My Phi Mu life began when I was six. I remember finding my mother’s badge while looking through her jewelry. I immediately asked, “What is this?” She told me it was her sorority badge and that she was saving it for me. In 1976, I followed in my mother’s footsteps and pledged Phi Mu at the University of Mississippi. And so, my Phi Mu journey began.
During the following years, I held numerous Fraternity positions and worked with countless chapters. I was and continue to be so proud of who we are and where we are going.
Throughout my fourteen years on National Council, I had the opportunity to visit various national sorority and fraternity headquarters. It was during these visits that I realized Phi Mu needed a real “Home”…a place that we could visit with pride…a location that reflected our history.
My dream was to build a “TARA,” the mansion from Gone with the Wind.
And so, the journey began.
National Council launched a nationwide search for property. After many months of research we decided that since we were founded in Macon, Georgia, our new home should be in Georgia. We visited properties all over the Atlanta area.
It was prior to a National Council meeting that Mary Jane Johnson, Gamma Delta, National President, and I, National Panhellenic Delegate/VP Panhellenic, flew into Atlanta a few days early to continue the search. We decided that we would look south of Atlanta and even go to Macon. At the end of the day, we still hadn’t located the ideal property. On the way back from Macon, I mentioned that I read an article in the Delta magazine about a planned community with over 100 miles of golf cart paths called Peachtree City. So, we decided to go take a look.
As we are driving into Peachtree City, I was jumping up and down in the seat because it just “felt right.” We stopped at City Hall and had the opportunity to meet the mayor. We explained that we were looking for a headquarters site and wanted some information on available property. He inquired about the name of our organization. We shared that we were Phi Mu and he immediately began to smile. I will never forget his next statement: “My daughter is a Phi Mu.” I knew without a doubt that this was the location for us. It was meant to be!
That weekend National Council visited the property and began negotiations. The land was purchased and planning began in earnest. National Council and Phi Mu Foundation agreed to launch our first capital campaign. Because of the support, loyalty and generosity of our alumnae, collegiate chapters, family and friends, we were able to break ground and start the journey of building our new home.
Special thanks to Phi Mu Foundation Board members led by presidents Claudia Nemir, Eta Alpha; and Shellye McCarty, Alpha Delta; Past National President and Honorary Steering Committee Chairman Margaret Blackstock, Mu; Steering Committee and interior designer Sharon Staley, Alpha Chi; Foundation Executive Director Kathie Garland, Kappa Kappa; and the entire National Council and Fraternity staff. Because of their dedication and hard work, we were able to raise millions of dollars. We were told by many that we would not be able to raise the needed funds. But, our membership believed in the dream, dug deep in their pockets and gave money to ensure the future of our sisterhood.
It was decided that we would officially dedicate our new home in September 2005. The Fraternity staff and Foundation staff worked endless hours to make this a day that would be remembered forever. Special thanks to the Fraternity staff led by Phi Mu Fraternity Executive Director Jennifer Wooley, Alpha Epsilon. Not a detail was overlooked and the day was absolutely perfect.
So, on September 24, 2005, the dream became a reality.
We officially cut the ribbon and dedicated our new home to our membership and to the world. Hundreds of collegians, alumnae, family and friends came to Peachtree City for the dedication.
The day was absolutely perfect. The festivities included tours of the Headquarters, food, music and the most popular event was the ride on the pink Phi Mu Golf cart.
What an honor it was as National President to officially cut the ribbon at dedication with my friend and Phi Mu Alpha Delta sister, Shellye McCarty, Foundation President.
To be able to celebrate this day with Phi Mus from across the country was an extremely thrilling, unforgettable and emotional experience. I realized as we cut the pink dedication ribbon that our dream and all the hard work was coming to an end.
But as I looked out over the crowd and saw all those faces filled with joy and hope for the future, I realized that the dream was only beginning.
Our history is so powerful but our future will be amazing because of each of you. I challenge you to have a Phi Mu dream and make that dream a reality just as thousands of Phi Mus before you have.
Let your journey begin today!
Yours in Our Bond,
Kathy Williams, Alpha Delta, ‘77
National President 2002-2006