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This year, the Alpha Mu/Missouri executive board introduced a Leading Women Speaker series to better connect our college members with alumnae. We invited several alumnae to "come home" to Theta to speak about their time as collegians, as well as their experience as a leading woman in the real world. These evenings proved to be uplifting, informative, and special for all the women involved.
On October 10, United States Senator Claire McCaskill, Alpha Mu/Missouri, attended our chapter meeting as a part of our speaker series. She graduated from Mizzou in 1975, and then earned her law degree in 1978. She went on to become a Missouri state representative, Jackson County prosecutor (the first woman to hold that position), Missouri state auditor, a 2004 candidate for Missouri governor, and the first woman from Missouri to be elected to the U.S. Senate. She is the epitome of a leading woman.
In her talk, Sen. McCaskill discussed the struggles she endured as a woman in the workforce and in politics and encouraged our members to be confident in themselves and always fight to achieve their dreams. She also allowed much time for questions and pictures.
A few notable quotes from her talk:
- "There is nothing wrong, there is nothing unladylike, about being ambitious."
- "Humor is an extremely important part of being successful, including being able to laugh at yourself."
- "Success is not what you own, success is loving what you do."
- "You know the difference between me and you? This is not the best job I'm ever gonna have." (to the Missouri speaker of the house after he harassed her)
In what ways are you promoting "leading women" at your chapter? Please share in the comments section!
Today, December 1, is #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. For Theta Foundation, #GivingTuesday will see Thetas coming together worldwide to invest in Give to Lead, Give to Learn, a milestone campaign working to endow two of Theta's most-pressing human capital needs: the need-based scholarship and Educational Leadership Consultant (ELC) programs. To reach our $5 million Campaign goal, we aim to raise $100,000 (or more!) in 24 hours to support these two programs. The best part? Donations made on #GivingTuesday will double—meaning Theta Foundation has the potential to raise $200,000—because of a $100,000 matching gift from a very special leading woman, Sara Scholes Morgan, Alpha Mu/Missouri.
Like many of Theta's loyal alumnae, Sara believes strongly in the importance of giving back to Theta Foundation. Doing so, she says, "insures our traditions of sisterhood and service continue for many years to come." When asked why she wanted to make such a significant impact for Give to Lead, Give to Learn specifically, Sara said, " The importance of this initiative was made clear by a wonderful, tireless, (and persistent!) Theta volunteer here in Houston." That volunteer is Dinah Hampton McClymonds, Alpha Omicron/Oklahoma, a Theta Foundation trustee and chairman of the Campaign Steering Committee.
We asked Dinah what it was about Sara that makes her a leading woman for Theta. Dinah shared that Sara is known nationally for her advocacy of the arts. Sara has taken the lead in creating opportunities for artists of all kinds, notably those who are talented but not widely known. She thinks big, and if something is needed, she will find a way to create it. Sara always makes sure her philanthropic contributions will provide momentum and encouragement for others, hence her $100,000 matching gift to Give to Lead, Give to Learn. "It was an honor to work with Sara, and one of the highlights of this Campaign for me," says Dinah.
Sara reflected on her gift to Theta Foundation, and shared that her Theta membership holds a deep personal meaning and many memories. For Sara, Theta represents family, friendship, and service.
On family, Sara shares, "I come from a family with many Theta members. My mother, her cousin, my sister, two of our cousins, and one of their daughters are all Alpha Mu members at the University of Missouri. My sister's daughter is a Theta at the University of Michigan." Family ties, both blood and Theta, clearly play a large role in Sara's family!
"The friendships I made while at Mizzou were a very important part of my college experience; some of my best friends to this day are Alpha Mu members, which has greatly enriched my life," said Sara. "Coming from a very small high school, it was important to me to be able to have a place where I felt comfortable and welcomed at such a large university. It was also valuable to form relationships with women from urban areas as well as other states."
Regarding service, Sara shares she was brought up in a small Missouri town "believing that one's responsibility is to family and community. The idea of service to the community was reinforced by my years at Kappa Alpha Theta." Service and philanthropy are strong values within Theta, and Sara clearly embodies these traits of both service and philanthropy to our Fraternity!
Sara is not only a leading woman for Kappa Alpha Theta, but a leader wherever she calls home. Throughout eight moves among seven cities, Sara has and continues to be involved in her local community. Her proudest volunteer achievement is founding the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, a not-for-profit organization showcasing museum quality craft and housing artists whose studios are open to the public. In addition to her tenure as chapter president for Alpha Mu, Sara's proudest personal achievements include her 50-year marriage, three children (including a daughter-in-law who is a Theta!), and three grandchildren. When we asked Sara her advice for the aspiring leading women of Kappa Alpha Theta, she said, "Believe in yourself while always being open to new ideas and people; find your passion; choose wisely; then go for it!"
When Sara agreed to making an impact at the Champion level for Give to Lead, Give to Learn, it was with one stipulation: that her gift be used to encourage other women to give, too. With less than $450,000 needed to reach our $5 million goal, every gift matters. Your gift on #GivingTuesday makes Sara's $100,000 matching gift possible and puts our Campaign goal within reach. To take advantage of Sara's generosity and to help us raise $100,000 (or more!) in just 24 hours on #GivingTuesday, please make a gift on December 1, at www.GivetoTheta.org/Give.
As individuals and as chapters, Thetas are known for leading in our communities and on our campuses. As a whole, our Fraternity is known as a leading women's group; our ideas and programs have often been on the cutting edge. Although many of our members have been notable in their chosen fields of endeavor, we understand that leader is not a title conferred or an office held.
Recently, four young women at Swarthmore College sought to create a community of sisters by establishing the first women's fraternity on their campus in nearly 80 years. Like Theta's original founders, they persevered in the face of opposition for many months, demonstrating faith, hope, and love, and personifying leading women. The dedication and hard work of Callie Feingold, Olivia Ensign, Christina Obiajulu, and Julia Melin was rewarded last spring when the Alpha Beta Chapter was re-established at Swarthmore.
More than 2,300 miles away, Nicole Scott is dedicated to revitalizing the alumnae chapter in Phoenix, Ariz. Innovative programming has helped to increase membership; at the fall welcome meeting, each attendee completed the sentence "As a leading woman, I am..." Responses were documented on a heart-shaped card, and everyone discussed how they were leading women in their own lives.
Through Kappa Alpha Theta, each of us gains opportunities for friends, experiences, and goals that we might not have had otherwise. Through Kappa Alpha Theta, we are led to personal excellence and empowered to lead others there as well.
What does the phrase leading women mean to you?
DePauw is a very beautiful and meticulate campus that encompasses everything you would expect to see when thinking of a classic, small campus. My Alpha Chapter visit began with the reading of the historical plaque on the front lawn and viewing the sidewalk that is lined with bricks with names and years of Alpha alumnae engraved on them. We received a warm greeting from Alpha's CEO Kendra Boyle, our tour guide for the morning. Kendra was not only an excellent and courteous tour guide, but a very knowledgeable one on the history of the facility and the items on display in it. The rug in the formal living room is the largest area rugs in a private residence outside of the White House. Carpeting throughout the living quarters upstairs was a black and gold, pansy-like design. The back stairwells were also decorated in Theta spirit with a kite painting by former Alpha collegians. It was an unexpected surprise to see that Alpha has its own archival room in which to store keep chapter history as well!
Kendra then took my husband and I on a small walking tour of campus en route to the Founders Garden. This was a blessing because the garden did not look anything like I thought it would, and we likely would never have found it on our own! The Founders Garden is nestled between two modern buildings and contains four trees, one tree for each founder of Kappa Alpha Theta. Kendra told us that in the spring after recruitment has taken place and flowers are in bloom, the chapter likes to come to the garden to celebrate our founders and sometimes have plant pansies in their honor. My husband and I would like to thank Kendra for a wonderful tour and Alpha Chapter for their hospitality during our visit!
Being familiar with the strength of the Theta house at WSU from my days there, I was thrilled for Kerri and her experience as a Theta. Katie and Courtney were fortunate to follow in her footsteps and their bond grew stronger as a result. Everything about the Theta house was positive for our girls. Life-long friends, good study habits, good grades...I remain very thankful for their collective Theta experience.
My favorite memory was the eight consecutive years that I got to stay in the Theta house for Dad's Weekend. Meeting dads of their sisters in the house and seeing them annually was very special. We remain good friends with some of the parents.
I feel honored to have three beautiful, successful daughters that all had the pleasure of being a Theta at Washington State University. Thetas are highly regarded by our family. And now with four granddaughters, we are all praying they will have the same opportunity someday.
We had many favorite moments throughout the weekend. One of these was presenting the chapter charter to the four founders of Not Yet Sisters (NYS), an interest group that was integral in bringing women's fraternities back to the Swarthmore campus. Three of the four founders were recognized as alumnae initiates of the chapter, after having graduated in 2012 before Kappa Alpha Theta returned to campus. It was a very moving and special moment to see the dedication of these inspiring women come to fruition.
Another favorite moment was hosting the Installation banquet in Clothier Hall on the Swarthmore campus. Hannah Clothier, for whom the building is named, was an original charter member of Alpha Beta in 1891. Celebrating the reinstallation of the chapter in this space, with many of the chapter's archives from 1891-1927 on display, was truly a full-circle moment.
It was wonderful to have friends, parents, and college administration in attendance to celebrate the accomplishments of the young women of Alpha Beta. We are so proud of the strength, courage, and dedication that these charter class members demonstrate on a continual basis, and are honored to call them sisters.
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