Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sorority Recruiters, Development Officers. Tohmato, Tomahto

"Making mental connections is our most crucial learning tool, the essence of human intelligence; to forge links; to go beyond the given; to see patterns, relationships, context" - Marilyn Ferguson
Seeing a pattern.  Making a connection. That’s when you know you’re learning and remembering.  And that’s what I’ve been doing recently in sorority recruitment training.  On Monday, July 25, the consultants of Alpha Sigma Tau, Sigma Kappa, and Alpha Gamma Delta joined those of Alpha Sigma Alpha at their headquarters in Indianapolis for sorority recruitment training.  Jessica Gendron Williams, an Alpha Sigma Tau alumna, presented Dynamic Recruitment, a Phired Up production.  Since our fraternity/sorority life adviser at Penn State Behrend provided us with wonderful great campus programming, I was lucky to have already been familiar with the presentation.  Though, each time I saw the production, it was before I began working with fundraising and donor development at my alma mater.  But this time, as I sat through a sorority recruitment workshop, I made the connections with and saw the parallels between sorority recruitment and development.

1.    The goal. The main objective is the same for both. In development, the goal is to promote a relationship to your organization that is so strong, the individual is personally fulfilled by giving back.  In sorority recruitment, the goal is to promote a relationship to your organization that is so strong, the individual is personally fulfilled by joining. Not much different.

2.     The pipeline.  In the Dynamic Recruitment workshop, Jessica talked about encouraging chapters to have a “names list” of women who are not affiliated with the organization who may potentially join. Members constantly cultivate these relationships until the women educated enough to join or not join.  When these women either join or don’t join, women from lower on the list are moved to the top, and new women are added. This “names list” is like a development officer’s pipeline.  Development officers are continuously looking for people to add to their pipeline and to cultivate them into future donors. Who knew?

3.       The personal connection. In development, often times people give to an organization for a personal reason.  There is a personal motivator behind their decision to give. They have a specific connection to something that sparks their interest to make a gift. In sorority recruitment, women join their organizations for personal reasons. This could be a specific member, a community service event the organization supports, or a connection she feels to the values of the organization. 

Isn’t this crazy?! There are probably more parallels, but those might have to wait for a deeper analysis at a later date.  I guess I just thought some of the similarities were interesting, and I was very excited to make a connection between something I’ve been learning over the past year (development) and something I will be teaching over the next year (recruitment).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Indy's Museum of Art and Broad Ripple

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” – Henry Ford
Yesterday I tried to keep my mind going and went to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  The museum didn’t appeal to Megan and Emily, so I went solo. And I don’t know why but I always think I will have a really interesting experience and be very excited throughout my time at an art museum.  Ultimately, my mind ends up wandering off and I begin to lose interest.  Unfortunately, this was the case by the time I made it to the third floor, but all in all, it was still a good experience!
The exhibits began on the second floor with American and European art. Some of the featured artists included Georgia O’Keefe, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Seurat.  The third floor included African and Asian art, works on paper featuring J.M.W. Turner, and an exhibit of textile and fashion arts.  The fourth floor contained contemporary art. Out of all of the exhibits, the African and fashion pieces were my favorites.  The African art was neat because it’s just so completely different from art we’re used to. Many of the pieces were headdresses, totem poles, and carved elephant tusks. In the fashion section, they had some crazy pieces, including some from Coco Chanel and one made from peacock feathers! They also had a touchable display demonstrating how women’s dress shape has changed over the past three centuries.
Outside they had gardens, including a ravine garden, formal garden, and many others.  They also have both a flowering tree walk and a conifer walk! Some of the flowers that I noticed in my brief walk seemed like they were struggling because of the heat, but the museum is probably doing the best they can.  Also on the property is the Lilly House and Gardens, the former home and estate of the late Indianapolis businessman Josiah K. Lilly Jr.  A French-chateau-style mansion, the Lillly House is a national historic landmark and the centerpiece of the estate.  I actually didn’t get to explore it all due to both time restraints and the incredible heat, but maybe just maybe we’ll make it back to explore the rest of it.
Later in the evening, the ladies and I checked out Indy’s “hip” scene, Broad Ripple.  It kind of reminded me of a mix between Burlington, Vermont’s Church Street and State College, Pennsylvania’s College Ave. Only less sophisticated and more full of litter than both. L They had little caf├ęs, local bars, little boutiques, and live music everywhere.  We ate at a Mediterranean restaurant called Canal Bistro, and everything was delicious, including my moussaka.  The only problem we had was they didn’t have room inside for seating so we had to sit on the covered and shaded porch if we wanted to eat there. Even though it was hot outside, we stayed and ate there.  Our server was really nice and told us where to go “downtown” Broad Ripple, but at the end of the night, as we were passing some live bands and live music, we feel like we made the wrong decisions. But that’s okay. Now we know where to go the next time we decide to go out. And who has karaoke on Wednesdays.
One of my biggest fears with traveling so much and so often is to not explore as much as possible. I don’t want to let any place, whether it be a big city or a small town, slip through my fingers.  Hidden gems are everywhere; you just have to discover them.

A neat sculpture of a lizard-dragon thing.

A beautiful display room

This tea exhibit reminds me of Kristi!

African art

In the words of Blanche, "Why paint a peacock?"

How dresses have changed since 1775.. thank goodness.

A modern art piece which is inspired by meteors and space-like objects. 

It was basically made out of foil paper, but interesting nonetheless!

The outside of the museum

The Lilly House

Broad Ripple

A canal runs around the town

Canal Bistro-- the restaurant where we dined

Delicious moussaka

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Carmel Farmers Market

Early this morning, we took advantage of something fun that the locals do in Indy—we went to the Carmel Farmers Market.  The Farmers Market offers only edible products and annuals and perennials.   With only a few exceptions, all products (which can range from pastries and jams to salsas and fruit and veggies) are grown and/or produced in Indiana.  The Market was established in 1999 by a small group of community volunteers, and the volunteers continue to run the Market each Saturday.  Over fifty vendors offer an assortment of homegrown products, and all of the products sold at the Market must be prepared in certified kitchens. During the 2010 Market season, over 50,000 people visited the Market! It was neat to experience one of the best and largest markets in Indiana.
Today, we arrived around 9:00 a.m. to beat the crowds and the heat of this crazy weather.  We walked around and scoped out the booths most interesting to us.  We were all very interested in the Peace Leaf Tea booth.  The ladies had the tea leaves all laid out in bowls on the table, so we were able to see all of the organic loose leaves and smell them if we wanted.  They also gave us some samples of both hot and cold tea. I didn’t buy any, but both Megan and Emily bought some tea for gifts.
Megan and I bought smoothies from a stand that was using fresh, locally-grown fruit. Emily and I bought mini-loaves of cherry bread and zucchini bread, respectively.  Emily bought some peaches to have back at the hotel as well, and I bought something that is similar to spanakopita in a pretzel form! Yum—I’m very excited for it!
We walked around the area into a town house complex that resembles more of a government building and the National Mall than a residential building. As we were walking past, we seemed to have just missed a power boating competition, but we were still able to see some of the little models and a few adults with a child-like passion playing with the boats in the water. It was pretty neat.
It was really nice to get out and see some of the state and what the locals do.  We plan on making the most out of our weekend off and exploring more.  Here are some pictures from our trip, including the first picture of the three of us together.
The Farmers Market wasn't too busy in the morning, but it definitely picked up.

Stands with fresh, beautiful flowers were everywhere!

And this is a parking garage. It was carpeted in the elevators and new and beautiful. Amazing.

Here is a local band playing for the Market's attendees.

Megan, Emily and me.

Who would enjoying living in this townhouse complex? Hm, no one I can think of.

Power boating competition.

Huge fountains!

Yay, so dressed up sporting the sneakers and PSU tee :-)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Indy, the city that never sleeps! Wait, what?

After a few days of training in the office, I can tell I will really like working as an educational consultant.  But being in Indianapolis right now is difficult when all of this great stuff is happening in Erie, like Block Parties, 8 Great Tuesdays and Beer on the Bay.  Even though I’m far away from somewhere I know fun events are happening, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything fun to do in Indy.  After perusing some websites and hearing what some of the locals like to do, here are some things we just might have to take advantage of while we’re here.
1.       The Indianapolis International Film Festival is from July 21-24 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  Featured films include Another Earth (the story of a young female student and male composer whose lives become connected on the night a duplicate Earth is discovered), Apart (a film directed by a Purdue University alum that follows two people with a rare psychological disorder who explore their dark past) and We're Glad You're Here (the tale of a young girl who returns to her college town of Bloomington and rediscovers herself).   Bloomington… Purdue… is our geographic location that obvious?  I’ve never been to a film festival so I was unsure of the price.  But the Indianapolis International Film Festival is $10 for an individual ticket or $80 for the festival. I don’t want to discredit the talent of these artists, but that seems a little steep for me right now in this moment in time. So we will see!

2.       World Comedy League Championship from July 21 through July 23 at the Athenaeum Theatre.  More than 200 improvisers from all over the world will descend upon Mass Ave, Indy’s arts and theatre district.  Each night, teams will compete for laughs and a good time, culminating in a championship match for the Meaningless Cup. ComedySportz is one of the most popular and longest running comedy shows (18 years) and Indianapolis, for the first time ever, is the host. Maybe I can make my breakthrough here and now! I’ll be on SNL before you can say Lorne.

3.       The Lawn at White River State Park. Why is this cool? One, because it’s a state park. And two, because it is hosting some really awesome musical acts this summer.  Seating 5,000, the Lawn is consistently ranked by Pollstar magazine as one of the world’s top 100 outdoor concert venues.  This summer’s acts include: OAR, Wiz Khalifa, The Decemberists, My Morning Jacket with Neko Case, Carnival of Madness, Guster with Jack’s Mannequin, Earth, Wind and Fire with the Indianaoplis Symphony Orchestra, and the Avett Brothers. Oh yes, and Ke$ha. How could I forget my favorite lady? Reading through that list with Ke$ha included makes me think, “one of these things is not like the others!” But whatever, she’s individualistic, as are the other artists performing, so in a sense she must belong.  We are only here during the OAR concert (which is tomorrow), Wiz Kalifa on August 2, and the Decemberists on August 5. So again, who knows if we’ll go, but it’s nice to know how wonderful of a series this state park has going on. So save the state parks-- they're important!

4.       Indiana Medical History Museum, as the nation’s oldest surviving pathology laboratory and state-of-the-art facility from the late 1800s and early 1900s holds more than 15,000 artifacts from the study of mental and nervous disorders. Yes, this is a little peculiar to place on a must-see list, but just think of how many strides and advances were made in the last 100-200 years in regards to mental health. I think this would be an eye-opening trip, but wouldn’t want to make anyone else suffer. So I just might have to get a taxi and tackle this one myself.

5.       Garfield Park Conservatory, another unique interest of mine, is home to over 10,000 square feet of indoor tropical plants in full bloom and a European-style garden that has three different season displays each year. Again, this might be a just Tina excursion.

Oh, and there might be some NASCAR-related events going on? Maybe like the Brickyard 400 or the Indianapolis 500 or something? But until NASCAR drivers begin racing solar-powered cars, I will not be at a race.  Aside from NASCAR and the extremely hot weather (which is happening across the country, so I can’t complain), Indianapolis isn’t too bad of a place! To be perfect in my eyes, all it needs is a beach and my friends.
P.S. Indy’s city page was very helpful in outlining place to go and things to do!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Field Staff Conference

Sunday, July 17 began the Fraternity Executives Association’s Field Staff Conference, where field staff (leadership and educational consultants, expansion  consultants, etc.) from fraternal organizations come together to enhance the development of inter-fraternal relationships, provide understanding on the deeper meaning of Greek life, and incorporate theories, skills and techniques that will benefit consultants while traveling.  The agenda for this year’s conference—which was held at the Hilton in downtown Indianapolis— included a session about mastering the art of conversation and social skills for consultants.  It also included professionalism and etiquette training, best practices for traveling smarter, and other strategies we consultants can utilize while on the road.
I don’t want to rehash the entire conference so I will touch upon my favorites:
On Monday, July 18, former U.S. Marine Guy Harris spoke to us about our personal leadership styles and using our personal style to our advantage.  The presentation went into the differences in out-going and reserved personalities and taught us how to recognize and work with others who have opposite leadership styles to maximize results.  This was very similar to a fundraising training session I attended for Penn State’s development office.  The concept about recognizing, respecting, and adapting to other personality, communication and leadership skills was very similar, but it was good to hear something similar again.
Another session that I really enjoyed was an etiquette seminar presented by Anthony Cawdron, who is the events coordinator at Purdue University.  He also teaches advanced service courses in the Hospitality and Tourism Management department at the university. He has a Masters degree in Hospitality and has held a variety of positions including banquet manager, restaurant manager, hospitality faculty in Switzerland and three years as a butler in two of England's finest stately homes; Blenheim Palace and Sutton Place.  Yes, I basically just dished out a long biography about Mr. Cawdron, but he was such a great presenter and has such amazing credentials, I couldn’t let it go unmentioned.  Now I’m not going to say I knew everything in that presentation, because I most definitely didn’t.  But what I am saying is that etiquette presentations—those many, many, MANY presentations over the years at the Logan House at Penn State Behrend—were very helpful.  Most of what Mr. Cawdron spoke about is addressed thoroughly by Behrend’s Housing and Food Service catering staff during their brief presentations.  And I also learned a lot from Mom Nonnie’s presentations over the years, so I felt fairly prepared going into it.  He spoke very quickly in an English accent, so my familiarity with etiquette standards helped me catch the things I had wondered about, such as how much to pour of white wine vs. red wine and when a group is eating at a buffet, how many people seated at the table while others are still in line is appropriate to begin eating. In case you’re wondering: white wine, one-half to two-thirds glass; red wine, one-third to one-half glass; and at least three people should be seated at your table if others are in line before you begin to eat. Mystery solved.  Mr. Cawdron did a wonderful job integrating humor into such a serious topic which unfortunately has such dying interest.  It was one of the best presentations of the conference, and I’m glad we all got to learn something from Mr. Cawdron.
David Stollman, founder of Campuspeak and assistant chapter adviser of the Alpha Sigma Tau chapter at New York University, gave an AMAZING presentation at the end of the day on Tuesday.  The presentation was geared mostly toward tips about how to be the best consultant we can be. Some things he suggested were the following:  Learn to network: we never know who we’ll meet on the road so we should meet everyone we possibly can, from alumnae to campus professionals to chatty Cathy on the plane to chapter members.  Learn your style of leadership and language:  he encouraged us to use our personal leadership, communication, and facilitation styles to the best of our ability and to watch our body language in intense situations.  Learn to tell a story:  great stories keep people engaged, can teach people important lessons, and make huge impacts. Learn to live this: as in learn to live our values, our organization and our mission long after our consulting years are over, because our ability to make an impact in the fraternal movement doesn’t just end once we leave our post as a consultant.  Learn to be a mentor: for many, we will be the only humanization of our national organization to the collegians so we should be willing to help to make long-lasting connections and be willing to help someone grow and succeed. And finally, learn to use a mentor. I saved this for last because I think I have and still do have some great mentors in my life, and I’m looking forward to helping someone else as much as they have helped me. This one hit the hardest for me because I wouldn’t be the person I am today without such great people.  David ended his presentation with an awesome video about the greatness that is happening in fraternity and sorority life across the country—everything from Tri Delta’s 2006 pledge to raise $10 million for St. Jude’s Hospital in 10 years (but meeting their goal in just 4 years!) to Penn State’s IFC/Panhellenic-sponsored THON, which is the largest student-run philanthropic effort in the world.  Even though I am not THON’s first supporter, just seeing how instrumental and influential THON is to the fraternal community was pretty breathtaking. I sure did snap to show my support, but I just wish a fellow Lion could’ve been there somewhere with me to share in the pride of our Penn State students.
It was great that the conference was open to consultants from both women’s and men’s organizations. It really added some great dynamic to the conversations and maximized our opportunities to run into friendly consultant faces while we are on the road. And what group of men doesn’t enjoy the company of some ladies, and vice versa, especially when we will be on the road interacting with our same-gender groups for the next how many months?
After the conference, we checked out of the Hilton and into our new hotel. You would think being out of the Hilton would be depressing, but not really.  Wireless in the rooms wasn’t free there, and it is here, so I’m very content!  We will be headed to headquarters tomorrow for our first AST specific training days, and I think it’s safe to say that we’re all looking forward to it!
I haven’t taken many pictures yet, but I plan to! In the meantime, here is one of the hotel room in which we stayed at the Hilton and one of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (even though it’s under construction) in downtown Indianapolis’s Monument Circle.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The First Trip to Indy!

Yesterday I left for three weeks of training in Indianapolis.  Faith was so kind and drove me to the airport at 8 o’clock in the morning.  In the Pittsburgh International Airport, I was surrounded by black and gold jerseys, displays highlighting Mr. Rodgers, and other Pittsburgh favorites, but it was time to say goodbye to that for a little while.  I boarded United Airways with my classy carryon and another bag which held some other things.  As I found my seat and hoisted my filled-with-shoes carryon, I discovered the bag would not fit! Oh no! It was due to the fact that we were on a tiny airplane in comparison to the regularly-sized jets.  After listening to a wise suggestion from the man sitting next to me, who was traveling back from work from Pittsburgh to Syracuse, I stowed my carryon bag underneath the seat in front of me. I landed safely in Dulles Airport in Washington D.C. for a very short layover before heading to Indianapolis.
 Just a side note regarding Dulles:  I, as a fan of the Die Hard series, was very excited to be in the airport where John McClane did indeed save the day. Before that movie, I had no idea what the heck a Dulles even was. Die Hard, you’re such a teacher of vital knowledge. Perhaps if the plot of Die Hard 2, the movie where Dulles was featured, wasn’t incredibly horrible to think about as you’re departing from that airport, they would consider playing it for guests in the terminal. I’d watch.
As I walked out of the concourse at Indianapolis Int’l Airport, my new boss Jim was there waiting for me.  It was great to finally get to meet him, to have some casual conversation with him, and to discuss the upcoming responsibilities.  We had something to eat since I hadn’t eaten all day, and then took a trip to Alpha Sigma Tau headquarters to see the renovations. The building will be really fantastic when it’s completed, but there is a ways to go in terms of construction.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and my pictures of the Alpha chapter charter and other historic AST treasures can certainly wait.
Later in the day, the other educational consultants Emily, who is from West Virginia, and Megan, who is from New Jersey, arrived into town and the three of us went out to dinner with Jim and Holly, another staff member from Headquarters.  Holly was actually the woman who interviewed me, so it was great to put a face to the voice!  We ate at The Ram, a microbrewery restaurant in downtown Indianapolis.  The food was pretty good – especially the sweet potato fries.  Over dinner, we discussed the upcoming conferences we were attending and what to expect from them.  After dinner, Emily, Megan, and I did what girls do and went shopping at the downtown mall, which (both conveniently and unfortunately) is within very short walking distance of the Hilton at which we were staying for the next few nights.
Today is the Kappa Alpha Theta “Risk Management on the Road” one-day program, where we will learn more about FIPG and risk management policy and meet women from other organizations. After the program and we grab a bite to eat, we will begin the Fraternity Executives Association’s Field Staff program—which will have both fraternity and sorority professionals in attendance—since it begins later the same evening.  I’m excited to network and see what kinds of interesting people I will meet and to enlighten me on this journey I’ve now begun.

Oh, and it’s incredibly hot and humid here. Humid? In dry-heat Indiana? Yeah, it happens.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The U-Haul Experience

As mentioned in a previous post, I drove the Uhaul truck with my car on a trailer behind it on Thursday.  I just have a few thoughts about that experience. 

1.       Once you’ve packed, moving really doesn’t take as long as you think it would.  This move could have definitely been completed in one day.  It took only a few hours to load it up and about 15 minutes to unload it all.  But in the words of Alanis: you live, you learn.

2.       Essentially anyone can get a Uhaul truck. Anyone!  And any of those people can drive it—or at least attempt to. I’m not saying I was a perfect driver; there were definitely times when I strayed from between the yellow and white lines, but there are people with whom I don’t even feel safe riding in their little four-door sedans. Heck no would I ever want them driving a truck and trailer down the road!! Eeek! So, point of the story:  when you’re passing a Uhaul on the road, just keep in mind it could be your 20-something neighbor who has never driven anything larger than a Cavalier.  Consider yourself warned.

3.       The Uhaul folks on Pittsburgh Ave in Erie were so nice and so helpful!  They hooked my car up on the trailer and showed me where all the chains were attached to my car so I didn’t rip my axels off when getting my car off the trailer.  They were also really helpful about letting me upgrade the truck on pickup day when I had the realization that all my stuff wouldn’t fit in the smallest truck which I had reserved.

4.       If you inquire about a truck rental at one Uhaul location, it is not a guarantee that is the pickup location.  Since not all locations have all equipment available, you may have to travel to another Uhaul in the area to pick up your truck. Just something new I learned and something to factor in when budgeting for gas.

5.       If you’re new to driving a moving truck, it’s okay to engage in some road rage.  It’s a stressful thing driving a huge vehicle, and if you need to vent a little—or a lot—about the jagoff who cut you off on I-79 near Wexford, go for it.  That may or may not have been a real experience.

6.       Friends make things better. If you ever move, I hope your friends are as great as mine are. And if you have a friend who is moving and needs help, just know that if you are helping, he will never forget it and a few hours of your time will mean more to him than you could ever imagine. J

Once you get to your destination, it's okay to feel proud to have arrived without running anyone off the road.  You just drove that UHaul like a boss; now it's time to celebrate.

This Week in Rewind

What a crazy week! And a while since my last entry. So here is an entry the length of 8 posts. But regardless, here is a little glimpse of what happened:
Monday: My last day in the office resulted in a clean desk (finally)! Too bad I wasn’t there to enjoy it! I’m pretty sure by the end of the day my body wasn’t able to produce one more tear. Saying goodbye—er, I mean “see you later”—to the people, the campus, my office, the parking lot, my non-existent window in my office, the characteristic smell of the building, the long traffic light at the crazy intersection, my key to the building, and every other little detail I have always overlooked was pretty rough.  Penn State Behrend has been such a large part of my life since I began my freshman year in 2006. So five years… that’s half a decade! It was hard to leave it and everyone behind, but knowing our paths would cross again in the future made it easier.
Tuesday:  Packing. Packing. And more packing. Blah. The one nice thing about packing was that I was able to pack the classy luggage set my fabulously amazing former co-workers got for me as a farewell gift.  To break up the day and to see as many people as possible in my final days in town, I had lunch with Lindsey, a friend and mentor, at Erie’s famous Sara’s. As of 9 p.m., I still had some packing to do and but had some plans to see a long-lost friend.  Going out to the Brewerie probably wasn’t the most logical decision, but I did and it was so incredibly worth it.  I ended up able to have my cake and eat it too!
Wednesday: The day of loading.  My friend and former roommate, Mike, came over to help me retrieve the U-haul and to help load it up.  When we returned to the apartment, Taylor and Kristi were there to help load too.  I am so thankful for Taylor and Mike, because if not for them, I would definitely not be moving without recruiting random strangers from the bar across the street. With a little handyman work (like knocking some plaster out of the ceiling), they were able to maneuver my queen bed, loveseat, and other bulky furniture through the narrow staircase.  Contrary to popular belief, this apartment wasn’t built with high quality in mind. And it sure as heck wasn’t built with consideration for those moving in and out. I’m so thankful for all of their help; I owe them so much!  After packing up and cleaning the apartment, Kristi and I took my last trip to the Millcreek Mall. Saying goodbye to Kristi was especially hard because we had so many plans to make the most out of Erie, PA this summer since she was in England last summer.  For dinner, some friends/former co-workers, Kristen and Sue, got takeout from a local Italian restaurant and we had some delicious wine and Penn State Creamery ice cream later on. Yum! What a great last night in Erie. Thank you, Kristen, for letting me stay over!  It was a great last day in Erie J
Thursday: The day of the roadtrip.  I drove the Uhaul and pulled my car behind me on a trailer.  I have so much to say about this, so stay tuned for its own entry. 
Next up is Indianapolis tomorrow (well, today)!  I’m very excited to meet my new co-workers, to visit Indy for the first time ever, and to begin this journey. Oh, and to see how close I am to the 50-pound checked luggage limit.