The following was delivered by Debbie Eleftheriou, newly installed National President, at the SDT Leadership School, Saturday, June 25, 2016:
Dream the Impossible. Seek the Unknown. Achieve GrΣΔΤness.
Three small statements, that when put together, exemplify Sigma Delta Tau.
Dream the impossible. SDT was built on the dreams of seven young women who wanted what other women on the Cornell University campus had…somewhere to belong. A bond of sisterhood that came so easily to others. A home. Yet, that dream was denied simply because of their religious beliefs. I can only imagine that it would have been easy for our founders to give up. However, Dora, Amy, Marian, Grace, Inez, Regene and Lenore were women who were all about dreaming the impossible. And, that dream has brought us all here tonight.
Seek the unknown. The unknown can be a very scary place. If given the choice, most of us would prefer to bet on the sure thing. Thankfully, none of us, or our sisters before us, are that complacent. In SDT, we do not settle for the status quo and continually seek out unknown opportunities in the areas of extension, recruitment, programming and innovative endeavors. We have much to be proud of as members of this organization.
Achieve greatness. For almost 100 years, SDT has been about women with a vision and a purpose. Women who give back to their communities. Women who are empowered.
We are together here this weekend finding our greatness, as an organization and as individuals. We need to take everything we are learning, the ideas we are sharing, and the friendships we are making back to our chapters and continue to expect the best from one another.
I graduated from Rutgers University in 1986 and one month later, I attended my first National Convention as the New Jersey regional recruitment expert. At some point over the weekend, a moment that changed the direction of my SDT experience happened…I was hired as an SDT Leadership Consultant. And, exactly 30 years ago tonight, I sat where you all sit now, completely mesmerized, as the national president Lynn Marano addressed the convention body. At that point, my dream began. And, here I stand tonight, with a humbled and honored heart as the national president of Sigma Delta Tau.
My journey has spanned three decades. From my many visits as a Consultant (calling my boss Beth Sesler from every airport payphone in the country), to my countless trips, chapter visits, Conventions and Leadership Schools since then. One too many days and nights of Beta Tau recruitment, with the words to “We Belong” running through my mind for weeks afterwards. Years of late night laughter with many special friends. Words of wisdom from some amazing mentors. And always, a love for our undergraduate chapters.
As we move into our Centennial year, it will be the goal of this Board to dream, seek and achieve greatness with our chapters, volunteer base, alumnae, and partners. We hope to develop strong programming in the areas of membership experience and risk management, to further enhance our regional plan and to provide new and innovative ways of training both leaders and volunteers. But, we cannot do it alone. So, I ask each of you in the room tonight to join us.
To our undergraduate women: You are the reason we are here this weekend. So, what have you gained from this experience? What will you do to ensure that your chapter is the best that it can be? I urge each of you to take what you have learned and let it make you a better leader, a better sister and a better woman. And, don’t ever let the unknowns in life stand in your way!
To our amazing volunteers: You are the benchmark for our organization. Each of you in this room brings something unique and special to SDT. How will you help us continue to flourish in the coming years? What mark will you leave on our organization? I hope you each feel empowered and ready to work as a team to ensure that we continue to grow and prosper in the coming years! I know that together we can do some amazing things–and 100 never looked so good!
Dream the impossible. Seek the unknown. Achieve greatness.
It is my hope that we always continue the dream of our founding sisters.
That we will never let obstacles stand in our way.
That at all times, we remember what it means to be a Sigma Delta Tau.
And, above all, that no matter what we do, we always seek greatness. In one another, and in ourselves.
Debbie Reduce Eleftheriou
2016-18 National President
Sigma Delta Tau