Upcoming Events

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Do you like e-boards? How do you like THEM e-boards?

So we went apple picking this weekend, but this post is really about our executive board elections! Thank you to everyone who voted, everyone who ran, and NYMAAC president emerita and National Council member Kate McConnell for running our elections.

Screen Shot 2019-09-17 at 10.57.45 AMWe are excited to introduce to you two brand new e-board members joining us after having been new NYMAAC members this past year. Susan Findley (Beta Xi Chapter ’15) has landed in NYC after graduating from Miami University in Oxford, OH and living briefly in Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD where she was a member of Capital Alumni Chapter and Baltimore Metro Area Alumni Chapter, respectively. We first met Susan at the November 2018 happy hour at The Garret in the Village. Susan (or “Zoosan,” as we’ve come to know her) works as a zookeeper at Bergen County Zoo in Paramus, NJ (which we’re visiting en masse this weekend!) and is now our Social Coordinator!

Screen Shot 2019-09-17 at 10.57.57 AMWe are also excited to announce that Amanda Lejnieks (Alpha Iota Chapter ’11, Montclair State University) has been appointed Service Coordinator! We’re doubly excited because (1) this position has been vacant for a year and (2) Amanda is new to NYMAAC and already game for an e-board position! Amanda has been living in the NYC metro area (currently Hoboken) for a while but has recently reengaged with NYMAAC, joining us for the Chocolate Takedown and Bushwick self-guided tour this past March, and then several events since. Amanda works in development at the New School.

Screen Shot 2019-09-17 at 10.58.12 AMThe rest of your 2019-2020 NYMAAC e-board will look very familiar: Kathryn Lieber (Delta Chi Chapter ’09, Lehigh University) starts her second year as President, Hillary Nicoll (Alpha Theta Chapter ’10, Rutgers University) returns triumphantly to the position of Secretary, and yours truly, Andrew Berman (Beta Epsilon Chapter ’02, Syracuse University) continues on as Communications Coordinator. If you’re keeping score at home, you’ll notice this leaves a vacancy in the role of Recruitment Coordinator. Send Kathryn an email at president at NYMAAC dot com if you’re interested in joining our wacky but productive e-board, and encouraging others others to join our wacky but productive chapter.

Finally, we bid a fond farewell to our e-board members who are stepping down: Jeremy Shepard (Beta Epsilon Chapter ’04) and Shari Spaeth (Iota Chapter ’18, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania). Jeremy was appointed by popular demand to the role of Social Coordinator, and did a great job of planning fun events through the end of the calendar year (so we have four more months of Jeremy-quality events to look forward to!). Shari joined e-board as a brand new member, taking on the role of Secretary, and offered vital help in HOBY activities, spearheaded an exciting new penpal program (more about this in the coming weeks), and added Snapchat to our social media repertoire (which we hope she’ll continue to manage because the rest of us are at our social media limit.

Thanks also to the voters for helping us amend our bylaws. You approved the following changes:

  1. Moving the NYMAAC membership year to July-June to align with the NAA
  2. Revising our e-board and meeting requirements to the minimum set by the National Constitution, which will allow us freedom to modify the each to suit the chapter’s needs
  3. Clarifying that certain items apply to “voting” members, not “active” members to ensure that a member can continue to be active without incurring obligations such as paying dues and voting

See you out there in NYMAAC land!

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How we HOBY

Hillary, HOBY 2019, J1This past June, Shari Spaeth (Iota ’18) and I, Hillary Nicoll (Alpha Theta ’10, pictured in light blue above with my group of ambassadors), volunteered as facilitators at the NJ HOBY Leadership Seminar. HOBY (Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership) Seminars are attended by high school sophomores and focus on personal, group, and societal leadership, as well as leadership through service. This year, NJ HOBY became the biggest state seminar in HOBY’s history with 322 ambassadors. We were very proud to be a part of this, as we were both on the recruitment committee during the year.
Throughout the weekend, each area of leadership was presented through a brief intro and then a guest speaker. The ambassadors then participated in an activity designed to help them grow and connect to that specific area. For personal leadership, Sarah Krug presented on what makes a leader and how to become your own kind of leader, with a focus on integrity and trust. The ambassadors then completed a “leadership compass” to see which of the four directions they most closely associated with to understand their personal strengths and challenges with being a leader.
We also participated in three different service projects. We made blankets for Project Linus, birthday cards for Light the Candle, and gift bags for Children’s Specialized Hospital. Volunteerism is at the heart of HOBY’s values and it is required that all ambassadors who want to return to volunteer for the following year’s seminar must complete 100 hours of community service within the year.
Shari, HOBY 2019, J4(Shari, right, with her group of ambassadors)
The role of a facilitator is to help guide a group of ambassadors through the program. The facilitator spends the entire weekend with their group. While the goal is to help the ambassadors learn and grow throughout the process, the facilitators are also changed throughout the weekend. It is a powerful weekend filled with self reflection, learning, community engagement, and CHEERS! While neither of us are HOBY alumni from high school, we definitely are part of the HOBY family.
Seeing the world through the eyes of these young leaders is inspiring, and to help be a part of that is a special opportunity. The partnership between HOBY and Phi Sigma Pi is perfect. Phi Sigma Pi has the tripod of scholarship, leadership, and fellowship. HOBY has 5 core values of volunteerism, integrity, excellence, diversity, and community partnership. Both organization also emphasize that everyone is a leader and that there is not one type of leader.
I was also given the opportunity to present to the entire group about Phi Sigma Pi. I spoke about the similarities between the two organizations and when the partnership started. I also spoke about how walking around Phi Sigma Pi’s National Convention is a similar feeling to walking around a HOBY seminar. You can walk into a room of hundreds of people and know that you have at least one thing in common with everyone in the room and that it’s a place where you belong.
Volunteering with HOBY is wonderful experience and we hope to see this partnership continue and grow. HOBY IS OUTSTANDING!
Volunteering as a facilitator at HOBY seminars is just one way Phi Sigma Pi Brothers can become involved with our National Philanthropy. For more information on supporting HOBY through Phi Sigma Pi, visit phisigmapi.org/service.
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Finding the magic in brotherhood

nymaac2019Last week, your fellow NYMAAC Brothers floo flew down to Orlando, FL for one of the most fun Phi Sigma Pi national events in recent memory. NYMAAC was represented in the Grand Chapter by NYMAAC delegate Kathryn Lieber and by yours truly, NYMAAC alternate delegate Andrew Berman. We were also represented by National Alumni Association alternate delegate #1 Hillary Nicoll, and we also had representation on the National Council dais in Vice Presidents of Development (VPD)¬†Kate McConnell and Sarah Viviani, and all five of us are pictured here (from left: Hillary, Andrew, Kathryn, Kate, Sarah). Although all of us have attended Grand Chapter and participated as members of the delegation in the past, this was the first time for each of us serving in these specific roles. Read on for more firsts. ūüôā

trashIt was great to see many former NYMAAC members at Convention, including our founder Alex Spirer, former e-board members Michael Covin and Beth Walsh, and Stephen Cristiano who had the honor of being named the first-ever “Volunteer of the Year” at the awards banquet. This Convention was also the debut of our months-in-the-making “Trash Menagerie,” consisting of all the mascots NYMAAC couldn’t say no to, pictured from left: a pigeon, Eggroll Squirrel, Pizza Rat, Max, a bedbug, Henny Rat, and Cockamouse (and behind them from left: Andrew, Hillary, Kathryn).

alumni2019Grand Chapter provided opportunities for us to learn about what the National Council has been working on for the past year, witness and participate in engrossing debate on the proposed amendments to our National Constitution and Ritual, reconnect with our fellow alumni in the back of the room, and make new friends. We introduced ourselves to the Brothers representing our home undergrad chapters, connected with the chapters in our region (and by region I just mean region), and exchanged ideas. It was great meeting Anne Marie Rice from the Greater Monongahela Alumni Chapter (SW Pennsylvania) and sharing tactics for reactivating her chapter. Some of the alumni chapter representatives are pictured here during the Grand Chapter opening ceremony, from left: Chris & Clementine (Eastern North Carolina Alumni Chapter), Anne Marie (Greater Monongahela Alumni Chapter), Stephen (Metrolina Alumni Chapter), Katie (Middle Tennessee Alumni Chapter), Kathryn (NYMAAC), Nicole (Southern Appalachia Alumni Chapter).

National officer reports gave us a snapshot of the investigations that took place this year, which were disheartening but provided a segue into a presentation on risk management from Fraternal Law Partners, and then into a discussion on one proposed amendment to the National Constitution clarifying the definition of events. We also heard from VPD Kelsey-Francis Flynn on quantitative information about our diversity as an organization, financial information from VPF Sarah Cantwell, the Alumni Engagement plan from VPD Viviani, and the future of Leadership Academy (it is being merged with National Convention) from National Secretary Brian Christiansen.

The proposed amendment regarding the structure of alumni organizations (#4) was withdrawn, so the Grand Chapter only considered 5 amendments:

  • Amendment 1 (clerical update to reflect the change in the composition of the National Council): passed
  • Amendment 2 (revising the definition of events to make it more in line with our insurance and risk-management policies): passed with amendments
  • Amendment 3 (clarifying who is eligible to join an alumni chapter): passed
  • Amendment 5 (removing debt as a barrier to resignation): passed
  • Amendment 6 (revising the Ritual to be more gender-inclusive): passed with amendments

umbrellasGrand Chapter was interspersed with presentations from HOBY, the Phi Sigma Pi Foundation, and Director of Alumni Relations and Programming Sarah Smith who introduced us to CORE, a new social media and networking platform for Brothers of Phi Sigma Pi. Brothers can connect on CORE and engage in groups centered around professional interests, undergraduate chapters, and more. We made our profiles during a CORE Cafe event and encourage you to join us! After the close of business, we got to assemble hygiene kits for a charity called Clean the World which collects and cleans discarded hygiene products from hotels and redistributes them globally to communities who need them. The rest of the day was a rainy mess, but it was a fun rainy mess because we spent it in Disney Springs and Epcot (pictured here from left: Hillary, Andrew, Charlin, Kathryn)!

On Saturday, along with our fellow alumni ambassadors, we assisted Staff and Council with morning programming (Hillary and I at the treasure hunt, Kathryn at the Leadership in Action module), and then attended an energizing keynote session by Justin Jones-Fosu¬†which encouraged us to “find our why” and challenged us to live our lives “on 10.” Following this, Hillary won the drawing for an Apple watch! After lunch, at the Foundation meeting, we made a small change to the Bylaws and then reelected¬†Ellie Crout to the Foundation Board. Charlin Jones-Chavez¬†and Natalie Mikkelson¬†were also appointed to the Board by National Council.

hillaryAfter a rainy visit to the pool (it rained a lot), it was time for the National Alumni Association reception, and then the main event: the annual awards presentation and banquet. Inspiring stories were shared about the amazing work our chapters and individual brothers have been doing over the past year. NYMAAC was thrilled to take home our 7th Most Outstanding Alumni Chapter award, and we were shocked to be the first alumni chapter to ever receive the Marder Excellence in Philanthropy Award for our work with HOBY. Hillary (pictured here) is the strongest advocate and leader of HOBY involvement in NYMAAC, so we insisted she take the plaque home (and it was fused to her body anyway so it was just as well). The evening came to a touching end when former Council member and current Foundation President Chris McCoy was awarded the Distinguished Service Key.

hogwartsOnly alluded to above is how many opportunities this Convention gave us to explore and enjoy the local attractions. We got down to Orlando a few days early to enjoy Epcot and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (pictured here from left: Hogwarts, Andrew, Kathryn, Hillary). During the conference, our hotel was so convenient to Disney Springs that we spent a lot of meals, evenings out, and spare hours enjoying the restaurants and shops. The programming and organization were excellent as always, but this Convention wins for its proximity to Disney. ūüôā

National Convention returns us to our chapters with a renewed sense of purpose and enthusiasm. We are so excited to dive right back into planning for the new year, and we can’t wait to see you all at the next event!

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Happy new e-board and other exciting news!

NYMAAC held our annual e-board elections earlier this month (thank you to election manager Kelsey Maxwell!) and we are excited to welcome a first-time officer, welcome back a returning e-board member, and thank our continuing members, and we say some tearful but grateful goodbyes to those who are rolling off.

Image may contain: Kathryn Sarah, smiling, closeupYou all have elected Kathryn Lieber¬†(Delta Chi ’09) as your new president, and well done you. Kathryn was first elected to our e-board several years ago, but never served because she had to move to Boston for work before taking office. There, she was instrumental in the creation of the Greater Boston Alumni Chapter, achieving chapterhood right around the same time she moved back to New York last year. She served as our recruitment coordinator this past year, and now ascends the hallowed throne of NYMAAC president.

Image may contain: Hillary Nicoll, smilingFilling the role of recruitment coordinator is longtime e-board member Hillary Nicoll¬†(Alpha Theta ’10) who has served as our secretary, social coordinator, and ICR coordinator in the past, but never recruitment, so we are excited to see her in this new role. Also in the category of new roles for Hillary is her election to the board of the Phi Sigma Pi Foundation, so congratulations to Hillary on both of these achievements!

Shari SpaethWe enthusiastically welcome Shari Spaeth¬†(Iota ’18) to our e-board as our new secretary. She continues the tradition of New Jersey secretaries, succeeding Chelsea Julius and Hillary before her. Shari is a recent grad and you may have met her at NYMAAC’s trip to see Carousel earlier this month. If not, you can look forward to seeing her at NYMAAC events in the future.


Image may contain: Andrew BermanContinuing in the role of communications coordinator is yours truly, Andrew Berman (Beta Epsilon ’02). I have served on e-board in many roles since time immemorial, and I’m looking forward to a great year with this new group!


Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, beard, ocean, sky, outdoor and waterJeremy Chin-Shepard¬†(Beta Epsilon ’04) returns to the e-board in the role of social coordinator, having previously served in the roles of service and communications coordinators. Jeremy has been serving on NYMAAC’s e-board on and off since before the formalization of our roles, so he was a natural choice to fill the vacancy. No candidate ran for social coordinator in this election, but Jeremy was written in by many of you, so he is clearly the people’s choice.

No automatic alt text available.We bid a fond farewell to Courtney Pike (Beta Epsilon ’08) who has served as our service coordinator for the past two years, spearheading such projects as New York Cares Day, happy hours to benefit our National Philanthropy (HOBY), the national effort to log service hours, and more. If you would like to be our service coordinator, please let Kathryn know!


Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeupChelsea Julius¬†(Alpha Theta ’15) also leaves us this term, and we will miss hearing her voice (and seeing her face on the rare occasion when we were able to get Google Hangout to work) at the e-board meetings she attended remotely from deep in NJ. Chelsea served as our secretary for two years.



Image may contain: Sarah Viviani, smilingSarah Viviani¬†(Gamma Pi ’14) leaps from president of NYMAAC to the national stage as she joins National Council as Vice President of Development. Sarah lead NYMAAC as president for two years, both of which culminated in the chapter winning the Outstanding Alumni Chapter Award (shared with Capital in 2017). We thank Sarah for her service and look forward to seeing her at NYMAAC events at least as often as we see Kate McConnell, who similarly made the leap two years ago, and was reelected to another two-year term on Council.

Image result for grumpy catPatrick Herron¬†(Alpha Epsilon ’96) recently completed four years on the National Council in the now defunct role of Vice President of Philanthropy Development, and he continues to serve NYMAAC in the vital role of Vice President of Cats, with his deputy Michele Chen.

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NYMAAC’s Grand Chapter 2017 delegation

This past weekend, NYMAAC sent 10 Brothers to Washington, DC to represent us at the 2017 Phi Sigma Pi National Convention. Sarah Viviani and Hillary Nicoll were our delegates; Chelsea Julius, Michael Covin, and Andrew Berman kept them entertained from the Peanut Gallery; Patrick Herron and Kate McConnell made us proud from their seats on the dais with the rest of the National Council; Kathryn Lieber represented the Greater Boston Alumni Chapter (GBAC) as their alternate delegate; and Alex Spirer and Jonah Nigh joined us for the weekend.

Those of you who were following along on Twitter¬†already know the skinny, but here’s the rundown of happened at Grand Chapter:

  • Amendment 4 passed, reducing the National Council from 8 to 7 members, eliminating the 4 specialized “Vice President of ___ Development” roles, and replacing them with 3 general Vice President of Development positions. This change will take effect at the next election
  • Plurality voting was adopted (amendment 5), the sanction appeal process was updated (amendments 8 and 9), and a section on National Awards eligibility was added (amendment 10)
  • HOBY (Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership) was officially adopted as Phi Sigma Pi’s National Philanthropy after a 2-year period of trial partnership.

After a long and vibrant debate over amendment 1, in which first-timers got a crash course in Roberts Rules of Order, Grand Chapter business went pretty quickly, and we closed the 2017 Grand Chapter business meeting a record 4 hours early at 1pm on Friday. We were treated to some pool time, a few rounds of our new favorite game Anomia, and an alumni happy hour at Bar Louie hosted by our friends in the Capital Alumni Chapter.

At the Phi Sigma Pi Foundation annual membership meeting on Saturday, NYMAAC members were excited to learn that our very own Jonah Nigh had been appointed to the Foundation Board of Directors. Jonah is a professional fundraiser, and a brilliant person, so he’ll make a great addition to the board, as indeed he already has with his feedback on the capital campaign that was presented at the meeting. Jonah Goodman was reelected to the board, so the Foundation Board now has the proper amount of Jonahs.

In Leadership in Action news, our own Patrick Herron and Kate McConnell became LiA certified by accumulating 75 points, and Sarah Viviani and Michael Covin joined the Leadership Advancement Society, maintaining their commitment to LiA post-certification by earning 10 points this past year.

NYMAAC and Capital

NYMAAC and Capital Alumni Chapter share the honor of winning the 2017 Outstanding Alumni Chapter award. And look, it’s Gene Seevers!

We got dressed in our finery Saturday night and staked our claim on the perfect table from which to watch Phi Sigma Pi’s 55th Annual Banquet and Awards Presentation. A highlight of the evening for us was being awarded twin Outstanding Alumni Chapter awards with Capital Alumni Chapter. We also got to cheer as Kelsey Flynn and Kathryn Lieber went up to receive the Greater Boston Alumni Chapter’s charter after 10 years of alumni association status. An atmosphere of mirth and fellowship built all evening long as deserving chapters went up to collect awards following descriptions of the innovative and impressive work they’d done to earn them, culminating in the presentation of the Torchia Outstanding Chapter award to Alpha Lambda Chapter at Temple University. Little did we know that it wasn’t over yet. A Distinguished Service Key was awarded to president emeritus Jonah Goodman after we watched a heartwarming video featuring testimonials from Brothers who worked with Jonah over the years. The room was overwhelmed with joy and pride as we honored our Brother who served on National Council for ten years.


GBAC’s Kelsey Flynn, NYMAAC’s Kathryn Lieber, and BMAAC birthday girl Janine Mohlhenrich

NYMAAC felt especially like winners this year, not only because we got to take home an award, but also because we got to take home Kathryn Lieber. After four years in Boston, most of which were spent working hard on getting GBAC chartered, Kathryn moved home to NYC and started a new job two days before heading down to DC for Convention. We’re happy to have her, and we’re happy we got to spend five days in Washington, DC with all of our favorite people. See you next year in Phoenix!

Andrew Berman

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Leadership in Action in NYC

NYMAAC celebrated its 16th anniversary with a bit of brunch, a bit of service, and a bit of Leadership in Action. “Giving Constructive Feedback,” facilitated by National Council member Kate McConnell (Gamma Phi Chapter ’07), was NYMAAC’s first local LiA module. This continues¬†a tradition (SOME TRADITIONS ARE GOOD) of firsts at NYMAAC Founders Day celebrations: last year at our 15th anniversary we inducted our first honorary member, and five years ago we awarded our first Chapter Service Key to chapter founder Alex Spirer (Beta Epsilon ’99).

After brunch at Mezze in Hell’s Kitchen, we convened at the apartment of National Council member Patrick Herron (Alpha Epsilon Chapter ’96) and Jonah Nigh (NYMAAC ’16). Over coffee and cookies, Kate led us through the module, encouraging us to share how we give feedback to our colleagues, and how we can improve using the techniques defined in the LiA materials. “Giving Constructive Feedback” was an excellent choice for NYMAAC’s first Leadership in Action experience, focusing on a skill that everyone could stand to fine tune, collegiate and alumni Brothers alike.¬†One busy person among many in that room, I really appreciated the opportunity to sit down and work on myself. We talked about real issues we were having both at our jobs¬†and in our community work, and we helped each other find¬†solutions and grow.

After the module, we were all 6 Leadership in Action points richer, and we paid that forward by creating some HOBY Hugs. We decorated the backs of index cards with inspirational messages, the fronts of which will be inscribed with notes to HOBY participants. Get a glimpse of our handiwork in the photo collage below, along with shots from our Leadership in Action experience, and Patrick’s lunch (courtesy of Patrick).


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Your 2016-2017 Executive Board


NYMAAC member¬†Chelsea Julius¬†(Alpha Theta ’15) joins the e-board as Secretary

As you may have read, 2015-2016 was a banner year for NYMAAC, culminating in being named the Most Outstanding Alumni Chapter at National Convention over the summer. What makes NYMAAC so outstanding is all of our members who come to events, support their collegiate chapters, give to the Foundation, continue living the Tripod, and make their voice heard by casting their vote in our annual NYMAAC Executive Board elections. Whether you voted or not, you may be interested to know about the crack team that will be endeavoring to Keep NYMAAC Awesome in the 2016-2017 term.

First, we’re thrilled to welcome our newest e-board member Chelsea Julius, 2015¬†graduate of the Alpha Theta Chapter (Rutgers University) who attended her first NYMAAC event this past September (BROwling)! Chelsea joins us as Secretary.

Next, we have a lot of shifting around going on, because our e-board members are so multi-talented:

  • Andrew Berman (Beta Epsilon ’02) returns to the role of Communications Coordinator after four years doing recruitment.
  • Replacing Andrew¬†in the¬†Recruitment Coordinator¬†role is¬†Michael Covin¬†(Alpha Theta ’09), who just spent a year planning our social events.
  • Former NYMAAC President¬†Jonathan Chin-Shepard (Beta Pi ’00) returns to the e-board after a two-year break to serve as our¬†Social Coordinator.
  • Returning to the role of¬†Service Coordinator is¬†Courtney Pike¬†(Beta Epsilon ’08).
  • Taking on the position of¬†Inter-Chapter Relations Coordinator¬†is recent Secretary¬†Hillary Nicoll¬†(Alpha Theta ’10).
  • Founding member and former President¬†Alex Spirer¬†(Beta Epsilon ’99) continues in her role as¬†Historian.

Beta Epsilon = Syracuse University; Beta Pi = University of Connecticut.


NYMAAC e-board member Sarah Viviani (Gamma Pi ’14) is our new President

Another exciting development is we have a new¬†President! Gamma Pi Chapter (Towson University) 2014 alumna¬†Sarah Viviani, whom you may remember being profiled in last year’s NYMAAC: The New Class blog post, has ascended the treacherous NYMAAC ladder to our highest office. Sarah came to her first NYMAAC event two years ago next month, and we couldn’t be more ecstatic¬†to be ruled by her iron fist.

Lastly, we say heartfelt goodbyes and thank yous to our three e-board members who are leaving us. We blow a kiss to our outgoing Service Coordinator Marissa Gernett (Alpha Pi ’08). We scream tearful farewells to California, which is where former Inter-Chapter Relations Coordinator¬†Sue Yousif moved to in May. Most of all, we fall over ourselves with gratitude to outgoing President¬†Kate McConnell, Pursuer of Awesome, who began her term as Vice President of Alumni Development on Phi Sigma Pi’s National Council in July.

Come meet our e-board, and all our Brothers, at an event soon!

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