Tuesday, October 12, 2021

From the NPC Chairman: Listening and learning in order to lead the way

Dear friends,

The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) mission states we are the premier advocacy and support organization for the advancement of the sorority experience. But, what does advocacy really mean? Simply speaking, our mission is to promote the interests of our 26 member organizations. 

Guided by our Advocacy Building Blocks, NPC accomplishes our advocacy in many ways. Our advocacy includes engaging with policymakers as part of our government relations work to manage our campus concerns review process with college/university administrators and fraternity/sorority life personnel. It also includes our work to promote NPC and our member organizations with other stakeholder groups, such as the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors (AFA), NASPA, the American Council on Education (ACE), the Anti-Hazing Coalition or the Coalition of Higher Education Associations for Substance Abuse Prevention (CoHEASAP). Finally, NPC's advocacy also encompasses our actions to promote the sorority experience by creating awareness with potential members and their caregivers through TheSororityLife.com, our social media channels and our NPC-led national marketing campaigns. 

While NPC is helping promote the women's-only social sorority experience through our advocacy, each member organization is engaged in various other specific issues within their organizations. The 2021-23 NPC Board of Directors has taken the last month to engage in a listening tour of our member organizations. Each director has connected with member organization leadership and been involved in discussions that include:

  • Confirming the strategic priorities of member organizations.
  • Reviewing NPC's strategic priorities and their alignment with member organizations.
  • ​​​​Discussing how to achieve those priorities together.
  • Leveraging our collective strength.
  • Identifying the most pressing issues about the sorority experience.

It has been a fascinating and informative exercise for the board. Listening to our member organizations has helped us recognize new challenges, verify alignment in areas and identify additional opportunities for NPC to continue its advocacy and support for all sorority members.

As the board gets ready for its upcoming fall meeting later this month, we must know what our member organizations have acknowledged as the most critical issues affecting them and how NPC can support them. I am pleased to report that leaders of our member organizations have been delighted we have asked questions, listened intently and are committed to action. Their input is crucial as the board reviews NPC's strategic priorities to ensure we are aligned in addressing the most pressing concerns that sorority women face today. A clear vision for the future, created with input from all internal and external stakeholders, led by the board, is imperative and is a board priority.

It goes without saying the past year and a half have been challenging for everyone. But, who would have ever imagined virtual recruitment on the scale we had last fall? It just goes to show that when sorority women put their mind to something – it happens! Challenges have led to significant action and change for our organizations. This listening tour has enabled NPC to find joint alignment, areas for continued change and additional and refined action items. This board is ready to take the next step to further amplify our advocacy and support for our member organizations and showcase the incredible impact of sorority women and our organizations worldwide.

Interfraternally,





Cheri M. De Jong
2021-23 NPC chairman


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

From the NPC Chairman: NPC Remains Focused on Ending Hazing

Dear friends,

I remember the days vividly years ago that I dropped off my daughters at their respective universities as they started their new college lives. First, the excitement for them to embrace their education, make new friends and start their adult lives. Then, my nervousness as I hoped they would be safe, make good decisions and surround themselves with people who bring out the best in them.

As a parent, the health and safety of my children is of utmost importance. As chairman of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), I feel the same way about our sorority women on campuses across the United States and Canada. I reflect on this as the Anti-Hazing Coalition (AHC) continues its mission to bring awareness of hazing on college campuses and its goal to eradicate all forms of hazing. I salute the brave AHC parents who lost their children in such heartbreaking circumstances and are determined to help solve this problem so no other family has to endure this kind of tragedy.  

NPC continues to partner with the other members of the AHC to pass federal legislation addressing hazing through the REACH Act and the End All Hazing Act. These two pieces of legislation were re-introduced in Congress earlier this year, and we eagerly await the opportunity for them to become law.  

In the meantime, state legislation continues to be passed and is making effective change. Ohio and New Jersey join a handful of other states that have made this a priority. Recently, Ohio enacted “Collin’s Law – the Ohio Anti-Hazing Act,” and New Jersey enacted “Timothy J. Piazza’s Law.” Through the efforts of the AHC and its tireless dedication to this significant cause, these states now have laws in place to help eliminate hazing.  


As NPC continues our work as part of the AHC, we recognize that National Hazing Prevention Week (NHPW) is Sept. 20-24. This week is an opportunity for campuses, schools, communities, individuals and organizations to come together to talk about hazing, raise awareness about the problem of hazing, educate others about hazing and promote the prevention of hazing.  I invite everyone to participate in this important event and determine how you, your College Panhellenic and your member organization can be a change agent on your campus.

As students arrive on campuses this fall, let’s all be mindful of the need to be safe, surround ourselves with people who promote positive influences in our lives and work together bring an end to hazing once and for all.   

Interfraternally,





Cheri M. De Jong
NPC chairman

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

From the NPC Chairman: Our Shared Responsibility for the Well-Being of the Sorority Community

Dear friends,

As the Labor Day holiday weekend draws near, summer is coming to a close and autumn is almost here. With the fall 2021 semester upon us, many expect to be back to ​​​​​​in-person learning on our college/university campuses and ready to start the new academic year. I think we all get excited just thinking about seeing our sisters, friends, professors and administrators and can’t wait for our first football game of the fall! Unfortunately, while many of us want everything to be back to normal, COVID-19 continues to be a threat to our members, families and friends. As conditions looked pretty good several months ago, state and local governments began opening up, businesses opened their doors and many of us considered the pandemic close to an end. However, the Delta variant has proven to be our newest problem – just when we head back to school. 

The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) is committed to the health and well-being of our members as they return to campus. Our commitment is to assist our College Panhellenic women in making sure we lead the way in helping to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and set the example of positive, healthy behavior. 

We realize this is also the time when many of our chapters will be engaging in primary recruitment. But, again, NPC’s goal is to assist our Panhellenic leaders in engaging in responsible behavior and making safe choices for the sorority community. Please see our previous communications regarding recruitment contingency planning and the potential flexibility that may be needed. View the communications: Fall 2021 Recruitment Contingency Planning Recommendations (Feb. 25) | IMPORTANT: Prioritizing Health & Safety in Recruitment (July 30).

We also continue to recommend that our members follow campus, state and local guidelines as well as the most current CDC guidelines on how to keep yourself and others safe from the virus, including getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting and taking other health precautions. 

As our community begins the semester in a safe and protected way through this ongoing pandemic, we can also share with new members, parents and administrators the positive and valuable experience of sorority membership. Recent research from a nationwide survey conducted in collaboration with Gallup on life outcomes of fraternity and sorority membership shows a correlation with strong undergraduate experiences, career skills development and post-graduate well-being for our members as compared to nonmembers. So, as recruitment begins, it is exciting to see the positive influences of fraternity and sorority membership and the opportunity to share these outcomes with potential new members and our communities. View the report: Fraternities & Sororities: Experiences and Outcomes in College, Work and Life.

As Panhellenic women, we share responsibility for the well-being of our sorority community. I wish everyone a happy and healthy start to the 2021-22 academic year.

Panhellenically,





Cheri M. De Jong
NPC chairman

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

From the NPC Chairman: 2021-23 NPC Board of Directors Is Ready to Lead the Conference

Dear friends,

Change. In life, there is always change, even for the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC). Two years ago, NPC transitioned to a new organizational model. I have been honored to serve on that first governance-oriented Board of Directors as part of the new model and have been able to work with wonderful, loyal and dedicated women. A few weeks ago, the new 2021-23 board officially took their positions while four remarkable women retired from board service. 

As part of this message, I want to recognize the outgoing board members for their service and long-time commitment to NPC.

  • Carole Jones, Alpha Omicron Pi – 22 years.
  • Mary Baker, Alpha Chi Omega – 4 years.
  • Rie Hoehner, Alpha Gamma Delta – 26 years.
  • Malaea Seleski, Zeta Tau Alpha – 21 years.

The combined years of service to NPC is close to 75 years! These amazing women have served the Panhellenic community with dedication and devotion. They deserve our thanks and sincere appreciation for being a part of history on this inaugural board and all they have done to advance the sorority experience. In addition, I want to personally thank them for their friendship and their commitment to the Conference and all Panhellenic women.

I will especially remember a few personal memories about these ladies: For Carole, her steadfast leadership and unwavering commitment to representing NPC to so many in our fraternal world. Malaea, with her long-time service to NPC, as well as her charm and personality, is truly uplifting and magical to be around. Rie and her long-time commitment to NPC and her passionate support of Aggie Baseball! And Mary, our California gal, who is committed to advancing higher education for students in various ways, professionally and in her NPC service.

To each of these women, I want to say THANK YOU! While that does not even come close to being enough for all the time, talent and treasure you have given to NPC over the years, please know that your service is appreciated and has made a difference in the lives of so many Panhellenic women.

As one board transitions to another board, we now have four new women starting their service on the 2021-23 NPC Board of Directors. So please allow me to welcome our four newest directors:

  • Jennifer Daurora, Alpha Chi Omega.
  • Helen Lahrman, Pi Beta Phi.
  • Patty Purish O’Neill, Alpha Delta Pi.
  • Leslie Williams, Delta Zeta.

And those continuing to serve on the board:

  • Laura Doerre, Kappa Alpha Theta.
  • Laura Sweet, Sigma Sigma Sigma.

I am very excited about the new biennium and for this team of outstanding Panhellenic women to come together and strategically lead NPC into the future. There are many initiatives we are continuing and others we will be initiating. But, most importantly, our access and equity initiatives, recruitment reform, risk management and maintaining our single-sex status are issues at the forefront as we begin our leadership.

The board has met and already approved the following board assignments:

  • Board Governance & Education Committee – Patty O’Neill (chairman), Jennifer Daurora and Laura Doerre.
  • Finance Committee – Leslie Williams (treasurer and chairman), Helen Lahrman and Laura Sweet.

The 2021-23 NPC Board of Directors is ready for the challenge to lead the Conference. These are unprecedented times with many issues before us. Still, the most critical challenge for us is to grow our membership while promoting the sorority experience.

I am honored and humbled to serve as chairman of the National Panhellenic Conference. I serve knowing many women of tremendous character have gone before me, and I pledge to listen, learn and lead with heart.

Panhellenically,





Cheri M. De Jong
NPC chairman


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

From the NPC Chairman: A Reflection on Increasing Access and Equity in the Sorority Experience

Dear friends,

Last June, as our nation was filled with sadness and sincere reflection, the NPC Board of Directors made a commitment to more substantively and candidly engage about race and confront racism. It was past time that we acknowledged that racism, within society and within the Panhellenic community, was not an issue we could address simply through kindness or greater respect for one another. Instead, we made the commitment to carefully consider structural and systemic reasons that too many women of color did not view our organizations as places where they feel welcoming, understood or heard.

It's important now that we take stock of the progress made in the past year, and of the work still to come, to identify reforms and eliminate structural and systemic barriers to the sorority experience. 

To help us follow through on our commitments, one of the major steps the board took was to appoint the NPC Access and Equity Advisory Committee (AEAC) to provide recommendations on how to increase access to the sorority experience and equity across NPC policies and procedures. Building on the feedback from NPC’s listening tours and committee members' experiences and expertise, you may recall this group has provided guidance, particularly in three areas:

  1. Auditing of Unanimous Agreements, policies and best practices. Based on the committee’s recommendations, several proposals for changes to these items were adopted by the Council of Delegates earlier this year. 
  2. Consulting on inclusion of diversity factors for NPC workforce recruitment. As much as we focus on recruiting new members to the sorority experience so too must we focus on recruiting new individuals to the professional and volunteer workforce responsible for advocating for and supporting that experience, and the committee shared their expertise in this area.
  3. Identifying barriers to access created by norms and practices at the campus level. Here, the committee has helped identify additional areas for education and changes regarding recruitment and Panhellenic operations to further remove barriers to sorority membership.  

The board also asked the AEAC to provide some additional guidance, including reviewing template documents and advising on marketing. The committee will be wrapping up its work and submitting recommendations for the board to review in mid-June after the publication of this message. So, more to come on that.

As the AEAC worked to fulfill its charge, NPC also engaged in parallel initiatives. As an example, NPC began a partnership with the Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform for two companion research studies that will evaluate cultural competency and diversity, equity and inclusion within NPC-affiliated sorority chapters. The two studies will measure the level of cultural competency among sorority women at both minority-serving institutions and at predominantly white institutions. Researchers will also identify best practices for strengthening competency and enhancing inclusion within sorority chapters and communities. This pair of studies reflect shared commitment from the Piazza Center and NPC to foster more inclusive sorority communities. 

In addition, the challenges of the past year have offered us an opportunity to test changes to the ways in which we recruit members and begin eliminating more barriers to membership. Based on the work of the AEAC and the relevancy research conducted last summer, the Board of Directors has recently commissioned five recruitment reform projects that are a focus for the next year. 

  • As part of the larger Cost of Membership initiative, which I addressed in my April message, NPC is examining the costs associated with Panhellenic recruitment and has already begun to offer recommendations to address the growing concern. These recommendations include a policy addition to remove tiered registration pricing and late fees, as well as a new best practice that encourages a virtual first round whenever possible, helping decrease costs related to space rental, transportation, décor, attire, etc., while also focusing on substantive conversation between PNMs and chapter members. Additionally, an updated best practice encourages a minimal administrative fee to cover only essential recruitment costs.
  • The Recruitment Reform Task Force has been charged to re-imagine fully structured recruitment allowing more flexibility and authenticity to further reduce barriers and create a more welcoming environment for prospective members. 
  • The Education and Transparency Task Force has been charged to make recommendations for a standard potential new member (PNM) orientation to provide consistent and accurate education to all PNMs and their caregivers. At the same time, NPC staff and the Panhellenic Recruitment Committee are working to execute recommendations focused on creating improved guidance and education for College Panhellenics on budgeting and dues as well as increasing emphasis on the PNM experience instead of competition with other chapters on campus over space and décor.
  • The Panhellenic Recruitment Committee also will continue its work in developing new education and resources to better support alternative recruitment approaches and formats.
  • A Marketing Advisory Committee will provide guidance to the NPC staff on projects such as developing new resources for College Panhellenics to widely promote the sorority experience.

Amid all of this activity at the NPC level, I also want to call your attention to the work being done at the member organization level. During the last year, NPC member organizations have developed their own structures to examine diversity, equity, access and inclusion factors in their organizations. As a result, many organizations have altered or removed legacy policies or changed requirements for letters of recommendation in order to create a more level playing field and make it easier to join a Panhellenic sorority. 

Together we have accomplished so much, but there is still much work to be done to make the sorority experience more welcoming, inclusive and accessible. We will continue to share our progress with you in messages like this one and on our website

***

As this is my last message as the NPC chairman, I want you to know it has been my honor and privilege to serve as NPC chairman and I look forward to great things ahead. My thanks to each of you–members of the NPC family, partners and colleagues. Without your dedication and attention, NPC could not and would not be the organization it is today.

Panhellenically,




Carole J. Jones
NPC Chairman

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

From the NPC Chairman: Advancing the Sorority Experience Together Since 1902


May 24, 2021, marks the 119th anniversary of the National Panhellenic Conference’s founding. Since 1902, NPC has provided the perfect forum for women to discuss common interests and possibilities. It has been a safe environment where women could express their views and exercise their vote even before the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

NPC has been in the business of women nurturing women for a long time. We recognize that relationships are critical and it’s important to cultivate those relationships in order for there to be trust. Within NPC, these strong bonds of friendship are built on years of working with each other, respecting each other and trusting each other. We know we can lean on each other in times of crisis or even during times when we need to gain a better understanding of a different perspective. This mutual trust allows us to achieve our desired outcomes together and this trust encourages us to work collaboratively as we work to advance the sorority experience. It’s my hope that all of our college and alumnae Panhellenics also have special friendships and value their Panhellenic friendships as much as their sorority membership.

We are part of an organization of women dedicated to sharing the benefits of sorority membership with other women. NPC provides opportunities for lifelong friendships and support for both collegiate and alumna members. We are one of the largest, most visible and most active values-based organizations on college and university campuses. Although our colors, jewels and letters differ from one another, the 26 member organizations of NPC all share a common code of friendship, academic advancement, philanthropic service and pursuit of excellence.

As I look back on the past year and the journey we have all taken, there are so many takeaways and opportunities that give me hope for the future of the fraternal movement. But the most important is that the value sororities provide is more relevant now than ever and the benefits of sorority are more important now than they have ever been. It has been a challenging year with challenging issues, but we have leaned on our sorority experience and each other for strength, advice, encouragement and comfort. 

So, as we celebrate NPC’s founding, let’s also celebrate the close friendships we have with our Panhellenic sisters. What better way than to make a donation to the NPC Foundation in honor of a Panhellenic sister you admire and respect.

We are the benefactors of all that has been given to us by previous leaders, and our shared commitment as a unified coalition of women has resulted in positive outcomes that impact all of us. It’s up to all of us to ensure the Panhellenic sisterhood and ideals in which we believe can endure change and remain a constant in this ever-changing world. 

Happy Founders Day to you all!

Panhellenically,




Carole J. Jones
NPC chairman


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

From the NPC Chairman: The State of the Conference in 2021

Per the Bylaws of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), the Board of Directors shall submit an annual report to the Council of Delegates during each Annual Membership Meeting. During the 2021 NPC Annual Membership Meeting, held virtually on April 10, the board delivered its annual report of the activities and financial position of NPC. Following is an edited version of excerpts from the chairman’s portion of the report, presented by NPC Chairman Carole J. Jones.

During the June 4 (2020) Council of Delegates call I shared a quote from Cora L.V. Hatch – “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”

This past year has certainly been a year of adjustment as the NPC Board of Directors continuously assessed the changing winds brought on by the pandemic and anti-sorority activism, and carefully and thoughtfully adjusted our sails in response. When the pandemic hit and students were sent home last spring, the board’s focus had to quickly shift from conversations about the future of sorority and Project 2029 to how to protect sorority members and the sorority experience in the moment of a very real and ongoing crisis. I am humbled by the support of our member organizations, inspired by what we accomplished together and energized by the potential for big things to come.

The challenges of this past year offered us an opportunity to test changes to the ways in which we recruit and to begin eliminating barriers to membership, including some financial barriers. In response to the relevancy research conducted last summer and presented to the NPC family last fall, staff and members of the board have been engaged in considerable conversations about the findings and appropriate responses to them.

As announced earlier this year, we have launched an examination of the cost of sorority membership with the context of growing over-arching concerns about college affordability. As part of this yearlong project, data has been gathered and reviewed regarding the costs associated with Panhellenic membership recruitment and we are already at work incorporating what we’ve learned. …

Knowing that NPC can more effectively tell its story when it is backed by data, the board has been committed to partnering with research experts. For example, we partnered with VOX Global for the 2020 relevancy research. Those research results have informed our current and future marketing efforts, such as Join a Sorority Week and new quarterly campaign templates for College Panhellenics. And, we’re beginning to roll out updated NPC messaging and proof points – supported by the relevancy research and other sources – to help us focus on our strengths and improve public perceptions.

We are also pleased to partner with the Timothy J. Piazza Center for Fraternity and Sorority Research and Reform as we embark on two companion research studies that will evaluate cultural competency and diversity, equity and inclusion within NPC-affiliated sorority chapters. The two studies will measure the level of cultural competency among sorority women at both minority-serving institutions and at predominantly white institutions. Researchers will also identify best practices for strengthening competency and enhancing inclusion within sorority chapters and communities. …

But it hasn’t only been the pandemic that has influenced the board’s work and the work of the Conference and its member organizations. As part of the strategic plan, the board had begun strategic discussions regarding racism and inequity within Panhellenic organizations prior to the pandemic and the conversations about racial injustice. This has helped bring greater clarity to these topics and set us on a path to create a more inclusive, equitable and accessible Panhellenic sorority experience.

We appointed the Access and Equity Advisory Committee, and they have been diligently working in three areas:

  • Auditing of Unanimous Agreements, policies, best practices and template documents. …
  • Consulting on inclusion of diversity factors for NPC workforce recruitment focusing on creating an accessible and equitable recruitment, hiring, application, selection and onboarding process as part of our commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workforce, both staff and volunteers
  • And third, identifying barriers to access created by norms and practices at the campus level. Data from College Panhellenic area advisors, chief panhellenic officers and member organization chapter services staff has been gathered and reviewed to develop a better and broader understanding of barriers that exist on the campus level.

We know that collegiate members seek to hold NPC and inter/national leadership responsible to make changes within current policies and practices in response to the demographic and attitudinal shifts that will continue to happen within the collegiate environment. Moving forward, as we work to create positive change toward access and inclusion within our organizations, the Access and Equity Advisory Committee will be focused on recommending potential pipeline programs for recruiting a more diverse group of high school women and helping to educate them about the Panhellenic experience, identifying barriers to sorority membership based on social identities and reviewing Resolved to Educate resource documents in order to provide recommended edits to include more inclusive language.

And, finally they are working to recommend a process for reporting bias and discrimination by Panhellenic community members, recognizing that adjudication of such incidents would likely be handled by individual member organization chapters.

As we lived through this uncertain year, I believe there is a silver lining as it has helped us make change faster than anyone ever expected. The spring task forces led the way in ensuring Panhellenics could operate during the pandemic and prepare to welcome new members last fall. The need and desire to make aggressive and significant changes to the way we offer membership, removing barriers to the cost of membership and responding to questions of diversity, inclusion and gender identity that reflect our values and respond to the expectations of our members and prospective members all fit into the larger whole of visioning the sorority experience in 2029.

We continue to discuss and examine ways to help our Panhellenic communities reflect the diversity they would like to achieve, consider and work to change the systems and norms within the Panhellenic community that have historically benefited and centered the experiences of women of privilege and empower our members and volunteers to openly discuss race and racial injustice. …

We have learned this year that we cannot predict what the future holds, but rest assured our commitment to our mission will not waver. Together, we will continue to build upon a stronger, healthier sorority community. Each of us are concerned about our organizations’ survival during this time of uncertainty. We are all grappling with complex challenges, but it is crucial that we understand how these challenges and our responses to them affect the greater good of our Panhellenic communities and the Conference as a whole.

One example, and a great win for the sorority community, was our win at Harvard. It took two years of legal maneuvers and the issuance of many public statements condemning the school’s actions, but Harvard women once again have the opportunity to celebrate sisterhood. We look forward to rebuilding that Panhellenic community to be stronger than ever.

However, the fight to protect the fraternity and sorority experience is far from over. Many institutions seek retribution against our membership organizations for a variety of reasons. So, the value of fraternity and sorority life must always be at the forefront of our mission.

We are all the Conference. It is not a separate entity. As we work to leverage our strengths to advance sorority, let us remember the values we have collectively committed to – relationships built on trust through transparency, accountability and mutual respect. Innovation and our core values of friendship, leadership, service, knowledge, integrity and community guide us in fulfilling our mission of the advancement of the sorority experience.

I invite you to imagine with me the impact we can have together in the years to come. The board looks forward to our continued work together as we make sound decisions and understand how to thrive in today’s ever-changing world.