Tuesday, September 12, 2017

National Campus Safety Awareness Month

This time of year, photos and posts of families traveling to college campuses fill our social media newsfeeds. We have all seen the images of thousands of eager students arriving on the front steps of their new home for their next — or even their first — academic year. I am unsure who tops the chart for most anxious: the student or those delivering them! For me, these posts bring back a plethora of memories of excitement and concern; the most poignant trepidation for the safety of my daughters on campus, in their residence halls, at off-campus events and in the community. 

September kicks off National Campus Safety Awareness Month, which helps raise awareness about issues affecting campuses throughout the nation, including personal safety, substance abuse, sexual assault, interpersonal violence and hazing. Campuses offer programming designed to raise awareness and educate students. On many of those campuses, sorority and fraternity communities are vigilant in providing opportunities for education and participation in communitywide safety initiatives and exposure to campus resources. Again this September, the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) launches the student safety initiative The Red Zone (#TheRedZone). The social media campaign is designed to raise awareness about the vulnerability female students face during their first 90 days on campus.

NPC and its 26 member organizations are resolute in women supporting women on college campuses. Sororities create communities that offer safe spaces for women built on respect for one another. Hazing or any act of individual degradation is never condoned or tolerated by NPC member organizations. This commitment to combat hazing could be seen this July when NPC joined a host of fraternal “umbrella” organizations and higher-education professionals to endorse new anti-hazing legislation called the 2017 Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (REACH) Act.

Also during the month of September, NPC and its member organizations partner with HazingPrevention.Org to actively promote and engage in National Hazing Prevention Week Sept. 18-22.

While writing this message and considering the safety and well-being of students back on campus, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are affecting the lives of thousands. To our students: Be safe and respect the safety of one another. To our families: Please know that through our network of partnerships with campus administrators, staff and the 26 member organizations, NPC stands prepared to assist, support and help ensure student safety on college campuses.         

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Keeping pace with the next generation

Summer offers many of us the opportunity for multi-generational family gatherings.  Families come together most often with a broad spectrum of generations whether for a wedding, reunion, birthday party or another special occasion. Each person benefits from the other, while some in the crowd may shake their heads confused, trying to best understand the next generation!

Sorority communities provide a multi-generational familial experience as well. For more than 150 years, National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) inter/national women’s sororities have flexed, grown and, at times, shared in the confusion and challenge of how to keep pace with each subsequent generation. The Greatest Generation, Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millenials and Gen Y are all generations of members with unique profiles. These generations challenge women’s organizations to address change and adaptation to meet the needs of current membership.

2017 presents the advent of the newest generation, Generation Z or Gen-Zers coming of age (born 1995 to now). Currently more than 25% of the American population belongs to this demographic, and it continues to grow. Gen-Zers are the first generation to have no understanding of life without technology and devices. Social media is their research tool, multi-tasking across up to five screens is their norm, being culturally connected is critical, their social circles are global, they see society as blended and intend to make a difference and impact in the worl
d. To further illustrate this point, click here to watch a video about understanding Gen Z.

Some may contend the sorority membership experience has not kept pace and has outlived the wants, needs and desires of Gen Z. Does sorority membership add value to a generation who are independent, self-directed, tech-innate and laser focused on the future? I would arguably say yes; sorority membership does add value. NPC sororities are committed to intentional strategic planning framed by membership surveys, ongoing assessment and deep seeded organizational values when crafting a membership experience. Determining purposeful programming and opportunities for impact is central to their missions and the benefits derived from membership.

Because the sorority membership experience is multi-generational, it requires an openness on the part of each sorority member no matter your generational moniker, to embrace change when change is necessary and see the infinite possibilities the newest generation will bring to women’s sororities. To our newest generation, Gen Z, we look forward to welcoming you and all that you will contribute to influence women’s sororities for the future!  

Thursday, July 20, 2017

I Wear a Badge: Dr. Mari Ann Callais, Theta Phi Alpha

Photo courtesy of Dr. Mari Ann Callais
The theme for July’s blog is speaking up for the sorority experience, following the NPC chairman’s Message of Sorority.

Dr. Mari Ann Callais is a first generation college student and first generation sorority woman. Initiated into the Theta Phi Alpha chapter at Loyola University in New Orleans as a junior in college, Callais did not have much time as an undergraduate member. However, as an alumna, Callais served Theta Phi Alpha as programming chairman, chapter administration, member of the NPC delegation, NPC delegate and National President. Plus she held many volunteering roles within the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute and North-American Interfraternity Conference’s IMPACTs.

And who better to speak for the sorority experience than on whose career is all about speaking? Formerly, with CAMPUSPEAK and now The Catalyst Agency and Delta Delta Delta fraternity, Callais shares her experience with thousands of students a year. She reminds sorority woman that sorority is a gift not many are afforded and to take every opportunity to tell people why you are proud to be a sorority woman, as well as the value of the sorority experience.

Callais believe that it is import for both collegiate and alumnae members to speak up. In April 2016, Callais’ niece, Emily, was diagnosed with leukemia and flown to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. Due to the efforts of organizations like Tri Delta and Alpha Delta Pi, her family will never receive a bill for Emily’s medical care or their housing. Emily’s family lived in Tri Delta Place on St. Jude’s campus and the Ronald McDonald House, supported by Alpha Delta Pi, for nine months.

Today, Emily is cancer free. Callais speaks on the value of the sorority experience because without the commitment of sorority women her niece may not be here today.

Callais reminds us all to not quit or walk away from your sorority experience because it might get difficult. “We are not just social organizations, but we are families who need to be there for one another.”

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Message From the Chairman: The Message of Sorority

One only has to watch a morning talk show, view the national news, read a magazine or scan a newspaper to see that sororities and fraternities are under the microscope and often the subject of interest for the general public. At the core of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) mission and vision, we advocate for the sorority experience. NPC takes seriously the challenges posed by the press and public opinion. With a professional staff and legion of volunteers, advancing a positive message centered on the benefits of sorority membership defines our initiatives and work. Gathering data to support and validate the sorority experience is ongoing. Plus, it’s a priority to engage public relations experts to help us build relationships with the media and most effectively frame, craft and articulate NPC messaging.

As NPC chairman, I log long hours in airports and on airplanes. We all know “the dance” when sitting in your seat: engage in small talk, start browsing on an electronic device or close your eyes hoping to nod off. Years ago, I challenged myself to alter my routine and tell the story of “sorority” to seatmates willing to listen. In truth, some conversations are easier than others, because people can be interested and receptive. Others come with preconceived ideas and negative stereotypes often formulated by bad press about the sorority experience.

My story is just one in a tapestry of narratives unique to each sorority woman. For more than 150 years, sorority women have been sharing their stories and advocating for the sorority experience. In a fast-paced society that expects explanation and validation as to why sororities add value to a campus and to a woman’s life, sharing our experiences does make a difference. The importance of communicating stories directly impacts the broader discussion, especially when we face negativity fueled by public opinion. Inspire yourself to share your sorority story by taking three minutes to watch the video below. 

Speaking up and sharing the sorority story, coupled with NPC’s commitment to advocate and advance sororities through factual and grounded messaging, drives the narrative necessary when we address adversity or enjoy prosperity. To all sorority women, thank you for sharing your stories. And to our publics, thank you for listening. 


Donna C. King
Chairman 2015-17

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Our Commitment in the Fight Against Hazing

By Donna C. King, chairman 2015-17

For those that have closely followed the news out of Penn State University this spring, the details of the tragic death of Timothy Piazza have been both shocking and heartbreaking. Words cannot adequately express the extent of the tragedy; put simply, a community that exists to support and nurture young people fell devastatingly short of its goals and ideals.

While the events that led to Tim’s death may have taken place in a fraternity, the changes needed to keep them from happening again require that all of us take action. This has been, and continues to be, our message with the leadership at Penn State University and on campuses throughout the U.S. and Canada.

With the unanimous support of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) Board of Directors — as affirmed at our recent meeting — we stand ready to work closely with Penn State as the campus implements changes in its community. And as that process unfolds, it is essential that we ensure the community-wide engagement required to make sure the reforms are successful. Only when we work together can we transcend this tragedy to create a stronger, safer and more supportive campus community.

As one of the world’s largest organizations advocating for women, NPC has long been a part of the fight against hazing. We stand committed to addressing this pervasive problem arm in arm with our campus partners and other collegiate organizations.

In 2014, NPC stated its strong position against hazing and voiced its support for anti-hazing initiatives that engage and empower students to enact positive change and meaningful reform within our community. Hazing undermines the values and ideals of sorority and fraternity life, and serves as a detriment to our ultimate goal of building strong, independent and engaged leaders on college and university campuses.

Today it is more crucial than ever that we reiterate this position, affirming our commitment to thoughtful, substantive partnerships with institutions of higher education where any of our 26 member organizations are recognized. NPC’s utmost priority is the safety of our students, and through transparency, collaboration and advocacy, we hope and believe, we can create campus cultures that reflect our shared goals and ideals – and, most important, keep students safe.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The men who support sorority

Not often would the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) chairman write about men, considering she leads a women’s organization. It’s possible that this organization is long overdue in recognizing and acknowledging the vast network of men who have served and currently serve as allies, advocates and supporters of the sorority membership experience. In fact, in the late 1800s it was a male professor of Latin, and not a woman, who felt the word “fraternity” was inappropriate for a group of ladies and coined the term “sorority,” the more commonly used terminology today for women’s fraternal organizations. 

A lesser-known fact is the working relationship and allied partnerships that exist between men’s fraternities and women’s sororities outside of college social and philanthropic events. Partnerships are forged to develop educational programming and initiatives, opportunities are provided for learning through leadership institutes and most important, collaboration on current issues impacting our members is the priority. NPC and the North-American Interfraternity Conference (NIC), representing 69 men’s organizations, lead by example in the collaborative partnership and friendship they share. To our many partners representing the men’s organizations, we are most appreciative and say thank you

One might think advancing and advocating for sororities is exclusive to female executives and staff at the headquarters of the 26 inter/national NPC organizations. That is not the case. Men serve NPC organizations in a variety of staff roles including executive leadership, technology, risk management, financial management, programming, media and public relations. The perspective these men bring to the business of sorority is valued, respected and central to the ongoing work of the women’s organizations. To these valued professionals, we offer a resounding thank you for your service and commitment to advocacy for the sorority experience.

And to our most ardent supporters, during the month of June in recognition of Father’s Day, we salute the multitude of grandfathers, dads, husbands, brothers, uncles and sons who unselfishly support their granddaughters, daughters, wives, mothers, sisters and nieces in pursuit of the sorority membership experience. In my own family, dad always supported and encouraged my mom’s tireless volunteer service and burst with pride when sharing with others the leadership opportunities afforded his daughters through their sorority. Like my dad did for the women in his family, the Coachella Valley Alumnae Panhellenic has a legion of men supporting its members: the “Panhellenic Honey Doers,” more fondly referred to as Ph.Ds. 

Thank you, in a special and unique way, to the men out there who advance sorority with us! 


Donna C. King
Chairman 2015-17

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Message From the Chairman: The legacy of sorority

The month of May provides an opportunity to pay tribute to mothers and the legacies they leave, as well as the legacy of others. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines legacy as, “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor.”

Women’s sororities capture the definition of the word legacy, encompassing both the spirit of the dictionary definition and the timeless tradition of paying forward the heritage of sorority membership from one generation to the next.

For sororities, a legacy may include mother to daughter, grandmother to granddaughter, aunt to niece, sister to sister and so forth. I am just that, a legacy! My mother, sister and I share the same membership legacy through our national sorority. This familial practice of sharing history, founding principles and values has greatly affected and contributed to the continued growth of inter/national sororities.

Is a sorority legacy restricted to membership in her ancestral sorority? The answer is no. Is membership in an inter/national women's sorority composed only of legacies? Again, the answer is no. Many families share the gift of sorority membership through Panhellenic ties. See the story of one such family’s experience, featured on Page 28 of “Themis” of Zeta Tau Alpha.

Why share the story of legacy and legacies? While in Washington, D.C., recently with more than 200 sorority and fraternity alumni and collegians, each of us was asked to articulate the value and benefits of our membership while lobbying on behalf of the fraternal community. Defending the right to exist as single-gender (women and men's) organizations, the right to associate, to provide safe spaces and housing for our youngest members — all this is possible only because of the legacy of lifelong membership, passed down in some cases from generation to generation. A lifetime membership is grounded in the rich and intentional founding principles and values of each sorority and fraternity.  

Leaving a legacy, being a legacy and sharing a legacy is a rich testament to the sorority experience. Join me in honoring the decades of legacy of others to sorority, and those today who advocate tirelessly on behalf of the sorority experience.

And happy Mother’s Day to all sorority women who are mothers and to the moms who support their daughters in their sorority membership.

Donna C. King
Chairman 2015-17