are allowed to attend our in-person events. We are continuing to work with our children and educate them on the importance of giving back to their community, philanthropic giving and civic duty. We sponsored an event with Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax and partnered with The Richmond Links Inc. to offer two different Zoom sessions on the importance of every vote.
No. 1 goal or project as president: As a chapter, we just embarked on our first virtual fundraising campaign, “70 Days of Giving for 7 Richmond Area Nonprofits.” The nonprofits are: ART 180, NVA STEM, SwimRVA, Hands on Greater Richmond, The Hilliard House, Northside Family YMCA and Happily Natural. In honor of the vision of the 14 phenomenal visionaries who chartered the Richmond Chapter 70 years ago, we have a goal to raise $70,000.
Strategy for achieving goal: During the next 70 days, we will raise funds for seven worthy nonprofits in the Richmond area and the Jack and Jill of America Foundation. We are sharing our history and information about the area nonprofits, as well as the Jack and Jill Foundation, through social media, news outlets, target mailing and word of mouth.
How the community can contribute: Community members can contribute by mailing donations to: Richmond Chapter, Jack and Jill of America Inc., P.O. Box 28197, Henrico, VA 23228, or by going to our website to donate, www.richmondjackandjill.org.
How I start the day: To help start my day, I listen to “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers every day on the way to work.
Three words that best describe me: Kind, energetic, purposeful.
Best late-night snack: A rainbow sherbet freeze.
How I unwind: A night out with my husband.
Something I love to do that most people would never imagine: Watch period movies.
A quote that I am most inspired by: “To whom much is given much is required.” — Luke 12:48
At the top of my “to-do” list is: Travel.
Best thing my parents ever taught me: Always keep family first.
Person who influenced me the most: My parents, William and Lynda Booker.
Book that influenced me the most: “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee” by Wendy Mogel.
What I’m reading now: “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson.
Next goal: Pursue other opportunities to share my talents with my community.
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