Tuesday, November 10, 2020

From the NPC Chairman: Pausing to give thanks

Dear friends,

Between the COVID-19 pandemic, discussions about racial injustice, natural disasters and struggling economy, it’s easy to get stressed out and have feelings of anxiety. And, as Thanksgiving approaches in the United States, the worry of how to celebrate this year or the disappointment that you may be spending the holiday away from family and friends due to travel restrictions or safety concerns, just adds to the stress we are already feeling about the year 2020.

However, as we pause to give thanks for our many blessings, we are also given the opportunity to take a deeper look and recognize all the things that we may take for granted in our day-to-day lives – the family we love, the friends we cherish and the blessings we have received.

During this season of Thanksgiving, I hope you will join me in reflecting on the things I am most grateful for as we continue to advance the sorority experience:

  • All of us, collegians and alumnae, being open to change and adapting as we faced a pandemic (something none of us has ever experienced before).
  • The flexibility and commitment our RFM specialists, College Panhellenic area advisors, other volunteers and staff showed as they took on the frontline role of working with campuses as recruitment contingencies were planned and implemented.
  • The successes our College Panhellenics found as virtual or hybrid recruitments were safely implemented.
  • Outstanding programming our College Panhellenic officers and chapter leaders successfully hosted virtually.
  • Successful marketing campaigns on both the national and local levels promoting the value of the sorority experience regardless of how that experience is delivered.
  • The fraternity/sorority advisors who have supported our members throughout probably the toughest academic term they have ever experienced.
  • Our NPC partners who work to provide a meaningful and rewarding sorority experience for our members.
  • The undying support we give each other as we continue to have difficult and meaningful conversations as we work together in creating a welcoming, inclusive Panhellenic community that our current and future members deserve.
  • Learning to be more flexible, to focus on the positive, to slow down and to be a better listener.
  • Our friends and families who support our fraternal efforts.

My thanks to each of you for your commitment to ensuring the values and ideals of sorority are preserved. I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving filled with abundance and love. May the good things in life be yours not only at Thanksgiving but throughout the coming year.


Carole J. Jones
NPC Chairman

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Overcoming Obstacles to Raise Scholarship Funds: Rochester Alumnae Panhellenic

The following is a guest blog from the Rochester Alumnae Panhellenic Association. 

Alumnae welcoming attendees in 2019.

In 2019, the Rochester Alumnae Panhellenic celebrated their 10th anniversary of the annual Fall Fundraiser, our major scholarship fundraiser. For the first time in 10 years, the format was a dinner with a raffle, cork pull and both silent and live auctions. It was always a delightful evening at a local country club — good food, warm, wonderful friendships and, most important of all a goal of raising funds to support scholarships for young undergraduate or graduate women affiliated with an NPC organization. In recent years, Rochester’s Alumnae Panhellenic has been able to award approximately $20,000 each year, usually to six scholarship winners.

Thanks to the help of the full Rochester Alumnae Panhellenic board (represented by 18 different NPC organizations), wonderful and varied donations have been available each year for this event. Along with the donations, most of the participating NPC organizations created and donated baskets for a raffle or for the silent auction. To augment that, many businesses and individuals provided sponsorship funds with 100% of that going directly to the scholarship fund.

Following the same format for 10 years, the planning committee (known as the SOS committee for Support Our Scholars) decided it was time to make some adjustments by switching from a dinner to a luncheon, with the intent of lowering the cost to attend and, hopefully, broadening the audience. Plans were well underway when March hit with the COVID-19 pandemic and the SOS committee needed to go back to the drawing board.

Luckily, this dedicated and hardworking committee rolled up their sleeves and brainstormed how to make things work. There was only one definite at that point - more than ever, we needed to award scholarships for 2020. We felt the financial need would be even greater with many summer jobs disappearing and most campus lives changing drastically.

After a subcommittee did some initial investigation as to how we could manage to continue to engage with donors and sponsors and move towards what now needed to be a virtual event. The subcommittee presented a tentative plan for implementing a fundraising and auction platform, GiveSmart.

GiveSmart provides mobile bidding, online auction and fundraising software that could move our event to a virtual experience. This was not an inexpensive commitment, and we agreed that it was the best way to move forward for a positive outcome. Our lemons have turned to lemonade and we are truly thinking outside of the box and planning for the 2020 event in new and creative ways. Instead of a one-day event, attendees will now be able to preview donation items at their leisure for one week. Bidding will then open and will remain open for two weeks. Another plus - attendees do not need to be local to participate. The software allows for text and email notices to be sent when a person is outbid. No need to go find that auction item on one of the display tables to check on bids. Payments will be done online and financial reports will be readily available. Pickup will be done on a pickup date with safe practices in place (shipping as needed).

Though the final outcome is still to be determined, we feel very positive regarding this reformatting and are already talking about how this might allow us to do things very differently, even if we are able to go back to an in-person event for 2021.

Scholarship recipient, Alexandra Kaplan (right) with a chapter sister.

To learn more about the positive impacts of Rochester Alumnae Panhellenic’s scholarship program, you can watch this video and hear from recent scholarship winner, Alexandra Kaplan, a member of Gamma Phi Beta from the University of Rochester.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

How We Transitioned to a Virtual Recruitment at the University of Minnesota Duluth

 The following is a guest post from Annabelle Paquin, the University of Minnesota Duluth, class of 2021. 

When we got the news that recruitment was going to be entirely online, a brief moment of panic hit

Annabelle at the 2020 College Panhellenic Academy.

our College Panhellenic. “How are we going to do this?” was the question running through all of our minds. Most of us had just started using Zoom a few weeks ago, and the idea of facilitating an entire Zoom recruitment was not one we felt prepared for. We had no idea what we were going to do, but we knew we had to act fast. We quickly held meetings with our College Panhellenic officers, chapter recruitment chairs, chapter presidents and recruitment counselors, to tell them what was happening. We were met with shock, as well as enthusiasm that we were going to figure this out, make it work and make the best of the situation.

Myself, the College Panhellenic recruitment assistant and our advisor began scouring through NPC emails, looking for tips and tricks on how we could make this work. We attended online meetings with other campuses across the nation, tirelessly testing out breakout rooms, and trying to figure out how we could utilize Zoom to try to recreate recruitment in the most realistic way possible. We even held an optional Zoom meeting where we invited all of our fraternity and sorority life members so we could practice using breakout rooms; which helped us in effectively teaching chapters various tips and tricks to make this work.

Meanwhile, on the chapter end of things, everything related to recruitment took a turn. Chapter recruitment chairs and members alike had to quickly learn how to adapt and be extremely flexible. Recruitment training, originally energetic weekends spent learning chants and freshening up on your chapters values, philanthropy and finances quickly turned into testing out Zoom during chapter meetings, discussing how to move from break out room to break out room and learning how to set up Zoom calls. Despite all of this, all of our chapters maintained a positive attitude and spent a lot of time making sure they were experts in Zoom.

Our College Panhellenic recruitment team and chapter recruitment teams were not the only ones who made sure recruitment went off without a hitch. Our recruitment counselors were invaluable to us during this experience. Despite the changes to the job description, not a single recruitment counselor stepped down from their position. Our training still involved learning about being a supportive and empathetic resource to potential new members (PNMs) but also included a lot of technical Zoom skills, ensuring that our recruitment counselors were prepared to help chapters and PNMs troubleshoot, and make sure that PNMs knew where they needed to be when they needed to be there. All recruitment counselor training events were held virtually as well.

Despite all of the last minute changes that needed to be made, and the less than ideal circumstances, everyone involved maintained an extremely positive attitude, and I couldn’t be more proud of our campus’s Panhellenic community for being so supportive during this time.

For campuses who are recruiting in the spring, the best advice I can give, from both the chapter standpoint and the Panhellenic standpoint is to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Reach out to other campuses and see what they did. Practice with your chapter, learn the breakout rooms, learn how Zoom works. Stay positive, stay organized and do as much as you can ahead of time. Don’t be discouraged by low numbers, because at the end of the day, these are difficult times for everyone. Smaller numbers also allowed for PNMs to have longer and more in-depth conversations with chapter members, which we received very positive feedback about.

Encourage your Panhellenic sisters to stay positive, and remember, everything is going to be okay. Use your community as a support system. I know for myself, I was so proud of how our entire fraternity and sorority life community stepped up to help us through this challenge. I couldn’t have done this alone, and am incredibly grateful for the help from our community, as well as my advisor, recruitment assistant, recruitment counselors, our Panhellenic president and chapter recruitment chairs.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

From the NPC Chairman: Honoring 'Votes for Women' By Exercising Your Right to Vote

Dear friends,

Aug. 26, 2020, marked 100 years since the declaration of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granting American women the right to vote – a right known as women’s suffrage. The women’s suffrage movement began in 1848, and for the next 72 years, women fought diligently to secure the right to vote. It is these women – including Panhellenic sorority women Carrie Chapman Catt, Alice Duer Miller, the Rev. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, among others – who rallied for "Votes for Women" and we have them to thank for expanding women’s rights and creating opportunities for future generations.

At the heart of democracy is the right to vote, and generally speaking, most of us take our voting rights seriously and cast our ballot on election day. It’s part of our duty as community citizens and every vote really does count. If you aren’t registered to vote, this is a reminder that 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.

One of NPC’s six advocacy building blocks is citizenship/service showing that Panhellenic women are committed to participating as active citizens to improve both campus and local/state/federal communities. Our goal is to instill the understanding and value that good citizenship is important for caring for others, respecting the law and improving community, and that volunteering teaches women of all ages compassion and understanding. Both citizenship and service ultimately advocate for the causes which we are each personally passionate about. By participating in the democratic process, we are helping to shape the world in which we want to live.

Register and make your plan to vote.

Record turnout at the polls is expected this year in the U.S., and the generational shift of eligible voters continues. According to a study by Pew Research, the youngest Americans – millennials (born 1977-1995) and Generation Z (born 1996-TBD) – will be poised to exercise their political muscle in November, making up 37% of the electorate. Generation X (born 1965-1976) makes up 25% of the electorate. Also, Gen Z is set to surpass the Silent Generation (born 1945 and before) in the size of the electorate for the first time and Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) remain the generation with the largest share of the voting-eligible population. Interestingly, millennials will make up a smaller share of the electorate than they did in the last presidential election, even as their population numbers have grown due to immigration.

Women continue to have the power to make a difference through their votes in 2020. The collective power of women's voices and votes can and will affect outcomes in our communities and at the national level. I encourage you to become an educated voter, exercise your power and encourage other women to register to vote if they have not done so. Let’s do our part and honor those women who came before us who fought for the rights and privileges of which we enjoy today.


Carole J. Jones
NPC chairman

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

From the NPC Chairman: Importance of Modeling the Way to Prevent COVID-19 Transmission

As colleges/universities unveiled a myriad of re-opening plans for the fall academic term, students were caught between a desire to return to campus or to continue remote learning amid coronavirus fears. These re-opening plans ranged from in-person learning, remote classes and a hybrid model. But, as students began to return to campus, COVID-19 hotspots began to emerge resulting is some institutions moving to fully virtual classes.

#StopTheDrops that transmit COVID-19
The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) is committed to assisting our College Panhellenic women to be leaders in helping to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 outbreaks and help shape the behaviors of the broader campus community. As leaders on campus, we are encouraging sorority women to educate themselves by reviewing the COVID-19 information provided in NPC's #StopTheDrops health promotion campaign. Information can be found at npcwomen.org/stopthedrops and includes fast facts, resources on virus transmission, the #StopTheDrops video and other resources. It’s also important to review current college/university policies and guidelines from state and local agencies in order to be knowledgeable about local restrictions and guidance. What are the requirements for wearing masks, distancing, in-person gatherings, visitors, traveling and returning to campus?

Collaboration with other student leaders is another important element in leading the way in modeling safe behavior. How are other student leaders talking about the pandemic within their organizations? Being proactive and working together to #StopTheDrops will help stop the transmission of COVID-19 on your campus.

NPC was also proactive when it shifted its procedural guidance for campuses to transition to a fully virtual recruitment experience. As health concerns continued to rise, we then extended this guidance to all fall and spring recruitment campuses. Panhellenic recruitment hosted through the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year should be hosted as a fully virtual experience (recruitment events through electronic bid distribution.)

Most recently, the 26 member organizations that comprise NPC agreed to direct all collegiate chapters to ​​transition all chapter-sponsored Bid Day activities (i.e., gatherings and celebrations following bid distribution) to a fully virtual experience for the next 30 days (through Oct. 9, 2020).

All of this said, it is important that we all–collegians and alumnae–take the lead in modeling safe behavior. The perception that sorority women are responsible for spreading COVID-19 because they are socializing in large groups without masks is prevalent. College Panhellenics and member organizations are successfully planning and implementing safe membership recruitment in a virtual manner, but large in-person Bid Days and off-campus gatherings have affected the well-being of individuals and those which whom they have interacted.

As sorority women, we play an important role in providing opportunities for members to connect and deepen friendships, deepen engagement with the university and engage in lifelong learning. But during this time of uncertainty, great care must be taken to limit and prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

It is my hope that we will all do our part to assist in preventing the spread of this virus so our collegiate members can enjoy the interaction they so deserve and experience what sisterhood is all about in meaningful ways.


Carole J. Jones
NPC chairman

Monday, August 24, 2020

#StopTheDrops That Spread COVID-19

Sorority women are making it our mission to stop the respiratory droplets that spread COVID-19. Follow #StopTheDrops on social media for educational resources, and help take action to stop the transmission of COVID-19 on your campus and beyond.

Watch the video to learn about the problem of shared air and how you can prevent the
transmission of the respiratory droplets that spread COVID-19. #StopTheDrops

Additional resources for College Panhellenics:
NOTE: While the #StopTheDrops content is geared toward sorority women, it applies to a wide audience. Even for campuses that have moved to a fully remote experience, stopping the spread of COVID-19 is still an important topic. Students may still live nearby each other or be traveling to meet in person, raising the risk of getting or spreading COVID-19.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Remembering Sorority Suffragists

In honor of the centennial celebration of the 19th Amendment, we take a look back at some of the suffragist sorority women who paved the way for the future generations of women*. These 10 sorority women took action to make change and create a platform for women to continue to advocate for women's rights. The women we talk about here are just a fraction of the sorority women who used their voices to effect change and demand women's right to vote. In addition to being advocates for women’s rights, many of them were leaders in the fields of education, government and more. They not only paved the way for women to exercise their right to vote but served as role models for future generations of women. 

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Ada Comstock Notestein

Ada Comstock Notestein, a member of Delta Gamma, was president of the American Association of University Women for two years. She also served as the first dean of women at the University of Minnesota and the first full-time president of Radcliffe College, a position which she held for 20 years. In addition, she convinced Harvard to accept classroom coeducation in 1943. As an advocate for education, Comstock helped hundreds of women earn a bachelor’s degree at Smith College. Part of Ada’s legacy is that she strove to help women in higher education achieve their goals. She now has a scholarship named after her for young college-aged women to achieve those same dreams. 

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Alice Duer Miller

Alice Duer Miller was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma and her writing skills took the suffrage movement by storm. She wrote poetry that had a huge impact on the movement and even wrote a column called, Are Women People? This column became a catchphrase for the suffrage movement. She followed that collection of columns with one called, Women Are People! Her illustrations and written works made her a known activist within the women’s suffrage movement and a pivotal voice in the U.S.

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Reverend Doctor Anna Howard Shaw

Reverend Doctor Anna Howard Shaw was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. Shaw was one of the first female Methodist ministers in the United States. She met Susan B. Anthony in 1888, who encouraged her to join the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). Her great work also led her to be the president of the NAWSA, where she and Anthony worked closely together to advocate for women’s rights throughout the movement. She also played a key role in the merging of two suffrage associations and this was the first time in decades that unity between organizations had happened within the suffrage movement.

Carrie Lane Chapman Catt

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Carrie Lane Chapman Catt was a member of Pi Beta Phi and played a large role in the passage of the 19th Amendment and American women’s right to vote. It was Carrie who came up with what was known as the “Winning Plan” that coordinated state suffrage campaigns that lobbied for women’s rights, which helped ensure the development of the constitutional amendment. She helped found the League of Women Voters that gave women a platform and voice on political issues. Carrie was also the president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1900 to 1904 and again from 1915 to 1920. She also wrote about the history of the suffrage movement that was published in 1923 called, Woman Suffrage and Politics: The Inner Story of the Suffrage Movement.

Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Ph.D.

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Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Ph.D., was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. She was a strong activist and voiced her support for women’s rights, racial equality and lifelong education through her activism. She even enlisted help from her sisters to aid in war-relief in France after World War I. After the war, she was head of the U.S. committee that allowed people to have the option to refuse to perform military service due to the freedom of thought, conscience or religion. Dorothy also worked for years trying to improve education reform and worked closely with the women’s prisons to do so. 

Edith and Grace Abbot

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Edith and Grace Abbott, two sisters who were both members of Delta Gamma and each had a tremendous impact on the suffragist movement. Edith became the first woman to become dean of an American graduate school. She was committed to advocating for social reform and welfare and spent a lot of her time doing so. She and Grace both moved to what was known as the Hull House, which was a community for educated women with scholarly and revolutionary thinking. Grace wrote and published a number of scholarly articles and government reports that contributed to women’s rights. 

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Grace Abbott, like her sister Edith, strove to advocate for women’s rights and improving children’s welfare, especially those who were immigrants. She was also the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. government for over a decade as the head of the U.S. Children’s Bureau. Grace became the first woman to be nominated and to hold a presidential cabinet position for the Secretary of Labor. A lot of her research and works were used in helping to make policies involving child labor laws across the United States.

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Eliza Jean Nelson Penfield 

Eliza Jean Nelson Penfield was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, who also served as Kappa Kappa Gamma’s president. She worked alongside Carrie Lane Chapman Catt to found the League of Women Voters. But, her push for the 19th Amendment didn’t stop there, as she was one of the seven women who chartered the Woman’s Suffrage Party of Greater New York. 

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Frances Willard 

Frances Willard was another suffragist who was a member of Alpha Phi, and like Eliza Jean Nelson Penfield, held the president position. Frances was also the president of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). Before she was elected president of the WCTU, she became the first corresponding secretary for the organization. She spent endless amounts of her time traveling to speak and give lectures advocating for women’s suffrage and home protection. Frances also helped found the World WCTU in 1888 and became the president just five years later. 

Mary Ritter Beard 

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Mary Ritter Beard, who was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta. She was a leader and activist in many areas such as education and women’s rights. Mary was a member of the Women’s Trade Union League, the Equality League of Self-Supporting Women, the New York Suffrage Party and the Wage-Earners’ Suffrage Party. On top of her long list of involvement, she was also on the advisory board of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, also known as the National Women’s Party. 

All of these women and many others made endless contributions towards women’s rights and what led to the 19th Amendment. They created a platform and even used their resources as sorority women to voice their thoughts and make a change in the world. They are an inspiration to women today on how you can make the world a better place, or at least your part of it. 

*The National Panhellenic Conference recognizes the 19th Amendment didn’t expand the right to vote to all women, but as women’s-only organizations we want to highlight the role our members played in the amendment’s passage and acknowledge it was a significant first step for all our members.