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Sara Lytle, Alpha Phi/Tulane, is advisory board chairman (ABC) for Zeta Upsilon/UT Dallas, Dallas Alumnae Chapter website coordinator, and permanent alumnae secretary (PAS) for Alpha Phi/Tulane. She has previously served as development advisor, Zeta Chi/Johns Hopkins; recruitment and Panhellenic advisor, Alpha Nu/Montana; Missoula Alumnae Chapter president; marketing and community involvement advisors, Zeta Upsilon/UT Dallas; and Dallas Alumnae Chapter membership communications coordinator.
Undergraduate officer positions held: Assistant membership chairman (now recruitment director).
How did you learn about the opportunity to become a Theta volunteer? Soon after graduating from Tulane, I moved to Baltimore and stayed with my Theta big sister Kelly Drake Torres until I found a permanent place to live. I tagged along with her to an advisory board meeting for Zeta Chi/Johns Hopkins, led by fellow Alpha Phi/Tulane Claire Breedlove Smith, who was ABC at the time. I signed on as development advisor the next semester, and the rest is history.
What made you want to become a Theta volunteer? I did not have the availability as a collegian to be as active a leader in my chapter as I wanted, so I made the decision as an alumna to be as involved as possible.
How long have you been a Theta volunteer? 9 years
Do you, or did you have, a Theta mentor? This has been the hardest question to answer. I have had so many Theta mentors over the past decade and I can see more being added to the list as I continue my Theta journey. Most recently I became the ABC for Zeta Upsilon/UT Dallas, which has been a challenging and very rewarding experience. As a new ABC, I relied heavily on my past mentorship from Suzanne Peterson, long-standing ABC for Alpha Nu/Montana, and contacted her frequently during the first year of my term. Most of all, what I take from Suzanne is her patience. She was very patient with me in a pivotal time in my life and helped me through some stressful situations. The patience she has with the collegians and her ABC duties is admirable and a testament of a true leader.
Why do you stay involved with Theta? It's the best way to stay updated with the Fraternity. It's truly amazing to see how our organization grows and changes over the course of time, and I've only been a member for 13 years. Secondly, I learn more about myself and leadership through Theta than anything else I've been a part of. Plus, the collegians are incredible. Watching them succeed is the best part of volunteering.
Do you have a special volunteering moment? Recruitment will always be my first love. As recruitment advisor for seven years at Alpha Nu/Montana, we experienced a large leap in enrollment for recruitment one year. As we were setting up for preference round, we realized that we were severely lacking in seating for the next day. We knew the Fraternity across the street would have tables and chairs that we could borrow, but because of Panhellenic rules, neither of us could be on one another's property. In the wee hours of the morning, the men dropped off furniture in between our properties, and Theta women ran out to retrieve it. It's one funny recruitment "emergency" I will never forget!
Do you have a special Theta moment? As a Tulane student in New Orleans, you become well acquainted with hurricane season. A hurricane usually passes by the area right before the first round of exams every year. My sophomore year, a dozen or so Thetas piled into cars and ventured off to northern Louisiana to invade a member's childhood home. It was one giant girly slumber party for a week. The next year, our hurricane break would last an entire semester and change our beloved crescent city forever. It was my junior year, and the force from Hurricane Katrina blasted through the levees of New Orleans. I watched from afar as the city I'd grown to love was drowning under the deluge. Because these hurricane breaks weren't uncommon, I had thrown a small bag of possessions together and didn't give it a second thought as I headed out the door the day before Katrina landed. This single bag ended up being the only things I owned for the rest of that semester. When we learned we would not be returning to Tulane, I decided to attend the University of Colorado in Boulder. I reached out to the facility director of Beta Iota Chapter to see if they had room for me that semester. She said yes of course and warmly welcomed me into the facility a few days later. Come to find out, they did not have an actual vacancy when I arrived, but they made room for me. It was the only Theta facility I ever lived in and is still some of the best food I've ever eaten. It was like a semester abroad complete with new Theta sisters. Beta Iota didn't have to accept me, didn't have to include me, and didn't have to make room for me. But they did it anyway. Whether it's moving, needing a place to stay, or help in a tight situation, Theta has been the only one there for me every. single. time.
Do you have a profession or personal passion? I have a passion for learning. I seek certifications, advanced degrees, leadership courses, and frequently read personal development books. As I advise for the college chapters, I'm always tempted by the new graduate programs the schools offer. Similarly, I find foreign culture extremely fascinating. I studied French and Arabic, dabbled in Spanish, and have Russian on my to-do list. I travel abroad as much as I can to immerse myself in the various cultures and greatly appreciate the unique qualities of each place. I am a dreamer who loves to explore and I honestly believe that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
Amy Hayner Kates, Alpha Phi/Tulane, is Fraternity ritualist, NPC delegate, and sesquicentennial volunteer. She has served the Fraternity since her days as an educational leadership consultant, including positions on college chapter advisory boards, facility corporations, the college committee, and Grand Council, including two terms as Fraternity president.
Undergraduate officer positions held: I was the corresponding secretary and standards chairman.
Have you held other Theta offices/volunteer positions? I was a chapter consultant (ELC), recruitment advisor, ABC, facility corporation secretary, college district president, 3rd alternate NPC delegate, Fraternity vice-president membership, Fraternity vice-president college and Fraternity president. In my role as president, I also served on the Fraternity investment committee and Fraternity Housing Corporation, and served as a Theta Foundation trustee.
How did you learn about the opportunity to become a Theta volunteer? It's been in my blood since I graduated from college. I always knew I was going to stay involved with Theta. It was never really a choice; Theta has always been a big part of my life since I pledged in 1984.
What made you want to become a Theta volunteer? It was my college advisor, Marina Gregorio. I remember very vividly a time in college when she and the other advisors were upset with our chapter over a risk management issue, and Marina was particularly powerful in her message to us. I felt a fundamental change in the way I looked at Theta at that moment. I felt the influence of her as a mentor, and knew that Theta was so much more than anything else I was part of, because of the alumnae mentors I was being provided. I wanted to be able to have that kind of effect on another Theta someday, and so I knew I would always be a Theta volunteer.
How long have you been a Theta volunteer? 25 years!
Do you, or did you have, a Theta mentor? Yes, many through the years, starting with Marina, but probably the person who has most influenced me is Lissa Bradford, who has also served Theta in many positions, including Fraternity president.
Why do you stay involved with Theta? It is the reward of watching Theta grow and change with the times, and I am so inspired by our collegians. They are amazing! I am continually impressed with all they do.
Do you have a special volunteering moment? There are so many... but I remember when I was Fraternity president, and we were struggling with a new tagline. Suddenly "Leading Women" was on the table, and we knew that was it. It was a moment of clarity of vision shared by a group; I still get chills thinking back on that time. And, when I see it today, I am especially proud to have been part of that decision.
Do you have a special Theta moment? Leading initiation at Grand Convention 2014 was quite special.
Do you have a profession or personal passion? I am a Notary Public, which in Louisiana is different than other states. Because we have civil law in Louisiana, Notaries are able to perform more legal acts. It gives people greater access to the law to have more officials available to perform simple legal acts, whereas other states require an attorney. I am passionate about giving that access to as many people as I can, and I work hard to be as available as possible. That said, my true passion is my family, and I'm thrilled that I've been able to have a career that has been flexible enough to give me the chance to be there for them as much as I have.
Undergraduate officer positions held: Chapter archivist and recruitment chairman (now chief recruiting officer)
How did you learn about the opportunity to become a Theta volunteer? After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Alpha Phi Chapter needed advisors. I had recently moved back to New Orleans and thought about volunteering with the chapter, but had not yet reached out. I served first as the scholarship advisor and then moved into other positions as needed (recruitment advisor and advisory board chairman).
What made you want to become a Theta volunteer? I became involved because I was needed. I also had a younger sister who joined Alpha Phi as part of the first new member class following Katrina. The chapter was at a turning point and rebuilding, much like the city, and I wanted to help them achieve their goals.
Do you, or did you have, a Theta mentor? I have two, both from Alpha Phi: Amy Kates, who served as Fraternity president, and Lyn Hart, recruitment advisor and Panhellenic advisor for Alpha Phi.
Amy has inspired me to want to continue my involvement in Theta and to hold other positions outside of volunteering for just my chapter. She has given me excellent advice over the years and has become a true friend. It was so exciting for Alpha Phi when she became Fraternity president in 2010. Amy is an excellent example of a leading woman, and is truly inspiring to me.
Lyn has taught me everything that I know about recruitment, and is an inspiration to me in her dedication to Alpha Phi. Lyn gives so much of herself to the chapter, and has been a consistent presence as a longtime advisor. Lyn and I have become close friends, and I still call her constantly for her wisdom.
Why do you stay involved with Theta? I stay involved because I love working with the members and helping them accomplish their highest goals. They are amazing, inspirational women who are involved, strong leaders and care about their community and their sisters. I have built strong relationships with my advisees and my fellow volunteers, whom I value immensely.
Do you have a profession or personal passion? I am the director of sales and marketing for The New Orleans Advocate, the city's only daily newspaper. I have worked in print and digital media since graduation and have had the pleasure of hiring and mentoring many Thetas in my professional life.
Do you have a special volunteering moment? One of my fondest memories was when Amy Kates handed our chapter president the Golden Kite Award at Grand Convention 2012. The chapter had worked so hard to achieve that standard, and it was so special that Amy was able to present it to them.
Do you have a special Theta moment? My favorite moment was when I was able to be present for the initiation of my sister, Ashley Rose. It was such a wonderful experience to participate in the ceremony and have her become a member of Theta.
Do you know a Theta who's made a difference in her local Theta chapter? Let us know!