This episode of our Past National President series features Marianne Busch Bullock, Beta Theta, who served from 2000-2004.
This episode of our Past National President series features Marianne Busch Bullock, Beta Theta, who served from 2000-2004.
Special Edition Podcast: Past National President, Marianne Busch Bullock, BΘ
Disclaimer: This transcript was developed with an automated transcription program, spelling and grammar errors may occur.
Welcome to the special edition of the Alpha Connect sisterhood series podcast featuring stories from our living past national presidents. I'm Kelly McGinnis Beck national president and your host. Today's episode, I chat with Marianne Busch Bullock, a Beta Theta from Central Michigan University who served as national president from 2000 to 2004. During Marianne's tenure, our organization was undergoing quite a bit of change, and Marianne shares with us what it was like to lead during that time. I hope you enjoy. Today, I am joined on the podcast by past national president Marianne Bullock. Welcome, Marianne.
Thanks, Kelly. It's good to be here.
It's great to have you especially as part of our past national president series. So we will get started as I do with everybody, I would love to hear your Alpha Sigma Alpha story how you became a member?
Well, my roommate, Laurie Morris Papa was interested in going through rush at Central Michigan University. And I really wasn't interested. However, a friend of mine had joined Sigma Chi and he explained that I went through the recruitment process and decided it wasn't for me, I didn't need to pledge. And if I pledged and decided not to be initiated, I still had an opportunity to not be initiated. But he really felt it was going to be good for me. And he thought sorority membership would be good for me. Interestingly, Mark got the big picture of what Greek life meant, not just the parties that were very prevalent on CMU's campus at the time. And so I decided to take this advice. I was still pretty unsure about the whole thing through the recruitment process. But the Beta Theta's really worked hard to get me to join. And really, I owe Jo Black, Yvonne Parrgolf and Jill Ising, who saw something in me that I didn't see in myself and they convinced me that I belonged to Alpha Sigma Alpha and Alpha Sigma Alpha would belong to me.
Well, lucky for us. So did you join us a second semester freshman?
I was a second semester sophomore.
And was that formal recruitment or informal?
It was it was informal recruitment, they it wasn't continuous open bidding, like we see it today. But it was an informal, formal process. So there were still preference parties and so forth. You signed your bids. But but it was a little less structured than we saw later on.
Got it. Fun. Everybody comes in different times and I think a lot of folks think about it, you come in either as a first semester freshman or second semester freshman, depending on when formal recruitment is on your campus. So love to hear when women talk about their opportunities coming in, in an informal structure. So tell us a little bit about what your path has been to get to national president and I should say you were national president in 2000, starting in 2000 until 2004. So tell us a little bit about how you got there. And then we'll talk about what it was like when you were national president.
Okay, sure. So, So Kelly, after graduation, I got married and moved to Houston and I didn't know a soul down here. However, I updated my address with national headquarters because I liked getting the Phoenix. The Houston alumni chapter called me about coming to their membership team. So I went, and the women I met were really accomplished. They were smart, engaged and they really gave me a different perspective of sorority membership and Alpha Sigma Alpha membership as an alumna and of course, one of our members was from Alpha chapter, which was just, just so wonderful to me, to meet this woman who was from our founding chapter. Then on our my first Founders' Day as an alumna, Betty Wallick came to town. And she initiated one of our alumni who pledged in school but dropped out before initiation. Now, Betty signed my membership certificate. So she's always been iconic to me and what I like to call my national president.
I know that feeling.
it's very special and meeting Betty a was such a highlight. So she was other than our chapter advisor, Joyce ablur, who was national scholarship chairman and a province director at one time that he was the first national officer who I ever met. So I was very impressed. Some time later, Marty Stratton moved to Houston. And she spoke about her national involvement. And once Marty left to move to San Antonio and some of our other key members, either stepped back from the chapter or move to themselves, there was real concern that the Houston alumnae chapter wasn't going to make it. And by this point in my life, the Houston alumnae chapter was very important to me. And my membership as an alumna member of Alpha Sigma Alpha was critically important in my life. It was a big part of my life. I was a single parent by that time. And so that alumnae chapter involvement was a great source of strength for me, and a great break for me. And so it was really important. So in my Christmas letter to Marty, one year, I happened to mention that I might be interested in doing a little something to volunteer nationally. So the next thing I knew I was invited to participate in the Denver convention workshop that she was leading on alumnae collegiate relations. And prior to get mentioned, Rosemary Goss called to invite me to read a devotional at the business meeting. Now, let me tell you, I was thrilled when I heard from
Rosemary, and while I calmly and coolly accepted her invitation. I was dancing around the kitchen that the national president of Alpha Sigma Alpha called me. So convention was a great success in those days national council did appointments during convention. And just prior to the awards banquet, Rosemary came up to me and asked me to serve a scholarship Chairman, which was a position I held from 1986 to 1990. During that time, I facilitated that the first LDI, I was involved with the alumnae chapter, which had survived. And then in 1990, I was slated to serve as VP of alumnae and elected at the Phoenix convention. So our first experience, after convention was going to council meeting in Springfield, Missouri, where national headquarters was located at the time. And it was a remarkable experience.
Had you been to Springfield before then?
I had not been to Springfield before it. So it was really exciting. And Suzanne Kilganon and I came on to national council at the same time. So of course, we explored all the nooks and crannies. And while we were in the conference room, I happen to notice a few sheets of paper in a very dog eared page protector. And as I looked at it, I realized I was holding our original charter.
Kelly 07:55 For Beta Theta?
No, for Alpha Sigma Alpha.
Kelly 07:58 Oh, wow.
Yes, so obviously, this dog eared page protector, holding our original charter was something that was a little horrifying to me, but also very inspirational to me, because it really inspired me to do something about our archives and protecting our historical artifacts, because our history has always been something that just resonated with me. So that was fun. We also got into a lot of the boxes that were marked, do not open. So Suzanne, and I had a big time for ourselves while we were up there. And it was, it was a real treat to go to go to national headquarters in Springfield, and to work there with the, with the team when we'd be up there for national council meetings. And during those early years on national council, we were still very task oriented versus the governance model we use today. So as VP of alumnae, I realized we needed to do a better job of recruiting alumnae initiates and I tapped into the talents of our region directors, revitalize alumnae programming. And we spent a lot of time focusing on the lumbee initiation. So when we talk about Alpha Sigma Alpha, and many of our members join as freshmen, and some of us don't, well, there are a lot of our members who join as alumnae and their experience in Alpha Sigma Alpha is really valuable, too. So I'm really proud of the work that we did to really focus on alumnae initiation.
Well and I thank you for that, because I had my mom initiated at Centennial convention.
A true highlight and my second little sister was initiated at the 1998 Dallas convention.
That was my second convention, my first was 96.
Cool, so the other thing that I did on National Council was I served as VP of communications. And that really furthered my interest in the work of our history, communications such as the Phoenix. And then we were also looking at other ways to engage with members in an expanding use of electronic communications. So, over the years, I had the opportunity to work on many publications, again, we were very task oriented so there was a lot of writing involved. We didn't have the staff that we do today, the luxury of that staff. And then I also during my council tenure worked on about three different ritual revisions. So that's been an evolving document to
That it has since we just completed the most recent ritual revision this year.
Exactly. So so it's something that continues to grow with, with Alpha Sigma Alpha and I think the ritual is something that ties us all together. The updates that have been done over the years have been to make it more accessible to our members. And I think that's really important, because oftentimes, our members gloss over the ritual when they're first initiated, because there's so much happening and they're so excited.
It is, and even though as part of membership education, we help them revisit the Ritual and read it. But not everybody has a couple of copies of the ritual in their bookcase that they can go and refer to, at all times. So that's, so that's been something that's important, important to me, and something that that I've been proud of. And finally, in the 1998-2000 biennium, I served as vice president of programs, and we were becoming less task oriented, and really focusing on the strategic objectives. So it was actually during that biennium, that national council did a lot of work on the sorority's first strategic plan. And we used all our professional and volunteer skills to develop a plan that would lead the work of the sorority, and it's second century.
And we still continue that process today.
Yeah, so I always love reading it and seeing how it's evolved over the years.
I ordered documents from when you guys started. I remember the first strategic plan, it was several pages.
We had a lot of things to put in place back in those days. And it's complicated work is very important work. And when I look at the strategic plan, I can still see those original discussions, even in the strategic plan we use today. And that's how strategic planning really should work. You build on the legacy that's come before you. And so so it's always it's always thrilling to see the new strategic plan come out and reflect on the really hard work that we did under Suzanna Kilgannon's leadership. And then after becoming national president, my job was to implement that first strategic plan.
So let's talk about your term as national president. Some of the things that happened while you were national president, both within ASA and certainly during your time period, we had some remarkable world events that happened as well. And I should start by saying we are recording today, on September 11. So we are recognizing the 19th anniversary of the tragedy that happened that day. And you were national president during that time.
I was it's a very auspicious day. And so I'll get into that in a couple of minutes. I was actually elected national president of our centennial convention, which was thrilling. And it also coincided with my first visit to Longwood. I have never had the opportunity to go along with before. And when I pledged Alpha Sigma Alpha, and I got my encounter, which was the book. There was a picture of Hattie Kelly's room full of ASA paraphernalia. And that just really sparked my lifelong interest in our history. So visiting the home of Alpha Sigma Alpha, and the Farmville four and our Alpha Chapter was truly a highlight of my membership experience at that time. So for me, being elected at our centennial celebration that was just overwhelming. The job of being national president can be somewhat overwhelming. And because I'd served on National Council for 10 years prior to that, I knew the job ahead of me was going to be demanding. As I mentioned, under Suzanne Kilgannon's leadership, we develop the strategic plan and my job would be to lead the team of counselors, volunteers and staff to implement it. So our team knew it would involve great changes to our volunteer structure. And that coupled with the direction we were taking Alpha Sigma Alpha to better serve members was going to be really challenging for people to embrace. So our team also had some fiscal concerns. The centennial celebration was really expensive. And we were still headed up to our 100th anniversary. So we've invested a lot of money in marketing materials, extension materials and a lot into programming to remain relevant to our members, and also reflect the image of the Sorority accurately and on a national cohesive basis. We, at that time, also anticipated that our NPC involvement was going to require a significant investment, because we knew we needed to prepare for chairmanship, which, under the old NPC structure, we would have been coming up sooner now. But we knew we had to start making those investments. Back at that time, we'd sold our headquarters building in Springfield and we moved Indianapolis where we attended to build a
new facility. And unfortunately, membership numbers had been stagnant at best and the foundation wasn't in a position to support all the educational programming without significant contributions from the Sorority. So during our January 2001 council meeting, we invited our accountants to visit with us it was the first time that our accountants, have actually visited with National Council during a council meeting. And they gave us some shocking news. So the accountant said that at the present rate of spending, and the present rate of income, the sorority wouldn't be bankrupt in three years.
Oh, boy. Yeah. I've heard stories.
Yeah. So it was, so we knew we had a problem. And we knew we had a big problem. But certainly the magnitude of the problem and the realization that we had three years to fix things quickly sunk in and we knew we needed to spring into action. So our team cuts to cut expenses dramatically, even though it meant cutting critical staff positions. We were rigorous and looking at every expense, we put systems in place to ensure we were spending only what was necessary. And we put systems in place to collect money that was due when it was due, which was very important also. So it was it wasn't a lot of fun. And when your elected national president during your Centennial convention, you have this fantasy of being the fun national president. And we were not having a lot of fun. We also had a lot of members questioning our actions because they didn't realize the timeline we were facing. And yet, we also had a new strategic plan to implement and a volunteer structure to put into place. And we knew we needed to be very hands on and very present with our members. And so we had to go out to the various parts of the country to talk about the strategic plan, to talk about that volunteer structure, to get the buy in of our members too, so we were really careful in how we were investing our money. We got closer to the centennial, which was in November of 2001. And we really evaluated what the events would look like because we were having regional luncheons across the country.
Kelly 18:57 I remember.
It was great fun. I got to record a video to be played at the lunches, which was, which was great. One of our Houston alumnae sisters had a connection with a recording studio in Houston. So I went there, and I'm on tape somewhere, probably deep in the archives of national headquarters
Was that one of the first times we ever did that?
It was the I think it was about the first time we did that. Yes. So we had recorded members before when I was VP of communications, we had started recording the vignettes of our members. So I had an opportunity, I think to record Helen lords. I remember visiting Emma Coleman Frost with Deb Dietrich and Joanne's Zabaldo and we recorded her. And so again, somewhere in the archives, all that all those tapes are buried. But But this was the first kind of national president message that we had recorded in
that way. So that was yeah, so that was that was a lot of fun. And we were going, I was going to be in Richmond for the celebration. And it was also included conducting the Founders' Day ceremony at Alpha chapter. So obviously, I was looking forward to that. Meanwhile, I was very busy with my career in sales for a chemical distributor. And so as we talk about national events, one beautiful September morning, I prepared to pick up a colleague of mine who is going to join me for sales calls in Houston and in Dallas. And the day was crisp and clear, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. It was the first sign of fall in Houston. I went outside and I looked at my garden flag that I had, which is a US flag. And it was getting a little tattered. And I had a new one to replace it. But I took it down and said, when I get from Dallas, I will put up my new American flag in the front yard. And the next morning, Jim and I had gone up to Dallas the night before. So the next morning, I was in Dallas getting ready to meet him in the hotel lobby for breakfast. And as I got ready, I was watching Good Morning America. And the team kind of weighed news from the World Trade Center that the plane had crashed into one of the towers. So I watched for a few minutes, and then went downstairs to meet Jim and I was telling him what I saw. And that was when everyone in the lobby watched in horror as the second plane hit. It was shocking. And the enormity really didn't sink in. I think that was the case for everybody who watched that live on TV. So Jim and I quickly finished and left for our first sales call. And each sales call lasted longer and longer as people were telling us about events and what they'd been hearing on the radio. But we didn't actually get to a place where we can watch the day's events until 7 p.m. that night. So during the course of our day, we tried to conduct business as usual. But it was it was eerie. Our second sales call was near Dallas Love Field. By that time all the planes it stopped. So there were no planes flying overhead. And shortly thereafter that my phone started ringing off the hook. Well, I finally got a chance to return some phone calls. And Kelly Miller was calling me from national headquarters. They were looking for me, they wondered where I was. I traveled so much with my job and I traveled all over the place.
They were checking in to see if you were okay.
Exactly. And so, so when people started doing that, then I started kind of catching a clue a little bit on what we were facing. And so I made a few phone calls myself to check out some people and to let people know I was okay. But it was, it was definitely a very surreal day. And as we went and watch TV that night, and Jim and I reflected on what we'd heard on the radio that we couldn't visualize, we started getting a little bit of a picture. It wasn't until that weekend that I kind of reviewed the whole timeline and watched the enormity of the events of September 11 and the impact it was having on all of our lives. It was about four days later that planes started flying again. It was just very surreal. And we did I did look back at the letter that William Wilson Sharpe wrote at the start of World War Two and crafted letter that weekend. So Several days later. I don't know if it ever got into the volunteer packets that were sent out. And my computer records don't go that long ago. So I don't have a copy of the letter. But I remember pulling out her letter and pulling out a copy of the ritual to write a letter to our members. And then national council had to start talking about what to do about the centennial. And so we decided that we were going to carry on. There was an NPC meeting in October. And so I went to that NPC meeting and then in November I got on a plane and went to Richmond, Virginia. of for for the centennial I had at t with DB Francis and Rosemary. Before we went to Longwood for the Founders' Day ceremony. We felt
it was really important to embrace that moment in Alpha Sigma Alpha history and to work towards normalcy in our own lives. And then behind the scenes, even as we were looking at The centennial celebration, National Council realized that we needed the business contingency plan, we needed to have all our operations and procedures written down so that it wasn't in the head of the national president or the executive director. So if additional disaster impacted and individual is, it was really important that this word it could carry on. So we got to work documenting all our operating procedures, gathering copies of our governing documents, all the financial documents, so that there was a plan in place so that somebody could pick up and understand what to do if the person or individuals who typically handled the operation side of the sorority were unable to do so. That work also allowed us to make better fiscal decisions and continue to work strengthening the sorority's financial position. We knew that if we were in trouble before 911, it was especially going to be challenging in the aftermath. Because certainly investments took a nosedive the country entered a recession. Yeah, the world, the world change. So that's kind of where we were, operationally and the kind of work that we were doing, it was very hands on work for us. The picture didn't look a lot brighter by the time we got into the 2002 convention at Nashville. We gave it our membership and detailed look at our finances. It was the first time the Vice President of finance did such a financial report at the National Convention. And we hoped that it would help our members understand the cuts to staff that we made, the cuts to programming we had to make in the short term, because we were still looking ahead at building our permanent national headquarters, we were still looking ahead at focusing on membership growth. And we were certainly going to make good use of our resources. So on the other hand, during the same time period, we invested in programming that we knew would benefit members for the long run, Advisor Academy LDI, and the inaugural District Days,
Now called the Academy.
Exactly. And we also published the 100 year history. So there was a lot that went on between 2000 and 2002. The 2002-2004 biennium was just as busy. We've finalized the new structure, we hired Brenda Meshullam, as Interim executive director. And then we hired Nancy Coleman as executive director after an extensive search. And in 2002, Alpha Sigma Alpha was serving members was with approximately 50 National volunteers, and 225 advisors. By 2004, we had a growth of 73% with 195 volunteers, and 282 advisors in place.
And you need all those volunteers really to make the organization move forward.
You really do it, because somebody has to be very hands on. And that volunteer experience gives people leadership skills that they will take to other organizations or, or give them skills that they need to continue to work for Alpha Sigma Alphas betterment, whether it's in their alumnae chapters, or in their, their local area, or on a national level, because a lot of the skills that they're developed doing those hands on task kinds of things lead into more strategic positions, which allows the organization to remain strong. So the other thing we did in the 2000-2004 biennium was we passed a balanced budget, which
is which is very important for those of us who care about those things. We reduced our deficit significantly and we really set us on a path for membership growth, which we anticipated would 2004 as we sort of move to beyond the impact of September 11, and the economy started to improve. We began the process of a governance model for national council leadership. And that really allows council to be more strategic and it empowers staff and volunteers to implement that business plan, which we knew was very important.
So many of those things that you put into place, then you have carried us forward today. Certainly grateful that that National Council spent the time and made the really hard decisions fiscally to make sure that we could survive because I know what I became when I came onto council and especially when I went into the Vice President of finance role, that was always in the back of my mind is, here's where we were, we can't get back to that point. And so it was, it was great fun to be vice president of finance during, you know, those years of growth, where we, you know, have balanced budgets. And, you know, we're continuing to invest and save and really, you know, also prepare for membership is cyclical, yet ups and downs. And certainly I think, no, several years ago, we continue to see membership on a growth trajectory, and now we're starting to see it be stagnant and start to decline. Especially given we're living through a pandemic, we're seeing changes in college enrollment, which we knew was coming, regardless of a pandemic. So that's just kind of exacerbated that a little bit until we have had to start evaluating finances and pull back on certain things, again, with the long term in mind of, you know, we need to get through this period, and make some tough decisions for the long term betterment of the organization.
Exactly, we all stand on the shoulders of our predecessors. We are national council in developing a strategic plan and implementing it. There were long range planning committees who did look towards the future of Alpha Sigma Alpha. And it's, it's thrilling for me to know that we're taking such a long view of the organization, believe me, you don't want to be in the room when the accountant says you've got three years. Exactly. And so those of us who have been there, always, always love reading the annual report when it comes out. And seeing the financial data that comes out to go, Wow, we we helped pave the way for others to really capitalize on membership growth, on good financial decisions and running the organization well, you know. We're, we're a sisterhood. And that's at the core of everything we do. The operation side of the sorority is kind of critical for that sisterhood to grow and thrive the way we would like it to, so that we can help our women develop to their full potential.
Yes, there's only so much more we want to do if money was not an issue. But we've had to make those thoughtful decisions and find that balance. I think sometimes that's hard for folks to understand. And especially when you sit in the seat and have to make those difficult decisions, because you know that you want to do it all and you can't right that moment. So what are the critical things to keep the organization moving that down the road, those some of those extra things can come back into play?
Exactly, exactly. And and I know that it's very challenging right now, because there are a lot of demands. And there are a lot of pressures. But I think that the National Council is looking at new avenues for membership growth, and certainly paying attention to its fiscal responsibilities really carefully, so that we continue to be in good shape for the future
That we are. So I'm curious from your experience, I'm going to pivot a little, of your Alpha Sigma Alpha experience, how did that impact your professional career?
You know, that's a really great question, Kelly. When I've worked with recruiters in the past, they wanted me to take out that section of sorority work. Now, the work as a facilitator and LDI, they always thought that was great, but the sorority work they couldn't get. And so my resume over the years reflected what we were really doing. And it was implementing business practices in this organization so that people could understand that. And when I joined Alcamo, which was the last company I worked for, before I retired, we had a president who sat with me one day and his his heritage is Greek. And so he asked me about my Greek experience. We used to have excellent conversations about that, because he knew a little bit about sororities or the stereotype of sororities but when I started talking about operational procedures and strategic plans and business plans, and, and international standards, he was blown away by that type of work that we were doing. So it did have a really positive impact on my career, because of the type of work we were doing. Being in sales, I've always been In front of people, but certainly in sales, unless you're presenting at a conference, you're not speaking to a group of 300 plus people. And so that was that was actually good experience for me when I started operating in those kinds of roles for Alpha Sigma Alpha I hadn't spoken in front of large crowds like that before. And one of the things that I am very impressed by among some of my sisters, is their skills in public speaking, because some have true natural talent, in talking to others and presenting their case. And so that's something that Alpha Sigma Alpha has helped me develop over the years, I still aspire to be one of those great speakers that I see. But I'm also aspiring to people who do this professionally. So that that was a huge impact on my career, too, it's made me a better speaker in a professional setting. It's helped me in engaging with people. Certainly, in sales, you're required to engage with people. So it's a lot like recruitment. And so the skills have really played together and aligned really nicely.
It's interesting that you say that recruiter suggested you remove that, certainly I've heard similar, and I have an HR background. So for me, I've always been, put it on there, talk about your experience, but make sure that you can talk about it in a way that you're showing the translation and transferable skills.
Marianne 36:40 Exactly.
It's so much more than I went to college, and I was, you know, in charge of organizing, organizing social events. Well, there's a lot involved just in that.
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Marianne 36:50 Project management.
Absolutely and all kinds of things. So I think there's huge benefits. And I look at it as a way to educate those who are not familiar with the benefits of Greek life to say, it is more than what you see in the news or on some television show or movie. There's, there's so many more tangible leadership development skills, and conflict management, and how you work on a team and delegate and all those things that you get from a sorority experience at a young age that you know, and as you continue to volunteer, our volunteers continue to develop that experience. And for some, I've heard them talk about, you know, the workshops that we do at convention or, you know, facilitate, know through online for our women's advancement series. That's where they get some of their professional development, because they're either their company or their field doesn't have an association, like in HR has an association where we do a lot of professional development for HR folks, but not everybody has that opportunity. So we're also helping in that way.
It's very, it's very true, Kelly, I have had lots of opportunities for leadership, leadership development in Alpha Sigma Alpha. And one of the things I noticed about many companies over the years is they want leaders, they want leadership development, but they don't know what it looks like.
And they don't have the budget to pay for it. Because that's usually the first line item that gets cut in a budget.
Exactly. And this is something we do well, we are really good at leadership development. And so we offer something to our members that is going to benefit them and their career is no matter what, what direction their career takes. And for those who end up being parents, leadership development will really help them there too, because I have used those things to influence the parties who I've engaged with on a daily basis.
Speaking of daily basis, tell us what you're up to now.
So well, after my presidency, I went to, went on to serve in a number of roles for the sorority. And I'm probably proudest of leaving the facilities team working on our permanent national headquarters in Indianapolis. And then also in the nominations process task force. I continue to remain proud of the work the sorority is doing. And I'm a strong supporter of the foundation where I serve on the board development committee. I'm also very proud of the work that we are doing on our BALA Committee, which is board and leadership,
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Board and leadership advancement.
I always have to say it three or four times to like get it correctly. I think that A, that first A always throws me through a loop.
Yes, yes. So those those are really great roles. And currently, I'm serving on the task force for community colleges as we look at the model of our membership experience and where we, where we take Alpha Sigma Alpha next. So so those are the roles for the sorority and the Foundation. I retired almost two years ago. And I've been very busy with my grandsons since then, who keeps me on my toes. And I'm starting to embrace a different lifestyle. Certainly, I have actually enjoyed some aspects of a pandemic lifestyle. I still haven't written the great American novel. As a matter of fact, I still haven't read the great American novel, because I've been too busy. But, but I look forward to doing some of those things in the future. And I look forward to getting back to doing some traveling in the future. And so and then continuing to volunteer, because that's, that's important to me now, too. But I will admit, I don't miss going to work every day.
I can imagine. Someday I'll get to experience that too.
Exactly. I'm glad I'm glad I had the opportunity to retire when I did to focus on this next thing of life, next phase of life and see what see what it brings.
Absolutely. So one thing I do want to talk about, and before we wrap up, is the move from Springfield to Indianapolis. I think we said you came onto Council, or no, purchased the land while you were president. Is that right? And then, what almost 10 years later?
Marianne 41:39 Exactly.
So tell us a bit that evolution?
Yeah. So Suzanne was president, when we sold the property in Springfield. The national headquarters in Springfield was a huge old historic building, I think later, a lawyer moved in and made it his office. It wasn't really conducive to a modern office type of setting. And we didn't have the infrastructure that we felt we needed. Alpha Sigma Alpha also wanted to be closer to the heart of the action in Indianapolis,
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where we can benefit from being around other Greek organizations. We'd outgrown our headquarters. And so we knew it was time for a move. So we there was a team who looked at facilities, what we wanted, where we needed to go, and the decision was made to sell the building in Springfield, and then go ahead and build a permanent headquarters in Indianapolis. When we first moved up there, we didn't know exactly where we wanted to be. So we rented and then we realize that it was going to take a lot more money that we then we had to build a permanent facility. And so we had to hold off, we considered continuing to rent, we considered buying a piece of property, we considered buying an existing space. We ended up buying a piece of property, beautiful piece of property that we can build on. But with the challenges we had financially, at one point, we even considered selling that piece of property. And we knew we had to do something within a short period of timeframe because the app, there are tax implications in selling a piece of property and then doing nothing with the money. So eventually, we decided we were in a position to be ready to build national headquarters. pictures were drawn up and renderings were drawn up of what it might look like. And we carefully considered what we wanted, how the building would be placed on the land, positioning it so that, that in the future, if we need to expand it, we have areas to grow, which we've done once since. And it was, it was really it was really, it was really an exciting thing to be a part of. And then we did as we were building headquarters, we worked very closely with the architect and the builder to design a building that would be useful for us, that would represent Alpha Sigma Alpha, and the place where we could grow and thrive. And we also in the back of our minds, looked at the building that what if the worst happens, and what if we need to sell that space? So we also consider that building in how accessible and useful it would be for some future owner if we ever ended up moving. So we're really concerned. Yeah, we really concerned that. That's the kind of people we are, as you probably realize, so we looked at we looked at all those things and When went ahead and bit the bullet and made the decision to build, we did a key campaign to raise money for certain aspects of national headquarters. Some of the artwork, rooms have been named for various people who donated to the key campaign. And the gardens and the light post out front, the sign pointing how many miles it is to Longwood. So a lot of those things were put into places as, as the building was created. And, and we had a terrific facilities project team, who had both Alpha Sigma Alpha experience and facilities experience who could really make the vision become a reality.
So do you recall the story of how we got the Longwood brick?
I don't remember the story.
Because I know, I couldn't remember if it was Eleanor Williams, who got that for us, when the rotunda burned at Longwood
Marianne 46:08 That sounds right.
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And then carried it because I do recall, it's in the front, near the front door, there is a brick from the rotunda at Longwood, which is a nice piece of history.
It really is, it ties us back to those founding days.
Well, in that building that unfortunately, was lost in a fire, which I think is where our founders had originally met, if I remember correctly,
it is correct. I have read both in the history, and also other documents that may not have made it to the 100 year history that they did use that rotunda.
What a neat part of history to have in that building. But just thinking about all the love and thoughtfulness that went into the design and the connection to Alpha Sigma Alpha for, you know, the current use in the future using. Since I've been in there. I think when I joined Council, I came on at right after it had been opened. And then, you know, since my time on council, we've expanded. And I think if I remember correctly, I think we paid cash for that expansion.
I recall, I recall that you did.
And it was it was a big conversation about do we roll this into the existing mortgage? Do we, you know, pay cash today, what makes the most sense. And as I sit here now looking at, you know, again, the changes we've got in the organization in the industry as a whole, as you see college demographics changing. I'm glad we were in a position that we could pay cash and didn't roll that into the mortgage.
Exactly. It was it was a smart move.
You never know these things are exactly what you want until you get to look and although I think I'm hesitant in the future to say hindsight is 2020 after the crazy year we have lived through here in 2020.
Exactly. Well, hopefully there are many bright days ahead,
There will I have no doubts, you know, we will whether whatever storm comes our way.
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Well, that's, that's who we are is Alpha Sigma Alphas. And I really do hope that members have the opportunity to visit headquarters and see the archives and, and really get that experience because there's nothing like looking at Wilma Wilson Sharp's typewriter and knowing that's what she used when she was national president or seeing the picture of Jean Grady getting off the plane, or all those are greeting her when she got off the plane, all of those kinds of things really take us back to our original founders who, they were 16 and 17 years old, when they founded Alpha Sigma Alpha. I think they would be thrilled at what they could see today and be amazed at all we've accomplished.
Absolutely. I think that's a great place for us to wrap up. So thank you for spending your time today. This was lots of fun.
Thanks, Kelly. I appreciate it.
I enjoyed it and to our listeners. Until next time.