Discovering How Theta Connections Span Generations

Category: Fraternity

Kit Clark

It isn’t often I meet someone who shares the same passions as myself, and hardly ever that I meet another who understands the true interdependency of politics and art. I certainly never thought I would find such a person buried in the archives of Kappa Alpha Theta.

As the summer intern for the Fraternity’s archive, I’m discovering every day what incredible things the women of Kappa Alpha Theta have accomplished. My first week, I was scanning the Notable Thetas on the heritage website, and came across Nancy Hanks, Beta Rho/Duke. A 1949 graduate of Duke University, Nancy Hanks served as the second chairman and first female chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts for eight years.

After a little digging, I found several pictures of Chairwoman Hanks, both from her time in college and the professional world. Taking over the NEA only four years after its establishment, Chairwoman Hanks transformed the agency. Under her leadership, the agency’s federal funding increased 14 times over and gained legitimacy in the eyes of the government and the American people. Today her name resides on the offices of the National Endowment for the Arts, housed in a renovated Washington D.C. post office building, a structure that Hanks herself worked to save and preserve.

Kappa Alpha Theta has provided me not only with a support group of incredible women today, but a connection to women I never knew who exemplify qualities of leadership and excellence I strive for every day. Theta’s archive is a treasure trove of inspiration, a story of generations of women succeeding and thriving in their fields. After just a week in the archive office, I have rediscovered what an honor it is to be associated with these women.