This summer at Grand Convention, the Alpha Delta Pi Foundation announced the Forever First Campaign, a history campaign for Alpha Delta Pi. Learn more about the project from our two campaign co-chairs, Elisse Jones Freeman and Jan Alexander Maisch.
Q: When and where did you both join Alpha Delta Pi?
Elisse: I joined Alpha Delta Pi at Southern Methodist University, Alpha Zeta Chapter, in the fall of 1960 and was initiated in 1961.
Jan: I was initiated at Epsilon Omega Chapter at Jacksonville University in the winter 1979. So, it’s been a while. It feels like yesterday though!
Q: When were you both approached about being a co-chair for the Forever First Campaign Steering Committee, and why did you say yes?
Elisse: I was approached last fall, and I did give it a great deal of thought. And the main reason why is because of my age. I haven’t been in charge of anything this large in quite a while. So, I gave Jen Webb a special condition – I would say yes if Jan agreed to do it with me.
Jan: I was asked the fall of last year as well, and I had to really think about it. Actually, that was the first time I was ever really speechless. I had to think about it because I’ve never been in charge of anything quite like this or part of something quite like this. Even though I’ve danced around in all kinds of areas in ADPi, I never really saw myself in this lane.
When I found out Elisse would do take this on with me, I felt more confident. I’ve learned a lot from Elisse over my many-years career with Alpha Delta Pi. So, I said, “If Elisse is the co-chair, then I feel like I can do this.”
Q: In your words, what is the Forever First Campaign?
Elisse: Every member we have is a part of Alpha Delta Pi’s history, and sometimes I don’t think that members see that. And those stories need to be told. Also, it’s very important that people who are not Alpha Delta Pi members realize how important our history is and how important we are to the history of women’s organizations. We are the first secret society for women at the first college to grant degrees to women. That is very special.
Jan: We have significant moments within our organizational history, and every chapter has those significant moments within their chapter history. But sometimes it is the things that we forget to capture that make us all sisters. Somebody once asked me to chronicle the highlights of the Conventions I had been to. When I put it down on paper, I thought, “Wow, it really wasn’t the great speaker we had or some kind of neat program we did, it was all the truly intrinsic things that occurred at those Conventions.” Maybe it was having a roommate that I never had before and now we’re good friends or getting stuck in the elevator with people. I keep saying that’s part of our history. Don’t discount those seemingly insignificant incidents. Those are what make us sisters and keep us all united together. And those are part of our history that we need to account for, too.
Q: What project are you most excited about to come out of this campaign?
Jan: There are so many aspects of this project I’m excited about, but I think the updates we’re making to Memorial Headquarters and Hubbard Memorial Garden is really special. To know we can enhance the history in the building, renovate our outdoor space, and make sure our visitors have a great experience is a big part of my excitement.
Of course, digitizing our history is just as important because we will have members who will never make it to Atlanta, so we need make this project be accessible to everyone. This expansive online collection will allow members to connect with Alpha Delta Pi’s history and even their own chapter’s history from anywhere in the world. Plus, it will always be growing as our collection expands!
Elisse: I think the physical part is super important. We’re planning to have exhibit drawers filled with memorabilia, and these objects were personal to some ADPi members – like the gloves they wore at a Convention, the program for one of the meals, the favors. All of those little things that sometimes just get stuck away, and I’m hoping we’ll get a lot more of those things. As we all age, we need to do something with them. We’re all trying to downsize and where are those things going to go?
And, after some of our sisters went on their “grave tour,” I think that’s really exciting to find those graves, identify those women as Founders of Alpha Delta Pi, and be sure their graves are kept up. Anybody who goes into those cemeteries will realize the importance of that Founder.
Q: Why is this project important to our members and how can members support this project?
Jan: If not us, then who? We must save our history and preserve that for our future generations. Like Elisse said earlier, every member is a part of our history – no matter if they served on Grand Council or not. Their story matters and their story counts. We have a really strong story to tell, and we’ve got nearly 175 years to catch up on with making sure we catch all these stories. If we don’t start capturing them now, it just gets harder and harder as the years go by.
Elisse: I agree with everything Jan said. Our Founders were so strong, and these women passed on this strength to every single new member. That’s how our sisterhood and our ritual have survived through many difficult times. We have maintained this sisterhood because of the very strong feelings our members have and pass on to those that follow. As our young women are looking to the past and our older women are remembering the past, this revitalizes our organization.
The way people can help is by making a gift. All of this takes money to do. Everybody contributing to this campaign is so important, not only through gifts but by sharing their pride in being an Alpha Delta Pi.
To learn more about the Forever First History Campaign, please visit alphadeltapi.org/foundation/foreverfirst.
Meet the Steering Committee and hear why they are all committed to the Forever First Campaign.
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