A couple weekends ago, I was invited to help out with Phi Sigma Sigma’s Leadership Conference (LC) in Washington, D.C. This was the first time I have been invited to help out with a national organization’s leadership programming and was overly excited to be a part of the weekend. I was not really sure what I was getting myself into when I first said yes what seemed like months ago, but was extremely happy with the result.
Phi Sigma Sigma decided to take the conference in a different direction this year, by having presenters and facilitators from outside of the organization. The leadership curriculum was based on Steve Farber’s The Radical LEAP (LEAP). I have read one of Steve’s books before and though I am not a big fan of his writing style, I do enjoy the overall message of his narratives. The message of LEAP was to create extreme leaders. Individuals who Love, are Enthusiastic, are Audacious, and Prove it, hence the acronym LEAP. LC was about capturing the essence of this mantra and teaching it to the undergraduates, with the hope they would bring the simple but meaningful letters back to their chapter, campus, and other communities.
Phi Sigma Sigma utilized technology to help connect with the facilitators from all across the nation. The organization hosted a video chat for those who could attend and then made it available for others to listen to later. Unfortunately, I was not able to be a part of the video chat because of an event my office was hosting. However, I was able to listen to the training on my way into work via my phone which was a welcomed change for my hour long commute. The video conference reviewed the programming for the weekend and helped to provide better insight as to who we would be working with on Friday evening and Saturday.
Travel to Washington D.C. was quite an adventure for every one involved. I had a red eye flight on Thursday evening out of SFO that left late and I was lucky enough to have a baby sitting in the seat behind me. SO, I got a lot of rest on my cross country flight. Luckily, the hotel room was ready for my arrival. After a quick check-in, unpacking, and buffet breakfast, I went to sleep for a few hours to recoup what I had lost during my overnight commute. I was fortunate compared to others. Nasty weather prevented many from leaving on time or delayed travel. This resulted in LC starting an hour later to accommodate the participants stuck on buses caught in winter storms or diverted to other flight paths because of high winds.
At 8:00 p.m., we began our weekend of programming. The first night consisted of an overall introduction to LC and our first small group session, which included setting expectations, name games, ice breakers, and team builders. The small group was cut a little short because of the late start and we concluded the evening with a large group session introducing the first letter of LEAP, Love. It was definitely time for sleep as the next morning started at 8:00 a.m. We began with breakfast and then went back and forth between large and small group sessions to learn more about each letter of LEAP. Before lunch, Lisa Romero led an amazing presentation on branding titled, Distinctively Phi Sigma Sigma. It was something that she needs to take on the road and present to all chapters. It was full of great information, interactive, and really had me evaluate my own branding and marketing practices for work. The day continued in exploring the concept of LEAP and by the last session everyone was exhausted. It was a long day of reflection, activities, and presentations. Overall, the curriculum was sound and resonated with the students. We were able to have lots of really good conversations in our small group and at times we wish we had more time to discuss certain topics.
That evening, I was able to attend the Foundation Dinner and I was in for a surprise and treat. Dinner was a normal conference dinner, nothing fancy. Your typical chicken in a sauce with potatoes and a vegetable. There was a keynote speaker and presentations by members of the Supreme Council and fraternity staff. Phi Sigma Sigma had three past presidents in attendance and honored Judith Distler, who was retiring from her role as a foundation director. Judith was also a past president of Phi Sigma Sigma.
After Judith’s recognition, the entertainment began in the form of a live auction and various raffles. It was quite the show, all emceed by Katie Herschede, Phi Sigma Sigma Foundation President. Katie was a master auctioneer, as she was consistently able to convince bidders to reach into their pockets for a little more. Many of the chapters donated items to be auctioned along with various Supreme Council and fraternity staff members. It was a great time had by all and I hardly noticed that the event wrapped up around 10:00 p.m. because of all the excitement. I was convinced that I was part of something fantabulous and decided that I wanted to contribute in a small way. I gave $19.13 to the foundation (actually $20.00 but who is counting) in commemoration of Phi Sigma Sigma’s founding and upcoming 100 year anniversary. I was hyped up on adrenaline and my 7:00 a.m. flight the next day was coming way to soon. I think I finally got to sleep around 2:00 a.m., which created havoc to my sleep schedule, but it was well worth it for the weekend.
A special thanks to Cara Fabrocini who coordinated the programming for LC and Amanda Turfan for inviting me to participate. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Washington D.C. with approximately 500 Phi Sigma Sigma members, and I can only hope that I will be able to be a part of something like that again in the future. My experience has helped to provide me with a deeper understanding of the organization and a new language in which I can converse with the women of the Iota Xi chapter at Sonoma State University.
Until next time…