Thursday, July 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Message From the Chairman: The Message of Sorority

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

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

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

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


Donna C. King
Chairman 2015-17

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Our Commitment in the Fight Against Hazing

By Donna C. King, chairman 2015-17

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

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

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

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

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

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