My Year as CAO

The Benefits of Having a Leadership Position

I joined Kappa Alpha Theta my first year at Drake University. For the past year, I have served as our chapter’s Chief Administrative Officer. This position is part of my sorority’s Executive Board and because of this I also serve on the Risk Committee, a committee that focuses on the safety of our members during social events. I was also in charge of the Bylaws Committee and discussed changes whenever necessary. My main responsibilities as Chief Administrative Officer included a lot of the behind the scenes work that much of the chapter doesn’t see, such as submitting forms to our National organization and ensuring the communication between our Drake Chapter and the National Chapter stays up-to-date.Kappa Alpha Theta's recruitment nametag

I will officially be done as CAO at the end of this semester. Having this responsibility within my chapter has surely had its amount of frustrations, but I have also learned a lot about myself, sharpened my leadership skills, and gained a deeper appreciation for the work that goes on throughout our chapter. I wanted to take this time to reflect on my year as Chief Administrative Officer and note ways that I have grown and what I have learned.

Key Takeaways

  • Time management is key. With academics, work, and friend and family obligations, sometimes my Theta responsibilities would fall to the bottom of my pile. I started to set a schedule for myself to ensure that I was devoting enough time to all of my responsibilities. For example, I would work on Theta responsibilities every Sunday from 10:00-12:00. I didn’t do any schoolwork or get distracted by anything else during that time. Likewise, I made a point to always stop right at 12:00 to ensure that I could get a start on my other responsibilities.
  • Prioritizing is important for success. As stated above, I sometimes found balancing all aspects of my life to be overwhelming. Knowing when things are due made it easy to prioritize and get the most pressing aspects done first. This was important to me because then I didn’t scramble at the last minute to get everything done.
  • It’s okay to ask for help, or for an extension. Some weeks are too busy and there will be times where I can’t get everything done. While I don’t like doing so, I have learned the importance delegation and asking for help. I now realize that a respectable leader understands when she is over-committed and isn’t afraid to seek assistance, where I used to see it as a sign of failure.

Final Thoughts


Jessie and I during Kappa Alpha Theta's recruitment

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time serving as Kappa Alpha Theta’s Chief Administrative Officer. I loved being able to give back in a small way to an organization that has given me so much! As of December 3 I will not longer have a position in Theta. Even so, I know that I can take the leadership skills I’ve gained and continue to contribute to my chapter.



PRSSA National Conference

Key Takeaways:

The PRSSA National Conference had so many sessions with interesting sessions, but one definitely stood out to me the most. My favorite session focused on being a spokesperson and training your CEO to be a spokesperson. This session was give by Dr. Joseph V. Trahan III, APR, Fellow PRSA, President and CEO, Trahan & Associates and was one of my favorite sessions because of the immense amount of information that he provided us with, but also because of is outgoing personality and extreme willingness to help us succeed later on in life.

UNI, Simpson, and Drake PRSSA students

“Win their hearts and you’ll win their minds”

Dr. Trahan spoke quite a bit about the importance of showing the right amount of emotion and being transparent with your company. He also spoke quite a bit to the importance of pausing to think before answers any questions during a press conference to eliminate the “like, you know, um” phrases from an answer. This will not only make the answer a stronger one, but will also make the spokesperson look more put together and authoritative. When speaking at a press conference or answering questions of any kind, we learned about focusing on control, competence, and concern. In other words, when answering as the face of an organization, only answer with the information that you are entirely sure of to avoid confusion or even worse, having to make a correction to your initial answer.

My friend Karoline and I at the National conference

Dr. Trahan also spent quite a bit of time explaining how to manage crisis communications. He threw a few statistics at us that quite honestly overwhelmed me a little bit. He stated that; you only have 1-3 minutes to get info out during a crisis, there needs to be an hour of prep for every minute that the spokesperson is on air, for a 3-7 minute standup there needs to be up to 7 hours of prep for the spokesperson, and for a 13 minute news conference there needs to be 13 hours of preparation. While I understand and appreciate the amount of preparation that is required to successfully fulfill the role as spokesperson in an on-air capacity, the amount of preparation seems very daunting.

Quick Facts from Dr. Trahan:

  • Know the lingo of different demographics and understand when it is appropriate to use them.
  • Build a bridge of trust and confidence between the CEO and company, but also between the CEO and the public.
  • Focus on SAPP during a crisis. (Security, Accuracy, Propriety, Policy).