Apr 12, 2024

Carrying the Torch: An Interview with General Council President J. David Almacy

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Carrying the Torch: An Interview with General Council President J. David Almacy

General Council President J. David Almacy on building upon the Fraternity’s legacy

The engagement team had a chance to sit down with General Council President J. David Almacy at the 2024 McKenzie Family Presidents Leadership Conference. We asked him a few questions to understand who he is and his vision for the Fraternity during his leadership of the current biennium. 

Who is J. David Almacy? 

Well, I am an only child born to Nancy and John Almacy, and raised by a single mother in Bethesda, Maryland. I grew up surrounded by many who loved, supported and encouraged me, guided by faith, to make a positive difference in the world. I was fortunate enough to go to college and join the best fraternity in the world, which helped shape my view on what I can do and the impact I can make. 

Also, I was someone who benefited greatly from mentors, in addition to friends, and family and wanted to give back to create that opportunity for others. 

You mention what about the Fraternity inspired you. Describe how this defined your college success and dictated your career path. Also, how have you paid it forward? 

As I mentioned, I grew up as an only child and was shy. I played sports but, honestly, was an average athlete at best. I didn’t have strong natural talent or any skills to speak of. But I was determined. The coach always said I had a good understanding of the game and the other players on the team. He also said that I was one that could inspire those around me. And so, I really took that to heart, but I was shy. Then I went away to college and found Phi Delta Theta and a brotherhood of amazing brothers who inspired me, encouraged me and invested time in me. Often times, they pushed me to excel and explore my fullest potential, seeing something in me that I didn’t see in myself. 

Because of my brothers’ support, I started to grow out of my shell, and they encouraged me to run for a chapter leadership office. I was first elected secretary and later served as president of the chapter. I was also class president all four years. I took that experience gained at Widener University out into the world and decided to try to make a difference.  

At Pennsylvania Mu and Widener, I learned the value of connecting with individuals. I’ve benefitted from that and those interactions and wanted to pass that knowledge along. So, my commitment to the Fraternity was to help extend the legacy. I’ve often talked about the gift that Phi Delta Theta was to me and so many who have joined. It is our responsibility to the oath that we took when we became members to pass the torch to those who follow after. And so, I tried to hold true to that for my brothers in my own chapter. Then, the opportunity to work for General Headquarters and as a volunteer for the past thirty-plus years has allowed me to continue to give back and live up to that oath. 

It has been an honor of a lifetime, and I am committed to doing my best. I know I have a finite time as General Council president, and I hope that when I look back, I have no regrets. Standing firm for what I believe in and doing what’s right for the Fraternity to ensure that we can not only survive but thrive. 

To sum up, that’s my goal. I’m blessed to work with a great [General] Council, headquarters staff, volunteer corps and increasingly impressive undergraduate leaders. I hope to constantly inspire the members I have a chance to meet along the way. That’s the number one reason I remain involved because I’ve also seen the Fraternity’s impact on their lives. 

You mention that passing the torch during your tenure as General Council president is crucial to your goals. How do you plan to achieve this, and how do you envision the next era of Phi Delta Theta? 

I feel, particularly coming out of COVID, that there was a significant gap in the modern Greek experience. As the world came to a halt during the quarantine, our chapters were faced with challenges to not only maintain the fraternity experience but also grow it or at least survive until things hopefully returned to normal post-COVID. 

Though we were very resilient during this uncertain time due to the leadership and unwavering efforts of our members, volunteers and GHQ staff, we did unfortunately lose a couple of chapters. So, my focus has been to understand and use this as an opportunity to evaluate who we are as Phi Delts. I turned to the Fraternity’s history as a guide. Our Second Founders, George Banta and Walter B. Palmer, have inspired me. These two men helped shape and restructure the Fraternity, which had basically all but ceased to exist in the immediate aftermath of the US Civil War. Due to their efforts, the Fraternity grew rapidly between 1870 and 1890. Much of what they created has served as the foundation for how our Fraternity operates today, including our ritual, the General Council, provinces, province presidents, and The Scroll, to name a few. 

In that same spirit, it is our turn to carry forward the legacy of these dedicated Phis for the next generation. We inherited this incredible gift. My focus is to reinvest, reevaluate, and ponder what our contributions to the Fraternity and society will be. Whether through our Cardinal Principles of Friendship, Sound Learning, and Rectitude, it all goes back to these very simple ideas, simple in theory, but sometimes difficult to execute in practice. But, during the challenging decisions, relying on The Bond and what we know to be right. So, my top priority is to do what’s best for our organization and our members and always keep an eye toward doing what’s right. 

As a communications professional, how do you feel about the new brand? 

As a marketing and public relations guy, I am thrilled about the new brand initiative. I love symbolism—how things look, the colors, shapes, and symbols often impact how we feel, right? And sometimes, it isn’t easy to describe in words how we feel about something. 

But think about it, similar to your favorite professional sports team – the mascots, the colors, the logos, and how you feel when you see the uniforms on the players as they run onto the field on game day. So, this is our game day, and although the symbols may look slightly different, the symbolic nature of these items, like the sword and shield and the stars, have been so special to Phi Delts for generations. I really appreciate how the new marks hearken back to the original. You can see this, especially in the commemorative 175th badge, as it was strongly influenced by the original Morrison badge design. The logo now reflects more of that shape and design than even the coat of arms, with the sword now vertical rather than diagonal, which is also a callback to Phi Delt’s origins but with a more modern look to it. So yes, I’m very excited about it, and I think it looks great!

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