Notes from Your National Council
We’re introducing a new regular column today, “Notes from Your National Council.” This first installment is from our National President regarding a recent very special event she was privileged to attend.
During my 25 years as an Alpha Chi Omega, I have experienced countless proud moments… “Squeal Day” in August 1983, when I received my bid from Alpha Upsilon Chapter and raced down sorority row to the Alpha Chi Omega house… My initiation in February 1984, when my big sister Kim Kitchens first pinned me with my lyre badge… June 1987, when my three best Alpha Chi Omega friends stood by my side at my wedding… July 1990 at Alpha Chi Omega Convention, when I accepted the Advisory Board Award with my fellow Alpha Phi advisory board members… When I was first installed as a National Vice President in July 2000… When I stood with my adopted Sigma sisters for the dedication of their new chapter house in September 2008… When I was installed as National President of Alpha Chi Omega in July 2008… I have been blessed to have these special Alpha Chi Omega memories, and many more than I can list here.
Last week ranks right up there as one of my proudest Alpha Chi Omega moments. On Friday, May 7, 2010, Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity was honored by the Genesis Women’s Shelter of Dallas as its 2010 Jane Doe Award winner. Each year, Genesis presents the Jane Doe Award to recognize an individual or group’s extraordinary efforts on behalf of the battered women and children who must remain nameless and faceless as they escape the violence they have known. The list of previous award winners is impressive – including Mary Kay, Inc.; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; former first lady Laura Bush; former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice; Academy Award winner Sarah Buel; and the Junior League of Dallas. We stand with a host of luminaries who have made it their passion to protect women from violence.
I was honored to accept the award (a beautiful Tiffany crystal statuette) on your behalf at Genesis’ 17th annual Mother’s Day lunch, before a crowd of over 2000 of Dallas’ most influential women (and men.) The annual event is a major fundraiser for Genesis, which receives no government funding, and generated a record $1 million to support shelter, counseling and transitional housing for victims of domestic violence in the Dallas area.
This recognition from Genesis Women’s Shelter is rooted in the work of our Dallas-area alumnae and collegians, who have donated over $100,000 and countless volunteer hours to supporting Genesis, and owes no small debt to our partnership with Wells Fargo (and Bob Chereck) through their sponsorship of numerous Genesis programs. However, the award recognizes even more than that – it recognizes all of the women of Alpha Chi Omega who have accepted the challenge to fight domestic violence within our own communities across the country.
The 2010 Mother’s Day lunch program included the following tribute to Alpha Chi Omega: “In 1992, Alpha Chi Omega adopted domestic violence awareness as its national philanthropic cause. Since then, they have promoted education and prevention programs that help people understand and prevent the problem of violence against women… On behalf of Dr. Rice, we recognize her Alpha Chi Omega Sisters and their efforts…”
Oh, did I forget to mention that the luncheon was a star-studded event? This year’s honorary event chair was former First Lady Laura Bush, who unfortunately was unable to attend. However, she sent her husband in her place. Yes, former President George W. Bush made a surprise appearance, just to introduce the guest speaker, former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Dr. Rice talked about atrocities committed against women around the world and her experiences fighting for women’s rights, as well as the importance of organizations such as Genesis in helping combat violence against women. “You and I can know there’s something the government can’t deliver: compassion,” she said. “That’s where organizations like Genesis come in.”
Regardless of your politics, I hope that you can admit that having Alpha Chi Omega featured at an event attended by a former President and Secretary of State is a big deal! And the fact that Dr. Rice is one of our own Alpha Chi Omega sisters (and past Alpha Chi Omega Award of Achievement winners) made the day even more special for me.
I try to keep my politics separate from my Alpha Chi Omega work, but I will admit to being a big fan of Dr. Rice’s and the Bushes – so I was personally thrilled to sit on stage with Dr. Rice and President Bush. I thoroughly enjoyed my 30 minutes of one-on-one conversation with Dr. Rice. “Please call me Condi,” she said – and I did. And I took advantage of our time together to share all the wonderful things that Alpha Chi Omega is doing today.
However, the biggest thrill was the great honor to Alpha Chi Omega – my heart swelled with pride (and my eyes were filled with happy tears) as our accomplishments and work in supporting victims of domestic violence were recognized in such a prestigious forum. What pride to hear Dr. Rice acknowledge us as her “Alpha Chi sisters” and speak of her pride in the work we have done (and continue to do). And even a little thrill to get a shoulder poke and “good work” from President Bush.
In 1992, a committee of Alpha Chi Omegas recommended that we select domestic violence awareness as our national philanthropy, and that recommendation was accepted by the Convention body in St. Louis. One of the members of that committee recently wrote me and talked about the committee’s concern that the cause wouldn’t be considered “glamorous” or appealing enough to really catch on – and how proud she is to see that we have really made a difference. And boy have we made a difference!
Our work with domestic violence awareness is meaningful, relevant and consistent with who Alpha Chi Omega is – real, strong women. We work to support victims and hopefully someday to end violence against women – because many of those victims are our own sisters, and because we want to inspire and empower all women to be real and strong, whether they are Alpha Chi Omega sisters or not. As Dr. Rice said, “If I could do one thing to change the world, I would empower women.” And that’s what Alpha Chi Omega does.
I have never been more proud to be an Alpha Chi Omega than I am today.