Tuesday, July 14, 2020

From the NPC Chairman: Facing Challenges, Adapting to Changing Times - Together

Dear friends,

With the arrival of the 2020 fall term just around the corner, it’s without question that the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) and its 26 member organizations are facing unparalleled challenges. As we make the necessary adjustments required by COVID-19 and to also address the conversation taking place within the sorority community about the legacy of racism within the Panhellenic system and the nation at-large, it’s a time that calls for unprecedented self-reflection.

Yet, as NPC continues to advocate for the sorority experience and works to preserve the single-gender experience, we need to remind ourselves that we are stronger and more powerful together as we face the new academic year head on. This is not the first time NPC and its member organizations have faced challenges and rapid change.

NPC and our member organizations have stood in solidarity and overcome the challenges presented by two world wars, The Great Depression and The Great Recession, waves of traditionalism and anti-fraternity sentiment and many other threats our existence. (To learn more, check out 
Adventure in Friendship on the NPC website.)

Today, the Panhellenic community is confronting new challenges including importantly taking stock of how we can and must more substantively and candidly engage about race, while actively confronting racism within our community. NPC’s new Equity and Access Advisory Committee will recommend and guide the Board of Directors on how to increase access to the sorority experience and equity across our policies and procedures. This shall include consideration of norms and practices that create barriers facing potential members based on racial identity, LGBTQ identity, religious beliefs, ability and socioeconomic status, among others. The committee’s recommendations shall be designed to complement efforts led at the member organizational level regarding membership policies, programming and practices.

Additionally, the COVID crisis has forced us to experience a very different way of living and learning, and has once again challenged us all to be flexible and innovative. As students return to campus in the fall, the safety of our members, volunteers and campus professionals with whom they interact is a primary concern and focus for NPC. We are developing a return to campus health promotion campaign which will including social media videos and accompanying educational resources for use by College Panhellenics and individual chapters in an effort to ensure our members will be illustrating care for all students of our campus communities.

Given that fraternities and sororities can often set the tone for campus social life, a return to “business as usual” is not acceptable and we are committed to empowering Panhellenic women to be leaders in helping to maintain healthy campus communities. By adopting safer behaviors, NPC members and chapters can help reduce the likelihood of outbreaks and help shape the behaviors of the broader campus community.

Further, as our College Panhellenic Associations and officers prepare contingency plans for hosting a safe recruitment on their campus, NPC is providing counsel on virtual recruitment platforms and expanding outreach and engagement activities to potential new members (PNMs). The Promotion of the Sorority Experience (2020) – POLICY, approved by the Council of Delegates in May, was adopted so all sorority members, alumnae and collegiate, were able to attract potential new members to the sorority experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. 



Since its approval, the implementation of this policy has resulted in many questions, concerns and examples of how members and chapters of our organizations are communicating with potential new members beyond the spirit of the new policy.

Communication should continue to be in line with positive Panhellenic contact and not promoting one organization as “the best.” The policy is intended to promote communication between members and potential new members about the overall sorority experience, not for members and organizations to promote solely their own organization and experience.

Chapters should engage women who have not yet registered for recruitment, not those who have already registered. College Panhellenics will continue to engage and keep PNMs informed about recruitment logistics and schedules as well as keep them engaged with recruitment counselors and other Panhellenic personnel.

The policy also provides the ability for collegiate and alumnae members to actively show their sorority affiliation and not be forced to delete social media accounts, cover up their membership or be penalized for talking about their sorority experience. It is not giving members the opportunity to host events or Zoom calls to engage PNMs with the purpose of getting to know them during recruitment-like events.

For more than 115 years, NPC and its member organizations have remained relevant because of the deep friendship offered by individual fraternity and Panhellenic life. As we have demonstrated many times over, together we will face our challenges head on, rise to the moment and adapt to changing times – and we will be better and stronger for it.

Panhellenically,






Carole J. Jones
NPC Chairman

Monday, June 15, 2020

From the NPC Chairman: Three Considerations for Addressing Racism in the Panhellenic Community

Dear friends,

I write to you this month during a period of sincere reflection and sadness—in our nation and within our community.

The killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among far too many others, are challenging each of us, and the organizations to which we belong (Panhellenic and otherwise), to more substantively and candidly engage about race and confront racism.

For the members of the National Panhellenic Conference Board of Directors, the time and place in which we find ourselves has called for clear acknowledgment that racism—within society and within the Panhellenic community—is not an issue we can address simply through kindness or greater respect for one another (as important as those may be). Instead, we must carefully consider the structural and systemic reasons that too many women of color do not view our organizations as places where they feel welcomed, understood or heard.

Our approach must change, and the Board of Directors offers at least three considerations we must confront if we are to honestly reconsider our path forward as a conference and a community of Panhellenic women:

First, our organizations do not reflect the diversity that our Panhellenic communities hope to achieve.  As a community, we don't make ourselves broadly attractive to women of color and we have too often fallen short in supporting our Black and Brown sisters.

The reasons for this are numerous and grounded in a clear history of past discrimination. It is vital, however, that we confront the reality that the lack of diversity within our ranks is not an accident. Decades of narratives, norms and practices have made the “typical” sorority experience understood through a white lens. This is uncomfortable to consider, but it is true.

Second, we believe that we must consider—and change—the systems and norms within the Panhellenic community that have historically benefited and centered the experiences of white women and women of privilege, more generally.

The manner in which we respond to this second area will determine whether we will ultimately make progress in the first. We know that many of our member organizations are already engaging in some of this work. As a board, we recognize these changes at the organizational level must reflect each organizations’ values, culture and sense of purpose. However, as a Panhellenic community, we must acknowledge that we are tied together, and creating lasting change will require each of us to re-evaluate long-standing assumptions about how we operate, recruit and support collegiate sorority women.

Third, as a Panhellenic community, we have an obligation and responsibility to empower our members and volunteers and to openly discuss race and racial injustice.

For many of us in the Panhellenic community, we become reserved and hesitant when race or racism are discussed. In many cases, we have been taught that “we don’t see color” or to “treat everyone equally.” These feelings and sentiments are sometimes understandable and often well-intended, but—as the members of the board have learned—their effect is to ignore and brush aside the many ways that race does shape our society and create unequal experiences within our community. If we are to prepare and empower young women as future leaders, and particularly if we are going to fully embrace BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) and LGBTQ+ Panhellenic women, we must no longer shy away from or be fearful of these critical conversations.

As we consider each of these areas, and others that will no doubt arise, we also ask for some grace. We, as a community, will stumble as we work to find our way. But our hope is that we can drive real change that reinforces the foundational values and strength of the Panhellenic experience.

In the near term, this will likely mean difficult and meaningful conversations, the creation of new resources and a commitment to support and work with College Panhellenics as we consider the themes addressed in this note. In the long term, it will require us to continue critical conversations with our Black and Brown sisters, as well as those who advocate for and support them, in order to develop and implement new approaches, policies, agreements and expectations.


For more than 100 years, the National Panhellenic Conference has been an organization that advances the sorority experience together. It is clearer than ever before that our ability to do that effectively now—and to empower collegiate women in the current moment—calls us to reimagine what “together” truly means.

We are humbled by the many comments and experiences shared within our community in recent weeks, and we remain optimistic about our ability to join together in creating a welcoming, inclusive Panhellenic community that our current and future members deserve.

Panhellenically,




NPC Chairman Carole J. Jones with NPC Directors Mary Baker, Cheri De Jong, Laura Doerre, Rie Hoehner, Malaea Seleski, Laura Sweet and CEO Dani Weatherford

Monday, June 8, 2020

Sharing Your Sorority Experience with Potential Members

By now, many of us can imagine that this fall, NPC sorority recruitment is likely to look very different as campuses move to virtual instruction or a hybrid of in-person and virtual instruction. As members of NPC sororities, both alumnae and collegiate members, we are all vital in attracting potential new members to the sorority experience. But, it can be nerve-racking not knowing how to approach a potential new member or what to do if she approaches you.

You want to handle these conversations in a way that promotes the overall sorority experience, not just one organization or chapter. The potential member should be learning about your experience and how she can have similar experiences in any NPC sorority. 

During your conversation with her, you can offer to answer any questions she has about sorority membership. Making a personal connection with her allows her to gain an insight into sorority membership which can lead to her participation in recruitment. By having that conversation, you might also encourage her to join a sorority if she hadn’t been thinking about it before. After all, we can’t recruit women who don’t know about our organizations or the benefits of membership. 

 Structuring the Conversation

To help you feel more confident having these kinds of conversations about sororities and your sorority experience, we’ve broken it down into an easy three-step process, inspired by our friends at Phired Up.

By now, many of us can imagine that this fall, NPC sorority recruitment is likely to look very different as campuses move to a hybrid of in-person and virtual instruction or full virtual instruction. As members of NPC sororities, both alumnae and collegiate members, we are all vital in attracting potential new members to the sorority experience. But, it can be nerve-racking not knowing how to approach a potential new member or what to do if she approaches you.

You want to handle these conversations in a way that promotes the overall sorority experience, not just one organization or chapter. The potential member should be learning about your experience and how she can have similar experiences in any NPC sorority.

  • Quick greeting
    • Finding a way to introduce yourself and state who you are, if the potential member doesn’t already know you. You can also mention what organization you are a member of here.
  •   Share benefit(s) of membership
    • There are many you could list but reflect on your experience and the benefits you have a connection with. Think about skills you’ve grown, relationships you’ve built, connections you’ve made and opportunities presented to you thanks to your sorority membership.  
  • Share how she can have access to the experience
    • End with an actionable closing that allows the potential member to learn more, sign up for recruitment, attend an information event, etc. This might take some research, but you want to give this woman a way she can find out more information. Many young women may not know how to sign up for recruitment or that they even need to sign up. Help make it easier for her to join a sorority.

Modeling the Conversations

So, what does that look like when you have a conversation in-person with a potential member? Let’s pretend you’re at a Starbucks on campus and a woman in line behind you asks about the sorority button on your backpack and asks what sorority you are a member of. Your response might look something like this:

            “My name is Sally, and I’m in Alpha Alpha Alpha sorority. I met my best friends in my sorority and they’ve really helped me find a home on campus since I’m an out of state student. If you’re thinking about joining a sorority, we’re having an information night tomorrow, you should come and learn more about the other sororities on campus.”

Alumnae might not always have the same experience running into a potential member in a campus Starbucks, but they may have other unexplored connections with potential members. If you are an alumna, do you know any of your co-workers that have a daughter or niece going to college? You could share your experience with your colleague who can talk to the college-bound woman they know. Parents and caregivers play a significant role in helping students decide if sorority is for them. Also consider connections you have at places you volunteer, organizations you are a member of, other family members, etc.

Taking the Conversation Online

Social media is a powerful tool you can use to share your story and connect with potential new members and their parents/caregivers. Sharing your sorority journey can have a positive impact in a few ways. It allows women interested in joining to learn more about the sorority experience through you. You have lived the sorority experience and know if sorority is worth the investment (which we hope you think it is). That is exactly the information that potential members are seeking. Is sorority worth it?

You can maximize your posts by using hashtags like #JoinASorority so your post can be found by a broader range of women. For collegiate members, think about using hashtags that promote the graduating class like #ClassOf2020 and the name of your university to help your posts be discovered by incoming students.


In addition, when you share your story you invite potential members and their caregivers to connect with you. If a potential member likes your post or follows you, it is perfectly ok and encouraged to
 reach out to her and make a connection. This is where you can implement the three-step process to having a conversation with her. You can see an example of this with image to the right. 

We hope you will begin to think of the ways you can help attract potential members to the sorority experience. Our organizations depend on bringing in new members this fall and it will take collegians and alumnae to see a successful recruitment in the 2020-21 academic year.

 

 


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A Reflection from the 2017-2019 Harriet Macht Alumnae Panhellenic Winner


  In the 2017-2019 biennium, the Northern Virginia Alumnae Panhellenic won the Harriet Macht Outstanding Alumnae Panhellenic Award. We asked them to reflect on their association's purpose, programming and events that led them to this prestigious honor.
The Northern Virginia Alumnae Panhellenic accepting the
 Harriet Macht Award at the Annual Educational Conference in 2016. 

   1. As an award-winning Alumnae Panhellenic, do you have suggestions for keeping records for your Alumnae Panhellenic?

It is important to always maintain historical records for the alumnae Panhellenic. During conversations and planning, questions always arise as to how various projects were planned and executed, whether it be a fundraising event programming, a scholarship program or a recruitment information event. Periodically reviving some previous activities with a fresh approach is helpful. The ability to have access to the previous activity and the details is important and to accomplish that, files need to maintained using several methods so that things are not “lost”.

One way to maintain the files is to have a good transition meeting which can be either individuals getting together and sharing the knowledge and files of the previous year. They can do this based on their own schedules and then the incoming officer/chairman can share information with their committee and the officers. An alternative is to hold a transition meeting of the outgoing board and the incoming board, providing time for the individuals to chat and share and then the outgoing board may leave, allowing the new board to continue the meeting, set goals and share the information received through conversation and files received.

Files can be shared in several ways – via email, notebooks, flash drives and through archives (such as scrapbooks). The sharing of information via email that includes emails sent during the year, documents created and saved. There are cons to this method – computer crashes, people moving and there is no further and the information is lost. The pros include the portability of the files and information.

The sharing of notebooks is also a mixed bag of successes and failures. It is not helpful if an officer/committee chairman does not keep good records, update a notebook with information, having notebooks that are cumbersome and information is extremely outdated. The good is that there is information in one place to be passed along. Unfortunately, at times the notebooks don’t go to the next person due to inability to meet and the information becomes lost. We have found that the most important files are those of the Vice President of Finance and hard copies of documents, as well as
soft copies, are best shared in several ways – notebook, flash drive, and uploaded to a site – especially EIN information and IRS filings!

Flash drives are easily misplaced and not labeled. The result of this is that they are not passed along to those who will need the information and it is not shared with others who might need some of the information contained on the drive.

A couple of successful ways to keep records is to have a Google drive with folders containing detailed information pertaining to specific positions that officers/committee chairman can access via a password.  A second method of keeping records is to have an historian whose responsibility is to provide a summary of the year and including rosters, awards, governing documents, minutes plus details of each month’s activities. This, too, can be kept on a drive for easy access. Documents can also be uploaded to the alumnae Panhellenic database account that the National Panhellenic Conference hosts through FSCentral.

Record keeping and file exchanges are important to the success of an alumnae Panhellenic and using several methods has been very helpful to us as we have immediate access to information and can continue to move the alumnae Panhellenic forward with planning each year. We have the ability to continue to grow our organization in many ways and build on the past.


   2.Since being selected as the award winner, how have you sustained Panhellenic excellence through this new biennium (2019-21)?

One of the goals for the new biennium for our alumnae Panhellenic is to continue the forward and upward momentum we have experienced throughout our history. It is important to evaluate the programming, fundraising efforts, scholarship program, and our communication to determine how we can improve on what we have been doing.

This year we have established the “Year of Changes” as our theme. Looking at the changes within the National Panhellenic Conference we believe that we, too, should look at how we can push ourselves to make changes. We are not happy to continue to do things in the same way as in the past and the last several years are great examples. New social events, new program ideas to provide information to our members about topics relevant to today’s Panhellenic women were developed. These included a presentation on Generation Z giving information on what to expect for the newest employees in the workforce and volunteer organizations; NPC 101 providing what is the National Panhellenic Conference, how the changes will affect operations and focus plus how an alumnae Panhellenic fits into NPC; programs for our members to learn about topics that are non-Panhellenic in nature; and programs to help our members enhance their personal lives.

Sustaining excellence in our organization through community service/philanthropy has been paramount. We do, as alumnae women support each other with fundraising and volunteer opportunities for individual alumnae chapters. In addition, the Northern Virginia Alumnae Panhellenic Association has established three specific organizations that we support annually – Ellie’s Hats, Women Giving Back, and Circle of Sisterhood. Two are local to our area and one is a national endeavor.  We, as a Panhellenic, continue to find ways to grow our support of these organizations using innovative giving opportunities.

Fundraising for our scholarship program is constantly being improved whether it be using new technologies to help collect funds, finding new and fresh ideas for our long-standing fundraising event which continues to increase interest and interaction between Panhellenic women, their friends and family, and support our scholarship program.

The ability to provide scholarships to outstanding Panhellenic women is one of the cornerstones of our alumnae Panhellenic.  This year, we have totally changed our application, our process, and emphasized the message to the campuses with NPC chapters in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We were not satisfied with the status quo as to the number of applicants nor with the method for submission of applications. We are starting to see early success that we attribute to the new processes we have embraced and are excited to see the final result.

Our communication both internal and external is constantly improving through social media usage, email, personal outreach, and publicity regarding our alumnae Panhellenic awards to the community and stakeholders is one of our goals. Our messaging is being refreshed and we look forward to continuing to find new ways to share the positives of sororities with those outside of our alumnae Panhellenic.

The Northern Virginia Alumnae Panhellenic Association members are excited to plan and discuss how we can continue to stay the course of excellence as we continue to focus on the “Year of Changes!”

3. Do you have any words of encouragement or suggestions for Alumnae Panhellenics across the country who are striving towards excellence?

As Panhellenic women, we strive to continue to grow and improve how we operate and how we can inspire future members to stay involved and engaged in Panhellenic life.  It is important to not be satisfied with the status quo, but to try to attain higher goals for your organization. This takes work, cooperation, communication, and dedication to the ideals of the National Panhellenic Conference and Alumnae Panhellenics. 

In looking through our historical files as we are in the process of looking at previous decades’ worth of scrapbooks, finding and keeping pertinent historical information, scanning documents, awards, and pictures to organize and house in a specific, safe “place,” we have found a wealth of information. Of particular note, we found previous award certificates that showed how our alumnae Panhellenic has historically been recognized for our successes and with each year or biennium, we have continued to improve upon what we had done previously.  Our words of encouragement would be to keep on improving how you do things by discussing your goals and thinking of new ways to live the vision, mission, and values of the National Panhellenic Conference in all that you do.  It does not matter the size of your alumnae Panhellenic, where you are located in the country, whether your membership is alumnae chapter-based, individual members or a combination, but what does matter is the vision you have for your organization, providing value to your members to keep them engaged, and how you advocate for the sorority experience in all that you do! Panhellenic women are phenomenal and can do anything!


Friday, May 15, 2020


Dear NPC partners, 

May is Partner Appreciation Month and I’m honored to recognize a valuable segment of our industry, our National Panhellenic Conference partners. Part of my responsibilities as director of operations is overseeing NPC’s partner program. Actually, it’s the best part of my job! Each of your businesses provide goods and services that support our organizations and their members. Thank you for your dedication to preserving, enhancing and expanding the sorority experience. Your partnership allows NPC to pursue its mission of advocating for the sorority experience through funding for educational events, programming and resources for College Panhellenics.

While the financial support is greatly appreciated and needed, it’s the genuine, personal relationships that are most prized. The most rewarding outcomes of our partnerships include the exchanging of ideas, building camaraderie and working towards common goals to better our communities and promote growth within our industry. It is a pleasure working with talented thought leaders, innovators, motivators and executors. I believe you are all are driven by the passion you posses for the fraternal/sorority experience that many of you experienced as collegians and that shaped you to be who you are today. It is a privilege to work with our partners and I thank you all on behalf of NPC for your thoughtful, dedicated and generous support.

Most gratefully,




Catherine Donaldson


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

From the NPC Chairman: Sororities Are an Essential Part of the College Experience

Dear friends,

As we all adapt to rapid change and prepare for the challenges that are ahead of us due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) is diligently preparing for the fall 2020 academic term and a Panhellenic recruitment that will most likely take place in a much different way, but one in which we will welcome new members into our chapters and Panhellenic community. 

Members of the NPC Recruitment Contingencies Task Force, representing campus-based professionals, member organization staff, volunteers from NPC’s Panhellenic Recruitment and Panhellenic Release Figure (RFM) Committees and other experts from across our industry, have developed alternative recruitment models, which have been shared with College Panhellenics to assist their communities to continue to engage potential new members and share the message that sororities are an essential part of the college experience.

Just as institutions of higher education are scenario planning what the fall semester will look like, it’s our hope that College Panhellenics are scenario planning as well. If their plan of choice changes at the last minute, then they have a back-up plan ready to go. Making choices tied to one decision doesn’t preclude future choices changing as more information comes available in the coming weeks.

Additionally, with social distancing most likely remaining in place this summer and fall, College Panhellenic leaders will need to work with their host institutions on safety protocols that will vary from state to state. Depending upon what those protocols are, the number of people being able to participate in each recruitment round and in the designated recruitment space will most likely be impacted. All of us, collegiate and alumnae members alike, must acknowledge that physical distancing will require us to not only conduct meetings in a new way, but recruit new members differently – quite possibly virtually.

As we prepare our College Panhellenic leaders, chapter members, parents/caregivers and alumnae for new and innovative ways to attract new members, we should all remember the support we give one another as Panhellenic sisters enables us to meet the challenges we face in today’s world. And, it is that support that we wish to extend to other young women as they join our organizations.

This summer, as we prepare to bring new members into our organizations, it will be important to showcase the value of the sorority experience in a proactive way. I call on each of you to reach out to incoming and continuing students to share your sorority experience so the young women planning to, or thinking about, participating in recruitment will have heard about the benefits of being a sorority member before they step on campus or begin the fall term virtually.

Volunteerism, philanthropy, leadership development and friendship are a part of each of our sorority stories. It’s up to each of us to tell those stories and it’s more important than ever to promote the sorority experience!

Panhellenically,







Carole J. Jones
NPC chairman

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

From the NPC Chairman: An Update on COVID-19 and the Sorority Experience

Dear friends,

This time of year is usually filled with Alumnae Panhellenic scholarship luncheons and end-of-year celebrations for our collegiate chapters as they say goodbye to their senior members. Instead we find ourselves at home striving to keep connections with each other while practicing social distancing. For the first time, many of us are working or attending class remotely and dealing with the challenges of work and family in the same physical space.

The women of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), both collegiate and alumnae, know how to manage through difficult times. You already know how to dig deep and you know that the steps we take individually are for the greater good. The COVID-19 pandemic that is causing challenges all over the world is also causing challenges for NPC and its 26 member organizations. But our volunteers and staff have been working diligently to support our College and Alumnae Panhellenics as well as member organizations. For example, the Disruption to Panhellenic Operations Task Force considered potential impacts the pandemic will have on our Panhellenic communities, particularly if disruptions to class schedules or campus operations continue into the fall semester. NPC is now working to act on many of the task force’s recommendations in order to get additional processes in place and tools in the hands of College Panhellenics. That work also includes the formation of the Recruitment Contingencies Task Force to examine a myriad of scenarios that could impact recruitment in fall 2020, and potentially beyond, to help College Panhellenics plan accordingly. (For more information on NPC's COVID-19 response, visit our Coronavirus Resources page.)

We don’t know exactly what the days ahead will look like, but we do know that financial damage inflicted on our organizations could force a change in workforce plans and organizational structure. We also know NPC has met and overcome every challenge we have faced over the years. The Conference spent the better part of 30 years dealing with the upheaval of two world wars and the Great Depression. Financial considerations were of enormous impact, and after the collapse of the American economy in 1929, NPC’s message of belt-tightening took on unprecedented seriousness.

In the mid-1950s, as a result of a wave of traditionalism, female college enrollment dropped to its lowest level since before 1920 and our organizations fought to survive amongst public criticism of Greek-letter organizations. The 1960s and early 70s took a toll on every fraternal group. However, a time of severe pressure – when the sorority world might easily have splintered into self-serving factions – proved to be a time of magnificent solidarity.

This pandemic will be no exception. Without question, we will be living a new reality as students return to campus, and this new reality will affect our organizations’ recruitment and retention of members. The nature of higher education and the environments in which students will be operating most likely will be drastically changed, so how do we preserve valuable sorority experiences while adapting and evolving to meet new needs?
     
NPC’s focus on the future of sorority is now more than ever the organization’s most important role and the most valuable contribution we can make to the sorority community. The NPC Board of Directors is focused on what the sorority landscape will look like this fall and into the year 2021. At this time, there are so many more questions than answers. We are listening to what you are feeling, fearing and experiencing so we can project what the sorority community will look like tomorrow and in the next 12 to 18 months. By drawing on our collective strength and rich history, the Conference and our member organizations can meet this latest challenge together. 

Panhellenically,






Carole J. Jones
NPC chairman