By Jesse Moyer – Education Commissioner
Nervous. Intimidated. Worried. Maybe a little scared. Those are some of the thoughts I had as I landed in St. Louis for the 2002 Presidents Leadership Conference as a junior at the University of South Dakota, beginning my journey as newly-elected chapter president of South Dakota Alpha. I can honestly say that some of those same emotions were with me as I arrived in St. Louis in 2015 for my first major event, starting another journey as Phi Delta Theta’s education commissioner.
You see, the duties of a chapter president and the education commissioner have some similarities. We are both the public faces of what we lead. As chapter presidents, you are the face of your chapter, and as Education Commissioner, I am the face of our educational conferences. Many people depend on us to put the time in, planning and executing on our goals in order to further our organization. And, maybe most nerve-racking, we will be those held accountable if something should go wrong. I think it is safe to say that the 2015 Presidents Leadership Conference was a success, and I have the utmost confidence that the student-leaders who attended Phi Delta Theta’s premiere educational event will find their own successes when they return to their campuses.
Our time in St. Louis kicked off with General Council President Rich Fabritius discussing how, as leaders in our organization, it is incumbent upon us to swing a heavier bat; to do whatever needs to be done in order to become the greatest version of ourselves. Later that night, Corey Ciocchetti, a business and ethics professor at the University of Denver, reminded us all to chase authentic success.
Friday morning began with Brother David Almacy, former White House Internet Director under George W. Bush and current Senior Vice President at Edelman, recounted his experiences as chapter president and how they prepared him for post-graduate success. Later that day, Marc Mores, former General Headquarters staff member and current Executive Vice President at James R. Favor, spoke about CEO-level responsibility and our mandate, as leaders, to do what ought to be done. Friday evening, Suzette Walden Cole, lead consultant for the Fraternity Health and Safety Initiative, talked to members about the importance of bystander behavior and our duty as leaders to take a stand against sexual misconduct.
Past President of the General Council Rudy Porchivina kicked off the final day of the conference with a humorous look at effectively running chapter meetings and what it truly means to be the chapter president. Miami Phi James Barr, group president of Ritchie Brother Auctioneers, joined us after lunch for our annual Leadership Forum, imparting his experiences as a successful business executive. The conference was concluded with General Council Member-at-Large Sparky Reardon giving a rousing speech on leadership, “bringing it home” for our chapter presidents.
In addition to the general sessions, presidents attended small group or “chapter” meetings. The meetings were expertly facilitated by our conference faculty made up of many dedicated volunteers including current General Council members, Past Presidents of the General Council, current Province Presidents and local chapter volunteers.
As our presidents return to their colleges and universities, it is my hope that the lessons they learned while in St. Louis, lessons of leadership, chapter operations, and relationship building among others, will serve them as well as they served me on my journey 12 years ago. I trust that those feelings of nervousness, intimidation, and worry have been relieved and that our chapter leaders, the best and brightest Phi Delta Theta has to offer, are better equipped to continue their own leadership journeys and become the greatest versions of themselves.
Jesse Moyer is the Director of State Advocacy and Research for KnowledgeWorks. Prior to joining KnowledgeWorks, Brother Moyer worked for the Fraternity as the Director of Chapter Services. He currently serves as the Fraternity’s Education Commissioner, a volunteer role that allows him to be involved with all of Phi Delta Theta’s educational initiatives. He holds a B.A. in contemporary media and journalism from the University of South Dakota and a M.Ed. from Xavier University.