The grain of an idea for the JCI Senate program was begun in 1951 when JCI President Phil Pugsley and John Armbruster were talking about “The Log”, a publication that Mr. Armbruster was sending out to past officers and directors of The United States Junior Chamber (a.k.a. Jaycees). “The Log” had played an important role in sustaining friendships that had been formed through the Jaycees. President Pugsley was interested in a similar publication for the alumni of the Junior Chamber International, JCI, and asked that Mr. Armbruster be the publisher.
“The Elder Statesman” was sent to JCI alumni throughout the world and served as a continuing conduit of friendship to former members. Many of these elder statesmen were becoming mentors to younger JCI members and also serving in a large role as leaders in their respective countries.
However, many past members were getting less involved with the Jaycee movement as there were no ties to the organization. In New York, in 1952, JCI Representative to the United Nations, Sid Boxer, met with Phil Pugsley, where they discussed what could bring former members back to the fold. One idea was a special “honor” that could be presented to former members. Many local chapters were honoring their past members with gifts. Why couldn’t that same money be spent through JCI and be put to work for a cause that the former and current members all believed in?
Boxer and Pugsley came up with the idea of a group of “honored” members that, once formed, could be used to help spread the concept of the Junior Chamber and its mission throughout the world. Membership in this group would also help strengthen JCI by giving its former members a lifelong tie to the organization.
The “JCI Senate“ idea was voted on at the 7th JCI World Congress in Melbourne, Australia in September 1952 and included in the JCI Bylaws as a category of membership. Since then, Junior Chamber members in over 90 countries have been honored.
Today, a Senatorship has become a coveted honor that recognizes outstanding contribution and service to JCI and its member organizations. By providing Life membership, there is a link with an organization that continues to bring the Junior Chamber vision to thousands of young adults the world over. Fees paid for a Senatorship are used to provide for the continuing growth and opportunity of JCI to more and more young people.
Over seventy-five thousand JCI Senatorships have been conferred worldwide since 1952. Each JCI Senator has a unique number assigned to them that cannot be used by any other.