By Courtney Stevens:
2020 was a year of transition for KDPnas. In 2020 we installed a new Executive Director, moved each of our National meetings to a virtual platform, hosted our first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training, and witnessed our chapters shift to mostly virtual new member programming.
In March, when COVID-19 hit New England our board worked tirelessly, to ensure that the active membership would be able to attend convention safely. For this reason we made the difficult decision to shift to an online platform instead of having Convention in person, as intended. Ultimately, we knew we made the right decision, but it still didn’t feel like Convention.
Holding a meeting on Zoom, although monumental for us, lacked the warm and fuzzies that Convention usually gives us. The feeling: when you see you chapter sisters after a long drive to the middle of nowhere, when you see your counterparts at other chapters for the first time in many months, or when you see the bright smiling faces of the Board as you are checking in at the Registration table. We missed greeting you with open arms, ready to hear about your long travels, seeing your faces light up while you wait in line for the new merch, or perhaps even greeting you with a hug (depending on the Board member). We missed watching chapters exchange gifts of love and watching you form bonds with other chapters, most of whom you’d never had the chance to meet. The meeting was long, but seeing your faces on our screens brightened our day more than you could ever know. Nevertheless, we persisted.
During that meeting we elected 3 new Executive board members: Marysa Mitrano, Robyn Sarette, and Courtney Stevens. Thank you to our outgoing Executive Board members: Kazia Bennett, Andrea McKevitt, and Meredith O’Donnell - for all of your hard work. We could not have survived and thrived during the beginning of a global Pandemic without each of your leadership skills and hard work. We transitioned our previous Executive and Co-Executive Director: Liz Jason - into a new position: National Advisor. Thank you Liz for your many years as our Executive Director. We cannot thank you enough for the work that you have done to help our organization blossom into what it is today. We look forward to having you on our team in a new capacity - and we intend to use you A LOT, because “team work makes the dream work,” as they say!
We welcomed our new Executive Director: Amanda Roberge. Although this year has not been an easy one, Amanda has handled it with grace and dignity. She has persevered when times were tough. Without her fearless leadership we would not be thriving in a circustance where many others have seen failures. Thank you Amanda, for all that you do and for proving to us that dedication to an organization that you love can go a long way.
Next, Summer Leadership Retreat began with our business meeting where we approved a budget for the new fiscal year, presented Gifts of Love, and discussed how our chapters were adapting to the “new normal” on their campuses - or for most, on their laptops. After the business meeting concluded we took a break for lunch, then reviewed a riveting risk management presentation with Amanda Roberge. Next, we encountered our first major hiccup of the day when the breakout rooms failed to launch, but we adapted and everyone was able to attend the session about our national philanthropy, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention! Although it wasn’t at all what we envisioned, we appreciate the time we got to spend virtually with our chapter leaders who were able to attend and we are counting down the days until we can meet in person again!
In September, we rolled out our first annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training in collaboration with Kappa Upsilon alumnae Shantelle Castle, MSW. Shantelle is a self-identified women of color, committed to providing educational resources to the communities that she serves. She created a curriculum for us to use to educate, not only our National Board, but also our entire undergraduate membership. If you were not able to attend the live sessions, you can find the full training on Greek Track. We encourage you to please continue to educate yourselves and use this presentation as a resource. The Women’s Issues committee is working diligently to create more resources and continue to develop this curriculum further. Our work as allies has only just begun, and we cannot wait to see what our amazing team comes up with next!
Thanks to some extra TLC (from Amanda, our executive board, chapter consultants, associate board, and resilient chapter leadership), we watched many of our chapters flourish in the virtual setting. Some of our chapters have even taken classes larger than ever before! We could not be more proud of the way that our chapters have navigated this incredibly difficult and challenging year. Through trials and tribulations, you persevered in true Kappa fashion. You continue to make us all so very proud.
So thank you…
for choosing kindness in times of darkness,
for dedicating yourselves to your chapters when it was most difficult,
and for shining Black and Gold always.
We cannot wait to see how you all blossom in 2020!
And lastly but certainly not least, if you are in crisis or need someone to talk to: