November 2017 Volunteer Spotlight

Category: Fraternity

Laura Kassenbrock Stelsel

Laura Gmeinder, Psi/Wisconsin, is marketing and community involvement advisor at Psi/Wisconsin and a member of the Gen X board (a sub-committee of the alumnae committee). She is a member of the Madison Alumnae Chapter and Theta Life Loyal, and she participated in the 2017 Alumnae Service Trip.

Undergraduate officer positions held: Facility manager (now facility management director) and vice president administration (now chief administrative officer).

How did you learn about the opportunity to become a Theta volunteer?
In terms of my advisor involvement, my friend was on the Psi/Wisconsin advisory board and was transitioning off. She asked if she could recommend me. For the Gen X Board, I received an email asking for interested participants and applied.

What made you want to become a Theta volunteer?
I love giving back, and it's fun to volunteer with my sisters. The Alumnae Service Trip in New Orleans was life-changing. It was a great group of women, many of whom I still keep in contact. In fact, I was in Denver coaching at the Emerging Women Live leadership conference, and one of my fellow service trip participants lives there, so we met for dinner. It was so great to see a friendly face in an unfamiliar city. She even picked me up from the airport. That's not friendship, that is sisterhood; going the extra step to love and support one another.

How long have you been a Theta volunteer? Nine years.

Do you, or did you have, a Theta mentor?
Yes, several. The Psi Chapter advisory board chairman (ABC) when I was an undergraduate officer, Regina Collins Simon, has been my mentor for almost 20 years. From helping me find my stride as a leader in my chapter to cheering me on when I started my business, to checking in on me when I left my corporate job, she is an amazing woman. I am so blessed to have her in my life. Theta has brought so many talented, ambitious, big-hearted women into my world, and I am forever grateful.

Why do you stay involved with Theta?
To honor my values. At my core, giving back and inspiring the next generation of women is so important to me. It's like breathing for me, really. As an adult, it has also been a great way to make friends. It's easier to develop a relationship when you have similar values. Theta is the gift that keeps on giving!

Do you have a special volunteering moment?
Definitely the Alumnae Service Trip. I even wrote a post about it on my personal blog.

Do you have a special Theta moment?
Just one? Initiation night with my big sister. I wasn't sure what to expect, and she made it such a special experience. I remember at one point she had her hand on my shoulder to support and encourage me ... and it's felt like that ever since. I am so lucky to have her in my life, then and now. She is a loyal friend, amazing wife and mother and now business owner. I am the oldest of three, so I always wanted a big sister and she's been that for me. While life has taken us down different paths, I know she is always there for me no matter what.

Do you have a profession or personal passion?
Yes, inspired by Theta of course. I am passionate about women's empowerment, the confidence and courage to be a powerful force in the world. Women often let doubt hold them back, yet I have seen what is possible when you believe in yourself and take action. This is especially true as I grew as a leader. My Theta experience inspired me to join the Junior League and eventually become president, which gave me the skills and confidence to start my business. I love supporting women at the intersection of leadership and business strategy.