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Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Monday, December 16, 2013 08:00 AM, by Ashley Atkins
Ashley Atkins
Beta Rho/Duke
Two years ago, I was asked to serve as the strategic planning committee chairman, responsible for implementation of the Fraternity's relatively new Plan of Aspirations. Grand Council had adopted the plan in February 2011 after several months in development, and I was thrilled to take on this job! I get really excited about strategic plans and I thought, what a better way to give back to the Fraternity than by using my skills in strategic planning. You may be thinking, "You actually like strategic plans?" But, I truly believe that they are so important to organizations like Kappa Alpha Theta. They provide us with a roadmap for the work that we do. And for an organization with nearly 200,000 members spread across the world, it helps everyone have a shared responsibility for moving the organization forward in the same direction.

Developing and implementing a strategic plan like our Plan of Aspirations focuses an organization, its chapters, and its members to think about "Where are we? Where do we want to go? And how do we get there?" In looking at the Plan of Aspirations, you will see that it is focused on the fundamental values of our organization: high scholastic aims, the widest influence for good, creating a relevant experience for all members, along with the addition of efficient operations so that we can do all the other things. In developing this plan, Grand Council assessed where we were in each of these areas and set targets for where we want to go. Some of these targets are very specific: that we will increase by 15 percent the number of members graduating with honors, or that we will double our alumnae member engagement. Others are less specific, and the Fraternity workforce—both staff and volunteer officers—have been working during the last three years to develop action plans to define "how we get there."

We are well along the path to meet our goals and targets that are set out in the plan. A significant part of the early efforts were focused on the Fraternity workforce and ensuring that we have the right structures and systems in place to focus our efforts on achieving the rest of the plan. With those systems now in place, efforts have shifted to developing programming to achieve some of the goals that Grand Council defined. In our efforts to extend the widest influence for good, there have been significant increases in member engagement with CASA, the development of the Kappa Alpha Theta Service Trip to engage college members in service learning tied to our core values, and a 21 percent increase in donations made to CASA. In terms of scholarship, 26 percent of our chapters were first in scholarship on their campuses, with 79 percent of chapters at or above the all-sorority average (ASA), just one percentage point away from our 80 percent target. And new programming has been developed to provide relevant materials for all members, both college and alumnae, including the addition of mental health screening resources as part of our Sisters Supporting Sisters program.

While we are proud of our many accomplishments over the last three years, you might be wondering, "How can I help advance the goals of the Fraternity on a more local level?" Individuals and chapters can think about the questions "Where are we now? Where do we want to go? And how do we get there?" This time of the year is a perfect time to do this, too, as the year winds down and you think about your own personal and chapter goals for 2014. I encourage you to think about how you spend your time. Are you focused on achieving your highest scholarship? Are you helping extend the widest influence for good? What are you doing to help make your Theta experience relevant? For leaders at both college and alumnae chapters, think about how you are spending your time as a chapter. Do your activities align with the goals of the Fraternity? If not, how can you change or tweak those activities to help the Fraternity meet its goals?

Here's one key point to remember, too: As you think about these questions and set your own individual and chapter goals, be sure to track your progress. And communicate your successes along the way! The Fraternity wants to hear your stories of how you are living and engaging with the strategic plan. Submit a story to the I Am a Theta campaign, or let us know by emailing How are you using your membership experience to continue to live the values of Kappa Alpha Theta?

I look forward to hearing and telling your stories over the next few months. And watch this blog for more updates on the great work of Thetas everywhere.

Ashley Atkins, Beta Rho/Duke, is a Fraternity vice-president and strategic planning committee chairman. She is also a Life Loyal member.

Posted On: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 10:05 AM, by Amy Hayner Kates
Amy Hayner Kates
Alpha Phi/Tulane
As I hope Thetas everywhere know, Theta introduced a new tag line—Leading Women—and logo earlier this summer. During the development phase of this new brand, we on Grand Council were very mindful of the fact that our tag line can't simply sound good. It has to resonate with members, friends of the Fraternity, and the general public, and it must also accurately reflect who we are as individuals and as an organization.

So this July, I was very pleased to participate in three experiences of Leading Women in action.

At Theta's Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI), more than 200 collegians spent a weekend analyzing their specific skills and understanding leadership as a relational process. We believe that leadership is not necessarily an office held or a title conferred; rather, Theta defines relational leadership as an opportunity to engage with others to create positive change for the common good. Jessica Seigel, a member of Alpha Beta Chapter at Swarthmore said this about the Institute: "So often, we pay the most attention to fixing our faults, but at ELI we stopped thinking about what we couldn't do. Each individual contributes something unique to her chapter, and without these talents, the chapter cannot thrive. Everyone's best attributes will allow a chapter to find the most success as a whole."

Harnessing individual strengths for the common good was also a theme of Theta's Service Trip. Nineteen collegians spent a week in New Orleans, working with CASA of New Orleans and New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity during the day and engaging in leadership, service, and cultural curriculum in the evenings. As participant Abbi Miles, Delta Epsilon/Arizona State, said, "Women empowering women. It really doesn't get much better than that."

Theta's Advisor Conference, in fact, exemplified women empowering women. Our advising philosophy is, "we let students do," because truly effective advisors support students as they learn and grow as leaders. Of course, advisors also serve as role models for collegians, demonstrating the many facets of Leading Women.

It was truly inspiring to participate in these three events, to meet so many accomplished and dedicated Thetas, both alumnae and collegian. I believe that Theta's first leading women—Bettie, Alice, Hannah, and Alice—would be very proud.

Amy Hayner Kates, Alpha Phi/Tulane, is the president of Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity, and is a charter Life Loyal member.

Posted On: Monday, July 29, 2013 09:22 AM, by Lisa Gebken Thibault
Veronica at the Habitat house
The Kappa Alpha Theta Service Immersion trip took place in New Orleans, La., the week of June 23-30. There were a total of 19 Theta women from across the U.S. as participants and I had the wonderful opportunity to serve as one of the lead facilitators for the experience. My day job is the director of student-athlete academic services at Lehigh University, but I facilitate a number of different experiences for campuses and other organizations.

We were in NOLA for a total of six days, and during this time we experienced and learned so much! The experience began Sunday night during our education session where we asked the women to think about why they were on the trip. We asked them to remember the purpose of serving and also realize that this is more than just a service trip, but an immersion experience that would change their lives. This reflective activity sparked the flame for what we would experience for the duration of the trip.

During our time, we had the pleasure of being led on two historic tours of NOLA that provided all of us with a perspective that maybe we hadn't thought of before. The women were in total admiration of the stories told and the places that we visited. For some, this was the highlight of the trip. For others, the highlight was our work with Habitat for Humanity NOLA. In my opinion, this is where the magic happened with putting what the women had been learning about serving leadership to action. As facilitators, we overheard the women using the language and helping others identify their strengths and how they were being put to use. Oh the joy that we felt in seeing the experience come together!

I felt a sense of burning passion from the first night. The women were totally engaged, and had a very strong willingness to be vulnerable and learn something about themselves that maybe they hadn't realized before coming on the trip. The passion that the women exuded was contagious, and always had everyone on a high level of committed attentiveness to need to serve others, one of the main tenants of servant leadership. Though the trip took place almost a month ago, we are still engaged through a Facebook group, and hold each other accountable to our projects and what we learned/committed to on the trip. Just a few weeks ago, I received a note in the mail from a participant that brought tears to my eyes. I will never forget what happened on the Kappa Alpha Theta Service Immersion Trip 2013. It changed my life.

Veronica Hunter is the director of student-athlete academic services at Lehigh University, and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.