Forty-one Chapter Alphas from all over the nation descended on Atlanta, GA for the second annual Chi Phi Alphas Academy. The group included sophomores, juniors and seniors; a wrestler, a football player, a scuba diver, three future doctors, a professional go-cart racer and a distant cousin of Kentucky Fried Chicken Founder Col. Sanders! They anticipated working hard, making new friends and having fun along the way.
The weekend kicked off with Alphas and alumni visiting the Chi Phi Greek Life Museum and touring the William M. Byrd Chi Phi Headquarters. From there, Alphas broke into Chapter groups were they assessed current leadership abilities and discussed challenges faced by every Alpha. Throughout the weekend, the Alphas defined Leadership as, “a process that occurs when shared values foster collaborative relationships that lead to collective action intended to elevate (or create positive change within) an organization, cause or community.”
Based on this definition, Alphas spent time learning more about the behaviors of leaders and the foundation of leadership. Day two of the Academy brought more learning opportunities and an address from Grand Alpha Jim Soderquist, Alpha 1967. Grand Alpha Soderquist shared that while actives only comprise 5% of Chi Phi?s total membership, they are the face of the Fraternity. It is up to Alphas to lead their Chapter Brothers to be advocates for Chi Phi and Greek Life.
Grand Alpha Soderquist also took a moment to recognize the donors to the Changing Lives Campaign, which helped make this long awaited program possible. Through their generous donations, something that was a dream for nearly 15 years became a reality. The Alphas Academy was developed to provide Alphas with the tools to be the model leader and to elevate the performance of Chapters.
It was also announced that Brother Jim Hartsel, Rho 1962 has made a generous gift to establish the David Walsh Fund for Undergraduate Leadership which will provide scholarships for Brothers to attend the Alphas Academy. The first fund dedicated to Alphas Academy scholarships, it will honor the memory of Rho Chapter Brother Dave Walsh who was killed in action during the Vietnam War. Brother Walsh, like so many Brothers that will attend the Alphas Academy, was a natural leader and earned the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in action.
Alphas also had the opportunity to hear from Jim Wimberly, Eta 1965; Ken Fredericks, Theta Delta 1980; Dave Skelton, Omega 1980 and Brian Otott, Alpha Zeta 1989 on the Taking Leadership from the Chapter Room to the Board Room alumni panel. Brother Otott shared that Alphas must model the behavior they want to see from their Chapter. “People will be looking to you, the Alpha, to walk the walk. Showing your core values in your actions will help your Brothers understand what is expected of them.”
Brother Fredericks, who spent 20 years leading the Human Resource divisions of major corporations, shared that the most important lesson he learned from Chi Phi and his career is that picking the right people is the key to success. “Selecting the right Brothers to join the Chapter, the right Brothers to chair a program or serve as an officer is no different than how a corporation works to select the right employees. Don’t be afraid to pick the right people.”
The weekend wrapped up with the Chairman’s Dinner hosted by Trust Chairman Chris Shuler, Alpha Zeta 1984. Col. J. Dale Alford, USMC, Alpha Zeta 1986 addressed a crowd of nearly 100 Alphas, alumni and guests. Col. Alford, one of the most highly decorated Marines serving today, shared with the Alphas, “Don’t be threatened by disagreements. It will take time, but if you are honest and consistent, your Brothers will learn to tell you, the Emperor, you have on no clothes. You want that.” He also went on to say, “Be transparent. Make your decisions in open forums. It’s never about you. It’s about the Fraternity, it’s about your Brothers and it’s about the success of your Chapter.”