Leadership Academy is Alpha Chi Omega’s premier training for chapter presidents and executive board officers. Held annually in Indianapolis, Indiana, the weekend training combines innovative learning sessions with sisterhood to inspire new officers when they return to their chapters. Breakout facilitators, who are Alpha Chi Omega alumnae and friends, create a brave space for our collegiate officers to develop their leadership skills and have real conversations with other real, strong women in their small group.
Valerie Morrison (Theta Sigma, University of North Florida) is an officer in the United States Navy Nurse Corps, assigned as the director for military personnel policy, plans and special pays. She first became a facilitator for Leadership Academy in 2015 and came back to the volunteer role three more times! Hear from her below about this incredible opportunity to support our collegiate officers.
When and why did you start volunteering with Leadership Academy programs?
In the fall of 2014, I was seeking new opportunities to grow my involvement with Alpha Chi Omega. My children were older, which gave me more time to explore volunteer opportunities. I saw an email announcement about Leadership Academy 2015, and it excited me to be able to participate as a facilitator—a role I felt very comfortable in doing, as part of my assignment at the time was to facilitate various leadership programs for the Navy Nurse Corps. I applied and was ecstatic when I received the email that I was selected! I’ve since applied and been selected to facilitate at Leadership Academy in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019. Every time I am able to participate as a Leadership Academy facilitator, I learn something new. I’ve even used some of the training techniques in the presentations that I give in my military assignment.
Why are programs like Leadership Academy important for our Fraternity?
Our collegian executive leaders ave incredible responsibility to the chapter, the Fraternity and the campus. They must be able to manage their full coursework on top of running meetings, balancing budgets, planning programs, and ensuring policies and procedures are followed. We owe it to our members to make them as successful as possible!
What is your favorite part about working with the collegians at Leadership Academy?
It is so exciting to work with the collegians during Leadership Academy! It is amazing to hear the great ideas, goals and plans that each of them has. I love watching the women grow closer together each day and help each other to figure out how to deal with whatever challenges or opportunities their particular chapter may have. It’s fantastic to see the richness of ideas flowing and how much energy, passion and love the officers give.
How did becoming a facilitator impact your life?
Becoming a Leadership Academy facilitator opened my eyes to the many ways I could volunteer for Alpha Chi Omega. After my first experience, I began to volunteer as a membership development specialist and now as a program support specialist. I also got more involved in my alumnae chapters, spoke and volunteered at a national convention, and this year I also became a chapter advisor. Beyond the expanded volunteer opportunities, I have forged deep friendships with women in Alpha Chi Omega I may not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. My very first roommate, Jensy Richards (Sigma, University of Iowa), is truly a soul sister! She and I have used Alpha Chi Omega as a mechanism to grow our friendship and sisterhood. We’ve roomed together multiple times for Leadership Academy and Volunteer Summit, and we’ve attended two national conventions together. I’ve enjoyed all the women I’ve roomed with or facilitated with, and I stay connected with them as much as possible.
What did you learn from your facilitation experience?
My goal in applying was to volunteer more with Alpha Chi Omega. Not only did I achieve this, I also learned how to increase my social media presence, grow my leadership influence and build a leadership coaching/speaker career. I have been inspired to hear different Alpha Chi Omega alumnae and Panhellenic women (and men too) as keynote speakers, talk to them about how they got started in their careers, follow them on social media to continue to learn and grow, and grow my post-military retirement dream career.
What would you say to someone interested in applying for this volunteer role?
Do it, do it, do it!!!! It’s a great experience, you meet wonderful facili-friends (women and men), work with excited collegians, possibly see snow, get to wear your letters again, learn the exciting things that are happening with the Fraternity, and interact with the headquarters team and our National Council. It is truly an amazing experience, which fills my cup every time I get to participate.