The Importance of the Junior League of Billings & Its Upcoming Montana Women's Leadership Conference

Written by Marisa Clark, President 2022/23 Junior League of Billings

Many years ago, I sat in a courtroom and listened to a high school student not much younger than me tell the judge why she wasn’t attending school.  She was defiant and angry and refused to answer at first.  I remember the judge’s kind response, and I distinctly recall the moment when her hard mask dropped and she started crying. They were the kind of tears that made it difficult to understand her words; the kind that signify pain that’s been held in too long. Eventually, she spoke clearly and with resignation; and she said, “I can’t. I’m dirty. I smell. The other kids make fun of me.” I have never forgotten that moment.

Almost two decades later, I heard of a group providing free laundry services to those in need in our community.  On the surface, laundry may not seem groundbreaking, but because of that earlier experience, I knew. I knew that people with clean clothing are more likely to attend school, receive job offers, and maintain employment.  I also knew that whatever group this was, I needed to be part of it.  That was my introduction to Junior League of Billings, an extraordinary team of women with the common goal of making a difference in our community. Four years later, I am incredibly proud to be President of the organization.

I also know now that we are so much more than laundry. We are about community, about leadership, and most of all, about women. I’ve met amazing women that I wouldn’t necessarily have met any other way, and my life has been enriched as a result of the friendships I’ve made and the people I’ve learned from. Our primary event of the year is a perfect example of what Junior League of Billings is all about - the Montana Women’s Leadership Conference, and it is coming up soon on February 10th and 11th!

This 7th annual conference will be filled with educational speakers, personal stories, real advice, leadership, and most of all, women empowering women. This year’s keynote is Kelly Swanson, a nationally featured inspirational speaker and comedian - so be prepared to laugh while you engage with her lesson on strategic storytelling. We are also proud to present local speakers Sara Beth Wald, Dr. Julie Reil, Kara Wahl, Sunny Day Real Bird, and Alexa Baisch; and we are very excited to offer a self-defense course for women and teenage girls presented by Dennis Forleo.  The conference also provides opportunities for networking with each other, and allows you to make connections with other attendees, speakers, and Junior League of Billings members. 

I left previous conferences feeling empowered, inspired, and emboldened. I came out with new friends and a new energy for whatever happens next. I’d like to invite each of you to come experience that same feeling. You can purchase your ticket, learn more about the speakers, and find out more about Junior League of Billings by visiting our website at By purchasing a ticket, you also help support all of our community programs, including the Free Laundry Project. Thank you for supporting Junior League of Billings and we look forward to seeing you at the conference!

More from the Blogs

Featured Events