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Brouhaha Braises Junior League


It is unclear why eight-year member LaRiviere stepped down in late February. The effusive LaRiviere, a 2005 graduate of Leadership Metro Richmond and one of Style's "Top Forty Under 40" honorees last year, couldn't be reached by press time.

Junior League members received a five-page e-mail last week urging them to sign a petition calling for the opportunity to address the board's removal proceedings.

In part it reads: "We are concerned that the Board attempted an ousting vote based on nothing that involved breaking any ... bylaws." The missive cites a lack of leadership within the organization and an "inflammatory" environment.

Member Salud Layton, whose name appears in the e-mail, refers to the situation as an internal governance issue. "Members of the Junior League are making inquiry into processes and procedures relating to the issues at hand," she wrote in an e-mail to Style.

The Junior League of Richmond, a women's volunteer organization, was established in 1926. Outsiders may know it best for its successful fund-raisers, its community thrift-stores called the "Clothes Rack" and its annual "Book and Author Dinner."

Executive Director Jane Helfrich says the board "has worked hard to protect the privacy" of those involved in the dispute. In a statement Helfrich says: "This is an internal matter and there won't be any public comment except to say that the board is very comfortable that it followed a fair and open process."

The league has retained attorney William Allcott, director of client public relations at McGuireWoods, to represent its interests in the matter, Helfrich says. Allcott was out of town and could not be reached for comment by press time, but according to the firm's Web site, he has 15 years of experience as a consultant on crisis management and litigation communications.

Says Helfrich: "The Junior League does some wonderful things. And it doesn't want to see its name dragged through the mud." S

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