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Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Monday, April 18, 2016 08:27 AM, by Lisa Gebken Thibault

Kudos to the Kappa Alpha Theta members at Columbia for making it to the pages of the Sunday (April 10) issue of The New York Times. The title of the article was "When a Feminist Pledges a Sorority" as if that was a new concept. In fact, there is a strong foundation of feminists creating and joining sororities. I would argue that women's empowerment and sororities is nothing new. Throughout the history of sororities* one can find women who have been trailblazers and pioneers in their fields. Of course, for one who does not wish to believe this no amount of proof will be sufficient.


Sisterhood has really never gone out of style and it has been a cornerstone of National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) organizations since the beginning.


I offer ten women whom most anti-sorority people would never believe belonged to a sorority. (*I know all too well that although the organizations are colloquially called sororities, the majority of the 26 National Panhellenic Conference groups are officially women's fraternities or fraternities for women). These ten women were from a "top of my head" list. There are scores of others who belong on this list.


View the list on Fran's blog, "Focus on Fraternity History & More."


Special thanks to Fran for sharing her blog with us! Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section below.

Fran Becque, a member of Pi Beta Phi, writes, speaks, and blogs on the history of Greek-letter organizations. Fran’s dissertation, "Coeducation and the history of women's fraternities, 1867-1902," chronicles the growth of the seven founding NPC groups.

Posted On: Monday, April 11, 2016 08:14 AM, by Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel
Click to enlarge.

April 10-16 is National Volunteer Appreciation Week. My job at Theta headquarters is focused primarily on volunteer recruitment, retention and recognition, so this week has a special place in my heart.


Something new we've created for this year's celebration is a Volunteer Impact Report, which shares high-level statistics and fun facts about the Theta volunteer experience. I hope you'll take a moment to check it out.


The numbers are certainly impressive, but something they can't possibly illustrate are the amazing, sometimes jaw-dropping, stories and anecdotes I hear from our staff members about volunteers on a daily basis.


Like one volunteer who took her vacation time from work and travelled halfway across the country to help chapters prepare for recruitment. There's a volunteer who lives in Hong Kong but would still make every conference call, even when the times were likely completely inconvenient for her. And one committee member who would be on conference calls in the car pool line at her child's school.


I've heard about advisors approving forms from the hospital when they've fallen ill, and one who has purchased more than 20 Life Loyal gifts for other members. I communicate daily with district directors who I could swear spend more time responding to Theta email in a day than I do.


These examples might seem extreme, but one thing I've encountered with nearly every volunteer with whom I work is a complete selflessness and dedication to the wider good of the Fraternity.


We have more than 2,700 volunteers serving Theta at this very moment. It's no secret that without volunteers, the Fraternity simply could not exist. To these women, and to those volunteers past and future, I want to say thank you on behalf of EVERY Theta. Your dedication and love brings tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart more times than you can possibly imagine.


"So there is no happiness without responsibility, no receiving without also giving...It is ours through these channels of intimacy to lead others to truer life by your example."

Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel, Gamma/Butler, is an assistant director of alumnae engagement at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.

Posted On: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 08:34 AM, by Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel
L-R: Lisa Thibault and Laura Stelsel
April is NPC's Advisor Appreciation Month. Share your advisor appreciation stories with us on social media using the hashtags #TYAdvisors and #ThetaThanks.

When I was a collegian at Butler University in the mid 2000s, I remember it being difficult to find a mentor (studies show that women have a harder time finding a mentor than their male counterparts). I looked to professors and managers at my internship positions, which were useful, but these relationships seemed one-sided at times. I ended up finding a mentor in a place I didn't expect: Theta.


As vice president of external relations (now chief marketing officer), my advisor was Lisa Thibault. Lisa was always there to answer questions and support as I navigated my earliest years in a leadership position. She was eager to write me letters of recommendation when I needed them, even helping me land a Theta Foundation scholarship, which assisted me in paying for my education. This relationship did not seem one sided at all, because we were—and are—sisters.


According to Tiffany Dufu at Levo, "Successful mentorship relationships are reciprocal and involve elements like sharing common interests, staying in touch, enhancing networks, and learning more about yourself." Could fellow Thetas fit that description any more?


Fast-forward 10 years, and Lisa is now my co-worker at Fraternity headquarters. In my early years, she helped me navigate the intricacies of a new workplace. She supported my ideas when I was not confident in them. She's encouraged my personal and professional growth. She's told me things that she knew might be difficult for me to hear. She celebrated my successes.


During this Advisor Appreciation Month, I wanted to say thank you, Lisa, for being a supportive advisor (even after all these years!), a great mentor, and most importantly, a trusted friend and sister.


How about you? Does our relationship sound familiar? Do you have a current or former Theta advisor who serves as a mentor in your life?

Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel, Gamma/Butler, is an assistant director of alumnae engagement at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.

Posted On: Monday, April 4, 2016 08:05 AM, by Erin Poppe
Erin Poppe, Delta Eta/Kansas State (Photo credit: Emily Starkey)

My name is Erin Poppe, and I'm an alumna of the Delta Eta chapter at Kansas State University.


Our university newspaper recently published an article I wrote about my rape that occurred freshman year seven years ago, as part of a series on sexual violence awareness. (Editor's note: April is Sexual Assault Prevention Awareness Month.)


I decided to share my story with you because what happened to me is not uncommon. No, I didn't get attacked on the way to my car at night and no, I wasn't walking down a dark alley alone. But just because my rape doesn't fit the mainstream idea of sexual assault doesn't make it any less real. And just because talking about sexual assault can be uncomfortable doesn't mean we shouldn't. In fact, that's all the more reason we should.


This article has blown up here on campus, and the response has been so overwhelmingly positive. I believe this is because it contributes to the often-unspoken conversation about what nonviolent/impaired consent rape looks like - which is a conversation I believe to be especially important for both our college members and alumnae, regardless of where they're from.


I have to say that I'm so grateful for support I've received from my Theta sisters during this vulnerable time. So thank you, Theta, for putting these women in my life.

Erin Poppe, Delta Eta/Kansas State, is a graduate student studying public administration.

Posted On: Monday, March 28, 2016 08:03 AM, by Lauren McCarty Palmer

In my role as social media specialist, I have the pleasure of interacting with Thetas online every day. I consider representing Kappa Alpha Theta on social media a big responsibility, and I keep Theta's mission and values in mind as I respond to comments and disseminate content on behalf of the organization. I try to bring Theta's authentic "voice" to our social media presence, with the goal of keeping thousands of Thetas connected to and engaged with this beloved sisterhood.


One of my favorite aspects of social media is its ability to amplify positive momentum. For example, if a member completes a service project as part of 150 Days of Celebrating Service, she has done her part to spread the widest influence for good and can be proud of her contribution. If she posts about the experience on a social media platform, her entire friend network will learn about her good deed and perhaps be inspired to serve, as well. And if I, as Theta's social media specialist, am able to see and share her content, thousands of women all over the world can continue spreading the widest influence for good in her stead. The ripple effect of our digital world allows one act of love to reach thousands or even millions of other people.


By using Theta's official hashtags, you can be an advocate for Kappa Alpha Theta online. Help spread the word about important aspects of Theta using these hashtags:


  • #Theta1870: The official Theta hashtag. If you are posting about Theta generally and other, more specific hashtags do not apply, this is the best one to use. This is also the hashtag to use for Founders Day.

  • #LeadingWomen: Our tagline applies to many members who are leading the way on campus, in the workplace, in their communities, and in their personal lives. Use this hashtag anytime you are posting about a Theta who is showing leadership in her actions.

  • #Theta16: The official hashtag of Grand Convention 2016!

  • #ThetaELCs: For any post about our educational leadership consultant (ELC) program.

  • #ThetaFoundation: For any posts related to Theta Foundation programs and services.

  • #ThetaHighFives: We use this hashtag when recognizing outstanding volunteers every other Friday, but feel free to use it anytime you want to give someone a shout-out!

  • #ThetaHistory: This hashtag is used for our #ThrowbackThursday posts and anytime we talk about Theta's history. You might have also noticed that content posted to this hashtag on Twitter and Instagram is displayed on our heritage site!

  • #ThetaHousing: For any posts about the Fraternity Housing Corporation or Theta facilities.

  • #ThetaLove: For any general post about sisterhood. We can all use some #ThetaLove!

  • #ThetaScholar: For posts related to Thetas pursuing academic excellence.

  • #ThetaService: For any post about Thetas engaging in service work or helping others.

  • #Theta150: For posts associated with our 150 Days of Celebrating Service initiative and any future content related to celebrating our sesquicentennial!

As always, if you have Theta photos to share, please email them to socialmedia@kappaalphatheta.org. Thank you for helping us tell Theta's story online!

Lauren Palmer is the social media specialist at Kappa Alpha Theta headquarters.

Posted On: Wednesday, March 23, 2016 08:19 AM, by Jenni Broughton Schmaltz

Thetas have positive feelings toward our Fraternity! An overwhelming number (17,526) of alumnae and collegians recently completed the online member engagement and satisfaction survey. The feedback we received is invaluable to better understand the interests and priorities of our members.


Some highlights from the survey include:


  • More than nine out of ten members (92 percent) have very positive or somewhat positive feelings toward Kappa Alpha Theta.

  • Most Thetas consider themselves at least somewhat engaged with the Fraternity. Over a quarter (27 percent) of members considers themselves moderately engaged, and one in four considers herself either highly or very highly engaged (22 percent and 4 percent, respectively).

  • Most college seniors (90 percent) indicate that they plan to stay involved with Theta in some way after graduating.

  • Of all events surveyed, Founders Day celebrations had the highest rate of participation with 70 percent of members having participated, followed by Day of Service (42 percent).

  • Thetas place high value on service- and assistance-oriented offerings that help fellow members and contribute to the greater good.

  • Survey respondents represented all age groups. Thirty-three percent were under age 23; 18 percent were ages 23 to 34, 17 percent were between 35 and 50; 17 percent were ages 51 to 65; 15 percent were over age 65.


Although we are very pleased with the results, we have a lofty vision for the future of Kappa Alpha Theta. Results from the survey will be used in the pursuit and realization of Kappa Alpha Theta's Plan of Aspirations, developed to guide our organization through 2019. You can read more about this plan and our vision for the future in the Spring issue of the Theta magazine.

Jennifer Broughton Schmaltz, Gamma/Butler, is the chief operating officer at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.


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