Directorum's Inaugural Address
July 24, 2021
Good evening Fraters, Auxiliary Members, Friends and Family, including those joining us via Zoom. I am incredibly honored and privileged to be standing here before you on the last evening of our 101st National Convention as your Directorum, the first Supreme Directorum from the Sigma Chapter!
There is no question that we’ve all been through a lot over these last 16 or so months. But we’re here. We made it. Stronger. It was fine. As has been said many times at this convention, I cannot be more proud of how AZO pulled through the pandemic to get us to this moment. All of our elected officers, appointed officers, chapters, and fraters should be commended on the creativity and dedication required to have as successful of a year as we did.
I need to give a special thank you to outgoing Supreme Directorum Tiffany Janjareh….or should I say for the first time, Tiffany Janajreh, PSD! Tiff, you brought the clause “until my successor is elected and duly installed” to life - and those words in the oath of office will definitely have a renewed reverence for mine and future administrations! Your absolutely selfless willingness to go the way we went with extended officer terms so
that this night could be possible, for me and the rest of the board, is something I will always appreciate and respect you for as a frater and a friend. It was an honor being your right-hand man and sanity buddy, as well as an occasional bingo partner. Let’s have one more round of applause for Tiffany and the rest of the outgoing board.
I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by a slate of talented fraters that will no doubt continue do great things this year. Nicole Saracino, as 1st Sub Directorum will chair the Awards Committee, and will support me with ensuring that our officers are staying on track. Adam Schweitzer, as 2nd Sub Directorum will assist in onboarding our new Excheque, Alyssa Schweitzer, and chair the Retention committee - we’ll talk more about retention in a bit. I think I hit the jackpot with sub-ds - two fraters that I have grown up in the fraternity with that have great ideas, work their tails off, and aren’t afraid to get involved when necessary. Alyssa will thrive in her new role as Excheque with Adam to onboard her - and I hope she doesn’t have any hiccups along the way. I am tremendously grateful to Signare Nicole Hodgdon for her continued service to the fraternity in this role - I know it’s not easy, but I’m sure you’re glad you’re hopefully not going to need to travel internationally with two years’ worth of awards ever again. I welcome Kelly Garrity to the executive board as our Associate Signare and Ashley Simpson as Bellarum. Both of you are amazing fraters, have performed well in previous roles and your election to these offices is well-deserved. Congratulations to our Supreme Undergraduate Representative Bailey Conkey and her associates, Felicia Wang and Brittany Henault. I look forward to seeing how you foster interchapter cooperation and act as the Supreme voice of the undergraduates, which continue to be AZO’s strength.
Our national charity will continue to be the Lustgarten Foundation, with the tenacious Morgan Quigley leading our philanthropy efforts. My hope is that we can raise $20,000 this year for this very worthy cause. Our continuing education efforts will be helmed by Carmen Witsken. Katelyn Parsons, PSD will be assisting the CE committee and working on developing offline CE programming that can be completed outside of a live webinar. Our AZOan will be edited by Nicole Silengo (who by now might be Mrs. DeFeo, congrats!) and Arielle DiPasquale - these two are a passionate team that I have no doubt will produce an amazing publication. Nikki C will be Good and Welfare chair, filling our social media with all kinds of PFBL.
The overall goal for our administration is going to be to continue the momentum from this year to drive towards the “new normal” . There are three areas I want to focus on:
First, though we do have bylaws that provide the Supreme Directorum and board with latitude to act in the best interest of the fraternity in times of an emergency (which we leveraged), it would be prudent to ensure that AZO is fully prepared for any future crises, including additional COVID impacts. Pursuant to a resolution passed this morning, I will be appointing a committee to recommend a mechanism to alter any fraternity procedures due to any unforeseen circumstances. The committee will be chaired by Saracino and that committee’s charge will be to provide an initial recommendation for any needed bylaw or statute changes by the time we meet again in Sarasota.
Second, the new normal should include continuing to modernize our candidate education process - and keep those fraters engaged once inducted and once they graduate. We have to make and keep retention a key pillar of our culture to ensure long-term sustainability of the fraternity. We have a tremendous “bench” of talent in the fraternity right now (trust me, it was tough making certain appointment decisions), but we do not want to get complacent and end up several years from now in an unfavorable position.
From a new member education perspective, we absolutely need to retain the history and tradition that has made AZO what it is today, however we can also build on the tremendous success that has been enjoyed over the last couple of fraternal years with the adoption of a hybrid and/or completely virtual education process to help drive greater new member growth. The Candidate Education committee - co-chaired by our most recent Undergraduate Award winner Lauren Neese and Matt Buchfellner will help support these efforts. I want them to get creative - especially when it comes to ideas around alumni recruitment - and I can’t wait for their recommendations.
Our Directors of Development - Jess Fillipoli, Nick Woodard, and Justin Adamczyk will be working with chapters that need a little extra support to get to where they need to be. This includes efforts to try to reestablish an active undergraduate component back in place at Kappa and reinvigorating the Rho chapter. Our AZO Direct chair, Joanna McCormack, in addition to working to retain current Direct fraters either within AZO Direct or a local chapter, will be completing a comprehensive outreach campaign to fraters that have fallen inactive to try to bring them back into activity. Our Diversity Equality and Inclusion committee, led by 2022 Undergraduate Award honoree Ruchi Shah from Epsilon, will help support activities that ensure that all fraters feel welcome, valued and heard no matter their background.
Chapters - I want to encourage if you need advice regarding anything related to recruitment, retention, or frankly anything related to fraternity operations, do not be shy about leveraging the Supreme Chapter for support, it’s literally what we’re here for. If you’re not sure which officer to reach out to, feel free to reach out to myself, Nicole or Adam and we can point you in the right direction.
Lastly, I want to shine a light on mental health. Coming out of the pandemic, it’s clear we all need to be conscious about our mental health especially given the increased demands that our profession is up against - both related to the pandemic and otherwise. Our Advocacy committee, led by Amanda Powers, will be working on issues around stress, pharmacy workload and mental health concerns and will produce content for our fraternal publications to help provide education and support to the fraternity in addition to the standard obligations of the committee.
Before I close, I need to say a few thank-yous, so please bear with me. There is no way I would have gotten to this office alone- far from it.
My sincere gratitude goes to all of the PSDs that have supported and guided me throughout my fraternal career - including (but not limited to) Izzy, Tiff, Katelyn, Harjeet, Poppado, Anciano, Lou, Bruce, Vince, Diane, Pinto, Mike, and Salsa. I could probably spend the next hour talking about just how influential some of you were - but we have a party to get started! I hope to continue to receive your support as we navigate this coming year, and based on many of your kind words to me this week, I am confident that I will.
My thanks to Lou and Gloria, and Izzy and Tiffany for planning and executing a fantastic convention. I know first hand the amount of work it takes to pull these off and appreciate your continued dedication to making each convention special. Aruba holds a special place in my heart, as I’m sure it does for many of you.
All of my elected and appointed officers - including all of you I did not specifically call out in this speech. Thank you for your service to the fraternity. I do not take for granted the fact that we all have personal and professional obligations beyond AZO, and your dedication to our success is greatly appreciated. See you at the Turnover meeting tomorrow morning at 9!
The Sigma Chapter - thank you for instilling AZO’s creed and values in me and continuing to be a constant presence in my life. I am excited to see where the momentum that the undergraduate component has gained over the last year takes the chapter. Thank you to Tan, Krystal, Adam, Vicki and whoever else was involved in the favors and centerpieces for tonight and for Lauren’s night.
Adam - thank you for MCing
Vicki. Your first AZO Convention was “Aruba 3” and then I knew you were a keeper. Now, here we are at the end of “Aruba 4”, with a ring on my finger as I take the helm and you are entering your FOURTH consecutive term as National Auxiliary President. Your hand in getting the Auxiliary to where it is today has not gone unnoticed. Thank you for putting up with my shenanigans and supporting me literally every step of the way.
As I close, I would like to thank the Fraternity for having the confidence in me to lead us through this fraternal year. I hope you all find peace in the midst of chaos, cherish your friendships, and never lose sight of the brotherly love that grounds us all.
Have a blasty blast this evening. Thank you.