Happy Founders’ Day, sisters!
Founder Stella George Stern Perry once wrote, “If we did not foresee the future, neither did we fear it.” The year was 1936. By this time in our Fraternity’s history, our Founders had seen the turn of a century, had endured the first World War, and had survived the 1918 flu pandemic. The United States was only a few years removed from the Great Depression, still suffering from the challenges of unemployment and recovery. Another world war was building on the horizon that would dramatically impact our members in the next decade. And this is not to mention the countless crises that we have endured in the generations since.
Through it all, our Fraternity has remained steadfast in our commitment to sisterhood, creating a community based in love and friendship that now extends to more than 192,000 initiated members of Alpha Omicron Pi. Think of all that we have accomplished this year, in the midst of a global pandemic. Our commitment to our sisterhood was not diminished because we were no longer in shared spaces. Our friendships were made no less special because our time together abruptly ended. Our future is no less bright because we are now connected virtually rather than in real life. In fact, the opposite is true. Our sisters have risen to this challenge. We have made memories from behind masks. We have welcomed thousands of members into our Fraternity via virtual experiences. We have pivoted in our programming and created connections through screens. Ultimately, we have learned that our sisterhood is still strong, still relevant, and still capable of making a difference in the lives of our members.
As we look forward from here, we do not know what the future may hold. If this past year has taught us anything, it is that we must be dynamic in the face of change. We must continue to be brave, bold, and imaginative as we embrace the unknown. We must have the confidence to know that we are all of these things and more.
Our Founders may not have ever envisioned a time when our connections to one another were created through online platforms or when our Rituals would be performed in a virtual environment. Yet, this innovative spirit captures perfectly their own ambition and willingness to adapt to the times, to create change, and to embrace the unknown as they grew from a sisterhood of four to a sisterhood of thousands.
As we celebrate 124 years of this sisterhood, we honor Helen, Stella, Elizabeth, and Jessie – women who could not have foreseen the future any more than we can today, women who chose not to be afraid. There is no more perfect example for us to follow. We may not foresee the future, but we must not fear it. Our future is waiting!
Crystal Grafton Combs, International President
Susan Bonifield, International Vice President of Finance
Jaynellen Behre Jenkins, International Vice President
Ashley Dumat, International Vice President
Lee Gray, International Vice President
Lisa Niedenthal, International Vice President
Koren Phillips, International Vice President
Jessie Wang-Grimm, International Vice President
Gayle Fitzpatrick, Past International President
The AOII Executive Board voted unanimously to change the official observance of AOII Founders’ Day to January 2, rather than December 8, Founder Stella Perry’s birthday. The Fraternity will now celebrate Founders’ Day on our actual founding date of January 2.