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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!
Now that 2015 is behind us, we've had the chance to collect all the data and assess our blog content from last year. Believe it or not, Theta staff, volunteers, and members wrote quite a bit in 2015—more than 140 posts! Let's take a quick look back at last year's blogs to find out which ones you liked the most. Doing so gives us a little insight into what you, our members and site visitors, find most interesting and useful. (This list was compiled by assessing page views, or the number of times the story was clicked on the Theta site.)
1. Overcoming Tragedy with the Help of My Sisters (Sept. 11, 2013). Even though this story was first published to the site in 2013, we posted the link again on our social media sites in September, and it clearly continues to touch the hearts of many of our followers and readers.
2. Being Inspired at Theta's Emerging Leaders Institute (Sept 16, 2015). Claire Russell, a junior at Albion College and member of Pi Chapter, shared her experience at last year's Emerging Leaders Institute.
3. Sexual Misconduct on College Campuses (Feb. 13, 2015). Fraternity President Laura Doerre encouraged discussion of the growing problem of sexual assault on college campuses and clarified Theta's role in addressing this problem.
4. Five Ways to Apply Ritual to Your Everyday Life (March 4, 2015). Fraternity Ritualist Amy Kates reminded members during National Ritual Appreciation Week to come back to ritual often when seeking guidance to further develop our Fraternity membership.
5. Kate Voegele: Singer, Songwriter, Actress, Leading Woman (Apr. 22, 2015). Kate shared how she launched her career, why she chose Theta, and how her membership has impacted her life and career.
Thank you for visiting the Theta website in 2015, and please continue to read, comment, and share our posts in 2016! If you'd like to hear about specific topics in the coming year, or contribute content, feel free to leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy New Year!
Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker, Kappa/Kansas, served as chair of the Subcommittee on African Affairs in the 1980s, and encouraged fellow congressmen and women to advocate sanctions against South Africa, with the hopes of ending apartheid.
The 1994 summer issue of The Kappa Alpha Theta Magazine features a multi-page story on her, and reads as follows:
Since her early desire to become a foreign service officer, Kassebaum's own intense interest in foreign policy has continued...As chairman of the Subcommittee on African Affairs from 1981 to 1986, she is credited with orchestrating passage of the bill that imposed economic sanctions against South Africa for its apartheid policies. After the way was paved for democratic nonracial elections in South Africa, she introduced legislation to repeal the remaining sanctions. "I'm really excited about the South Africa election," says Kassebaum. "It's just extraordinary to see Nelson Mandela and de Klerk—two outstanding leaders—change the course of history in their country. It won't be easy, but it is very rewarding to see."
By striving to effect positive change, Senator Kassebaum personified Theta ideals and exemplifies Leading Women.
I'll wager that not one of us, whether collegian or alumna, is able to do exactly what she wants for three consecutive months each year. But the pace of summer is still slower than that of the other seasons, and I seem to have more time to read and do other things that I enjoy. I hope that you do, too, and if one of your preferred pastimes is reading, may I suggest the Summer 2013 issue of the Theta magazine as potential material?
Here are the top reasons why:
- Marlo Thomas. Philanthropist, activist, actor, author ... this woman is a force to be reckoned with. And she's a Theta.
- Still More Reading Material. Reading Women, Theta's online book club, debuts next month.
- We're Growing. Four—yes, that's four—college chapters will be added to our roll this autumn.
- Theta Values. They can lead us in some surprising directions, including an all-women law firm in Dallas.
I hope that's piqued your interest and that you'll enjoy the Summer issue, whether it's delivered to your mailbox or you read it online.
"There lies before me a goodly pile of letters and telegrams from North, South, East and West all bearing cheery messages of congratulations on our forty-fourth birthday. Each one carries its own personality and reveals to me two things; appreciation of what was done long ago, and - best of all - the ever widening influence for good that is being exerted by Kappa Alpha Theta.
"It is a great satisfaction to know that the same high ideals that meant so much to us in the beginning have been sacredly cherished and have proved so helpful in building a great fraternity ....
"That girls could have a secret fraternity was thought impossible and absurd. Our handsome badge was dubbed a 'kite' and the opposition to coeducation furnished a favoring gale for a well made kite, a line of study held it aloft and after awhile as the line grew longer the kite rose higher and appeared smaller.
"We were called Thetas always. The Greek-letter Theta is some times known as unlucky because it begins 'thanatos' and was used to pass sentence on prisoners.
"Theta's mission seems to have been to pass sentence on some of the common prejudices against coeducation, for at that time it was considered at best a doubtful experiment.
"First it was a claim that the course was too heavy for young women and the danger would be to health; next that there was a great danger of lowering the standard; and worst of all, that if neither of these calamities occurred the young women would acquire a distaste for home life.
"All these questions have been settled years ago, for health did not suffer, the standard was not lowered, honors were received, and thousands of college-bred women have found their widest influence in the home.
"That we are proud of the record made by our fraternity is shown by our willingness to have our daughters become members for we want only the best for them, and is further shown by the alumnae chapters that keep in touch with the work of the whole."
Hannah goes on to recount a visit to "western Thetas" in California and Colorado, mentioning the Omega/UC Berkeley house because of "all admiration for the genius of our Theta architect, Julia Morgan, for such a complete, convenient, and artistic home." She concludes her letter, discussing the announcement of the establishment of Alpha Tau at the University of Cincinnati, a school not far from her home in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and attending its installation. She concludes her letter:
"May Alpha Tau find a field of usefulness and ever grow and prosper."
Alpha Tau did grow and prosper, and will celebrate its centennial in 2013.
With few surviving original letters of our founders, Hannah's printed letter reminds us of the spirit in which Kappa Alpha Theta was founded and continues to "grow and prosper."
- According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1,000 women die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth every day (one woman every 90 seconds).
- In their book, Kristof and WuDunn estimate 3 million women and girls are currently enslaved in the sex trade around the world.
- Gender-based violence ranks as the top public health crisis for women around the world today, according to the Half the Sky website. Women ages 15 to 45 are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined.
- One answer to many of these problems is education, but 20% of primary school-age girls around the world (estimated at more than 37 million) are not in school.
There is hope. Bettie Locke once said she and the other founding members knew that creating Kappa Alpha Theta was not just for those first four, but that Theta would go on to help other women stay in school. Bettie said, "It was organized to help the girls win out in their fight to stay in college..." Now other girls and women around the world are fighting to attend school and have the same rights, opportunities, and protections afforded to men. I often remind myself that I am privileged for many reasons, one being my college education (around 6% of the world population has a college degree). It is also not lost on me that many women, including Bettie, came before me and fought for rights that I enjoy today. It seems to me that a great way to live that legacy is to turn around and help other women.
I hope you are like me and want to do something. Here's a list of things you, your friends, your chapter members, and your communities can do right now:
- Read the book Half the Sky. Then pass it on to friends and family.
- Become a supporter of the Half the Sky Movement.
- Participate in the 30 Songs in 30 Days Campaign. Notable Thetas Amy Grant and Sheryl Crow are donating songs to help raise awareness. Amy's song will be posted on Sunday, September 16, and Sheryl's song on Monday, September 24. It's an easy way to support our fellow Thetas as well as a great cause.
- Host a Half the Sky viewing party! The Circle of Sisterhood Foundation and the National Panhellenic Conference are calling on sorority women everywhere to host a viewing party on October 1 to learn about these issues affecting women and girls and learn how we can help. Visit Circle of Sisterhood website to register your event and access promotional material to use.
Have you read the book? Are you hosting a viewing party? Tell us about your activities in the Comments section below!
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