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  • Writer's pictureLisa Lazard

Black leaders pave the way for others in Junior League of Lafayette

During the month of February, Junior League of Lafayette celebrates Black History Month. Black History Month was originally introduced in 1915, but in 1976 it became a federally recognized observance. In a proclamation, President Gerald Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

As Junior League of Lafayette commemorates this month, we want to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the first African American President of our League, Angela Morrison, our current President-Elect, Ayesha Martin, and Adoria Hankton, the League’s first African American Executive Vice President.

Their journeys in Junior League and their successes are extraordinary, and they have defied the odds and paved the way for others. We honor and celebrate their leadership and applaud their achievements in the League.

Angela Morrison during her year as League President from 2005-2006.

Opening a Door 

Morrison, who served as League President in 2005-2006, was humbled that so many of her fellow Members nominated her for the position.  

“I initially questioned, ‘Why me?’” she said.  “Living in that imposter syndrome mode, that maybe I wasn't good enough for the seat, not about my color, but it was such an important seat, and I so admired those that had sat before me, that I wanted to be confident that I was ready.”   

After a pep talk from Mary Michael Butcher and Charlotte Cryer, Nominating and Placement Chairs, Morrison accepted the nomination. Then, after the actual ratification of the slate by membership, it became real, she said. 

“Then it also became real that I would be opening a door to more possibilities for our League and for our community serving as president as a Black woman,” Morrison said.  

But she wondered — would others question her ability, just like she questioned herself?  

“Being the first Black woman to serve in this role brought additional attention to my being placed,” she said. “Honestly, the traditions that were practiced by Junior League of Lafayette had me questioning how these would be conducted with me, a Black woman, being at the center." 

She leaned on other leaders who helped her achieve her goals, including the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. She credits these friends – and many others – for lifting her up. 

“Sustainers were most gracious and having Deborah Terribile-Stewart, Margaret Trahan (my sponsors), Lise Anne Slatten (my sustaining advisor), and Nedra Andrus (hosting the Past Presidents' social that welcomed me to the fold) opening their circles to me, I will forever be grateful,” she said. 

Adoria Hankton (in pink) with the 2023-2024 Management Team.

Great Responsibility 

Morrison said once she moved forward with the confidence others had placed in her, she had a wonderful presidential year. 

“I began to realize the possibilities for not just me, but for our League and other women that may have considered leadership were but unsure of whether they belonged,” she said. 

Adoria Hankton credits Morrison with inspiring her to be a servant leader.  

“Witnessing her dedication, resilience, and commitment to fostering inclusivity has motivated me to strive for excellence in my own role,” Hankton said. “Angela's trailblazing efforts have left an indelible mark in our League and community, inspiring me to contribute meaningfully and work toward creating positive change.” 

Hankton, the League’s first Black Executive Vice President, says the role is a significant honor – but also a big responsibility. The EVP puts in countless hours running the day-to-day operations of the League. It’s not an easy job. 

“I've been a firm believer in, ‘to whom much is given, much will be required’ (Luke 12:48). When I was chosen by my peers, I felt like they believed in me and trusted me enough to do the hard work that is required in this role. I felt it was my duty to use the talents and gifts that God blessed me with to further our Mission,” she said.  

“As the first African American EVP, it has been an honor to have the opportunity to contribute to the growth and success of our League and to lead alongside women committed to making a meaningful difference in our community.”  

And for Morrison, there were plenty of challenges in her presidential year – including a record-breaking hurricane season that threatened the League’s financial future.  

"My year will always be remembered for the impact Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had on our annual activities. First, not having our signature fundraiser, Tinsel and Treasures, caused us to pause our community grants,” Morrison said.  

“Then, we had just invested in our new headquarters, and my goal was to ensure we were able to meet our operation commitments while planning for future years. This caused us to pivot, and our brand-new cookbook "Something to Talk About" became our primary fundraiser, asking our members to support sales.” 

Despite the challenges of her League year, Morrison will always believe serving as President of Junior League of Lafayette was a privilege.   

"Being a Black woman in that position brought additional opportunities for our League to impact in a larger way,” she said. “Long before DEIB became a named strategy to ensure we attract, engage, and retain Members who will ensure our ability to serve and train future women leaders, Junior League leaders understood how important it was to become inclusive.” 

Ayesha Martin (left) and Angela Morrison (right) at a Junior League of Lafayette General Membership Meeting.

A Legacy of Leaders 

As Black history continues to be made, some 19 years later, another African American woman will lead the League as President in 2024-2025 – Ayesha Martin.   

Martin's passion is to serve and leave a lasting impact on our community – that's why she joined the League. Early in her League career, she began focusing on becoming a servant leader. 

“As a woman of color in Junior League, my primary focus is always to lead with integrity,” she said. “I have been able to maintain my primary focus of serving my community while sharing the same purpose regardless of the setting, building relationships both within the League and in the community across demographics.”  

Martin’s experience has allowed her to be an inspirational leader who motivates and encourages. 

"I want others to accomplish their goals while inspiring and empowering them to be successful leaders,” she said. “In doing so, I’ve developed teams of committed, engaged, and highly driven individuals.” 

Grateful for her time as an Active, Morrison said the League opened doors for her both professionally and personally. 

"To have been the right person at the time to be the first Black president is a humbling honor, and my prayer is that those who come behind me do more,” Morrison said.  

"To quote others, ‘leave it better than you found it.’" 


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