Marking a Year of Positive Change

Bradley Newcomer
Dec 23, 2022

With this winter issue of Forum, we close out what’s been an eventful year for Phi Kappa Phi, our country, and the world. This year was especially meaningful for the Society because we celebrated a landmark birthday for Phi Kappa Phi. We turned 125 this year, an occasion to reflect on the many ways the Society has grown since our first chapter was formed on the University of Maine campus in 1897.

Our big birthday proved to be a major theme of our national convention on Aug. 4-6 in Orlando, Florida. The event marked our first national gathering in four years. Typically, Phi Kappa Phi convenes a physical gathering of delegates every two years. In 2020, however, the social distancing protocols of the COVID-19 pandemic required us to have a strictly online convention.

I’m delighted that the pandemic eased enough this year for members to gather in Orlando and see each other again in person. The many positive comments I’ve received about our 2022 convention tell me that a lot of you felt the same way.

I got a personal reminder this year that COVID-19 isn’t a thing of the past. I contracted a mild case of the virus just days before the convention, which forced me to cancel my plans to attend our convention in person. As the executive director and CEO of our national office, I was, of course, disappointed to miss the Society’s headliner event of 2022.

 Luckily, our national office staff in Orlando, directed by Chief Operating Officer Traci Navarre, helped ensure that our convention was a success. I am also grateful to Dan Sandweiss, who presided over the convention before becoming our past president, for accommodating my absence and allowing me to report to our attendees virtually. Dan’s flexibility and unflappable spirit reminded me how lucky we were to have his guidance as our president the past two years. We’re equally lucky that he’ll remain on our National Board of Directors as past president.

Once again, technology offered a critical tool in adjusting to the challenges of a virus that’s plagued our planet for the past three years now. My experience moved me to think of the many other ways Phi Kappa Phi is adapting to solve problems and embrace opportunities.

Here at the national office, we’ve been working hard this year to advance new systems that will allow us to better track our existing members, attract new ones, and draw new resources for the Society’s important work.

I’m gratified, as we grow the Society, that we’ll have the counsel and wisdom of a stellar new slate of national officers elected at this year’s convention. They include our new president, Lora Becker, and Sharhonda Rush, our new president-elect.

This issue’s theme, the art of the great speech, reminds us that one person can make a big difference by speaking up. I encourage each of you, as Phi Kappa Phi members, to speak up, too. Feel free to reach me with your comments, suggestions, and concerns for the Society at

Happy holidays to all of you, and here’s wishing for a great 2023.