How lucky are we to belong to a sisterhood of women that has not just lasted but thrived for the past 147 years? I often think about the strength, determination, and resilience of our four founders on that long-ago 27th day of January in Greencastle, Indiana. At a time when college was not a place where women were welcomed, these four leading women, wearing their badges, walked proudly through the doors of the Asbury chapel despite the male students who scoffed at and mocked them.
Founders Day is celebrated in several ways. Whether at a brunch, an afternoon tea, or another type of event, I ask that you take a moment to reflect on the efforts and strengths of the women who have come before us. Imagine the fortitude and passion of women who had to fight for the right to an education, not only for themselves but for all who would come after them.
Founders Day is a time to remember that belonging to Kappa Alpha Theta is truly an honor and a privilege. It is a time to be grateful for our ability to receive a college education and have a place to call home; women to call our sisters; and an organization to empower us to be our best selves academically, morally, and socially.
In my time traveling as an educational leadership consultant (ELC), I have been inspired by the quality and accomplishments of the women who represent Kappa Alpha Theta. Every Theta I come to know reminds me that I am honored to be a part of such a remarkable organization. In my time as a based consultant reestablishing the Epsilon Nu Chapter at Virginia Tech, I am already so impressed by the caliber of women who are pursuing the opportunity to join our sisterhood.
Thank you to Bettie Locke Hamilton, Alice Allen Brant, Hannah Fitch Shaw, and Bettie Tipton Lindsey. We would not be who we are today with your leadership and love.
Just as the start of the new year gives people worldwide hope for a fresh outlook, Founders Day gives Thetas around the globe a chance to reflect on the four women who changed our lives by deciding to start something new 146 years ago. On January 27, 1870, Bettie Locke Hamilton and her three courageous friends began the first Greek-letter fraternity known among women; what a wonderful way to begin the New Year back in 1870!
Founders Day gives Thetas the chance to be thankful for so many aspects of our organization:
Community: The founders were seeking community in an all-male university, and Kappa Alpha Theta was able to give them the support and courage they needed in their environment. Founders Day is a wonderful reminder to spend time with your sisters and enjoy the community around you. You may spend Founders Day at a chapter brunch or tea, or your chapter may be hosting another to celebrate! No matter what activity you are participating in, be sure to take advantage of the supportive community around you.
Mentorship: Our founders ranged in age, and their goal was to inspire those younger than them to set and accomplish high aspirations and to continue the success of Kappa Alpha Theta. Founders Day often brings together Thetas of all ages! This is an opportune time to get to know Thetas older than you and to establish connections with women in your interested career path. Who knows, you may be able to talk to an older Theta about a summer internship or get advice on your plans after college.
Ritual: Kappa Alpha Theta ritual connects Thetas today to the roots of our organization. Ritual is an aspect of the Fraternity that has not changed, and will not change. Founders Day gives Thetas from various college and alumnae chapters the chance to unite to perform ritual together. Ritual is such a special aspect of our organization, so what better way to honor our founders than participating in ritual together.
Each of these aspects was crucial to the development of Kappa Alpha Theta, as indicated by Bettie herself in a letter she wrote to Detroit area alumnae in January 1930: "I send love and Greetings to each and all Thetas, assembled tonight at your Founders' Banquet and want to take this opportunity to thank any Theta for helping me to make KAO what it is today—for if bright, courageous girls had not given us their support in the years following our first efforts in establishing the first Greek letter fraternity KAO could not be what it is today."
Whether your chapter plans to host a brunch, attend an alumnae chapter tea, or participate in service together, take the time to be thankful for the leading women who started it all and to be proud of the leading women around you!
- ELCs Jenny Cook and Madison Cannon were invited to the St. Paul/Minneapolis celebration where local alumnae and collegians from Upsilon/Minnesota gathered to recognize Kappa Alpha Theta's founding.
- ELC Margaret was reunited with former ELC Sarah Comstock in Washington. Margaret shares, "I had an awesome experience celebrating Founders Day with the women of Alpha Sigma and former ELC Sarah Comstock. It's amazing to think that Thetas near and far gather every January to honor our amazing history as the first Greek-lettered fraternity for women. This history has greatly impacted my life and will continue to do so."
- ELCs Sarah Kindscher and Maddie Inften organized Beta Gamma/Colorado State's first Founders Day brunch with the Fort Collins Alumnae Chapter. The alumnae were so happy to have Beta Gamma women attend this celebration once again.
- ELCs Alyssa and Julia celebrated Founders Day with the St. Louis Alumnae Chapter, and Alyssa shares, "One of my favorite moments of Founders Day this year was meeting a fellow Gamma Psi/Texas Christian at the brunch with the St. Louis Alumnae Chapter. Despite being years apart, we were able to exchange Theta stories and talk about our time at TCU. Theta gives us a bond like no other that even when talking to a complete stranger, you feel such comfort."
- ELC Kaitlyn was able to take a break from her busy semester traveling and spent Founders Day in her hometown with the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter. "I was able to attend the Louisville Alumnae Chapter brunch. The chapter was so thrilled to welcome collegian members from Kappa Alpha Theta's newest college chapter at the University of Louisville. It was so comforting to know that after Theta Kappa members graduate from U of L, they will be welcomed in to a wonderful alumnae chapter to continue their Theta experience."
How did you celebrate Kappa Alpha Theta's 145th Founders Day?