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Her passion for this issue continued into Fairbank's college career, when she turned her attention to government policies aimed at reducing homelessness. She conducted research on poverty policies in nine different countries and worked in a research group at UT Dallas to create a drug prevention and intervention program targeted toward homeless youth. The resulting program has now been implemented at five schools.
Read more about Nancy and other Theta leading women, including an author, a consultant, and an innovator, in the Spring 2017 issue of the Theta magazine.
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!
A point of pride for me—and, I suspect, for many other Thetas—is the role that our founders played in proving that female students could not only survive but also thrive in higher education. Although Bettie, Alice, Hannah, and Bettie studied with distinction and graduated with honors, their early college years were not easy. At best, they were ignored and excluded by male students, professors, and administrators; at worst, they met with more active disapproval.
In response to their hostile environment, Theta's founders sought to create a welcoming, supportive, empowering community for themselves and the women who would follow them into college. And so—on January 27, 1870—Kappa Alpha Theta was born. As Bettie Locke once said, "[w]e realized somehow that we weren't going to college just for ourselves, but for all the girls who would follow after us, if we could just win out." I know these leading women would be proud to know that women now outperform men in obtaining degrees from American colleges and universities by a factor of nearly 50 percent.
In the century and a half since our founders first walked into the chapel at Indiana Asbury to the protests of stomping feet, we and our sister fraternities and sororities have proven our worth time and time again. On college campuses that can be impersonal and stressful, we provide powerful spaces of support. We offer women opportunities to experience leadership, friendship, mentorship, and community service. (On average, each Theta alumna and collegian devoted 92 hours of service last year.) Our alumnae have excelled in all fields of endeavor, from athletics to aerospace, from law to literature, from music to medicine. In many cases, their endeavors were supported by the $600,000-plus we award in scholarships each year.
That is why I—and, I suspect, many other Thetas—were stunned by breaking news from Harvard University last weekend. The university administration's decision to sanction members of single-gender organizations is touted as a response to the recommendations of a report on sexual assault prevention. Instead, as outlined in a response co-authored by the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), the plan to penalize young women for their involvement in a sorority actually denies them access to member-driven education and support systems shown to be effective in battling sexual assault, as well as alcohol abuse, mental health issues, and the everyday challenges of college life.
Nearly 150 years after Theta's founding, it is disheartening to learn that some in higher education still do not regard female students as intelligent, independent adults with the ability to make their own decisions. It is even more discouraging to learn that the first female president of Harvard seems to have forgotten the women of Harvard. And it is distressing that, adding insult to injury, this assault was launched on the day final exams began, when students are perhaps their most vulnerable. One wonders where or if Harvard will draw the line in dictating the extracurricular activities of its students.
Along with our colleagues in NPC, the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), National Association of Latino Fraternal Organizations (NALFO), and the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors (AFA), we will continue to urge Harvard to reconsider this policy and we will support the members of our Zeta Xi Chapter as they advocate for their freedom to choose their associations.
If you would like to share your personal experience of finding sisterhood and support within Theta—whether as a collegian or an alumna—please send it via email to email@example.com. We will seek permission before publishing or posting online.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for helping us tell Theta's story online!
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.
The 2015 Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity Day of Service is over, the deadline for photo contest submissions has passed, and now I pause to reflect on all the amazing work that was done on Bettie's birthday, as well as look ahead to next year. We have had nearly 40 submissions for the photo contest, which means at least that many college and alumnae chapters participated in the day (we know there are more of you, so please be sure to fill out the Day of Service form in the Officer Portal to let us know what you did), which is absolutely amazing! From visiting nursing home residents to cleaning up the beach, from sorting food donations at an area food bank to working with the local Guardian Ad Litem to put on a carnival for foster children, from serving at a local animal shelter to working at an organization that refurbishes furniture to give to families living in poverty, you all exercised the widest influence for good and embodied what it means to be leading women.
Here at Theta headquarters, we served in two shifts at Gleaners Food Bank, central Indiana's largest food bank that distributes food to hungry Hoosiers through a network of more than 250 partner agencies, including emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters. The first shift, which included Executive Director Betsy Corridan (and her two sons who were on fall break), volunteered in the cooler, helping to sort and organize refrigerated food so that the local agencies they serve can distribute fresh food to their clients. They were a bit chilly, but had a fantastic time! We in the afternoon shift relabeled three pallets' worth of canned corn - the warehouse staff person on site said we were the fastest labelers he'd ever seen! - and repacked four pallets' worth of "backsacks," bags of food sent home with hungry school children on Friday afternoons so that they have something to eat over the weekend. We had an amazing time working with an awesome organization, serving alongside one another.
My hope is that October 19 was just a jumping off point for you to explore what it means to serve meaningfully and with intention and purpose. I challenge you to find an organization you care about in your community, contact them, and see what opportunities they have available for ongoing service, and then commit to going as often as you are able - once a quarter, once a month, once a week...
All the while, we must continue to think about the larger social issues the organizations we work with are trying to solve, how we can break down stereotypes about the people we serve, and always reflect on the impact we are making.
For now, I'll leave you with a few of my favorite quotes about service:
• "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." —John Wesley
• "We ourselves feel what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." —Mother Teresa
• "No man or woman, even of the humblest sort, can really be strong, gentle, pure and good without the world being better for it; without somebody being helped and comforted by the very existence of that goodness." —Phillips Brooks
• "Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love." —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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