Member Success Stories: Sabrina Lowell

Member Success Stories: Sabrina Lowell

I joined the Junior League of San Francisco (JLSF) in 2004-2005, the year Judy Jorgensen was  JLSF President. I remember looking up to her after hearing her talk about her vision from the front of the room at the year’s first general meeting. It was inspiring.

Being in finance, I applied to serve on the finance committee in my first active year. I was quite dismayed to learn, instead, I was placed on Fashion Show committee. I knew nothing about fashion and frankly, it wasn’t an area of interest for me.


However, what I came to learn from my experience on that committee was life-changing.

  • I’d never had to ask for donations before and, I knew nothing about fundraising. Catherine Markwell Hutton was at the helm of the show that year and she welcomed us with an in-depth training on how to actually make a fundraising ask: How to identify donors, how to perfect a pitch, and how to make a specific ask. For those of you who’ve done fundraising, you know you hear a lot of “nos” before you get a “yes.” But it’s the “yes”es that keep you coming back. I stayed on the Fashion Show committee for five years, which ultimately led me to a board position as the Fundraising Council Director. I later leveraged my Board experience with Junior League to go onto the Board of the NorCal Financial Planning Association. A few years later, when they wanted to host their first fundraising event, I rolled up my sleeves, put on my Junior League hat and helped them develop a strategic road map for putting on a large scale event, identifying donors, perfecting our pitch and making the specific ask. In one afternoon, we raised more than $500K to support pro bono financial planning for the working poor.


  • The second lesson I learned was when I chaired Provisional Education – known as the first-year experience for those joining Junior League – when I learned how to engage and motivate a group of volunteers. This skill directly translated to my own personal career development. If you learn the secret of motivating a group of volunteers, you’re much better positioned to engage, motivate and lead a group of employees. Through my JLSF experience managing nearly 300 women on the Provisional Education committee, I was better positioned when I stepped into the role of COO at my firm. I could understand how to meet employees where they are, how to have conversations with employees one-on-one about their areas of interest. I was also aware of what a difference it makes to acknowledge and appreciate people along the way. The experience through Junior League truly underscored the notion that it really does take a team, you can’t evoke transformation on your own. Functioning engaged teams when working together – either volunteering or in the for-profit space – can change the world.


  • And finally, JLSF taught me what it truly looks like to lean in and support other women. Last year, I chaired the JLSF Nominating Committee,  which is responsible for placing more than 100 women each year into Leadership roles. What I learned in this experience was how important it is to we encourage and support one another in our growth and development. I believe men are great at raising their hand for various leadership roles and opportunities. But this skill doesn’t necessarily come as naturally to women. And as women, we are often taught not to raise our hand; it’s not polite. Through the Nominating process, it was inspiring to see women recommending other women for Leadership roles, encouraging one another to step up and get involved. I learned that sometimes all it takes is for someone to tap you on the shoulder and say, “Hey, I think you’d be amazing in this role” to help shift perspective on the many strengths and talents you bring to the table. The Junior League of San Francisco has a 106-year tradition of women empowering other women.


I share my story as just one thread in the rich tapestry of what is The Junior League of San Francisco.


I am a leader.
I am a fundraiser.
I am a trained volunteer.
I am making a difference in my community.
I am The Junior League of San Francisco.

Editor’s Note: Investment News recently honored Sabrina in its Women to Watch 2018.