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Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Monday, February 5, 2018 10:00 AM, by Jenni Broughton Schmaltz

Are you looking for an opportunity that will help you "further develop and hone your leadership skills, bring people with opposing viewpoints together, and learn to strategize" (Kathy Bennett Tonkel, Eta/Michigan), gain "the confidence to go outside your comfort zone" (Lisa Sombart Street, Alpha Mu/Missouri), and build "a wider circle of dear, dear Theta sisters from all over North America of all ages" (Jill Pedicord Peterson, Beta Gamma/Colorado State)?

We recently asked some former board members to reflect on their Theta board service and these are just a few things they identified having gained. There are three board level opportunities across the Theta enterprise. Because each Theta entity has a unique purpose and mission, each board requires different work.

  • Grand Council serves as the governing body of the Fraternity, exercising general supervision over the business and affairs of Kappa Alpha Theta and determining long-term vision and strategy for the Theta enterprise.

  • FHC Directors serve the Fraternity Housing Corporation (FHC), which oversees all housing for Kappa Alpha Theta.

  • Foundation Trustees manage the affairs of Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation in order to fulfill the mission to secure and manage resources for the educational, leadership, and philanthropic programs of the Fraternity and for the scholastic, professional, and service pursuits of its members to help them reach their fullest potential and make a difference in the world.

While individual strengths and background may make a candidate better suited for one board over another, it seems everyone is initially drawn to board service for a different reason, whether it was simply "a desire to make a difference and contribute" (Zita Enloe, Gamma Phi/Texas Tech), "curiosity about how Theta worked on a national level" (Elizabeth Prosser, Alpha Omicron/Oklahoma), a "love of Theta" (Lisa Street), an eagerness to "experience Theta governance and oversight on a national level" (Kathy Tonkel), or seizing the "right opportunity at the right time after not being able to have a full four-year experience while in college" (Lyn Stewart Simensen, Gamma Gamma/Rollins).

No matter what drew them to a Theta board, "rewarding, fulfilling, and enjoyable" were just some of the words used to describe their experiences. Some board members serve only one or two terms, while others have served several terms across multiple boards.

If you are interested in serving Theta in a board capacity, these former board members have the following advice to offer:

  • "Keep an open mind and think outside the box when looking toward the future. For it will only be by being forward thinking that our organization will remain relevant for future generations of women." Lyn Simensen

  • "Make sure you serve for the right reasons. Don't serve with your own personal agenda, and ensure your intentions are altruistic." Zita Enloe

  • "Be prepared to extend yourself in many ways. Give it your all!" Lisa Street

  • "We never stop learning! What a privilege it was to share my professional expertise while learning more from others! Theta encompasses extraordinary leaders! Continual growth both personally and professionally." Jill Peterson

  • "Do it! What you will learn and benefit from as an individual and in your life experience—the challenges, the exposure to various situations and various individuals--far outweighs any negatives. And you will have been involved in determining the direction of a wonderful organization! I would have not traded it for anything!" Kathy Tonkel

  • Are you interested in board service or do you know a Theta who would be a great candidate? Please nominate yourself or a Theta sister for any of the three board service opportunities during the 2018-2020 biennium. Nominations must be submitted by March 1, 2018. Interest Indicators will be available February 7, 2018.

    Jenni Schmaltz, Gamma/Butler, is the chief operating officer for Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.

    Posted On: Monday, October 23, 2017 07:13 AM, by Teresa Silva Smith

    On October 24, we're celebrating 10 years of the Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity Housing Corporation. Happy birthday, FHC!

    Since 2007, our housing corporation has provided and maintained safe, competitive, and desirable homes for our collegians. FHC facilities not only enhance the sisterhood of our college members, they also foster alumnae affinity and support the health, heritage, and future of our college chapters.

    To celebrate this milestone, here are a few of FHC's top moments from the past 10 years:

    • FHC interior designer Jennifer Coleman, Delta Epsilon/Arizona State, developed a custom Theta fabric collection that is used for FHC upholstery and home furnishings. An adorable tote bag using this fabric is available for purchase!

    • FHC introduced new technology and custom-designed items in its facilities.

    • FHC has invested more than $16 million in chapter renovations!

    • FHC is growing for even better service. We started with two staff members and now boast a team of eight, including professional interior designers!

    • Three Theta chapters (Tau/Northwestern, Alpha Eta/Vanderbilt, and Beta Delta/Arizona) are featured in a Town & Country Magazine online article about the 15 top sorority houses in the country.

    • 85 chapters (58 percent of all Theta chapters) participate in FHC, with four new builds coming soon! (Gamma Iota/Kentucky, Delta Omicron/Alabama, Theta Theta/NC State, and Theta Nu/Georgia Tech)

    Learn more about the benefits of joining the Fraternity Housing Corporation, view featured renovations, and more on its website.

    Teresa Smith, Phi/Pacific, is the executive director of the Facility Housing Corporation.

    Posted On: Monday, March 13, 2017 08:20 AM, by Teresa Silva Smith

    Throughout 2017, Kappa Alpha Theta is celebrating the Year of Scholarship.

    We're recognizing the commitment to academic excellence that began with our founders and continues today, as well as honoring Thetas who are dedicated to learning, growing, and being a part of something larger than themselves.

    The Fraternity Housing Corporation (FHC) strives to enhance opportunities for intellectual growth by providing our college members with study environments that foster creativity and critical thinking. We understand the importance of comfortable—yet stylish—study spaces!

    • Comfortable study space that includes plush chairs and plenty of lighting.

    • Connected with up-to-date technology. Our lighting includes fixtures that turn on just by tapping the exterior portion of the light along with two plugs to provide convenient electricity.

    • Furniture that invites collaboration. Tables are easily adjustable to set at different heights and chairs move throughout the room easily.

    Students in today's world are constantly connected and collaborating because both individual and group study is crucial to scholastic success. From convenient ways to charge laptops, phones, and tablets to plenty of lighting for studying late into the night, the FHC is prepared to meet our college students' needs.

    Teresa Smith, Phi/Pacific, is the executive director of the Fraternity Housing Corporation.

    Posted On: Wednesday, March 16, 2016 07:53 AM, by Katie Busby
    Katie Busby
    Epsilon Zeta/

    There is a lot of discussion these days about the ways in which college experiences prepare an individual for a successful career or even for jobs that don't yet exist. Like many Thetas, I've been fortunate enough to have an exciting career that has afforded me many opportunities and rewards. However, the best job I ever had was one that did not offer benefits or even a paycheck. The best job my college experience prepared me for was serving on Grand Council.

    What prepares you to be a member of Grand Council? What skills and experiences do you need? Candidates should possess vision, leadership, commitment, and a desire to serve Kappa Alpha Theta. The skills needed for council service are developed through myriad life experiences including college and alumnae Theta activities, professional careers, personal development, volunteer roles, and community engagement.

    Members of Grand Council provide vision and leadership, direct the implementation of programs, and set policies for Fraternity activities and members. Grand Council members must uphold the core values of Kappa Alpha Theta that were articulated in the 19th century while ensuring the Theta experience remains meaningful in the 21st century—and beyond.

    Board service requires a commitment of time, talent, and treasure. Council duties include travel to council meetings, Fraternity meetings such as Grand Convention, and college and alumnae chapter events as needed. Members of Grand Council participate in regular conference calls, and may also participate on Theta Foundation board of trustees or the Fraternity Housing Corporation board. Sometimes these obligations require time away from friends, family, community, and work, but the time away from other endeavors is certainly time well spent for the benefit of more than 200,000 college and alumnae members of Kappa Alpha Theta.

    A unique blend of talents and a variety of perspectives are needed to make Grand Council the effective governing board that it is. Each woman is different and brings her unique experiences to the table. Council members have been members of large alumnae chapters as well as small. Some lived in a chapter facility during their college years, and others did not. Some members of Grand Council were initiated into our oldest chapters, while others' college chapters have been disestablished. Council members use skills and knowledge from a variety of experiences to execute their duties. Women from all backgrounds and professions including health, law, education, business, etc. apply their professional expertise, knowledge gained from involvement with Kappa Alpha Theta, and skills developed through participating in countless other community organizations to their Council duties.

    This year, the nominating committee will not only prepare the Grand Council slate, but it will also prepare a slate for the board of directors for the Fraternity Housing Corporation (FHC). The FHC determines the college chapter housing strategy and establishes funding standards to support FHC facilities and programs.

    I encourage you to participate in the nominating processes of Grand Council and/or the FHC board of directors. I encourage you to read the job descriptions for both boards and to engage in the nomination process by completing a nomination form yourself or nominating a well-qualified Theta before April 8. The Nominations page has details on the entire process. Although these positions don't offer remuneration, Kappa Alpha Theta board service is one of the best jobs you can ever have!

    Katie Busby, PhD, Epsilon Zeta/Mississippi, is the nominating committee vice chairman. She is also a former president of Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity.

    Posted On: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 09:58 AM, by Lauren McCarty Palmer
    Fraternity and FHC leaders Martha West, Betsy Corridan, Suzanne McLemore, and Jill Bateman at the welcome reception.
    From February 28 - March 2, more than 60 National Panhellenic Conference housing volunteers, staff, and industry vendors gathered at the Indianapolis Marriott North for the ninth annual MJ Housing Forum, sponsored by leading women's fraternity and sorority insurance provider MJ Insurance.

    The forum covered a wide range of topics relevant to the Greek housing world, including:

    • The state of national housing corporations across NPC groups

    • Tips for reducing legal issues and risk

    • Trends in campus housing and Greek villages

    • Employment and tax laws

    • Property maintenance recommendations

    • Outsourcing household services

    • Fundraising

    • Recruiting and training facility directors

    Theta actually reignited the previously dormant NPC housing meet-up back in 2003, opening its doors to housing specialists from other women's groups for a robust discussion on trends and issues facing the industry, as well as best practices for sorority housing. The next year, Tri Delta hosted the event at its headquarters in Texas. Then in 2004, Cindy Stellhorn, vice president of MJ's sorority division, offered to lend MJ's time and resources to sponsor the event moving forward. In her welcoming speech, Stellhorn called facility corporation volunteers the "unsung heroes" of the Greek world.
    As a first-time attendee, I had no idea what to expect from an insurance provider-led conference, and I found the content surprisingly fascinating. A few noteworthy insights I jotted down during sessions and panel discussions:

    • On national house corporations: More than half of all NPC groups have national housing corporations owning and managing properties, and many of the groups currently without corporations are laying the groundwork to launch them soon.

    • On housing agreements: A strong housing agreement can help facility corporations avoid conflicts from the outset, and it should include language such as "I have received, read and agreed to follow these rules."

    • On employment screening: When reviewing resumes for facility directors or staff, MJ's Cindy Stellhorn warned attendees to beware of "resume blocking," in which an individual lists chunks of job experience related to each field without chronological employment dates. This is often a red flag indicating unexplained employment gaps. Also, always be sure to run background checks on candidates before interviewing them.

    • On managing staff: Facility corporations and chapters should create detailed job descriptions for facility directors, cooks, servers, and housekeepers. The descriptions should include specific duties, physical requirements, expectations, and reporting relationships. If discipline becomes necessary, be sure to document it thoroughly.

    • On medical marijuana: With medical marijuana now legal in several states, Scott Himsel of Indianapolis-based law firm Faegre Baker Daniels reminded attendees that facility corporations and chapters have the right to prohibit its usage on Fraternity property exactly as they do alcohol for of-age members.

    Lauren Palmer is a property manager for the Fraternity Housing Corporation.

    Posted On: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 09:11 AM, by Krista Anderson
    The living room inside the Lambda facility.
    Because I work for the Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity Housing Corporation, I have seen the outside of practically all of the buildings associated with Kappa Alpha Theta. I've even seen photos of the insides of some of the houses that we've renovated, but I had never seen the entire interior of a chapter house. I was lucky enough to be asked to do inventory recently on our newest renovation - the Lambda chapter house, which is located on the University of Vermont campus in Burlington.

    I had seen "before" photos of this house, and the difference is spectacular. Not only is the campus amazing, but our FHC interior designers, Karen Ledbetter and Arlene Wright Vanderlinde, did a wonderful job bringing out the spirit of the house. The house was built in 1910, and it has such beautiful quirks. My favorites, showcased in the photo of the living room, are the built-in bookshelves. I envy the members who will get to sit in that room and read a book while the sun shines in through the fabulous new windows! The extra-large windows are another thing that I just love. They let the light in beautifully.

    Karen and Arlene did a fantastic job of bringing out what is special about this older house while still modernizing it and making it a nice environment for the new members to eat, live, study, and enjoy their time as Theta sisters.

    Krista Anderson is the Facility Corporation Services accountant at Fraternity headquarters.

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