Training Leaders in Extraordinary Times

This is an expanded version of an article that is in the digital spring 2021 Aglaia magazine.

“As sad as it was to be virtual, PMOA 2021 was an experience I’ll never forget. It is really amazing that even with a pandemic going on, we can connect and grow with our sisters to create an even stronger Phi Mu. I am so excited to bring back all the material and ideas that I learned to my chapter!”

Haley N. Kendrick, Honor Committee Chairwoman, Epsilon Xi (Louisiana State University at Shreveport)

Haley was not alone in her positive assessment of the 2021 Phi Mu Officer Academy!

Shifting from a traditional in-person event to all virtual programming provided the opportunity to engage even more collegiate officers in the 2021 Officer Academy. This year, 13 officers from each chapter – more than double from previous years – benefitted from training sessions about their specific office responsibilities and on important topics for these collegiate chapter leaders to use now and throughout their lives. The keynote presentations were made possible thanks to a generous grant from Phi Mu Foundation and covered compassionate curiosity; empowerment; leadership; feminism; mental health; motivation; and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

“The Phi Mu Officer Academy is known for being the largest single gathering of Phi Mus. This year was no exception with over 1,600 women logging into Zoom to learn and connect!” said Jill Mahar, Epsilon Omicron (Southern Arkansas University), Director of Leadership and Curriculum Development.” The energy was as high as ever, and I am continually impressed with our collegiate officers who are adapting and are supporting our sisterhood at the collegiate level in a way that many of us would never have dreamed of. They should make all of us very proud – Phi Mu is fortunate to have them in these leadership roles.”

Several PMOA attendees shared their thoughts about the experience.

“I am truly amazed at how connected I actually felt during virtual PMOA! The speakers made me feel so comfortable and every panel did such a good job making each Zoom session interactive. I’m so grateful for this sisterhood and this weekend!”

Chapter President Desiree Betters, Gamma Sigma (Georgia College and State University)

“PMOA helped me realize that in order to lead others in my chapter, I have to first learn who I am as a person. This experience has allowed me to figure out who I am as a leader in my Fraternity.”

Vice President of Committees Haley Blouin, Alpha Psi (Southeastern Louisiana University)

“This year has been difficult for everyone and I think it is safe to say that making connections with others has been just as hard. PMOA gave me the opportunity to bond with my fellow Executive Committee officers and for that I am beyond grateful.”

Chapter President Victoria Bruchhauser, Psi (Adelphi University)

“Being able to connect with over 1,600 sisters across the nation – from my computer – was truly an honor. It was nice to watch the sessions not only from home, but with my VP and twin sister, Natalia!”

Chapter President Alexia Chavez-Brown, Beta Nu (Bethany College)

“PMOA made me realize how big Phi Mu Fraternity really is. I represent a small portion of a massive community of women who are like sisters to me. How many people can say that they can log onto a Zoom call and feel so loved by hundreds of other people?”

Chapter President Meredith Crain, Epsilon Epsilon (Oklahoma City University)

“PMOA 2021 has given me a new confidence and revitalized my passion for Phi Mu. I am excited to continue to lead our organization to become more diverse, compassionate and self-aware. We are the change of the future and PMOA has enhanced the tools I have to help me create positive change.”

Phi Director Olivia Enslin, Phi Eta (York College of Pennsylvania)

“Even though all of us were physically apart, I felt like we were all socially connected. I’ll never forget how happy and smiley everyone was when one at a time sisters from each chapter turned on their cameras and introduced themselves. It was a brilliant and glorious moment when we overcame the boundaries and limits of Zoom, where individuals in a HUGE crowd of pixel figures could unite, but also be seen and heard individually.”

Philanthropy Chairwoman Christina Freeman, Phi Kappa (Muhlenberg College)

“PMOA was inspiring, encouraging and fun!”

Vice President Chapter Development Reece Gormley, Beta Eta (Miami University)

“When we were put into breakout rooms during the position-specific sessions, it was so great to talk to and listen to other officers who have similar chapter sizes. I realized that many chapters are going through the same triumphs and struggles that we are. It’s really comforting to know I can reach out to these sisters to exchange ideas and share feedback. This sisterhood truly extends farther than just your chapter; our bond can be found all around the country.”

Vice President Kate Koeckritz, Eta Sigma (University of California, Merced)

“PMOA has made me realize I’m absolutely capable of leading my chapter and doing well as a chapter president! Knowing I have my executive committee to lean on and depend on has made me feel so much more confident in myself.”

Chapter President Becca Kolb, Lambda Gamma (Virginia Commonwealth University)

“Not only did PMOA provide me with the resources to be a compassionate and educated leader within my chapter, it also gave me the opportunity to grow as a person with knowledge I can carry through life.”

Vice President Chapter Development McKenna Major, Delta Alpha (Indiana University)

“Phi Mu Officer Academy inspired me to go out and be the servant leader that I was called to be.”

Vice President Chapter Development Madison Melerine, Alpha Psi (Southeastern Louisiana University)

“Even though PMOA was online, I still connected with officers from other chapters. We had group chats and added each other on Snapchat and Instagram. Everyone there made the virtual experience feel just as meaningful as in person.”

Chapter President Zoe Nassif, Zeta Sigma (University of Wisconsin-River Falls)

“I met so many motivated and kind sisters from all over the country. We’re supporting each other despite the distance and circumstances. I learned about compassionate curiosity and still to this day use it. My favorite part of PMOA was National President Andie Kash’s closing speech. It was the perfect ending and she reminded me why I joined Phi Mu.”

Vice President Britany Patiu, Eta Xi (California State University, Stanislaus)

“Speaker Krystal Clark challenged us to ‘Ask how your sisters really are.’ That really spoke to me because I want to learn more about my sisters and think this will help me make more personal connections with my sisters.”

Panhellenic Delegate Emily Ramsey, Xi Alpha (University of Colorado Boulder)

“I was pleasantly surprised by the virtual 2021 PMOA. While it’s sad that I didn’t get to meet sisters from all over the country face to face, this was the first weekend that dozens of Treasurers really leaned into our group messages and got to know each other. I learned that my counterparts are super funny!”

Treasurer Maddy Vales, Delta Omega (Case Western Reserve University)

“Despite it being online, Officer Academy was immensely helpful in preparing me for my role. One of the best parts was being able to connect with girls in the same position in other chapters and being able to get advice and ideas from one another. It’s relieving to know all of them have my back and will be there if I ever need help.”

Phi Director Emma Vernon, Chi (University of Missouri)

“‘If you share your story, it opens people to share their stories,’ – Ross Szabo. This is something I live by, especially within my chapter. As I share my stories, members share their stories and we connect through that.”

Chapter President Rilee White, Kappa Omega (University of South Alabama)

“PMOA 2021 allowed me to feel empowered and confident through the connections I formed with sisters all across the country.”

Academic Excellence Chairwoman Ciara Audrey Wiedmann, Gamma Theta (James Madison University)

“This was my first time attending the Officer Academy, and I am so glad I did. Throughout the weekend I took a deeper look into myself and how to successfully complete the tasks required of my position. Ross Szabo was completely eye opening and I’m going to purchase his book about mental health, because thanks to him and PMOA 2021 I now realize that taking care of yourself comes first. Like our National President Andie Kash said, ‘The airlines tell you to put on your oxygen mask first for a reason.’”

Director of Harm Reduction and Prevention Jessica Withrow, Theta Beta (Georgia State University)

PMOA 2021 Attendees

President

Vice President Chapter Development

Vice President of Committees

Treasurer

Membership Director

Phi Director

Director of Harm Reduction and Prevention

Academic Excellence Chairwoman

Honor Chairwoman

Panhellenic Delegate

Philanthropy Chairwoman

Social Chairwoman

Property Chairwoman