The 49th Grand Chapter Congress was held August 6-10 in Bellevue, Washington. Included in the nearly 800 brothers in attendance were 2 from central Iowa, both members of the Des Moines – Central Iowa Alumni Chapter. Kirstie attended as the Great Plains Regional Vice President (and was elected to another term as RVP). Adam attended as the Des Moines – Central Iowa Alumni Chapter delegate to the Grand Chapter Congress. Both agreed to share some of their experiences in this blog post.
Kirstie mentioned that many brothers use GCC as a way to take a vacation. She certainly did by traveling to Seattle several days before the congress actually convened. She used this time to visit the Space Needle and other tourist sites including a Boeing facility.
Adam got to town before the commencement of GCC as well. Besides visiting the Space Needle and other Seattle sites, Adam was one of many brothers who took some time to visit Vancouver, Canada.
Kirstie estimated everyone attending GCC took up half of the hotel. Word on the street was that Charles Barkley, Patrick Dempsey, and Lebron James were somewhere in the other half, attending some other event. Adam saw Charles in the lobby at one point!
As previously reported, the Des Moines – Central Iowa Alumni Chapter won 3 awards: Regional – Outstanding Collegiate Relations, Regional – Most Improved Alumni Chapter, and Provincial – Most Improved Alumni Chapter.
Wednesday featured the opening keynote followed by some break-out presentations. It is LEAD type of stuff. Adam attended an alumni panel break-out session. The loosely structured discussion focused on best practices and experiences that different alumni brothers have had. Adam picked up a few good points from this session.
Wednesday night was the Luau. Kirstie was impressed with the decoration including umbrellas and palm trees. Although it was a little slow at first and Adam said the DJ wasn’t the greatest, a good time was had.
Thursday was the honorary initiation of Ken Denman. Both Kirstie and Adam remarked about his demonstration of his firm’s products that are designed to recognize faces and human emotions. It was a fun show, noted Kirstie.
The Congress gets down to business Wednesday and although they have fun with it, important business is at hand. Kirstie noted how delegates want to make sure to get their names in the minutes. Adam did this as the DSMCIA delegate by seconding Kirstie’s nomination for Great Plains RVP.
Adam noted he made sure to have fun while being the DSMCIA delegate, even being called “obnoxious” by the moderator at one point (though surely in a fun way).
Neither Kirstie nor Adam attended the Leadership Foundation VIP dinner at a winery Thursday night. When they get rich in the future and send the big bucks to the foundation they will surely get invites. Kirstie did take advantage of witnessing a Board Meeting while in Seattle, which she noted was neat seeing the elected leaders take care of business.
No official campaigning can begin until Thursday afternoon once the caucus finishes up. Adam noted it was more important to campaign this year than at the last GCC since there wasn’t an incumbent running for GP and he had a sense the election was going to be close. Adam stayed pretty busy during this time because he was a volunteer in support of the Onuka Ibe campaign.
Kirstie remarked on some of the neat traditions like the Past Grand Presidents leading the current Grand President candidates out of the room before the delegates vote for the election. That is also the time when testimonials are read aloud (similar to the “pass the gavel” tradition the Drake chapter has).
Kirstie noted that she believed Onuka Ibe had a slight advantage going into the election even though the other candidate was the Western PVP and was well-known by delegates from the West Coast. And in what was rumored to be a close vote, Onuka Ibe was elected Grand President. Adam noted that the Grand Chapter felt really good about having 2 strong candidates vying for the position and that he saw Onuka and his opponent chatting it up Saturday night at the banquet after the election.
Besides the Grand President election, Jodi Schoh winning North Central PVP, and Kirstie winning Great Plains RVP, Adam voted in favor of 4 major items of business. These included eliminating the VPOD position, the 10% $15 cap on collegiate dues increases, allowing chairs of national committees to join the Golden Council, and align the procedures to recall a PVP with that of other board members. Adam voted with the majority on each of these, passing all 4.
Saturday’s banquet had a Seattle theme and had neat backdrops including things like the Space Needle and Public Market. The banquet went long, but was good. Adam even had the opportunity to work a spotlight. Adam particularly enjoyed the Lifetime Achievement Award presentation to Philip H. Turnquist, Onuka Ibe’s speech, and the announcement of the 2015 GCC in Chicago featuring an appearance by the Blues Brothers!
Kirstie said that many alumni use Grand Chapter Congress to do many things (and not necessarily attend a lot of educational sessions). There are lots of opportunities to socialize and with so many brother in attendance it is likely you will not cross paths with everyone. Most GCC attendees spend a good amount of time with the same people they room with at the hotel, but with most chapters not sending many people to attend, there are multitudes of opportunities to meet new faces, and most people are open to talking, hanging out, and partying with others they’ve just met.
Adam said that he enjoys GCC so much because it is an opportunity to connect with those brothers that he only sees at GCC. It’s also exciting to elect the new leadership of the fraternity. He took some time at the Saturday night dance to introduce an Iowa State student attending GCC to some of the big wigs that others had introduced him to at the 2011 GCC. That kind of connection and interaction is what GCC’s all about. It is a great example of being part of something that is bigger than yourself and that everyone cares so much about.
Kirstie didn’t want to sound cliché but noted that many people say that GCC is life changing, which she believes to be true. Adam said GCC is an experience everyone needs to have at least once. Both Kirstie and Adam ended their remarks with the same quote… that “the only GCC you’ll regret, is the one you don’t attend”
Mark your calendars for the 50th GCC in Chicago August 12-16, 2015.