Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Message From the Chairman: Do Your Civic Duty

For well over a century women have fought for the rights to civic engagement. Suffragettes including Carrie Chapman Catt, Pi Beta Phi, and other sorority members worked tirelessly to ensure in 1920 the ratification and signing into law of the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote. 

For contemporary women, it’s hard to imagine our society without the right to vote. In fact, it wasn’t until 1971 that the legal age to vote was changed from 21 to 18. As we prepare to exercise our right to vote in the upcoming general election, we are reminded of our civic responsibility, duty and privilege as American citizens.  

Women will constitute half of the total voting population in this year’s election. The collective power of the female voice and vote can and will affect outcomes in our communities, new laws and who will lead our country. Women’s voices must be heard!
The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) supports and encourages not only our members but all women to pursue economic, social and political equity, along with leadership and civic engagement. Learn more about a nationwide women’s equality initiative, Vision 2020, which is elevating the conversation and providing education for women to make a significant difference. NPC endorses the Vision 2020 mission as an allied organization, including its hosting of Women 100, the national centennial commemoration of the 19th Amendment.  

Exercise your constitutional right and help ensure that women’s voices are heard by casting your vote in November. Maybe you have not taken the time to register to vote … it’s not too late! Find out just how easy it is to register to vote online. Or maybe you think one vote doesn’t make a difference. Every vote does make a difference, including yours. So make the Panhellenic women who went before us proud, and use your voice.
Donna C. King
Chairman 2015-17

Thursday, September 29, 2016

I Wear A Badge: Kristina Dorville, Alpha Omicron Pi

Security isn’t just another concern for Kristina Dorville; it’s her job.

A proud member of the Alpha Omicron Pi chapter at George Mason University, Kristina spent her undergraduate years cultivating key workplace skills she would ultimately need to become the chief of the Cyber Education and Awareness Branch at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Inspired and empowered by her own experiences, Kristina began working with the Department of Homeland Security in 2003. Though she had no technical background at that time, she became interested in how increased connectivity began impacting our daily lives and affecting our country’s national security.

“At this point in our society, people don’t know how to live without their mobile device and that is why awareness and education are so important,” she says.

September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month, followed by National Cyber Security Awareness Month in October. “National Cyber Security Awareness Month is designed to engage and educate public and private sector partners through events and initiatives with the goal of raising awareness about cybersecurity and increasing the resiliency of the nation in the event of a cyber incident,” Kristina says.

While increased connectivity can offer many conveniences and opportunities, it also can also create increased risk. Some of the most common risks are identity theft, monetary theft, stalking and cyber bullying.

What is the biggest cyber concern facing collegians today? Kristina cites oversharing as a threat to all internet users. She says that the Library of Congress is currently cataloguing every Tweet as part of a social media project, and that is only one example of how what you put online is permanent.

“More importantly,” Kristina says, “college students need to understand that what they are doing online today could have a profound impact on their future. Just be certain that the online persona you have today represents the real you and the person you want others to see.”

Another threat Kristina urges collegians be aware of, especially women, is the use of location services or sharing. “Cyberstalking is a serious concern for young women on college campuses. If you are regularly checking in places and pinpointing your exact location, you could be sharing with people who you may not know in real life and who may seek to do you harm,” she says.

The best advice Kristina offers is to treat cyber security just as seriously as other parts of your life. “Just as you take steps every day to keep yourself safe and healthy, you need to take steps to protect yourself online,” she says.

Collegians have the opportunity to engage in peer accountability when it comes to cyber safety, especially within our member organizations. “Everyone locks their doors at night, right? We all need to be sure to keep our ’digital’ doors locked as well. Just as you share your favorite new app with your friends, also remember to share your best safety tips too,” Kristina says.

For more on cyber safety, visit https://www.dhs.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month and www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.

In addition check out the article in Alpha Omicron Pi’s To Dragma featuring Kristina and cyber security tips.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Message From the Chairman: Campus and Student Safety

September finds parents and families with a melancholy feeling over a summer gone and with a refocus on the school year ahead. Many of those same families will pack a car overflowing with pillows, comforters, fans and supplies as they sojourn to the campus of choice with their student. I’m a mom, and I made the journey with our two daughters for a number of years ... exhilarated for the academic year ahead, but also anxious knowing the choices and decisions they would make could impact their safety and overall well-being.

For our youngest sorority members and their peers, the first 90 days on campus should be defined by orientation, engagement, intellectual challenge and making friends, but for far too many the first 90 days can be a time of vulnerability defined by uncomfortable and questionable choices, pressure to conform and potentially compromised personal safety. 

The month of September is designated as Campus Safety Awareness Month. Universities and colleges across the country are laser focused on the health, safety and well-being of their students, especially during those first few weeks on campus. The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) pledges the same commitment to safety messages and resources for students through partnerships and social media campaigns to heighten awareness. 

During the month of September, NPC will focus on two initiatives, sharing resources to a broad audience including its 26 NPC member sororities and their members, College Panhellenic communities and female students touched through social media platforms. The initiatives include:
  • The Red Zone – the first six weeks of school is when students are most at risk for sexual assault and/or violence. NPC launched a social media campaign Aug. 22 that continues through Oct. 2, providing information and tips on staying safe, bystander intervention and reporting instances of sexual violence. We also encourage you to use this  resource on consent to discuss sexual assault during #TheRedZone.
  • National Hazing Prevention Week, Sept. 19-13 – NPC has partnered with HazingPrevention.org, NALFO, NAPA, NIC, NMGC and NPHC on a positive social media campaign, #IbelieveinGreeks, about what fraternal organizations are doing and can do to prevent hazing. Consider watching the video below with your chapter or Panhellenic community to keep the conversation going about hazing during this week.

Protection of good health is central and primary to the student experience. NPC is appreciative to our member organizations, industry and higher education partners for their collaboration in carrying the message of campus and student safety beyond the month of September. We applaud your efforts to weave the message of safety into new member programs, chapter programming and the total student campus life experience.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Message From the Chairman: Values-Based Recruitment

Across the country this month and next, new students arrive on campuses eagerly anticipating the launch of their college experiences. A significant number of those female students -- 158,566 in 2015-16 -- will participate in sorority membership recruitment. Sorority chapters are afforded the opportunity and privilege to engage with these women during recruitment. With privilege comes the responsibility of providing an experience grounded in the shared values of the 26 National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) member organizations.
In fall 2015, NPC reaffirmed a collective commitment to values-based membership recruiting. What is values-based recruitment? It starts with the rich words found in the NPC creed: "We, as fraternity women, stand for service through the development of character inspired by the close contact and deep friendship of individual fraternity and Panhellenic life. The opportunity for wide and wise human service, through mutual respect and helpfulness, is the tenet by which we strive to live."

Centering the recruitment process for both the sorority member and the potential new member on the rich core values of each inter/national women's organization helps ensure a rich experience for all who participate.
How recruitment looks and how it is executed varies from campus to campus. Panhellenic communities are challenged to visit old practices and reshape how the process of recruitment benefits all involved. Reflecting on personal values and key values of an organization, and wrapping those around the benefits of sorority membership, should shape conversations during recruitment. These types of conversations give a young woman seeking sorority membership the opportunity to assess her own values and determine whether they're congruent with an organization's. And likewise, this offers sorority chapters the same opportunity of assessment through the mutual selection process.
University of Georgia Discusses Removal of Skit Round
University of Georgia discusses  
removal of skit round
As a College Panhellenic community navigates through creating positive change and a better understanding of why and how a values-based recruitment experience impacts the community both internally and externally, NPC offers resources: Resolved to Educate and three values and ethics workshops. In addition, numerous volunteers and campus-based professionals will devote countless hours to providing assistance to Panhellenic communities this academic year as they execute the membership recruitment process. NPC says "thank you" for your gift of time, support and commitment to advancing the sorority experience.
Donna C. King
Chairman 2015-17

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

I Wear A Badge: Christiana Stark, Chi Omega

Christiana Stark (bottom left) at a Make-A-Wish event
Christiana Stark is no stranger to a challenge.

When she was 10 years old, she faced a life-altering diagnosis for which her doctor could find no cure. Feeling frustrated, confused and alone, Christiana eventually confided in her doctor, who listened to all her concerns and provided her with support to improve her quality of life. Thankfully, Christiana outgrew her illness, but the experience had a lasting impact on her life. She realized how fortunate she was to have a doctor who provided individualized support while guiding her family through a stressful situation.

Inspired by her own childhood illness, Christiana attended the University of California-San Diego to study molecular biology and excelled both in and out of the classroom. She was involved in several extracurricular activities, including Chi Omega Fraternity. In fact, her experience as a Panhellenic woman helped her learn the value of community. “As I move on to medical school I hope to find a [similar] community of students… to work together to accomplish philanthropic endeavors that we find meaningful both in and outside of a hospital, and to be there to support each other through the challenges ahead.”

Through Chi Omega, Christiana discovered her love of volunteering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She was moved by the impact she could make without treating children medically and just providing them with a carefree day. “The fear and frustration I felt from facing a disease with no cure drives me to do everything in my power to alleviate that kind of distress for someone else.” She values charitable giving because it helps give her life meaning and plans to continue volunteering in the future.

Christiana hopes to become a doctor focused on the same individualized support for patients and families as she experienced. “As a doctor I will not be able to fix every ailment or answer every question that arises in the medical field, but I am determined to spend my career supporting others through the demanding physical and mental challenges life can bring.”

Christiana credits the support she received from her sisterhood for motivating her to pursue a medical degree at Southern Illinois University. The Mary Louise Roller Graduate Scholarship she received from the NPC Foundation this year will help her accomplish her goals. “This scholarship means so much to me because it shows me that there are so many women out there who believe in me and my goal. It is reassuring to know that I have the support of so many women who have faith that I can accomplish this and go on to help so many people as a doctor.”

Congratulations, Christiana!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Message From the Chairman: Foundations -- Supporting Our Members

The month of July affords each of us the opportunity to reflect upon liberty, country and the inherited tradition of voluntary service and giving, evidenced in the early chronicles of those who drafted the United States Constitution. Although the practice of philanthropy is worldwide, our country relies more extensively on voluntary associations to perform this act than any society in the history of the world.  

More than half of all Americans 18 and over volunteer an average of 2.5 hours a week, equating to almost one hundred million people donating services. Americans are estimated to donate approximately $125 billion per year to charitable causes through roughly 983,000 tax-exempt associations (Payton Papers 2000).

This July, we salute and recognize the philanthropic spirit and work of the 26 National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) member organizations and the NPC Foundation. In 2014-15 the 26 NPC organizations provided roughly 2,900,000 hours of volunteer service to their communities and raised $34,880,415 combined donor dollars for a host of charitable causes. To name just a few: CASA, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Alzheimer's Foundation, American Heart Association, Ronald McDonald House, Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity.  

In addition, those same organizations' foundations grant countless dollars in scholarships to deserving women, both undergraduate and graduate, and provide critical educational program funding for our organizations. 

NPC, just as the 26 member organizations, benefits from the support of a foundation: the NPC Foundation. NPC Foundation President Janet Brown, Alpha Omicron Pi, highlights the work of the Foundation.

"The mission of the NPC Foundation is to advance our organizations and their commitment to personal growth by supporting initiatives that launch and sustain women leaders. Our vision is that every Panhellenic woman will be a better citizen because of her lifelong sorority experience.

"To achieve these goals, the NPC Foundation supports programs that bring Panhellenic women together to develop skills, brainstorm ideas and implement solutions to challenges through the power of collective action, thus strengthening the impact of the sorority experience for everyone.

"For example, in the past year the NPC Foundation has supported: a highly successful College Panhellenic Academy providing valuable training and collaboration for leaders from 94 College Panhellenics; "Something of Value" facilitated on 12 campuses, identifying high-risk behaviors affecting member safety and well-being and developing action plans to address them; creation of topical educational videos; and scholarships to support outstanding Panhellenic women.

"We are grateful for the generosity of our organizations and their members who allow us to launch and sustain women leaders through the sorority experience!" 

Together, sorority women worldwide celebrate the spirit of philanthropic service and giving through the work of vital and vibrant foundations. NPC salutes the generosity and selfless donation of time and talent given by NPC women, and the tireless work of the foundations they support. Thank you.


Donna C. King

Chairman 2015-17

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Message From the Chairman: Sorority on the Road for a Lifetime

Summer officially launched with Memorial Day celebrations and remembrances, family gatherings and friend reunions. These events remind us that with summer comes meaningful gatherings for sorority women, too, including inter/national conventions, leadership conferences, chapter reunions, chapter work weekends and alumnae travel adventures.

In NPC we refer to those who volunteer to serve NPC and our staff as the "NPC family." The message of a family working together, sharing stories and laughter and reflecting on the value of friendship frames our sorority membership experience as well.

I recently read an article in the Sigma Kappa Triangle about a group of seven Sigma Kappa sisters from the University of Florida who became members in the 1960s. For more than 50 years, they have traveled the world together - the "Traveling Sigma Kappas" - renewing their bond of friendship through shared life experiences, love, laughter and good food.

Delta Zeta shared a blog post with me about its Mansfield University chapter's 50th anniversary celebration that brought more than 200 members from five decades together. Events included a president's reception, display of the chapter through the ages, a silent auction for one of Delta Zeta's philanthropic partners, a raffle to raise funds for a scholarship, a re-creation of the charter members' photo from 1966 and a ceremonial banquet. Leigh Ann Penecale Reitze, class of 1990, said, "The weekend was so incredible. Reconnecting with my sisters and laughing as we recalled all the funny stories, just as if they happened yesterday, was a wonderful way to rekindle the bonds of sisterhood."

This summer approximately 13,200 sorority women will come together to celebrate sisterhood at inter/national conventions. The summer of 2016 will see 18 inter/national organizations hosting conventions in nine different cities throughout the U.S. In addition, seven organizations will host leadership conferences for both collegians and alumnae. Countless chapter reunions and chapter work weekends on college campuses will bring multi-generational groups of women together to reacquaint, reminisce and reflect on their college years, and share where life's journey has taken them.

Special gatherings of sorority women are timeless and have been a cornerstone of the membership experience for well over a century. Women come together, weave invisible nets of support, celebrate accomplishments and face head-on the challenges of the day. Take time this summer, if you are not already preparing to participate in a planned sorority event, and consider the possibilities of bringing together that special group of women who continue to tug at your heartstrings.

Best wishes from the National Panhellenic Conference to all who will gather this summer to celebrate the gift of lifelong sisterhood and to advance sorority ... together!


Donna C. King
Chairman 2015-17