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Fraternity Blog

Posted On: Monday, August 29, 2016 07:46 AM, by Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel
L-R: Lizzy Wynne, Bev Epps, and Meghan Finke

Have you ever stopped to think about how much time, energy and love Theta advisors invest in collegians?

My college chapter officer experience in Theta developed me as a leader probably more so than any other experience in my life*. I say that because, before that experience, I really didn't consider myself a leader at all. Knowing that my fellow chapter members, and most importantly, my advisor, believed in me, invested in me, and held me accountable, entirely changed the way I perceived and conducted myself. It also made me want to give back to Theta, so that I could empower women to discover this strength in themselves.

Recently, I had the opportunity to hear some similar stories from an amazing group of young Thetas: our ELCs.

Each summer, ELCs come to Fraternity headquarters to participate in training with Fraternity staff and volunteers. When the alumnae engagement department met with the ELCs, the first thing we asked them was, "What Theta has most influenced or impacted your Theta experience?"

The responses were touching - from Grand Council members and advisory board chairmen to big (Theta) sisters and big (biological) sisters. Many of our ELCs couldn't pick just one!

One response did strike a chord. ELC Meghan Finke, Gamma deuteron/Ohio Wesleyan, who had been the chief executive officer and chief recruiting officer at her chapter, said that her ABC, Bev Epps, had influenced her the most. She said:

"I have always looked up to her so much; she makes each member feel welcome and valued. What I love most about Bev is that anyone who works with her can see how much she cares about Gamma deuteron and each of our members. Her warm and sunny presence lights up the house."

Ironically enough, I had been in touch with Bev just that day, and when I got back to my desk, I had to share Meghan's glowing remarks. Bev replied right back to me:

"Meghan is an amazing young woman. Theta is blessed to have her as a sister and ELC and I am blessed to have had her in my chapter, to know her and to call her not only my sister but my friend. I receive far more from the relationships I have with the collegians than I give. It is truly an honor for me to serve them and to know my service is appreciated means more than you know!"

As I sat with Meghan and the rest of the ELCs, I began to wonder if, without the Thetas who guided and supported them, they would be sitting in front of me at all.

So often when we ask advisors why they do what they do, we get two answers: to mentor collegians and to repay the Fraternity for what it has done for them. Chances are, Bev too had a Theta invest in her. And I know that throughout her life, Meghan will pay it forward in the same way.

How about you? Did you have an advisor or mentor who inspired you to give back to Theta in a special way? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

*You certainly don't have to be a college chapter officer to be a chapter leader!

Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel, Gamma/Butler, is an assistant director of alumnae engagement at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.

Posted On: Monday, July 25, 2016 08:39 AM, by Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel
L-R: Cheryl Naasko-Pounds, Psi/
Wisconsin; Amy Finnegan, Beta Kappa/Drake; and Nichol James, Gamma Mu/Maryland

Now that we're a month removed from Convention, I've had the opportunity to reflect on one of my favorite observations while in Phoenix: the amount of love that was shown and shared among our Theta volunteers.

I was overwhelmed by what I saw: alumnae seeing each other for the first time in months or years and embracing, laughing, crying, or squealing with happiness.

Some of them shared their beautiful stories of friendship with me, and when we returned home, I wanted to hear more. We posted the following on Facebook this week: Have you made any close friends through volunteering for Theta?

The number of comments, reactions, tags, lovey emojis, etc., that we received was incredible. Here are few:

Five years ago, a recent graduate Theta asked for assistance from Theta alums in Massachusetts and I was the lucky one to answer the call. Abbey Shea is now a fabulous friend and inspiration -- thank you Kappa Alpha Theta for bringing us together!

My friendship with all of you has been such a blessing! It's hard to believe we haven't known each other forever. You are all such an important part of my life and I will be forever grateful to Theta and the Alumnae Committee for bringing us all together!"

You all were there through so much and were such dear friends and sisters. And I'll never forget how you were all there for me during some of the toughest parts of my life even after my official Theta volunteer time was over. You're the best!

I would say my friends met volunteering mean as much to me as my close pledge sisters I've now known over half my life.

This just made me tear up a little!! No words describe how thankful I am for Theta and meeting you! Sisterhood is not limited to our individual chapters!

What struck me about these posts was how these women would never have known one another if they hadn't volunteered with Theta. Many of the friends were intergenerational, and most didn't live geographically near one another.

But what struck me even more was the real and undeniable bond that is created among women when they work hard for a cause they love.

Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel, Gamma/Butler, is an assistant director of alumnae engagement at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.

Posted On: Monday, May 23, 2016 08:27 AM, by Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel

Here's an incredible stat for you: More than 4,500 Thetas will be graduating across North America this spring.

If you are among these women, congratulations! That diploma represents years of hard work, grit, and determination, and we are so, so proud of you. Some of you may be graduating with a job in tow. Others might be taking a year to explore or volunteer. And more might be on the hunt for a first job.

This time of year is always rife with new-grad employment articles, and I read one in Fast Company this week that said, "Hiring managers found soft skills such as communication, leadership, ownership, and teamwork were missing in this new crop of workers."

No doubt, your experience in Theta—whether as a chapter officer or committee member, or participation in a homecoming event, leadership development program, or intramurals—helped you develop these skills and put you ahead of the pack. But if you're looking for a way to sharpen these skills and show tangible evidence on your resume, try volunteering for Theta!

There are positions on standing committees, college chapter advisory boards, and alumnae chapter boards. There is a role for you, no matter your time commitment, geography or interests, but if you don't see a role that interests you, email me at and tell me how you'd like to serve the Fraternity. We are always looking for short-term and ad-hoc volunteers to help us with programming.

Beyond building your skills, you'll also open yourself up to a network of leading women, whether in your local community or across the country.

So, what are you waiting for? Complete a Volunteer Interest Indicator (login required) today! And again, congratulations on completing a huge milestone in your life—college graduation!

Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel, Gamma/Butler, is an assistant director of alumnae engagement at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.

Posted On: Monday, April 11, 2016 08:14 AM, by Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel
Click to enlarge.

April 10-16 is National Volunteer Appreciation Week. My job at Theta headquarters is focused primarily on volunteer recruitment, retention and recognition, so this week has a special place in my heart.

Something new we've created for this year's celebration is a Volunteer Impact Report, which shares high-level statistics and fun facts about the Theta volunteer experience. I hope you'll take a moment to check it out.

The numbers are certainly impressive, but something they can't possibly illustrate are the amazing, sometimes jaw-dropping, stories and anecdotes I hear from our staff members about volunteers on a daily basis.

Like one volunteer who took her vacation time from work and travelled halfway across the country to help chapters prepare for recruitment. There's a volunteer who lives in Hong Kong but would still make every conference call, even when the times were likely completely inconvenient for her. And one committee member who would be on conference calls in the car pool line at her child's school.

I've heard about advisors approving forms from the hospital when they've fallen ill, and one who has purchased more than 20 Life Loyal gifts for other members. I communicate daily with district directors who I could swear spend more time responding to Theta email in a day than I do.

These examples might seem extreme, but one thing I've encountered with nearly every volunteer with whom I work is a complete selflessness and dedication to the wider good of the Fraternity.

We have more than 2,700 volunteers serving Theta at this very moment. It's no secret that without volunteers, the Fraternity simply could not exist. To these women, and to those volunteers past and future, I want to say thank you on behalf of EVERY Theta. Your dedication and love brings tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart more times than you can possibly imagine.

"So there is no happiness without responsibility, no receiving without also giving...It is ours through these channels of intimacy to lead others to truer life by your example."

Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel, Gamma/Butler, is an assistant director of alumnae engagement at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.

Posted On: Monday, January 11, 2016 08:32 AM, by Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel

Welcome to the new year! While some people frown on making resolutions, doing so fills me with promise and possibility for the 12 months to come. And I'm not alone; 45% of Americans usually make a New Year's resolution at the start of the year.

Did you know that according to Time magazine, volunteering is one of the most commonly broken New Year's resolutions? I tried to do a little research on why people don't volunteer, and what I found is, for the most part, people get busy with jobs, families, school, life, etc., and the initiative to volunteer just slips away.

But what I also found is that some people don't volunteer because they are never asked.

So the purpose of this post is two-fold: to make the process to volunteer for Theta simple and fast for you, and to actually ask you to volunteer. If you're interested in volunteering for Theta, all you need to do is complete the Volunteer Interest Indicator (login required) found on the Volunteer Opportunities page, and I will match you with the position and staff/workforce volunteers that are best for you.

It's that simple.

Need some more incentive? According to the 2015 volunteer survey of current Theta volunteers:

  • 82.7% said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "I feel satisfied by the overall Theta volunteering experience."

  • 91% said they agreed or strongly agreed with the statement, "Volunteering for Theta strengthens my bond with the Fraternity."

  • 97.5% said they would recommend volunteering for the Fraternity to friends and sisters.

It is clearly a rewarding experience.

As I mentioned above, 45% of Americans usually make a resolution but only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolution. Complete the Volunteer Interest Indicator and be one of the successful few today!

Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel, Gamma/Butler, is an assistant director of alumnae engagement at Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity headquarters.

Posted On: Wednesday, October 14, 2015 08:44 AM, by Ashley Whittredge de Zablah
Ashley Whittredge
de Zablah
Epsilon Pi/Bucknell
Note: A few weeks ago, I pulled a list of our permanent alumnae secretaries (PASes), which included mailing addresses. I was thrilled to see that several of our PASes do not even live within the continental United States! Among them was Ashley Whittredge de Zablah, Epsilon Pi/Bucknell. She lives in El Salvador with her husband, Jose Carlos. The PAS volunteer position is perfect for her, because you can do it anywhere, any time. You can learn more about being a PAS on the Theta website, and if you're interested in serving as a PAS, check out the available positions on Betties List. Laura Stelsel, assistant director of alumnae engagement

My husband, Jose Carlos, and I met during a summer course at Fairfield University. My family lives in Fairfield, Conn., and I was taking summer courses in order to earn additional credits before studying abroad in London. After dating long distance for about three years, I moved down to El Salvador, leaving my job and family in the United States.

Geographically, El Salvador is about the same size as the state of Massachusetts, but with just over 6 million people. I had to learn Spanish, adapt to a new culture, and find a new job.

In the spring of 2014, I saw an announcement in The Kappa Alpha Theta Magazine that my chapter was looking for a PAS. I wanted to take on the role so that I could have a tangible connection to Theta. There aren't any alumnae chapters in Central America, so it was difficult to maintain that closeness to Theta after moving abroad.

Being PAS allows me to be close to my sisters, although geographically, I am far removed. With social media and the PAS resources on the Theta website, it's very easy to do my volunteer role. I can perform my duties on my time schedule, and there's also a lot of creative leeway to connect with and involve my Epsilon Pi sisters.

There are so many opportunities to stay involved with Theta as an alumna. I encourage you to update your contact information and use resources like the Kappa Alpha Theta Magazine, the Theta website (, and your chapter's social media to find ways to stay involved.

Keep your eyes open! Just as I thought I wasn't going to be able to be an involved alumna, I found the role as PAS for my college chapter, and I absolutely love it!

Ashley Whittredge de Zablah, Epsilon Pi/Bucknell, serves as permanent alumnae secretary for her college chapter.

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