Monday, February 22, 2021

Finding a Passion for Advocacy

When Ivy, a member of Delta Delta Delta, began classes at Washington State University, she wanted to make a positive impact on people's lives. Knowing one way to do this was through politics, she decided to major in political science. But, it wasn’t until her third year in college when Ivy challenge herself to apply for a state senate internship that she discovered her true passion for advocacy.

Ivy with her chapter sisters during Bid Day.
Each semester Ivy pushed herself to do one thing outside of her comfort zone. Her first year in college, she joined a sorority and gained a group of women who would always fiercely support her. When she was applying for an internship that pushed her outside of her comfort zone, Ivy’s sisters were there to step in and support her. “My sorority sisters are the ones who really helped me out filling out the internship application,” Ivy said. With their help, Ivy submitted her application and waited. 

 It wasn’t long until Ivy heard back and began moving forward in the interview process. While she was nervous, Ivy’s sorority experience prepared her for this moment. All the recruitment conversations, life skills programming and networking opportunities gave her the confidence she needed to believe in herself and her abilities. “My experience helped me present myself in the light I wanted others to see me in,” Ivy said. 

Ivy soon learned she had received the internship and would be working directly with Senator Mona Das. “They couldn’t have placed me with anyone better who best aligned with my values,” Ivy said.

During her time as an intern, Ivy did a lot of things you might imagine an intern would do. She answered the phones, sorted the mail and took notes at constituent meetings. She also gained a greater understanding of the inner workings of state government. She was able to learn about the financial aspects of bills, organize events and wrote proposals. The legislative aids she worked with were able to act as mentors. They offered her advice and ideas on the important work she was doing. Most importantly, this internship helped Ivy find her true passion. “Through this internship, I found my passion for advocacy and realized how many more opportunities I could have to help others with a law degree,” Ivy said. 

Ivy at a plastic pollution rally.

Ivy graduates in May 2021 with the intention to attend law school in the fall of 2022. Before heading to law school, Ivy knows she has a bit more work to do in her community. Over the past year, she has organized many grassroots campaigns to support social justice causes she cares about. By working with others in her community and the local government, Ivy plans to continue to challenge herself to step outside of her comfort zone and to make a positive impact on the lives of others.



Tuesday, February 9, 2021

From the NPC Chairman: A time for celebrating Panhellenic sisterhood

Dear friends,

WHAT IN THE WORLD? Galentine’s Day…when I first heard about this event on a morning news show, I thought, “Good grief, another holiday for the retail world.” But, the more I thought about it, what a great way to celebrate Panhellenic sisterhood.

According to The New York Times, Galentine’s Day, celebrated on Feb. 13, is for celebrating sisterhood with your women friends, whether single or not. The celebration was created by Leslie Knope, the "Parks and Recreation" fictional main character played by Amy Poehler. She invented the holiday as a tribute to her close girlfriends and hosted a waffle brunch.

via GIPHY

I’m going to digress for a moment. My spring 2020 calendar was chock full…until March happened. The last in-person meetings I attended for NPC were the Annual Membership meeting and Board of Directors meeting in Dallas March 7 and 8. After returning home, my husband and I were looking forward to our annual ski trip to Park City, Utah. On the morning of March 15, while getting ready to leave for the airport, all the ski slopes closed resulting in the trip being canceled. While I was relieved that I didn’t have to board an airplane during a time of uncertainty, it was just the beginning of all my travel coming to a halt. My spring calendar had included speaking at the Nashville Alumnae Panhellenic scholarship luncheon, Northern Virginia Panhellenic luncheon and the Houston Panhellenic scholarship luncheon. The time spent with Panhellenic sisters was stripped away.

All of this to say, NPC collegians and alumnae across North America are experiencing the same thing – in-person meetings and celebrations have moved to Zoom and travel is limited. Many of us are tied to our computers as we work or take classes and attend meetings virtually, and Galentine’s Day gives us the perfect opportunity to take a break to connect with our ​​​​​​Panhellenic friends and celebrate sisterhood. 

If we weren’t in the midst of a pandemic, ideas abound for gatherings with sister friends including pink-themed parties, dinner or brunch at a fancy restaurant or a group mani-pedi. But this year, with most of us staying at home, take the celebration virtual:

•    Order your favorite meal and enjoy a chat while you eat.

•    Play trivia together online.

•    Watch/stream a movie together.

•    Take a virtual class – exercise, cooking or baking.

•    Organize a secret cupid gift exchange.

There’s no wrong way to celebrate our Panhellenic sisterhood, and taking advantage of Galentine’s Day is the perfect time to acknowledge the lifelong bond of sorority membership and the experiences we share.​

Panhellenically,




Carole J. Jones
NPC chairman

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

From the NPC Chairman: Being flexible and innovative in unprecedented times

Dear friends,

As the calendar flipped from 2020 to 2021, it struck me how much our lives have changed since last March when social distancing and virtual meetings became our new normal. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to experience a very different way of living and learning, and has challenged us to be flexible and innovative. 

As students return to campus this month, the safety of our members, volunteers and campus professionals with whom they interact continues to be a primary concern and focus for the National Panhellenic Conference. I get it, many of us have COVID fatigue and we can’t wait for the vaccine to be widely available, but I encourage the use of NPC’s #StopTheDrops educational resources designed for use by College Panhellenics and individual chapters. We must continue to ensure our members are illustrating care for all in our campus communities. 

Given that fraternities and sororities can often set the tone for campus social life, we recognized this fall that a return to “business as usual” was not acceptable and, as Panhellenic women, we are empowered to be leaders in helping to maintain healthy campus communities. By continuing to adopt safe behaviors, NPC members and chapters can help reduce the likelihood of outbreaks and help shape the behaviors of the broader campus community.

As our deferred recruitment campuses prepare to welcome new members, the successes of this fall’s virtual recruitment experience have been shared through educational resources, individual support and panel discussions. Zoom 301, a virtual program with panelists who completed a virtual recruitment in the fall, included a discussion on how to best prepare for virtual recruitment, how to manage the technical pieces of virtual recruitment and how the College Panhellenic can be focused on their work to support chapters individually. Through the hard work and preparation of our chapter and Panhellenic leaders, with support from their advisors, campus professionals and NPC and inter/national organization volunteers and staff, we are confident spring recruitment 2021 will also be successful and life changing. (You can access Zoom 301 and other virtual recruitment resources here.)

Flexibility and innovation continues with NPC’s 2021 College Panhellenic Academy. Scheduled for Jan. 22-23, this year’s Academy has been redesigned to be executed as a virtual event and has a record-breaking nearly 850 participants registered. Collegiate officer breakout sessions will be offered for judicial officers, marketing officers, presidents, recruitment officers and fraternity/sorority advisors. Advocacy Building Block sessions will focus on citizenship and service, health and safety, scholarship and freedom of association, giving participants an opportunity to reflect on NPC’s advocacy efforts and create actionable ways to engage in future advocacy in these areas.

Additionally, we are fortunate to have the following keynote speakers thanks to the financial support of the NPC Foundation: Krystal Clark, who will share her personal story about being a Black woman, her path to joining a Panhellenic sorority and the hurdles that stood in her way; Thea Zunick, who will share not only why self-care is important and necessary, but how Panhellenic leaders can help one another practice self-care and continue the self-care/well-being conversation with fellow students; and Tracy Walder, who will share her personal story about why sorority means so much to her and how sorority helped shape who she is today while focusing on women’s empowerment. 

If January is any indication, as always, Panhellenic women are off to a busy start. Best wishes for a productive, successful and meaningful 2021 as we all continue to confront new challenges during this unprecedented time. 


Panhellenically,






Carole J. Jones
NPC chairman

Friday, December 18, 2020

NPC Board of Directors Service Opportunity

The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) is looking for Panhellenic women to serve on the 2021-23 Board of Directors. The NPC Board of Directors leads the Conference and has authority and responsibility for overseeing its affairs. Since joining the board in 2019, current directors have learned and accomplished a lot in their work to set the strategic direction of the Conference and create a vision for the future of Panhellenic sorority life. Below, three directors share their thoughts and advice for future board members.

Why Panhellenic Women Might Consider Serving

“There are so many exciting opportunities coupled with unique challenges as we build the future framework of the sorority experience,” Mary Baker, Alpha Chi Omega, said. “In addition to the collaborative work with highly competent and progressive women on the board and staff, working with 26 NPC organizations to make a difference in the lives of undergraduate women is fulfilling volunteer work.”

But, the work of the board is also to think about the future of NPC and the sorority experience. Mary shares that directors must want to pay it forward and find ways to make the future sorority experience relevant for women enter college in the next few decades.

A Successful Director Possesses Certain Skills

To be able to fulfill the duties of the board, a successful director possesses certain skills. Malaea Seleski, Zeta Tau Alpha, shared a director should be emotionally intelligent, kind, confident, flexible and a strategic thinker.

“They should have the ability to look at things from alternative points of view and have the willingness to change your mind if your point of view is not the best for NPC,” Malaea said.

Serving is Rewarding and Challenging Work

Serving on the NPC Board of Directors is fulfilling and challenging volunteer work. Directors have an impact on the future of the sorority experience and service can be both rewarding and challenging.

“Being a servant leader, anticipating the possibilities for all women on the campus to feel welcomed in membership and planning for that future has been the most rewarding,” Laura Sweet, Sigma Sigma Sigma, said.

As NPC’s current organizational model and governance structure is still new, it is continuously being perfected. “It will be a privilege to have the opportunity and joy to make NPC’s evolving structure work for our member organizations and the future women who will thrive in their sorority environment,” Laura said.   

To learn more about serving on the NPC Board of Directors, you can visit this link. Starting the path to service is as simple as submitting the NPC Board of Directors Interest Form here.

 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

From the NPC Chairman: Many Initiatives, One Goal of Advancing Sorority

Dear friends,

In the November Chairman’s Message, I reflected on the year and the things I am most grateful for as we continue to advance the sorority experience together. This December message finds me reflecting on the work of the NPC Board of Directors during the last 18 months, the initiatives we’re working on and how all of those efforts fit together to set the strategic direction for the Conference and create our vision for the future of Panhellenic sorority life.

Collectively, all of us – NPC staff and volunteers, member organization staff and volunteers, and College and Alumnae Panhellenic Associations – have worked tirelessly to meet the challenges of 2020 and to help prepare for the future of our organizations.

About Project 2029

In fall 2019, the board, in setting our goals for our term as directors, stated that our most important future-looking work was Project 2029, a focused effort to imagine the sorority experience in the year 2029. This project reflected our strategic goals and we began digging into the following questions:

  • How do we best protect the sorority experience in environments that can be skeptical of our mission and sometimes hostile to our existence?
  • How do we protect student rights and the right of free association?
  • ​​How do we evolve and embrace questions of diversity, inclusion and gender identity that reflect our values and respond to the expectations from new members and prospective members?
  • How do we continue confronting challenges such as hazing, sexual assault and high-risk drinking?
  • How do we define feminism and women’s empowerment for our organization and our women at a time when equality and gender equity is front and center in our national and international debate?

From fall 2019 until early 2020, the board engaged in strategic conversations, gathered feedback from our constituents and participated in educational webinars regarding trending topics – all with the aim of answering the questions raised by our work on Project 2029.

The Pandemic Changes – and Accelerates – Our Work 

When the pandemic hit in early 2020, the board’s focus had to quickly shift away 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. 

As we live through this pandemic, I believe there is a silver lining as it has helped us make change faster than anyone ever expected. The NPC Disruption to Panhellenic Operations Task Force and subsequently the Recruitment Contingencies Task Force led the way in ensuring Panhellenics could operate during the pandemic and prepare to welcome new members this fall.

If anything, the pandemic 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. Panhellenics successfully shifted to hybrid or fully virtual recruitments and began eliminating barriers to the recruitment process. Now, as Panhellenics prepare to welcome new members this spring, the NPC Recruitment Committee is gathering the lessons learned from the fall so they can make further recommendations regarding the future of Panhellenic recruitment.

Conversations Regarding Racism and Injustice 

It is not only the pandemic that has influenced the board’s work and the work of the Conference and its organizations. While the board had strategic discussions regarding racism and inequity within Panhellenic organizations prior to the pandemic, the national conversation regarding racism and injustice – a conversation that is now ongoing and multinational – has helped bring greater clarity to these topics and set us on a path to create a more diverse, inclusive, equitable and accessible Panhellenic sorority experience.

To that end, in June 2020, the board outlined three frameworks we were committed to as our contribution to the discussion about race and racial injustice:

  • Our organizations don’t 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.
  • 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.
  • As a Panhellenic community, we have an obligation and responsibility to empower our members and volunteers and to openly discuss race and racial injustice.

The board then appointed the NPC Access and Equity Advisory Committee to provide recommendations and guidance to us on increasing access to the sorority experience and equity across NPC policies and procedures. The Access and Equity Advisory Committee’s work will continue for several months, and it is a critical component of helping us answer questions related Project 2029.  

Yet, we know “The road to diversity, equity and inclusion is a journey not a destination.” I used this quote from Syreeta Greene, MSW, Ed.D., director of the Office of Equity, Inclusion and Multicultural Affairs, Midwestern State University, in my August Chairman’s Message. I am still feeling the impact of her statement as we work to make our Panhellenic communities more broadly attractive to women of marginalized identities and create lasting change in the way we operate, recruit and support collegiate sorority women. (For more on NPC's commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, please visit our website here.)

Relevancy Research 

Also prior to the pandemic, NPC staff and volunteers had been working on projects in the 2019-22 NPC Strategic Plan, including updating the message framework regarding how we communicate to our publics and constituencies about the sorority experience. That work led to the summer’s relevancy research, managed by VOX Global, regarding the relevancy of women’s-only organizations and sororities in the eyes of rising undergraduate women and their caregivers. While the NPC marketing team is using the research results to inform their near-term work, the board also has outlined three loud messages from that research of which we believe NPC can play a role in changing perceptions about and removing barriers to the sorority experience:

  1. Recruitment and perception of the sorority experience: The need to make aggressive and significant changes to the way we offer membership. Noted as the most immediate critical goal. 
  2. Cost: The cost of membership has risen greatly during the past few years and has created a number of barriers to entry into our sisterhoods.
  3. Safety: The perception of PNMs and caregivers is that ours is not a safe community. Whether thinking of activities within a chapter such as possible “mean girls” behavior or mental health challenges, or the larger community’s challenges with social risk, we need to change perceptions. 

All of these loud messages tie back to the questions we must answer to advance Project 2029, and they give us concrete focus areas for future messaging and initiatives.

Tying It Together

While sometimes it is difficult to see how all of these seemingly independent projects go together, these initiatives all fit into the larger whole of visioning the sorority experience in 2029. In totality, these projects work to address the questions, frameworks and loud messages outlined above and crucial to our long-term success. The work the board, our volunteers, staff and member organizations are undertaking will ensure our organizations are places where women from all walks of life feel they are welcomed, understood and heard now, in the year 2029 and beyond.

Panhellenically,






Carole J. Jones
NPC Chairman  

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.

Panhellenically,





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.