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Grand Convention Day 1: Wednesday, June 23
It was a pretty light day in Tuscon today. All of the Iowa Delegates have
made it to Starr Pass Ranch safely. Some Sisters are stranded in Chicago due to the Thunderstorms we had this morning. District 9 selected a Collegian from the South Dakota chaper as part of the Nom Comm. She'll be a busy lady getting our new Grand Council established from 10 very qualified candidates! There was a delicious buffet dinner Southwest style and it was great to see all of the wonderful ladies. Over 650 Thetas are in attendance!!! What a wonderful thing to see!!! Tomorrow is a meaty day with lots to do. Day starts at 7am for breakfast and District IX Meetings conlcude at 10pm. Long Day indeed, but lots of good work to do. Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.
Grand Convention Day 2: Thursday June 24
Thursday began with the Twin Star breakfast in which I had the absolute pleasure of "hosting" Elise Bennett current Beta Omicron President!! It was a great breakfast with her and our other District IX Sisters.
Following breakfast was the Nike. It is utterly amazing to listen to where and how the other chapters were added to our Chain. I would like to request however that we get an alumnae historian as HQ did not have any info for us to read so I kind of had to wing our Nike. I hope I did the Chapter proud! Followed by Nike was the opening business session. Not all chapters were in attendance as Chicago had shut down due to Thunderstorms so some sisters were still arriving throughout the day. I witnessed the installation of new Alumnae District officers which saw our Former ADO, Kory Ellefsen installed as District IIs ADP. The business session ended with a great presentation titled "Who would've thought?" Which highlights just how far we've come in 140 years. I wonder what our Founders are thinking of us now!
After the business session was the Foundation Luncheon. Did you know the Foundation is 50 years old? Amazing. And again, we were privileged to hear the stories of three Theta Sisters who have benefitted from the Foundation via a scholarship or from the Friendship fund. The stories ranged from joyous to really heart wrenching.
The afternoon session there were two speakers: Lori Hart Evert on "Better Fraternity, Better You". This woman was hilarious, and a new buzzword called the "Reindeer Member" was coined. The point of this session is to understand your Sisters. All of us have talents in some manner, it's a matter of us to figure out a way to best utilize the talents we all have to make better, stronger chapters and better, stronger Thetas. Following Lori was Ginny Carroll who was also an amazing speaker. She's an AZD (Lori is an AOPi). Ginny's focus was on our history (and Sorority history as a whole). I highly recommend if you haven't done so, read "Bound by a Mighty Vow".
Following the speakers the Collegiates and Alumnae broke out into educational sections. The Alumnae portion discussed a WONDERFUL officer portal coming. I'd like to talk with our officers about this to be one of 20 Alumnae Chapters to further pilot this, it is WONDERFUL! Reports, accesibiity real time member lists. I was utterly amazed and wanted the tool now!
At Dinner, the Collegians walked in with the Parade of Flags. All of our favorite District IX flags were there! This was followed up by the Collegiate Chapter Awards recognition dinner. Our very own Beta Omicron women are Kite Award winners!! Way to go, Girls! Alpha Mu/Missouri walked away with the Founders Award. They are the only chapter to have won it three times. Congratulations to the Women of Alpha Mu.
Finally, the evening ended with District IX Meetings. In which some new chapter structures were introduced. Instead of Clubs, the concept of Circles will be introduced. The intent is to use this model for new chapters or those with very small memberships.
By this time I was too tired to comprehend much of anything. The day started at 7am and ended around 10:30pm. Time for bed!!!
Grand Convention Day 3: Friday June 25
The morning opened with yet another lovely breakfast. (Did I mention this hotel was amazing in terms of food and service! Top notch).
The Second business session opened up today at 8:30. The Highlight were the Nom Comm Report of the Slate to go before the Convention Body for the Grand Council Members to serve under the 2010-2012 Biennium. This is how the Council now looks: President: Amy Hayner Kates A-Phi/Tulane
Vice President Membership: April Pinkston Dupree Zeta Lambda/Charleston
Vice President College: Paige Bendel Ellerman Gamma Iota/Kentucky
Vice President Public Relations: Julie Ruffolo Gilpin Alpha/DePauw
Vice President Education: Timberly Marek Alpha Nu/Montana
Vice President Finance & Facilities: Suzanne Graf McLemore Delta Pi/Tennessee (Second Term)
Following the elections we began important work on the Legislation at hand. I've never been so proud to be a Theta as I did at this moment there was some key legislation that would have negatively impacted our Canadian Sisters. I was proud to stand in their corner on this piece that was utlimately amended on the fourth and final day. it was amazing to be part of this and get a feel at some level what our elected government representatives should feel like. I was truly honored to be part of an amazing process. I will not get into the details of the legislation on this page as it is not appropriate material for a public forum such as this. I would say at a fall meeting I would be more than happy to discuss the legislation to you all, or feel free to contact me with any questions.
A spirited legislative session ended with a Life Loyal presentation. Life Loyal is a new Foundation program that I am excited to share with you all. If you want, you can go to the following website for more information and sign up if you so choose: www.thetalifeloyal.org.
At the end of today a MUCH needed afternoon off and this wiped out delegate spent her afternoon sitting by the pool with some other sisters from District IX.
I forgot to add a couple notes:
Friday Fun Night began with the receiving line of the Districts VII, VII and IX with the Grand Council. I went. It was nice but it's like going through a wedding receiving line where you know a parent of the bride or groom. The Grand Council was gracious indeed for receiving the members of all nine districts during the course of convention.
Receiving line was followed up by a fabulous buffet dinner in which beef FINALLY made an appearance on the dinner table much to the happiness of ALL of District IX (Midwest Chapters).
There was a DJ for a few hours so all of us could burn off some steam on the dance floor.
Then at 9pm, we began the CASA Under The Stars Walk. We listened to a woman who is a product of the foster care system who witnessed through other foster siblings the power of CASA, and is a CASA advocate herself. Then we were all treated by an appearance of Robin McGraw (wife of Dr. Phil--and newly initiated Theta!!!). Robin gave a very impassioned speech on just how important the work is that we do for CASA. Theta has been with CASA for 20 years now, and has raised over $1M. Pretty amazing work. We then embarked on the CASA walk and it was a wonderful moonlit Tuscon night. It was a great deal of fun!!!
Grand Convention Day 4: Saturday June 26Our last day was yet another busy day, and it flew!
No Theta could start the day without yet another divine breakfast!
After breakfast we entered into the third business session to finish up where we left off on the legislation which also proved to be yet another spirited day. But when all was said and done, we Thetas rolled up our sleeves and hammered out the issues to get you the best bylaws and Constitution possible.
Today was the Alumnae Awards Luncheon of which I am so terribly proud to announce that we Women of the Iowa City Alumane Chapter were Pansy Award recipients. This would parallel the Collegiate Kite Awards. After some post award discussion with the Beta Omicrons, I think I know how to get us to the Black and Gold if not Twin Star award by NEXT CONVENTION!!!! I was so proud to receive the award for our Chapter. Thank you all who helped us achieve such a wonderful honor! Dallas Alumnae Chapter won the Golden Kite (Like the Founder's Award).
Following the luncheon was a General session where a couple of initiatives were introduced that will be making their way to the chapters. It is the Sisters Supporting Sisters initative. And it's purpose is to de-stigmatize mental health issues. So many of our collegians (and our alumnae) currently are experiencing a wide range of mental health issues and help is so hard to get for these women because asking is so hard to do. This program aimed at the collegians (but I can't see why we can't use this as alumnae) to help squash the stigma associated with mental illness on college campuses.
Following the General Session Collegiates and Alumnae broke out for educational sessions. I attended the new President Orientation. I probably didn't need to but I also didn't know I"m supposed to have a ritual book (note to self to order one).
Aftewards we closed out the business session with a wrap up of the minutes of the morning's business session.
The last event of the night was the Final Banquet. It began with the line up with your initiating chapter. For me it was the most moving thing I had experienced to date. It was so emotional for me to be back with my home at Alpha Pi/North Dakota. I haven't had a real opportunity to get back to my chapter and to hold my chapter's flag and be with the women of my home, was a very emotional experience for me. "At Home" took on a new meaning for me at that moment. I saw our beatiful women of Beta Omicron lined up proudly! Dinner was with one's intiating chapter so I didn't get much chance with Elise or Erica at dinner, but was sharing in some amazing experiences with other Alpha Pi women (and I was the second oldest Theta for my chapter...I"m not sure how to take that yet! lol) Dinner was exquisite and we were all gifted with a lovely charm for our Theta bracelets, although admittedly mine is on a necklace right now. Mary Jane Beach presided the evening with absolute grace and elegance, she done us Iowa City/Cedar Rapids women proud!!! The dinner was concluded with a ritual moment that I won't share publicly but will tell you nothing is more moving than to share a common moment with 671 Thetas from all over the U.S. and Canada. Wow.
In all I am honored to have served on the 69th Convention. It was my first and it did not disappoint at all. I am so proud to be a Theta, to represent the women of East Central Iowa and the women of Beta Omicron.
A special thank you to Mary Jane and Kory who alleviated some pre-Convention wardrobe jitters. Mary Jane you were my rock, if you didn't know it. :-)
All four days respectfully submitted with Theta Love and All mine,
Nikki Selander Heyd
Alpha Pi/North Dakota Initiate
Iowa City Alumnae Chapter President.
Other Amazing Facts I forgot to mention:
1. SIX former Fraternity Presidents were in Attendance
2. 671 Thetas from the U.S. and Canada were in Attendance
3. Retiring Archivist Mary Edith Estes Arnold (AM/Mizzou) gave a WONDERFUL presentation on our Archives. Theta Archives is a Bucket List item.