By Kristine “Aster” Medina, Copy Editor
The bus ride from Cincinnati to Indianapolis was about an hour and a half, but to Brianna “Theia” Williams, the travel time felt a little longer since she and other Greeks from Cincinnati were cramped in such a tight space. Attending the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values (AFLV) Central/Midyear Conference was a new experience for Williams, a sister from the University of Cincinnati. She attended the conference with another sister from Beta Chapter, Denise “Solix” Nguyen.
The AFLV Central/Midyear Conference was held in Indianapolis from Feb. 2 to 5. The conference hosted close to 3,500 attendees from fraternal and sororal leadership around the country and also held Delta Phi Lambda’s national mid-year event. Approximately 45 sisters attended this year.
William’s favorite moment from the weekend was a pop-up party that had council members strolling from the Multicultural Greek Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, and National Panhellenic Conference at the JW Marriott Indianapolis. She said that being in that moment made her “feel happy” to see fraternities and sororities unified. Her favorite speakers from the conference were KJ McNamara and Vince Fabra, who collaborated on a keynote session entitled “All Leadership is Social.” The session focused on how social fraternities and sororities must seek their potential to breed great leaders.
“People can always tell if you’re being genuine, and the best way to find out if a potential member should join your organization is if they care about your values rather than joining because they want what you have,” Williams recalled about what she learned. “The ones who have values that correspond with the organization are the ones that will be great members for the organization.
“With curiosity, generosity, authenticity, and vulnerability in our conversations, we can start to gain quality members in our organizations and have sisters who are there to better the sorority, rather than just have sisters who are only in love with the idea of wearing letters without putting in the work.”
Tiffanie “Grace” Duong, University of Iowa sister and Multicultural Greek Council president, was a featured speaker for an educational session on mental health in her second year attending the conference. Approximately 40 participants attended her session, bringing the room to its full capacity.
“I believe having an understanding and supportive fraternal community, especially when dealing with mental health issues, is very important for the coping or recovery process,” Duong said. “A lot of students are away from home when attending college and sometimes feel lonely. When dealing with a mental illness, it can feel extra lonely because it’s difficult to express feelings and why things are the way they are.
“Surprisingly, a lot of people are ignorant to different mental health symptoms and that makes coping and recovery difficult,” she said. “Having an educated and supportive fraternal community allows those individuals to feel heard and not alone.”
Aside from speaking at the conference, Duong co-presented with other council presidents from the University of Iowa about the AFLV Legacy Fund created by Iowa’s fraternal and sororal community, which she said she found to be an “exhilarating” experience.
Beyond the conference, she is working with the Iowa MGC’s vice president of membership to create promotional pamphlets in various languages for fraternity and sorority life to expand understanding of its community. Another goal of hers is to unify councils by establishing bonds through philanthropy, recruitment, and social events.
For Williams, she hopes that her chapter’s leadership will hone in on the experiences that she has shared with them from AFLV Central and implement what she has noted into their operations.
“All I can do is continuously ask that we hold ourselves up to the virtues we so proudly state in our preamble,” she said.
Jessica “Avarice” Kouch, Delta Phi Lambda’s national director of events, also attended the conference for the first time this year.
“I think sisters should take advantage of attending conferences, especially AFLV Central, because there are a lot of sessions that help solve chapter issues, if any,” Kouch said. “In all, there are many sessions that sisters can choose from and take back to their chapters to share and take action based on what they learned.”
For more info on the association and upcoming programs, visit www.aflv.org. To discuss more on mental health and working with the greater fraternal community, contact Duong at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Featured Image: Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values
- AFLV Central Conference – Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values. (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2017, from http://www.aflv.org/?page=AFLVCentral.
- 2017 #AFLVCentral Program Book. (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2017, from https://issuu.com/aflv/docs/aflvcentral-programbook-2017-final-/1?ff=true&e=1205610/43452938.