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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.
In the early 80s, the Princeton Alumnae Club helped start a chapter at Princeton University. Jay jumped in as the education advisor, and from there she began her days volunteering at Epsilon Mu. She attended Epsilon Mu's first initiation following its installation in October 1983, and later became ritual advisor. For 17 years, Jay volunteered at initiation, but took a nine-year hiatus starting in 2000. Theta drew her back in, and once again she volunteered to guide the women of Epsilon Mu through Theta's most special ceremony. Having attended so many initiation ceremonies, she has stories that will have you in stitches. During one ceremony, both a cat and a dog wandered in during initiation and decided they too wanted to be Thetas.
Asked about Theta sisterhood, Jay told the most touching story: "As my late husband approached the age of 90, his eyesight deteriorated to the point he qualified as legally blind. One February, he asked me to drop him at the door of a greeting card store and go away. I returned after awhile and through the display window, saw him, lost and confused, at the Valentine display, holding cards two inches away from his glasses. Wondering how to rescue him without spoiling his plans, I spied a Theta alumna, Happy Wallace, near the door...I sneaked inside and told her my problem. Although we were not close friends, she responded nobly, cruising into the relevant aisle and greeting Dr. Stevens as if they'd met up by accident. Pretending she was card shopping, too, she helped him select Valentines for me and our daughters. He was delighted with his purchases and he never knew she had not been there by chance."
Do you know a Theta who's made a difference in her local Theta chapter? Let us know!