Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Kappa Alpha Theta is committed to fighting racism, discrimination, and inequity—both within our sisterhood and within our world. This page will provide updates on Kappa Alpha Theta's actions regarding our efforts on inclusion and diversity within our organization. Please check back often to learn more about what steps we are taking.
Our new Plan of Aspirations includes diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts as a core component, and Theta has supported an inclusion workgroup since 2013. But these efforts simply must advance with more urgency, and we have heard your calls for Theta to do better and make real changes. Here is an update on what you can expect moving forward.
- Our first priority is to conduct a comprehensive review of the entire organization for diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts to identify biases, barriers to members with marginalized identities, and ways we are failing to lead and support our members.
- We will increase education, awareness, and training on topics related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
- If you choose to raise money for a movement or cause, we encourage you to seek reputable organizations enacting change in your local community.
You can expect to hear from us regularly updating you on our progress.
Kappa Alpha Theta welcomes as members, in accordance with the laws of the Fraternity, college women, without regard to race, religion, national origin, age, disability, or other characteristics protected by applicable law. As some of the earliest women to attend college, Kappa Alpha Theta’s founders fought for inclusion in a frequently hostile educational and social environment. Our mission is to offer women lifelong opportunities for intellectual, and personal growth. Those who identify as women are eligible for membership in Kappa Alpha Theta.
Recent Policy Changes and Updates
Organization-Wide Language Shift: CHAIR (Announced Oct. 24, 2022)
At their October 2022 meeting, Grand Council voted to amend the Fraternity Bylaws to change every mention from "chairman" to "chair" in reference to committee and advisory board leaders. This change is not only to simplify the language, but also to address questions regarding a women’s organization using the masculine-rooted word chairman for leadership roles. This also follows the direction toward which many corporations and organizations are moving.
Note: "Chairman" is also used several places in the Constitution. Because the Convention body is the only group with the authority to amend the Constitution, it will be added as legislation for Grand Convention 2024.
Rethinking the Practice of Hand Signs (Announced Oct. 6, 2021)
Learning from the past requires acknowledgment rather than erasure. Read our blog post about discouraging hand signs and our updated policy of posting photos displaying these gestures.
Officer Title Changes (Announced Sept. 10, 2021)
Executive Officer Title Changes
Kappa Alpha Theta's Plan of Aspirations includes diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts as a core component. These efforts must advance with urgency, and we have heard your calls for Theta to do better and make real change. One of the requested changes has been to stop using the title "chief" in our college chapter officer naming because it has also been used as a slur against indigenous leaders. Members have shared their hurt over the use of this word in our current college chapter officer titles.
Earlier this summer, we hosted listening sessions to hear from you directly. Not only did current undergraduate members share their experiences that support this change, but we also learned that some chapters had not fully adopted the chief titles. Our desire is to create an experience grounded in belonging and we no longer see the need to use "chief" to describe our college chapter officers. Effective for the 2022 elections process, executive committee titles will change as follows.
- Chief executive officer > President
- Chief administrative officer > Vice president administration
- Chief diversity, equity, & inclusion officer > Vice president diversity, equity, & inclusion
- Chief external affairs officer > Vice president external affairs
- Chief financial officer > Vice president finance
- Chief learning officer > Vice president education
- Chief operating officer > Vice president operations
- Chief Panhellenic officer > Vice president Panhellenic
- Chief recruiting officer > Vice president membership
We acknowledge that these titles have been used by college chapters before—and several chapters still use them! Prior to 2011, college chapter officer titles utilized the president/vice president verbiage. At the time, the rationale for the change was an attempt to make the important skills officers gain through their experience holding an office more transferable to the corporate world. We now recognize the multiple challenges with those titles, including the fact that they don't often align with the naming conventions of our Panhellenic peers. This naming structure matches our alumnae chapter officer slate, as well.
All changes will go into effect with the next set of officers; handbooks will be updated on a rolling basis and the Chapter Portal will be updated in early 2022.
Potential New Member Introduction Form (Announced May 6, 2021)
Formerly known as a reference or recommendation, Kappa Alpha Theta has evaluated and updated this process to now be called a Potential New Member Introduction. The most significant shift related to this process is that now any person can submit a form regardless of membership. A potential new member (PNM) no longer has to locate a Theta to submit a form on the PNM's behalf – even if the PNM doesn’t know that Theta at all. Instead, the PNM can choose a coach, teacher, community leader, or whoever that PNM believes can speak to the PNM's character best.
Theta is proud of this update for many reasons – one of the most significant is the increased accessibility during the joining process. PNMs, especially those at institutions that value this process, will no longer be burdened by searching for a Theta to submit a form. This form is also more efficient and more closely mirrors an academic or professional process. Learn more about the introduction process.
Fraternity Investment Committee (FIC) Additional Sustainability Parameters (Announced Feb. 24, 2021)
The FIC has added additional sustainability parameters as part of the investment decision-making process for the Fraternity's stock and bond investments. These changes are being made to incorporate additional areas that are of importance to the Fraternity and its members, with an emphasis placed on environmental issues, diversity and inclusion, and the promotion and working environment of women in the workplace. This will include consideration of a company or issuer's:
- Environmental track record and stated goals and initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint;
- Initiatives and practices to promote diversity and inclusion;
- Percentage of women in board or leadership positions;
- Employee engagement and focus on employee's work/life balance;
- Health and safety record; and
- Community involvement, philanthropy, and the promotion of volunteerism
DEI Volunteer Appointments (Announced Jan. 19, 2021)
As announced in September 2020, Theta created new volunteer positions for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Grand Council has made two recent appointments: a director of diversity, equity & inclusion (DEI) and a diversity, equity, & inclusion (DEI) committee chairman.
The director of DEI will attend Grand Council meetings, collaborate with the DEI committee chairman to implement strategies developed by Grand Council, and in conjunction with the DEI committee and staff, regularly assess the organization to better understand member experience and impacts of practices, policies and procedures.
Dr. Christina (Tina) V. Tran, Zeta Nu/UC Davis, will serve as the director of DEI. Tina is a first-generation Filipino-American raised outside of Chicago. After completing her undergraduate degree at University of California, Davis, Tina received her veterinary degree from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Tina is on faculty at University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine as associate professor and Clinical Relations Lead Veterinarian. She serves as the immediate past president and founding board member for the Multicultural Veterinary Medical Association. Tina's DEI effort experience includes opening up the veterinary pipeline to underrepresented minorities; providing remote outreach, ongoing support and mentorship to K-12 and undergraduate students; working with veterinary organizations and academic institutions to identify and remove barriers to entering veterinary school and becoming leaders within the profession; collaborating on DEI-focused research projects; and serving on multiple DEI commissions and panel discussions.
The DEI committee chairman is responsible for providing guidance and support to the staff and committee as they proactively address DEI concerns within the organization and ensure there is an open and positive environment for members to flourish. The chairman reports to and is supported by the director of education & leadership.
Lisa Combs, Alpha Gamma/Ohio State, will serve as the new DEI committee chairman. Lisa recently transitioned from her role as program coordinator in the Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Office at Loyola University Chicago. She is currently a doctoral student at Ohio State University in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program. She plans to write her dissertation about multiraciality. Lisa’s research interests include identity interconnections, multiraciality in higher education, Filipinx identity development, and deconstructing social constructs around race. Lisa is working on an edited book (with Dr. Aeriel Ashlee) called Identity Interconnections: Facilitating Empathy and Connectivity Across and Between Identity Experiences. She has also published an article in the Journal of College Student Development. Lisa currently serves as the co-chair for the Multiracial Network in the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) and has presented about multiracial topics at many conferences including ACPA, the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS), and the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE). She received her bachelor of arts in political science and English from Ohio State and her master of science in student affairs in higher education from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
DEI Task Forces Starting This Fall (Announced Oct. 8, 2020)
Task forces on several diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) topics are starting this fall. These topics were chosen based on the conversations and consultations with members (both students and alumnae). Nearly 50 members were selected to serve on these task forces. While each task force will work at its own pace, each will be supported by the DEI committee, staff, and other volunteers. The recommendations from each task force will be made to the proper authority for the specific recommendation (Grand Convention, Grand Council, a Theta committee, etc.) as well as announced on this page.
Our current task force topics are:
- Theta ritual services and ceremonies
- Dues assistance for undergraduate members
- Recruitment and member orientation process
- Theta Foundation scholarships & grants for members with underrepresented identities
- Increase in volunteer diversity
- Inclusion of students outside the gender binary
If you have ideas, thoughts or suggestions for any of these task forces, please let us know.
Identity-Based Affinity Groups Available to Members (Announced Sept. 25, 2020)
New identity-based affinity groups are currently being established on ThetaConnect, our members-only platform where Thetas can join like-minded groups, search for career opportunities and network with each other. More groups will be formed in the coming weeks, so members (both alumnae and collegian) are encouraged to sign up for ThetaConnect and participate in these groups.
New Director Position, E-Learning Module (Announced Sept. 1, 2020)
We are pleased to announce a new role within Theta’s volunteer workforce, the director of diversity, equity, & inclusion. The director will participate directly in Grand Council meetings. Visit the Volunteer page to learn more about this new position and how to apply. The deadline for applications is Sept. 23.
A new member orientation e-learning module has been added starting this fall. All new members will be required to complete the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion module as part of their member orientation. This module, while designed to be a part of member orientation, is available for all members and advisors. Learn more about our Member Orientation program.
Legacy Policy (announced July 23, 2020)
Effective immediately, Kappa Alpha Theta has eliminated all preferential treatment given to legacies during the recruitment process. This means that there will no longer be an automatic invitation following the first round of recruitment or an automatic placement on the chapter’s bid list.
We acknowledge that many women are not legacies because their mothers, sisters, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers simply did not have the same access to higher education or the means to join Kappa Alpha Theta. By eliminating preferential treatment for legacies, Theta ensures that potential new members are not receiving additional credit for things beyond their control, such as hometown, race, family connections, etc. Read the full announcement.
College Chapter Policies (announced July 16, 2020)
The following changes are being implemented immediately.
- Removal of minimum high school GPA to join for 2020-2021
- Endorsement of a college chapter officer and/or required committee for diversity, equity and inclusion (we will be working directly with college chapter members to develop this position and/or required committee role)
- Development of changes to recruitment policies
- Establishment of a policy stating that no chapter or international Theta event may be held at a plantation
Resources for scholarship, recruitment, social media and member development committee guidance may be found in the chapter portal for college chapter members.
Here are resources that we’ve found helpful. They are very comprehensive with articles, books, films, podcasts, and more. Please review and share with your members.
- Anti-Racism Resources
- AFLV The List (Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values)
- Resource List lists activities and resources scaffolded using the White Racial Identity Development Model by Janet Helms