College Weekend 2016: Grand President Panel

This post is courtesy of Allie Jostrand, Electronic Media Coordinator at Pi Beta Phi Headquarters.


For those that attended College Weekend 2016, it was truly the premier Pi Beta Phi leadership experience. One of the most engaging sessions was the Grand President panel on Saturday evening.

The panel was comprised past Grand President Sarah Ruth “Sis” Mullis, South Carolina Alpha, past Grand President Mary Loy Tatum, Oklahoma Beta and current Grand President Paula Pace Shepherd, Texas Epsilon. They were joined on stage by Grand Vice President Programming Marla Neelly Wulf, Kansas Beta, serving as the moderator for the evening.

The stage was set with three leather chairs in an arch, as the women passed a microphone back and forth to answer questions. Watching past and present Pi Phi leadership on stage was inspiring. It was a true depiction of lifelong commitment. They shared stories, advice and many laughs. Marla described Sis, Mary and Paula as the kindest and sincerest women she knew and that sentiment was apparent through the panel’s genuine responses.

The session began with questions from Marla. The first question, “What is the best part of being Grand President and the most terrifying,” raised laughter from the crowd. Thoughtful, positive answers included “all of the friends you make,” “meeting collegians from all over” and “relationship building.” Every leader on stage then agreed that risk management “kept them up at night.”

Marla’s questions revealed some fun facts about our Grand Presidents. Did you know Sis initiated both former First Lady Barbara Bush and the great, great-granddaughter of one of Pi Phi’s founders? “If you think I practiced, I mean I PRACTICED!” joked Sis about the initiation experiences.

There were also several call to actions made during the panel:

  • If you have not had the opportunity to give Paula a hug, make sure you do so. She’s counting on it. And literally counting — she was up to 670 on the weekend by Saturday night!
  • Collegiate officers — make sure you take care of yourselves! Sis pleaded with Executive Council members to care for the caregivers, reminding them that “You can’t care for other people if you don’t care for yourself.”
  • Have your Executive Council complete a SWOT analysis of your chapter. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. “The exercise is mind-blowing. It creates a real opportunity to take your chapter further than you have ever taken it before. The real beauty of the exercise is that you establish a vision and know where you want to go,” said Mary.

Marla then turned to the room for questions. Many of us sympathized with one collegian’s question, “How do you explain the importance and value of Pi Phi to people who might not be involved in Greek life in general?” The panel all agreed that it is a tough, uphill battle. Paula answered, “It takes talking about all of the positive things Pi Phi brings to us. If sorority is done right, it is the most premier leadership experience you can get as a collegiate woman.” Sis agreed, “Truly nothing I did in college gave me the benefits in my career that Pi Beta Phi did.” Mary said she often answers the question by telling others she gets far more out of Pi Phi than she gives out.

The panel culminated with the most impactful question of the night from a collegian in the crowd. She asked, “How do you, as Grand Presidents, work to fight the different stereotypes against sorority women, and how would you suggest us as members do the same?”

Paula answered the question with conviction. “Use those Pi Phi values. Live them every day. It’s hard to stereotype when you’re a woman of integrity, honor, respect, you have philanthropic service for others, you are a sincere friend and you are lifelong committed to something. I don’t know how you can stereotype that in a negative way. So, sisters, do it!”

The unity of the women in that room was palpable as everyone burst into applause. Paula’s response evoked Pi Phi pride in every collegian, volunteer and staff member watching the panel.

College Weekend reinforced in attendees what being an integral part of Pi Phi really means. No matter your involvement, you make an impact on the Pi Beta Phi sisterhood and the panel brought that idea to life. Thank you to all participants for making not only the Grand President panel, but the entire College Weekend, a success.


Stories from the Road with RLDC Brittany

This post is courtesy of Arizona Alpha Brittany Vogl, Resident Leadership Development Consultant.

LDC Brittany
A few things you might not know about being an RLDC

When I was originally interested in applying for Pi Beta Phi’s Leadership Development Consultant program, I was not aware there were two positions you could fill: Resident or Traveler. I have loved my experience as a Resident — from the moment I accepted the position, through all seven months in Orange, CA. As Residents, we live in a new city providing full-time support to a chapter that has colonized within the past two years. There are many unique and enjoyable aspects to being a Resident. The following are just a few of my favorites:

  1. Seeing the chapter accomplish their goals. One goal the women of California Omicron wanted to accomplish this year was to get involved on campus and increase their presence. As the new organization on campus they knew this was their opportunity to define themselves and create their image on campus. To accomplish this goal, they made sure to participate in every organization’s philanthropy event, while continuing to be leaders on campus in organizations outside of Greek life. Week after week, they continued to show the student body they were women who truly embodied Pi Phi’s Core Values and positively impacted the Chapman community.
  2. Living in a new city. Since I was born and raised in Arizona, I have been lucky enough to visit Southern California numerous times, but never did I think I would have the opportunity to live here! My apartment is 15 minutes from Newport Beach and ten minutes from Disneyland. Honestly, what more could you ask for? It’s been so exciting navigating an unfamiliar place on my own, and I have learned how to make a home here, away from what I have always known in Phoenix.
  3. Creating authentic relationships with the members of the chapter. As a resident, I get to meet weekly with the Executive Council members. During our meetings we discuss what’s going on in their positions, as well as what’s happening in their lives outside of Pi Phi. It’s nice to connect and listen to what else they have going on in their daily routines as college students. These weekly meetings give me the chance to serve as a mentor to the officers. Interacting with the members reminds me of how Pi Phi can greatly enhance your college years.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve as the Resident Consultant at California Omicron during this school year. The personal and professional development I have experienced thus far has been beyond description. Not only have I learned a lot about myself, but I have made friendships with countless collegians, Pi Phi alumnae and Chapman faculty.


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