Alpha Connect Sisterhood Series

Special Edition: Past National President Cindy Kelley, Beta Pi

April 23, 2021 Kelly McGinnis Beck Season 1 Episode 28
Alpha Connect Sisterhood Series
Special Edition: Past National President Cindy Kelley, Beta Pi
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode, Kelly speaks with Cindy Kelley, Beta Pi, who served as national president from 2008-2012.

Kelly  
Welcome to this 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 features Cindy Kelley, a Beta Pi from Concord College in West Virginia. So without further ado, let's get on to my next conversation. So today, I am joined by Cindy Kelley, past national president who served from 2008 through 2012. Welcome, Cindy.

Cindy  
Thank you. I'm glad to be here.

Kelly  
It's good to have you. So I'm going to have you start just like we have every guest start tell us your ASA story, how you became an Alpha Sigma Alpha.

Cindy  
Okay. I would say that it started with me and they just the idea kind of being generated was that my biological sister Louise, who was a couple years older than me, had joined a sorority at her university. And she always encouraged me to check them out when I went to college. So I would visit with her stay at the sorority house and I remember being there whenever she was chapter president. So even though having that firsthand view of what Sorority Life looked like, I still wasn't sure that it was for me. I played sports in college, I worked, I got involved in a lot of other student organizations, and even started a new one my freshman year when I first went to college, so I wasn't sure that that I had the time to devote to the sorority life, because I saw with my sister she, she did a lot, so. So it wasn't like it wasn't sure, but then I had several friends that were in sororities, and they would often invite me to recruitment activities. So my sophomore year, I decided that I would participate in formal recruitment with my suitemates. And I , by the end of the last round, I knew the sororities, learning about them, hearing their stories, all the things that they did, say we are learning about the sororities, I will say the rest of the history and that's how I became an Alpha Sigma Alpha.

Kelly  
From where? What school and chapter?

Cindy  
Beta Pi chapter at Concord University. 

Kelly  
And was it Concord University then or was at Concord college, then? 

Cindy  
It was Concord College at that time. 

Kelly  
Okay. I thought that that change had been some time over the last what I say 20 years or so because I feel like when I visited there as a consultant, it was Concord college.

Cindy  
Yes, it was college. Yes.

Kelly  
So you said you started a another organization while you were there, what was that organization focused on?

Cindy  
It was a service and leadership organization. But it was, I grew up in Four H, in the youth serving organization. And so when I went off to college, I had heard there was opportunities to have collegiate chapters of the Four H program. And so I initiated that my the fall of my freshman year coming in and saying, you know, they didn't have one, and I felt like that, that was a great opportunity. And there were several other students that I had met through other statewide for Four H leadership opportunities, and so as an easy opportunity to pull people together and start a new organization on campus.

Kelly  
Very cool. I'm sure. I'm not very surprised, though, that of course, you were very involved in starting new things.

Cindy  
Absolutely.

Kelly  
So what were some of the more memorable times when you were at Concord college? If I remember correctly, I think you were homecoming queen, correct?

Cindy  
Yes, that is correct.

Kelly  
What else?

Cindy  
I would say any of the homecomings even the other years, as are always memorable activities for for sure. So it was so great to see on that campus, how everything came together, and how everyone and homecoming was really truly that I mean, everyone came together, everyone was involved. It was such a huge, huge aspect back then. So that was a big thing that was in Sorority Life, and, and also that I was involved in other things, too. I played softball in college, all four years, as well. And so that kind of kept me pretty busy too. And just getting involved in other activities. And I had only how many student organizations I would say that I belong to now. It was time passing by trying to remember what they were but I think does any tubings getting together doing our formals or our Spring Fling kind of things, Greek weeks, all of that was huge. I belonged to the like service learning groups to where we would go into the community and do different service activities and having Leadership involved with that with some of the social work organizations. And I remember my I mentioned homecoming a little bit ago, but I remember my freshman year, I missed homecoming, because we had the opportunity to go to Washington DC to, to march for the homeless. And so where we also stayed out in the elements during that weekend. So I remember some of our some of our promotion of that was that we were supporting homeless instead of homecoming that year. And it's really getting to be able to come back and sparked some conversations and some action within our own community on that. So that's another standout time.

Kelly  
So tell us a little bit about your Alpha Sigma Alpha story of how you know, how you grew into and what was along your path to become national president. 

Cindy  
Okay, I would say just starting at Concord. And being involved with the collegiate chapter there, I went from the I'm not so sure this is from me, and if I have time for this to be, I'm all in, doing every single aactivity and every single thing that I that I could get involved with. S I, you know, hit the ground running with being involved in committees and taking on leadership roles, during my my time at Concord, and including becoming chapter president at that time, and then also was involved in our Panhellenic Council on campus as well. It was probably that my time as serving as the chapter president that provided me that unique opportunity to see the national organization. So I remember still getting that phone call, probably right after elections, and I became the national president from our staff at national headquarters, saying beta pi chapter hasn't registered for national convention yet you're the new national president, or you're the new chapter president. And so of course, I'm sitting here I think some of my very first thoughts was national convention, what's that? Will they pass me the gavel, they didn't mention anything about that. So trying to be a little bit of research to find out about what this national convention thing is, and, and learning a little bit more about that. So. So I was told that the Beta Phi chapter hadn't been to the past few national conventions, which is probably why I didn't know a lot about it. And so I looked into it, like, Okay, we got to be there, we're going to be there. So I remember that kind of being opening, opening my eyes to what that national view of Alpha Sigma Alpha looked like. So I was able to hop on a plane and it very well might have been my first airplane ride I had in, in life. So Alpha Sigma has provided that for me. So with that national convention, I was really in awe, of seeing what it entailed. And just being able to really get that understanding and that end game that appreciation for the Alpha Sigma Alpha was bigger than myself and was bigger than my, my chapter, in good ol Athens, West Virginia, and being able to see what it meant. And I enjoyed the opportunity, and meeting and staying in the room with other collegiate members and sharing all of our stories about what we would do on our own campuses, and how we were unique in some ways, but then tied together by traditions, and in our ritual, and, and other aspects. And I think being able to attend the sessions and all, all the activities, it was really, I was awestruck, really. And then continuing in the awestruck mentality, I had the opportunity to to meet our past national president, Rosemary Carucci Goss, who is also a Beta Pi member from Concord. And she really took me under her wing, I think she was so super excited and thrilled to have a fellow Beta Pi member at that convention. And she really opened the door for me to be involved in other activities to so got, we would have collegians, introduce our our VIPs keys and get to host them and things. And so I was always selected to be able to do that. And so he really helped make that a unique experience, too. So, so I think from from there, I just like said, I think from the National Convention and being able to see that we were a big national organization, I was able to return back to the Concord but this whole new perspective about the chapter and what we could do. And I remember probably later that fall, we had the opportunity came out of being announced for chapter consultants at the time, and I thought, wow, that sounds like an amazing opportunity. I don't know, if I would have had that thought had I not seen that had that national view at the National Convention. So I thought, you know, maybe I'll apply for this and see what it's like. And so then I was thrilled to get that call about having interviews. And at that time, we did the interview process where we would visit with a local national officer in depth, one of the rounds of the interviews, and so, lo and behold, but my interview was going to be with Rosemary Goss. So traveled to Blacksburg, Virginia, to interview and spend some time with with Rosemary, and struck up some great conversations and made a quick friend and her husband, Bob, and we had a really good time there too. So that was that was fun. And then having the opportunity to go through that process, and then to be offered the role of serving as a consultant. So that was loads of fun. So So I went from hopping on my first plane ride to hopping on a plane probably every week for the next year or so. But yes, so that was the next part of that journey was serving as that chapter consultant. And it was really a tremendous experience. I know, Kelly, you've you've served in that role as well. And, and anybody that you ask, I think that has served in the role could easily say that it's a life shaping experience. And there's really no other experience like it.

Kelly  
Absolutely. And so where did you go from there? Because I know that you certainly, I think that kind of once you finished your service on, you know, as a technically a staff member, right, because we were part of staff as a consultant. Where did that springboard you into a volunteer role, because I remember you when you were chairman of colonies, but I don't necessarily remember what you did prior to that.

Cindy  
So right after serving as a consultant, I had the opportunity to kind of immediately go into the province director role. So I worked with an assigned geographical area back when we had the provinces assigned. And I worked with the collegiate chapters in that area. So So for me, mine was not necessarily in my backyard, my group was in it was in Pennsylvania and so I got to work with a few chapters there. And that was, it was a lot of fun, too. So it was a few of the chapters that I actually had the opportunity to visit as a consultant that had had already built some relationships with so so I started in that space as a province director. And then also while serving as a province director, we had an opportunity for a couple of new chapters that were forming. And so we have the colony development director role at that point in time, which was that kind of that liaison, that coach, that extra advisory type of role, working directly with one of our new emerging chapters at that time. And so I did that with a couple of different groups as well. So that was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed working with those of the new groups as they were learning all things Alpha Sigma Alpha, and how to do their operations to to learning everything that that we're about. And so from that, that kind of was a springboard into the next role that I had in the national organization and that was the national chairman of colonies. And so that's when you would recall working with me at that point in time. And so that was one of my all time favorite, I think activities and roles that I've had with Alpha Sigma Alpha is really working with all of the the new campuses and helping them in chartering that path from a new group or a colony to becoming a chapter of Alpha Sigma Alpha. So, so that I did that for a few years. And then from there, I was asked to serve on National Council. And so then went through that process and initially came in to National Council serving as the vice president of collegians, some of these roles that we have evolved over the years into our new titles. And so from there to the next one would have been like a VP of operations. So similar kind of thing there too. So having that overall National Council responsibilities, and then having some of those more specific roles. And then I had the opportunity to serve as the national president for the last four years of that National Council service from 2008 through 2012.

Kelly  
Yes, and I came on when you became national president was when I came onto the board, so I remember those years, but I think our listeners would much rather hear from you. Tell us about your those four years as national president, what are some of the things that stick out in your mind that happened within our Sigma Alpha or even within of the broader world, if you will, that had an influence on the work that was done.

Cindy  
I would say that was a timeframe where we were seeing a lot of growth on university campuses having some record highs and the numbers of incoming freshmen. And so that translated well for us in sorority world to having more opportunities for chapter and membership growth as well. So I think that we saw growth in membership, we saw growth in our number of chapters and our new chapters during that timeframe, too. I was trying to quickly count up how many new chapters we installed during that timeframe and there was probably somewhere in the 12 to 15 ish range that we welcomed during that time. So So like I said, growth was a definitely a word for that timeframe. There was also, we during that time, we did our ribbon cutting and dedication for our new national headquarters with our current location in Indianapolis. And I think that was a huge move for the organization and being able to be in Indianapolis, which was kind of often known as that hub of Greek life for headquarters. Another I think, exciting thing during that timeframe was in the philanthropy space, I was able to have initial conversations and travel to our international headquarters for Girls on the Run, where we began the conversations in the collaboration for a national partnership. And then prior to my mind turning, we were able to announce Girls on the Run as a new philanthropy partner, I think that was really exciting during that timeframe. We also during then, was able to announce the D.O.T. days as a new service initiative. We did have, see, a new brand identity work was being done during my terms as president as well. So that whole brand process rollout process, and having the conversations with our stakeholders, our partners, and really trying to identify what that brand identity is and what the visual elements of that would be as well. So developing the women of poise or purpose, and really bringing that all to life and sharing out that was also in that time. We had seen the digital space, there was probably Officer Portal was then and I know another one I'm like, Oh, I think about it, and then think about how long we're from there. But that ever evolving aspect of Alpha Sigma Alpha advantage. And I think during the timeframe is when we were we're going online and looking at Facebook app and, and different aspects there, too. So that's been a fun one to see its evolution over the years, for sure. Those are some of the ones that really jumped out to me as as things that were taking place during those four years that I served as national president.

Kelly  
That was a lot that happened during that time. I definitely remember it is a time of growth. So it's always exciting when you think about the opportunity to bring in new chapters and new members to the organization.

Cindy  
Yes, absolutely.

Kelly  
So you finished in 2012. And I know that we certainly didn't let you sit idly by and not continue to be involved with the Sorority in various aspects. share with everyone a little bit about some of the things that you have done since you left Council in 2012.

Cindy  
Okay. Well, as I started as national president, one of the opportunities that I had to do was get involved with our National Panhellenic Conference. And so that was one of those easy transitions, I think, as I left the National Council role was to to, to get engaged and be involved in our National Panhellenic Conference delegation. And so I was trying to help bridge some of the opportunities there in serving in that capacity. And so, so I did that for a couple of years and served as a collegiate advisor, helping some of our collegiate chapters. And once again, I kind of got migrated to an assignment in Pennsylvania. So it's interesting how, and I know Pennsylvania has so many collegiate campuses and stuff too, so that's probably part of the reason there. So I was able to do that for for a little while. And then I helped serve on the nominating committee for the sorority and trying to help with that governance process and getting our national council slate together. And then I've been involved a lot with our local alumnae chapter and trying to get them up and moving over the years. And I think it's been. It's been it's a good group. I think that since we didn't have at that time collegiate chapters near my home, it's been great to see that we have had growth in the collegiate chapters here. And so we have a couple within kind of an arm's reach, so to speak, and then seeing our alumnae presence grow in this area.

Kelly  
So tell everybody you live in North Carolina now. 

Cindy  
Yes, I  am in North Carolina, so in the the Raleigh area, so I think it's been great to see that seeing that growth in our area, which is growing a lot, but then just seeing that the presence of Alpha Sigma Alpha alumnae in the area too, and love having the collegiate chapters that aren't too far away, as well, to give opportunities for engagement there, too.

Kelly  
That's great. So did your current job bring you to North Carolina

Cindy  
I would say not initially, I would say they what brought me to North Carolina earlier on was my role in working in the student activities and student involvement realm. So I initially came to North Carolina to work at a a small, private institution in there as their director of first year programs, the student activities and engagement, so really trying to work with service learning projects with them and leadership development. And so that brought me to North Carolina and then I kind of loved the area, and decided to to stay stay in the area. So I am currently working with the Girl Scouts and I serve as our chief operating officer. And so kind of as a transition from my work in the student engagement area at the at the college, one of the areas of my responsibility was in that leadership and that service learning component and my involvement with it within the community gave me the connections in the not for profit world. And that's where I kind of found my my passion and my niche and really wanted to be involved. And in that not for profit world. And so that led me to the Girl Scout connection there. And then working with girls and young women, and being able to see them learn and grow and develop, has some parallels to the Sorority Life. And the sorority world where I found my passions in in that area, too. So So that's kind of how I ended up in North Carolina and where I've kind of migrated towards the the nonprofit world.

Kelly  
So I do have to tell you that council meetings are not the same without Girl Scout cookies.

Cindy  
I'd love to see what we can do about that we are entering our Girl Scout cookie season. So it kicks off in about another week. So yes, we are definitely in the midst of it. And I know it's always fun and bringing those cookies to the meetings, for sure.

Kelly  
It is one of the memories that I have is we would all get together, sit down. And the first thing you would do, you'd see Cindy pull out out of her bag, at least four or five boxes of Girl Scout cookies, and we'd be passing them around the table.

Cindy  
Absolutely, yes. We definitely found ways to have enjoyment as one of our core values and all of our national council sessions for sure.

Kelly  
Absolutely. Although I think my waistline might appreciate not having those. But my taste buds definitely say different. So I commented when we started today that the jacket that you have on says ladybugs staff 2018. So share with everybody that fun story about your girl scout nickname. 

Cindy  
Okay, so it is tradition at Girl Scout camp is that our staff members adopt or are given in some cases, a camp name, so something that they can relate to, or that kind of represents them that they go by during the week. So we abandon all titles, and our real first names, and we go with that, that given camp name for the week. So so my camp name that I have had for many, many years now is Ladybug. And so its connection, of course is its connection with Alpha Sigma Alpha. And so, so you're after a year I walked through camp, I'll be up for a visit or something. And so I'm always introduced as this is Ladybug. And so for the girls, you know, they see me coming by and they'll shout out Hello Ladybug. And then at the end of Camp is when we have a revealing of what our real identities are in our real world, real world names. And so that's always provides that unique opportunity to be able to say where Ladybug comes from and why my nickname or I can't name is Ladybug. So I have the opportunity not only with the girls to talk about how that cat name became mine and my connection with the sorority, it also was with our camp staff. We have a lot of Camp staff members who are our collegiate members or are high schoolers getting ready to go off to college. And it's always a terrific conversation starter for Sorority Life. So that's my my story on the nickname.

Kelly  
You don't ever pull out your little queen bee hat and share that story with them too?

Cindy  
Now that when it can make me probably feel good at different times. But no, unfortunately, because already the lady bugs so for camp so by, but there was I think there was one summer where we had somebody else came and they were their camp name was also Ladybug. So then it was like, Oh, no, we have more than one Ladybug and I should have brought out the queen bee I could have transitioned for the summer.

Kelly  
There you go. That would have been fun, too.

Cindy  
Absolutely.

Kelly  
Well, this has been fun. Is there anything that we missed in chatting or anything that else that you wanted to share before we kind of wrapped it up?

Cindy  
I don't think so I think that hits the major areas of my of my story. The only other thing I was thinking of was when we were talking about the the big things that happened during my presidency. And I would say I focused my responses on what was happening sorority wise at that timeframe. And I would say but those were also years that I had some of my personal highest highs and my personal lowest lows. And so they kind of a part of my story as well. So and those are the ones I didn't mention in that piece of it. But I would say it was a time when I had lost my biological sister to cancer. And so that was definitely my lowest of lows. And but just the support I had of the my fellow national counselors and of the sorority and the whole panhellenic conference was phenomenal. Also, that will always be something that stands out during that time for me. And then the highest of my highs, slso during that timeframe, was I had gave birth to my son Colby. So I was president when I was pregnant with him and then serving as president with my, with my newborn. Watching him grow during that timeframe as well. So, So I just wanted to shout those two out as part of that national president timeframe.

Kelly  
Yes, I remember that. I think I missed the announcement that you were pregnant, because I was a little late getting to convention. But what a fun time, that was what, tell us a little bit what was it like really to be president and be pregnant at the same time?

Cindy  
It was, um, it was good. I will say looking back, of course, you know, there's always have this rose colored glasses and then the 2020. But it was fine. I think everything worked out really well. I think that there was a ton of price surprises initially from folks to was like that I was as national president and I was was pregnant too. But I would say this being able to the things I had to remember having to watch was the travel aspect of things. Or being able to or trying to watch the I was talking with other national presidents of other of the national sororities and talking about whether or not we'll be able to make it to the national conference that year. It's like, and I think I made it and before travel restrictions were there for the pregnancy was by baby one to two weeks. And so they everyone joked around about how I was assigned a buddy during different times of that conference, so I could make sure that everything was fine. So but that was I mean, that was just one of those fun stories, but everybody is so supportive and everything too. So so I think during that as far as the pregnancy during part of that it was fine no issues with it.

Kelly  
Yeah, I definitely think it, the word I want to say normalized. But, you know, I think prior to that folks didn't think, they disassociated family and that role, right. And the thought of having little ones at that time when they're you've already got a full time job. And, you know, and then serving as president. So I think kind of helping to move us into that era. And certainly I think Melissa had been on council at that time and had had her first child. So we had some precedent. But you know, certainly you as that first president and Melissa had Kate while she was president as well. So kind of started to turn the way people looked at the office and the folks in it, if you will.

Cindy  
Yeah, I agree. And I remember Melissa saying to me, I think she was saying thanks to me, you know for kind of paving that way. So, so he could have Kate as well. So, but yeah, that I definitely think it provided opportunities to look at things differently. And that viewpoint like you said to so I remember the normal things, such as having the National Council meeting and trying to allow for accommodations for us to have those breaks or whatever we need, or to burn for since we were breastfeeding our babies and everything too. And just making sure that we could, we could do both. And I think that around that board room, there was a prime example of how we were setting examples for other women.

Kelly  
Absolutely. Women can do anything and everything. 

Cindy  
Absolutely. 

Kelly  
And we certainly proved that during that time. 

Cindy  
Yes. 

Kelly  
Well, Cindy, this has been so much fun.

Cindy  
Thank you. I've enjoyed talking with you, Kelly.

Kelly  
Thank you and it's always good to see you send love to your family and to our listeners, until next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai