History of JCI Dublin

JCI Dublin is one of the oldest chapters of this global organization here in Ireland, having been founded in 1957 with J.S. Leeson as it’s first President.

JCI Dublin

The organization was historically housed in the famous Dublin Chamber of Commerce on Clare Street for the majority of its existence. 62 years onwards, JCI Dublin is a vibrant and worldly chapter still living in the spirit of JCI’s mission to “be better” and form the leaders and active citizens of our future.

Brief History of Junior Chamber International

With over 150,000 members world-wide, across 5,000 local chapters and located in 100+ countries, JCI is the leading nonprofit organization of young active citizens age 18 to 40 who are engaged and committed to creating impact in their communities.

Founding a Movement

By the age of 18, Henry Giessenbier Jr. formed the Herculaneum Dance Club, a social outlet for the community’s youth. Unknown at the time, Giessenbier was laying the foundation for what would become a global movement. On October 13, 1915, the first JCI Movement was founded when 32 men joined to form the Young Men’s Progressive Association (YMPCA) at the Mission Inn located in their hometown of St. Louis, USA.

St. Louis Chamber of Commerce Emblem

The Young Men’s Progressive Association members received acknowledgement from the broader community, however on November 30, 1915 official recognition of the organization was granted after enrolling as a member of the Mayor’s Conference of Civic Organizations. One year later, the YMPCA became known as the Junior Citizens and soon the Junior Chamber of Commerce, after affiliating with the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce.

The First National Convention

In June 1920, with 41 cities present, the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce held their first official convention, where their first constitution was adopted and the first President, Henry Giessenbier Jr., was elected. Giessenbier closed the ceremony with his expressed goals for the organization: “We have definitely launched a great institution into the world of progress. Let us hope that from this institution will emerge citizens of loftier ideals, higher privileges, greater opportunities, purer patriotism, broader ideas of service and greater capacity for happiness.” — Founder, Henry Giessenbier, Jr.

Aviation Expansion and Voting Participation

In 1926, after gaining Charles A. Lindbergh, commercial aviation pioneer, as a member, the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce pursued to expand aviation throughout the United States by working to establish and promote airport construction, encourage air mail usage and mark towns for easy identification from the air. That same year, the Get Out the Vote campaign was initiated in which the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce became the first national organization to conduct a systematic campaign to educate citizens of their civic duty to vote. As a result, 12 million more individuals voted in the 1928 election than in 1924.

Inter-American Congress in Mexico City

On December 11, 1944, the Inter-American Congress was held in Mexico City. Representatives from the United States, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama gathered to officially establish Henry Giessenbier's 24-year-old civic association as an international organization, Junior Chamber International.

The First JCI World Congress

In 1946, with their new international presence recognized, the first JCI World Congress took place in Panama City, and included the adoption of a provisional Constitution.

Partnerships Connecting Young People

JCI members partnered with Pan American Airlines during the 14th JCI World Congress to connect young active citizens with JCI members from around the world.

JCI Creed Outlines Fundamental Values

Written by C. William Brownfield, the JCI Creed, a six-line statement of the beliefs and principles of the JCI Movement, was officially adopted in 1948 uniting individual members across the world.

Operation Brotherhood

Exemplifying the value of brotherhood, JCI’s first international campaign launched in 1954. Operation Brotherhood was developed through collaborating with the United Nations to support refugees fleeing communism in Vietnam. The campaign included large-scale fundraising efforts that raised US $1 million, assisted more than 730,000 individuals through health and wellness programs and created more than 350 community living spaces for refugees.

Project Concern

In 1965, Project Concern was started to administer dental and primary care to underprivileged individuals in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Mexico and the Appalachian Mountains in the United States. While the program grew internationally in 1965, it was started by JCI Hong Kong in 1962, spreading to other National Organizations before its international adoption.

Opportunities for Women

Throughout the 1970’s, membership growth among women soared and in 1971 the first female National President was elected in Nepal.

JCI and the United Nations

In 1954, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted JCI Special Consultative status, officially defining the supportive relationship between JCI and the UN. In the photo above, 1981 JCI President Gary Nagao visited with the UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim at the United Nations to discuss the long-standing partnership between the two organizations.

Peaceful Solutions led JCI

Starting in the 1980’s, organizational themes focused heavily on equality, internationalism and world peace in response to civil conflicts, assassination attempts and acts of terror as well as increasing global inflation and an oil and energy crisis. At the 1982 JCI World Congress in Seoul, South Korea, delegates skipped lunch to raise funds and support for disadvantaged populations on the North and South Korean border.

Peace and Literacy for Children

The first Earth Run at the 1986 JCI World Congress promoted UNICEF and “Global Peace for Children.” Later, in the 1990s JCI officially established a partnership with UNICEF based on the organizations’ mutual commitment to protect and support children. In another project dedicated to child development, members of JCI Hong Kong established the first children’s library and provided mobile libraries to the Social Welfare Office in 1986.

JCI Supports Fall of the Berlin Wall

In 1989, JCI Presidents signed "The Independent" describing the fall of the Berlin Wall and presented it to JCI Germany.

JCI Day at the United Nations

Throughout the 1990’s, JCI and its long-time partner the United Nations organized JCI Day annually on December 11th at the UN to educate young people on global challenges and how their history of cooperation can inspire local collaborations.

JCI Celebrates 50 Years of International Action

Half a century after the JCI Movement expanded internationally, JCI celebrated its 50th anniversary. JCI leadership blows out candles to celebrate this momentous occasion. Other celebrations included publishing a JCI Golden Anniversary Book to commemorate 50 years of history since founding internationally in 1944.

JCI World Headquarters Relocates to City of its Founding

On November 30, 2002, JCI stakeholders attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the new location of the JCI World Headquarters. After nearly 50 years of being located in Tulsa, Miami or Coral Gables, USA, the headquarters relocated back to the city where the JCI Movement was founded, St. Louis, USA. The building was inaugurated on June 23, 2004.

JCI Adopts the Millennium Development Goals

First a resolution of the JCI-UN Leadership Summit, in 2004 JCI members committed to join leaders around the world to advance the Millennium Development Goals. Members globally continued to run national and local projects aimed to advance these eight global development goals, which ranged from eradicating extreme hunger and poverty to combating HIV/AIDS and malaria.

The Fight Against Malaria

To advance MDG #6, Combat Malaria, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases, JCI formalized a partnership with the UN Foundation’s Nothing But Nets campaign in 2008, which focused JCI members’ actions to raise global awareness, advocate for government funding and fundraise to support the fight against malaria through prevention. Over the next eight years, JCI raised over US $3.5 million for malaria prevention.

The JCI Active Citizen Framework

To increase the quantity of projects that result in sustainable solutions, the General Assembly of the 2010 JCI World Congress adopted the JCI Active Citizen Framework, a roadmap of actionable, results-driven steps to produce sustainable impact. This framework has been a guiding force behind grassroots projects around the world, resulting in sustainable solutions such as a medical camp in Bangladesh slums for expectant mothers lacking prenatal resources, community farming in the Dutch Caribbean, apprenticeships for unemployed youth in Europe and voter awareness campaigns across African nations.

100 Years of Impact

As JCI celebrated the 100th Anniversary of the JCI Movement, the moment presented itself for the organization to reflect upon and celebrate 100 Years of Impact. Celebrations included parties, 100th Anniversary documentary screenings and a commemorative monument and unveiling at the JCI World Headquarters. JCI members across the globe participated in Project Impact 100 with the goal of empowering young people and their communities to impact the lives of 100 individuals by taking grassroots action to create positive change; 467,540 individuals were impacted globally.

Ending Extreme Poverty, Inequality and Climate Change by 2030

2016 was the first year of implementation for the 15-year global development agenda—The Global Goals for Sustainable Development. These 17 ambitious goals aim at achieving three extraordinary tasks: end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and combat climate change. During the 2015 JCI World Congress in Kanazawa, Japan, JCI leaders committed to advancing these goals by creating awareness, taking action on the goals most relevant in their communities and taking responsibility to hold JCI members as well as all sectors of society accountable to implement and monitor the progress of the Global Goals.

Brief History of JCI Dublin

Dublin Chamber launched Dublin Junior Chamber of Commerce in the Commercial Buildings on 12 October 1956, with the president Alex O'D Shiel, in the chair: the aim was to provide the commercial and industrial leaders of tomorrow. Membership, aged between eighteen and forty reached a hundred in its first year. Junior Chamber has been accommodated by Dublin Chamber, firstly in Commercial Buildings and later in Clare Street, and from 1959, its president has been an ex-officio member of the Council.

The Junior Chamber idea quickly caught on in Ireland and within a few years most Chamber of Commerce had a branch, Junior Chamber International (JCI) was founded in the US in 1944 and Dublin Junior Chamber immediately became affiliated to it. In May 1960, Dublin Junior Chamber hosted the 7th European Conference of JCI in Dun Laoghaire, with a hundred and fifty guests. The World JCI Congress took place in Dublin in 1970.

Junior Chamber mirrors Chamber, organising talks and seminars on business matters. At one such event in TCD in March 1981, three masked men rushed in when British Leyland executive Geoffrey Armstrong was speaking and shot him in the legs before making their escape. Ostensibly their actions was in sympathy with the H-Block protests. Armstrong recovered and an Italian Giovanni Maritonni, was found guilty of the offence a year later.

Junior Chamber instituted the Entrepreneur of the Year competition, now run by EY Accountants. The organisation suffered a hiatus at the start of the 21st century and its president no longer sat on Council but in 2005, its position on Council was reinstated, Junior Chamber / JCI Dublin remains an active networking body for younger business people in both the Irish and international organisations, promoting community project and personal business development.

Extract from the history of Dublin Chamber book titled "A Most Respectful Meeting of Merchants: Dublin Chamber of Commerce - A History" compiled by Enda MacMahon and first published 21 Nov 2014 by Londubh Books.