Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Promoting the benefits of the sorority experience

When each of us chose to become a member of a fraternal organization, we found lifelong friends, support to excel in studies and opportunities for leadership development and community service. What many of us probably did not expect was the bond rooted in Greek traditions that we not only share with members of our specific fraternity or sorority, but also with members of other fraternal organizations.

There are more than 4 million sorority women and more than 4.5 million fraternity men – that’s a lot of people who share a common bond of sisterhood and brotherhood. Think about those numbers and the networking opportunities! If you are a college student embarking in a summer job or internship, or even beginning your first full-time job after graduation, you are joining a work environment where you no doubt will have the opportunity to network with fellow fraternity and sorority alumni. By talking about your fraternal experiences, you most likely will be opening doors to endless possibilities in career and volunteer opportunities.

I speak from experience. When I interviewed for my first job, the person interviewing me asked about my sorority experience listed on my resume. She shared she was a member of Kappa Delta, and we “clicked” immediately. She hired me on the spot. I’m convinced it’s because we bonded over sorority life.

Whether you joined a fraternal organization two months ago, five years ago or 50 years ago, hopefully, your experience, like mine, was amazing. So, don’t be afraid to tell your story even when it is sometimes hard to be a fraternity or sorority member. Our organizations have become tarnished by heavy alcohol consumption and binge drinking, hazing and lack of responsibilities. The activities of fraternity and sorority members that have led to deaths, mental and physical injury, poor academic achievement and health problems are a contradiction to our rituals and founding principles.

Therefore, we have to have conviction to fight the negative and promote the positive. We are the best public relations we have. When asked why you belong to or are still involved in a sorority, tell them why. Talk about the friendships you’ve made, the experiences and lessons that have helped shape who you are, the skills you’ve developed and the memories you’ve created.

For sorority alumnae, it’s our responsibility and privilege to give collegiate members and young alumnae the assistance they need in building relationships as they seek job opportunities. We should also be telling our sorority stories and sharing our experiences so young women participating in recruitment today will have heard the good news about our organizations or know someone who is a member long before they enter college.

The bond of fraternity and sorority membership is strong. We know it inside our hearts and inside our communities. To ensure others can continue to share in this bond, we must also be strong in telling others about our positive experiences and the benefits of membership we all enjoy.


Carole J. Jones
NPC chairman 2017-19

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Proactively addressing the challenges of today's world

In fall 2017, the National Panhellenic Conference Executive Committee established four “think tanks” to research and develop recommendations on various topics so NPC could proactively approach the challenges and issues of today’s world. The four think tanks examined these topics: NPC Structure, Recruitment and Expanded Membership Model, Public Relations and Marketing and NPC Call for Critical Change. Their work began in January 2018 and I’m excited to share an update on the work accomplished to date.

npc structure think tank participants
NPC Structure: To be able to act nimbly and quickly, NPC’s operational board of directors should become more strategic in focus. In support of that objective, the think tank proposed a new structure for NPC, with a seven-member board of directors responsible for developing and implementing a visionary strategic plan, representing NPC to external entities and advocating for the sorority experience. At the same time, NPC staff and volunteers will carry out operational work, including serving as area advisors, RFM specialists and committee members. Importantly, each member organization will still have a representative to carry out the Conference work as well as to vote on Unanimous Agreements as sovereign organizations. The essential work of serving College and Alumnae Panhellenics also will not change.

npc recruitment think tank participants
Recruitment and Expanded Membership Model: The Recruitment and Expanded Membership Model examined ways to help ensure sorority membership remains relevant to today’s young women and to assist NPC member organizations and College Panhellenics with growing the sorority experience. Seven subgroups were formed to research and develop recommendations on these topics:

• Variable Quota & RFM implications
• Generation Z and impact on our membership
• Decrease in numbers and how it impacts our cost of doing business
• Ensuring diversity within sorority membership 
• Collection and monitoring of membership statistics (retention)
• Adapting to changing demographics
• Community colleges

As a result of their work, the following priorities for NPC were established: Developing College Panhellenic initiatives regarding diversity and inclusion, assisting College Panhellenics with marketing the sorority experience, promoting financial transparency with potential new members and their families, developing educational tools and resources for College Panhellenics to better attract and serve Generation Z and devoting resources to data collection. There are many more details in these priorities and other recommendations to be considered.

npc pr and marketing think tank participantsPublic Relations and Marketing: This think tank studied ways to communicate with key audiences and discussed how to strengthen the Panhellenic brand and promote the sorority experience. They examined a wide range of challenges and opportunities facing NPC and its member organizations and recommended a phased approach to proactively promoting the value of the sorority experience. Priority will be given to improving the ways in which NPC reaches key audiences to share the value of sorority membership and to assisting College Panhellenics in sharing the story of their own authentic sorority experience.

NPC Call for Critical Change: The Call for Critical Change Think Tank met in late January 2018 to discuss ways to address critical issues within our Panhellenic communities. They identified a number of next steps, and NPC and its partners have been working on these opportunities. The group will continue discussions in June. They will discuss ways NPC and our Panhellenic women could play a constructive and responsive role in their campus communities regarding diversity issues and cultural appropriation. We are committed to working together to find ways for our Panhellenic women to lead the way for social change resulting in healthier sorority and fraternity communities. More to come in this important endeavor.

The NPC Executive Committee thanks the think tank participants for lending their expertise and developing recommendations to help NPC face challenges head-on and advance the sorority experience. 

We look forward to sharing more information as the recommendations are implemented.


Carole Jones
NPC chairman 2017-19

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Advocating for the value of the sorority experience

More than 235 fraternity and sorority members, both alumni and students, were on Capitol Hill on April 25 advocating for sororities and fraternities and the value they provide to our members. Our organizations’ values of character and dignity guide our members in their daily lives as they serve their campus and local communities.

Each year since 2002, the Fraternal Government Relations Coalition (FGRC), which is a collaborative effort between the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), Fraternity and Sorority Political Action Committee (FSPAC) and Fraternity and Sorority Action Fund (FSAF), has lobbied in Washington, D.C., in order to educate legislators on the value of sororities and fraternities and the advocacy issues important to NPC and NIC.

The FGRC represents 92 single-sex fraternities and sororities nationwide with more than 800,000 undergraduate members at over 9,500 chapters on almost 700 campuses, as well as more than 9.1 million alumni. The NPC and NIC set and execute the advocacy agenda for the FGRC. This year’s lobbying efforts, with more than 460 meetings between fraternity/sorority members and legislators or their staffs, focused on the value of the fraternity/sorority experience and our priorities for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA).

This topic directly aligns with Pillar One of the NPC Government Relations Platform: Preservation of the sorority experience.

Working together with the NIC, FSPAC and FSAF, our goal is to gain support for protection of our experience through the reauthorization of the HEA. Our members have a constitutional right to freely assemble and associate, but there is a growing trend to punish single-sex organizations for existing by creating barriers and/or penalizing students who join such organizations. Harvard University is just one example as that institution is now blacklisting students who choose to join single-sex social organizations and seeks to force groups to become co-ed against their will. The Harvard policy affects this year’s freshman class and all future students, penalizing those who join single-sex organizations by rendering them ineligible for leadership positions in recognized student organizations, selection as a sports team captain and the Dean’s endorsement for a Rhodes, Marshall or Fulbright scholarship, where such endorsement is a prerequisite for consideration.

But, it’s not just Harvard that is seeking new ways to restrict freedom of association rights. It has become increasingly common for institutions of higher education to regulate and propose policies aimed at forcing single-sex social organizations to become co-ed or imposing burdensome policies and restrictions that undermine a student’s right to freely associate. Examples include blanket suspensions for all sororities and fraternities on a campus when one student or one organization is accused of misconduct and the adoption of operational restrictions that don’t apply to any other student organization on campus, such as not allowing first semester or first year students to choose to join a sorority or fraternity.

Students and alumni gather on Capitol Hill
to advocate for the fraternity and
sorority experience. More photos.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce has taken the first step to protect every student’s freedom of association rights, including with single-sex social organizations. The committee’s HEA reauthorization bill – the PROSPER Act – includes language on this issue, but does not address or prevent actions taken by Harvard or a few other campuses that do not already recognize single-sex organizations.

That was our task on April 25 – to encourage House members to perfect the pending language in the PROSPER Act to include all students and to ask senators to include this same language in their own HEA reauthorization bill.

The value of protecting our single-sex experience now and for generations to come cannot be understated. Our organizations create a unique community of support. They are the one place on a college campus, where through a shared single-sex experience, young women or men can enjoy a sense of belonging, empowerment and personal development. NPC and NIC are committed to continuing to advocate for freedom of association rights for our organizations, and we invite you to join us by contacting your representatives here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Thanking those who serve our Panhellenic communities

April is Advisor Appreciation Month for the National Panhellenic Conference, and April 15-21 is National Volunteer Week in the United States and Canada. These two events celebrate both the importance of volunteering and the value of volunteers.

Advisor Appreciation Month is a time to thank all those people who advocate for the sorority experience on a daily basis. Whether it’s a fraternity/sorority advisor on your campus, an NPC area advisor for your College or Alumnae Panhellenic or members of your chapter’s alumnae advisory team and corporation board, these individuals are making an important impact by nurturing and empowering women and supporting sorority life. (Looking for Advisor Appreciation Month resources to help you thank advisors? You can find them on our website.)

National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to thank volunteers who lend their time, talent, voice and support to causes they care about in their communities. There are so many organizations that rely on volunteer support, and NPC is fortunate to have the commitment of many volunteers who give selflessly of themselves. 

While volunteering is a form of service, many volunteers will tell you they get more than they give. Developing new skills, finding meaningful personal connections and helping collegians understand the value of service are all reasons to pay it forward to ensure the success of sororities for generations of women to come.

If you are volunteer, you have answered the call through your actions of service, support and generosity. You are helping to advance the future of sorority by giving of a precious resource – your time. Realizing how many different people and organizations are vying for your time, we at NPC express our sincere gratitude to you for choosing to spend time advancing the sorority experience.

For those of us who benefit from the guidance of advisors and volunteers, every little bit we can do to make them realize their time is well spent is an investment in the future of sorority. Showing appreciation during Advisor Appreciation Month and National Volunteer Week is important, but what about on a day-to-day basis? I encourage you to show your gratitude by writing thank you notes, sending birthday cards, greeting them by name, nominating them for volunteer awards, accepting their individuality and saying, “It’s always good to see you.”  

Volunteers are the lifeblood of NPC and our individual member organizations. Showing appreciation goes a long way in retaining those people who are committed to supporting our organizations and promoting the sorority experience. Please join me in thanking advisors and other volunteers during April as well as throughout the year.


Carole J. Jones
2017-19 NPC chairman

Thursday, March 22, 2018

2018 Women’s History Month: Women of Courage and Conviction – Part 3

The National Women's History Project’s theme for the 2018 Women’s History Month is “Nevertheless, She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.” The National Panhellenic Conference is spotlighting sorority women who have persisted with courage and conviction, particularly in breaking down barriers for other women.

The next sorority woman in our series is both following in the footsteps of other women as well as blazing a trail.

Shaesta Waiz, Theta Phi Alpha, is the youngest woman to fly solo around the world in a single-engine aircraft. She completed her travels in October 2017.

Shaesta Waiz is the first in her family to earn an
undergraduate degree, the first female civilian pilot
from Afghanistan, and the youngest woman to fly
around the world solo in a single-engine plane.

But, her journey has never been easy.

She was born in a refugee camp in Afghanistan. Her parents immigrated to America, where she then grew up in an underprivileged neighborhood in Richmond, California.

To achieve her dream of becoming a pilot, she attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with the help of scholarships and donor support to fund her education.

Geraldine "Jerrie" Fredritz Mock
was the first woman to fly solo
around the world.
In an article in National Geographic, Waiz indicates Jerrie Mock, Phi Mu, the first woman to fly solo around the world – also in a single-engine plane – as her inspiration and mentor.

While Mock’s 1964 journey focused on speed, Waiz had a different mission: to empower women around the world to pursue STEM and aviation careers. Waiz used the stops along her journey to talk to women and children about pursuing their goals.

Waiz also has founded a nonprofit organization called Dreams Soar to help bring awareness of STEM careers and to eventually fund STEM and aviation scholarships for girls and young women. 

Today, only 24 percent of U.S. STEM professionals are female and there are only 450 female airline captains worldwide. Waiz hopes to change that.

As Waiz told the BBC during her trip around the world, her message is that you can be “from any background, you can have any set of challenges but what’s really important is that you have to dream, to dream big and work hard and go after it.”

Sources: Theta Phi Alpha, Phi Mu, Dreams Soar, BBC, National Geographic

See also: 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

2018 Women’s History Month: Women of Courage and Conviction – Part 2

The National Women's History Project’s theme for the 2018 Women’s History Month is “Nevertheless, She Persisted: Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.” The National Panhellenic Conference is spotlighting sorority women who have persisted with courage and conviction in their efforts to help end discrimination and break down barriers for other women.

Brig. Gen. Margaret A. Brewer
United States Marine Corps

The next woman to be highlighted in this blog series is Margaret A. Brewer, an alumna of Zeta Tau Alpha at the University of Michigan. Brewer was the first female general officer in the United States Marine Corps.

After her college graduation in 1952, Brewer joined the Marine Corps, serving at a time when few women were Marines. She held a variety of roles in the Marine Corps, including rising to the rank of colonel in 1970 and serving as director of women from 1973-1977.

She then served as deputy director of the information division for the Marine Corps. When she was nominated in 1978 to lead the division, the director position was required to be a general – a role not available to women Marines at that time.

President Jimmy Carter made a special appointment to promote Brewer to brigadier general and it was approved by both houses of Congress. Under her leadership, the department was reorganized into the Division of Public Affairs.

Brewer was honored with the Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Michigan in 1979 and two Legion of Merit awards from the Marine Corps. She received Zeta Tau Alpha’s Outstanding Alumna Award in 1984.

Brewer retired from the Marine Corps in 1980 and passed away in 2013 at the age of 82. In her obituary in The Washington Post, Brewer is described as “legendary” and “one of the pioneers.” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos said in a statement to the paper: “She served during an era when many thought that women had no place in the Corps, but she proved critics wrong time and again.”

Sources: Zeta Tau Alpha, The Washington Post

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Chairman's Message: Celebrating Women's History Month & the Sorority Experience

Celebrated during the month of March in the United States, Women’s History Month traces its beginning back to the first International Women’s Day in 1911. As celebrations of International Women’s Day increased throughout the years, both in public school districts and on college campuses, President Jimmy Carter issued a presidential proclamation in February 1980 declaring the week of March 8,1980, as National Women’s History Week.

Women's History Month is celebrated
in March in the United States
and in October in Canada.

(Graphic source: National Women's History Project)
In 1987, due to the growing popularity of Women’s History Week and after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress declared March as National Women’s History Month in perpetuity. Since then, a presidential proclamation is issued every year honoring the achievements of American women. (Note: In Canada, Women’s History Month is celebrated in October to coincide with Persons Day on October 18. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women and girls as trailblazers throughout Canadian history.)

This year’s Women’s History Month theme is “Nevertheless, She Persisted.” Most certainly, I equate this theme with the women of the National Panhellenic Conference. We are persistent as we advocate for the sorority experience and work to preserve the single-sex experience. And we are persistent in ensuring our sorority and fraternity communities stay vibrant and healthy.

Historically, our member organizations have survived two world wars, the Great Depression, drops in enrollment and public criticism of Greek-letter organizations.

In 1961, when negative opinion of social organizations was at its highest, NPC was persistent and adopted a twofold strategy: to reaffirm the constitutional right of fraternities to exist by virtue of freedom of assembly and to make an energetic stance toward re-educating the public about the value of sororities. 

For more than a decade, while many campuses became epicenters of social unrest for reasons that went far beyond the fraternity/sorority system, NPC walked a precise line in asserting the autonomy of its member organizations and maintaining constructive communication with host institutions. One triumph of collective, persistent action was NPC’s lobbying for the continued legality of single-sex status for fraternities and sororities. This status gained partial protection in 1974, when the U.S. Congress passed an exemption to Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972 to allow colleges and universities to recognize single-sex social organizations.

As new issues continue to arise and our member organizations evolve, new opportunities and challenges are presented that profoundly impact operations and strategy of NPC. We will continue to be persistent by working to protect students’ rights to freely associate with a single-sex organization and preserving the rights of single-sex student organizations—so women can continue to benefit from the sorority experience now and for years to come.

How you can get involved:
  • Use hashtag #HearHerHarvard to help support the women who are persistent in preserving their single-sex experience. 
  • Stay informed on the latest legislation impacting sororities and single-sex organizations by following your member organization and NPC on social media. 
  • When asked by your member organization, reach out to your congressional representatives about legislation designed to protect single-sex organizations at colleges and universities.


Carole J. Jones
2017-19 NPC chairman