Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Happy 104th birthday, Theta Phi Alpha!

Theta Phi Alpha was founded on this very day 104 years ago by 10 remarkable women at the University of Michigan. Our Founders were certainly progressive, modern women. Very few women attended college in 1912. Female students weren’t even allowed to enter the student union!  In the United States, women weren’t allowed to vote or to own property. Yet these 10 women not only attended college, graduated and had careers but also felt it was very important to create an organization where they could meet and support each other. Our Founders saw the value of relationships with other women not only during the collegiate years, but for life. They could have just founded a club for college women, but they didn’t.  The college years are simply a foundation for a lifetime as an alumna. 

I think our Founders would be very proud of us today and how we have grown and spread across the country, opening our membership to all women yet remaining true to our core values. I’m sure they never dreamed what the world would be like 104 years later with all the technology we have available. I do think they would be shocked and dismayed at the social and political climate of the country; yet I also think they would be impressed by our members today. Theta Phi Alpha sisters in 2016 are still dedicated to advancing educational, social and philanthropic interests, encouraging spiritual development and adherence to the highest moral standards and promoting lifelong bonds of friendship just as they were in 1912. The world has changed dramatically, but these ideals are timeless.

Change is inevitable, but with it comes opportunity. Technology makes it possible for us to connect with sisters around the world instantly. It also helps us provide support and eventually training for our alumnae volunteers and our collegiate members through our website. Multiple avenues of communication are available to us now. We don’t have to wait days or weeks for a letter to arrive. This is an exciting time for Theta Phi Alpha, we are growing and improving in so many ways. Keep watching for updates through email and check the website for news. Let the compass be our guide as we stay true to the values in our ritual written over 100 years ago. 

Yours in the bonds of sisterhood,

Susan Lee
National President

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Susan Lee Shares her First Blog Post as National President

Coming home from Convention, sisters are filled with excitement and renewed commitment to the Fraternity. You can see it all over social media with lots of posts, interactions and new friend requests. Sisters are filling out the volunteer interest form on the website and Grand Council members are busy learning their new roles, filling their teams with returning and new volunteers and getting ready for our first meeting at the end of August. Collegians are winding down summer jobs, heading back to campus and preparing for fall recruitment. September is a time of new beginnings. It’s a good time to get involved.

Many sisters have asked me to publish my campaign speech I gave at Convention when I ran for National President. As I began preparing for this new role in transition calls with Laura Foley and Shane McGoey, as well as many other sisters back in January, I thought about our biggest needs as a Fraternity. As the months wore on and Convention got closer, I began to focus on three key areas. Here is my speech:
My name is Susan Lee and I was initiated into Sigma Chapter in 1981. Theta Phi Alpha has made me who I am today and this is why I am running for National President. 
As a Fraternity we have come a long way from what our 10 Founders started over 100 years ago. As president, I intend to continue to foster that growth while focusing on three key areas: Connections, Communication and Clarity.  
Connections are our number one priority. We are a member-based, volunteer organization, and connections with sisters is why we are all here. Sisterhood is our most important asset. Without it, we are nothing.  
Our communication to members needs to be clear, correct and consistent. Using a variety of methods from social media, to the good old fashioned phone call or letter will reach sisters of all ages. Our new website will be very helpful in keeping many sisters informed. 
Clarity—by this I mean clarity of purpose and direction as well as clarity of roles, responsibilities and duties for volunteers and National Office staff. The Grand Council has always set the direction of the Fraternity and this will continue to be our role. As we transition to having more staff available to take on the day-to-day tasks of managing a continuously growing organization, defining and clarifying those roles is more important than ever. This growth is necessary and beneficial for Theta Phi Alpha - we must continue to move forward. 
We are a diverse group of women with a large variety of life experiences and backgrounds. We won’t always agree with each other, but by treating each other with respect and love there is no end to what we can accomplish. I can’t promise that I know everything I need to know or that I have all the answers. I’m not afraid to ask questions or learn new things. The most important asset I have is all of you, my sisters. I can’t do this alone-my success is your success, our success. I can promise that I will do my best, lead where it may, cost what it may.
The speeches were given in reverse order, so I was last. As I listened to all the other candidates giving their speeches, I was pleased to see that we were all thinking along the same lines and have the same goals for this biennium. One of the most common themes was more communication and more transparency. We will continue to work on this area and you can help us with that. Go to the website and make sure your contact info is correct. Read these blogs and like our Theta Phi Alpha social media pages. Read your email, visit the website and look for any new information. Participate in surveys and stay connected with other sisters. Each of those actions will keep you connected and informed. If you want to know something, reach out to a sister or to National Office. Member engagement is essential to our success and I’m looking forward to connecting with you soon!