By Sandy McDonald Davis, Xi- Ohio University, International Vice President of Organizational Relations
Have you ever wondered what happens at a Grand Council meeting? Well, I am going to give you a behind-the-scenes account of the most recent meeting, which was held October 25-27 in Atlanta.
Grand Council is made up of eight alumnae, seven of whom are elected at Grand Convention, and the Executive Director who is a non-voting, ex-officio member. Council serves Alpha Delta Pi at the Strategic Level like a Board of Directors. We meet face to face once a quarter and in between those meetings, we conduct business via monthly conference calls and email.
Let me dispel a couple of common misconceptions about Grand Council: First, we are all volunteers (except for the Executive Director who is a paid staff member). The majority of us have full time careers, families, and are involved in other organizations in our communities. Second, we do not live at Executive Office. In fact, we come from all different states: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida. Our Executive Director lives in the Atlanta area and comes to work at Executive Office every weekday. And, our International President happens to live in Atlanta, but that is not a job requirement for the position!
Prior to the face-to-face meeting, the International President compiles agenda items and associated reports and documents from each Grand Council member. Seven days prior to the meeting, we enter a quiet period, which means no more emailing (unless there is an emergency) so that we can focus on reading all of the reports and preparing for any discussions and votes.
One of the coolest things about our meetings is that we not only meet at, but we get to stay at our beautiful Memorial Headquarters located at 1386 Ponce de Leon Ave NE in the Druid Hills section of Atlanta. This has been the home of our Executive Office, Archives, and Hubbard Memorial Gardens since 1955. The front part is a beautiful old house, known as Memorial Headquarters and includes our archives, the Grand Council room, a kitchen area, living room, a library, parlor, dining room, three bedrooms, a bunkroom (where our Leadership Consultants stay during training!), and a den. In 2003, we added a two-story Executive Office (EO) building, which houses our staff and the Alpha Delta Pi Foundation and is connected to Memorial Headquarters by a beautiful glass loggia.
Grand Council members arrive on Thursday evening and we meet Friday through Sunday at noon. Emily Erkel, Renee Bailey Iacona and I had flights that arrived around the same time on Thursday, so we all took a cab and headed to MH/EO.
One of my favorite things about these weekends is getting up early for a three-mile walk with IVP of Finance Emily Erkel. We’ve done this for the past two years. We head out every morning and walk through the neighborhood and get caught up on each other’s jobs, family, and everything else that is going on in our lives. On Fridays, there’s always tons of traffic out, but on Saturdays and Sundays, it is nice and quiet with just a few other walkers and runners on the streets. It is a terrific way to start the day. By the time we get back, everyone else is out of bed and getting dressed or eating breakfast in the kitchenette area.
Our meetings start at 9 a.m. and are called to order by the International President Tammie Pinkston. We meet in the Grand Council room, which is decorated with pictures of all past Grand and International Presidents along with other neat memorabilia. The International President sits at the head of the table and the International Vice President of Communications sits at the opposite end. The rest of us do not have assigned seats and just try to rotate where we sit and whom we sit by each meeting. Each day begins with an inspiration by one of the Grand Council members. Sometimes this is a poem, a passage from a book, or an activity. I had the inspiration for Friday morning and passed out two cards from the game “Slumber Party” to each Grand Council member. This is actually a game for teenagers, but it had some questions that I thought would be a great get to know each other exercise. Everyone went around the table and answered a question and then usually offered some type of explanation as to why they answered the way they did. It was a really fun way to learn more about my Council sisters.
Over the course of the weekend, we reviewed and finalized the strategic plan for the 2013-2015 biennium, discussed all of the Priority One initiatives, voted to submit paperwork to a couple of campuses that are expanding their Greek system, approved a revised officer structure for chapters with less than 50 members, reviewed the results of the draft financial audit with our accountant, approved a new 75 year member ceremony and a recognition letter that will be sent to sisters upon reaching 75 years of membership and reviewed and prioritized the plans from the Leadership Director. We mix in some breaks during the day and take an hour for lunch, which we fix ourselves in the kitchenette. Typically, we wind things up by 4:30 or 5 and recess the meeting for the day.
This meeting was a little different than our other quarterly meetings in that on Saturday, the six District Team Directors (DTDs) joined us for a full day of discussions. These volunteers are so amazing and work so hard to ensure the success of the chapters and alumnae associations in their respective district. It was a very productive day that included a review of District Leadership Conference for 2014, awards, the Chapter Performance Evaluation, sorority expansion, and advisor training. At the end of the day, we all went out to dinner and had a lot of laughs catching up with each other.
Our evenings are really informal and we change out of our pin attire into comfy clothes. Sometimes we use the time to work on something that came up during the day or we simply relax and hang out with each other. This particular weekend, most of us sat in the den telling stories and laughing together. I really cherish the times that we spend together like that.
On Sunday, we said our goodbyes and headed back home. I always leave these meetings feeling tired, but with a renewed commitment to our sisterhood. I am appreciative that I get to serve with such talented and dedicated volunteers who dream big dreams for Alpha Delta Pi and keep us First. Finest. Forever. Since 1851.
Sandy McDonald Davis, Xi Chapter- Ohio University, serves Alpha Delta Pi as a member of Grand Council in the role of International Vice President of Organizational Relations. She has responsibility for the areas of Ritual, History, and Heritage, Leadership, and Expansion.
Professionally, Sandy is an Account Manager for Crown Partners in Dayton, Ohio. Her responsibilities include managing and growing the relationships with their largest clients. She lives with her husband and two sons, ages 14 and 12. Sandy has served on the boards of Carillon Park and the Boonshoft Museum, as well as various officer positions in the Oakwood Schools PTO, including President. She has also been active at her alma mater on the advisory board for the J. Warren McClure School of Communications.