Officer Academy, one of Alpha Sigma Tau’s cornerstone in-person educational events, returned January 31-February 2, 2020. More than 200 collegiate chapter Executive Committee officers gathered in Indianapolis for a weekend full of developing leadership skills and networking with Sisters.
Throughout the weekend, Sisters participated in EQUIP: Officer Skills Training—a curriculum developed by RISE Partnerships, an industry-leading organization that combines research, evidence, and best practice to find new and better ways to equip student leaders with the tools they need to advance their communities.
About Officer Academy
Throughout the weekend, participants were divided into large groups and small groups, which were named in honor of Alpha Sigma Tau’s eight Founders and Patronness Effie Lyman. Officers were grouped with chapters of similar structure, culture, and campus demographics. In the large-group setting, participants learned techniques, best practices, and concepts, and during the intimate small-group sessions, they applied their new knowledge to their own experiences.
During lunch on Saturday, participants took a break from their rigorous curriculum to hear from Poonam Gill, a representative from Girls Who Code, one of Alpha Sigma Tau’s National Service Partners. Poonam shared Girls Who Code’s mission of inspiring, educating, and equipping girls with the computing skills they need to close the gender gap in technology and succeed in the 21st-century workforce. National President Tiffany K. Street introduced Poonam and connected with members throughout the weekend.
In closing remarks on Sunday, Alpha Sigma Tau Chief Executive Officer Jim Paponetti introduced the Sorority’s strategic priority and initiatives. Participants ended Officer Academy on a note of empowerment—the future of our Sisterhood rests largely in their hands as collegiate chapter leaders.
In past years, Officer Academy was held in the year opposite of Alpha Sigma Tau’s National Convention. This year, the Sorority moved Officer Academy to the early spring semester, so officers would benefit from participating in the curriculum at the beginning of their officer term. Additionally, an early spring model allows participants the opportunity to immediately implement the tactics they learned. In order to best support newly elected collegiate chapter officers, Officer Academy will be offered as an annual program, rather than a biannual program, moving forward.
Officer Academy and EQUIP: Officer Skills Training were made possible by a generous grant from the Alpha Sigma Tau National Foundation. Invaluable leadership opportunities like this are only possible thanks to donors who support the Foundation. Thank you for empowering the next generation of women to excel in life. Click here if you would like to support leadership programs like Officer Academy.
Participants kicked off their Officer Academy experience by completing a dashboarding activity in which they evaluated and then depicted their chapter’s current state on a number of dimensions of chapter health, including sense of sisterhood, health and safety, operations, academic performance, affinity and pride, and member engagement, among others. Participants then crafted a vision for their desired chapter state and developed goals for how to get from the current state to the desired state.
Leading Your Team: Engaging Members
Participants learned about how to involve and motivate members in meaningful ways through examining the “Power of Law”—a realistic and achievable theory of getting members to give just 5% more. Participants “worked their roster” to identify members with untapped talents and gifts that need to be reengaged through relationship building and then role-played asking those members for help in ways that were specific and personal.
Leading Your Team: Aligning Members
Participants explored the three keys to accountability: setting expectations, communicating expectations, and reinforcing expectations. They examined their own chapter’s cultural norms and evaluated the degree of alignment with desired expectations or behaviors. Participants then brainstormed ways to reward and encourage the more desired behaviors, while reducing reinforcement of undesired behaviors. Participants also discussed member personalities that might prove challenging, and practice skills for caring conversations using a confrontation framework.
Planning and Execution
Participants were challenged on the assumption that “members just aren’t engaged” and asked to consider that engagement is directly correlated to the energy-level and desirability of the events and activities we do. Participants were tasked with thinking through what turns an event from an “energy-suck” to an “energy-boost” and learned specific skills for event prototyping, breaking down the work into manageable parts, building and assigning the task list, and planning the calendar. Put it all together, and you have a recipe for a well-thought-out, engaging, and well-organized event.
Alpha Sigma Tau Leadership: Tools and Resources
Participants received an overview of important Alpha Sigma Tau tools and resources available to help support their success during their officer term. The program reviewed what, where, and why of the Chapter Support Team, Basecamp, Officer Portal, MyChapterRoom (MCR), Billhighway, CrowdChange, Parson-Bishop Services, and the Brand Toolkit.
Plans are underway for Officer Academy 2021, so stay tuned!