Always Say “Yes”

Arizona Beta Tara Abbott Davis believes in the power of saying “yes.” Throughout more than 15 years of volunteer leadership, she’s learned that Pi Phi always provides her with the right opportunity at the right moment—and both she and our sisterhood benefit as a result. Currently the Risk Management Specialist (RMS) for Region Nine, Tara has served in a number of volunteer roles for Pi Phi since graduation. Below, she shares more about what keeps her engaged as an alumna, what she’s learned through her volunteer work and the “why” that inspires her service.  
You’ve worn many hats for Pi Phi! Describe your volunteer journey. 

Shortly after graduation, I was asked to provide mentoring support to Arizona Beta during a member conduct issue. Arizona Alpha Kathi Caldwell Kleinman, then a specialist for Region Eight, encouraged me to join the chapter’s Alumnae Advisory Committee (AAC). Though I was very young, and the role wasn’t what I’d envisioned for myself, I accepted. When our AAC Chair was offered another opportunity within Pi Phi, I moved into her role and became AAC Chair less than a year after graduation.  

Within a few years, I was asked to join the Region Eight Team as Finance/Housing Specialist (FHS). Since then, I’ve served as RMS, Chapter Assistance Officer, FHS (again!) and Operations Specialist (OS). Through my roles on the Region Nine Team, I’ve loved the opportunity to work with newly established chapters and AACs and see our sisterhood from a fresh perspective.  

So much has changed since my volunteer service began, but I’m comfortable in every role I step into because Pi Phi’s core values are always at the center of what we do. What’s consistent is the love we have for each other as sisters, our prioritization of leadership development for women and our focus on fun and friendship. I’ve realized Pi Phi always shows up in the right moments, even when you don’t seek it out, with ways to better yourself. 

How have you found the right volunteer roles for your skills and interests? 

By always saying “yes” to the opportunities Pi Phi presents. Those opportunities have allowed me to view my other positions through a totally different lens. When I was an OS and helping to place AAC members, the bigger picture of how someone else might view your potential clicked for me. Sometimes having no experience in a particular area is a good thing—you see things through fresh eyes and try to understand the “why” instead of doing what’s always been done. I’ve learned to trust that no matter the role I’m offered, it’s good for my own development and for Pi Phi as a whole. 

What aspects of your volunteer service have been most meaningful to you? 

Volunteering has given me the opportunity to meet both collegians and alumnae outside my own experience. Mentoring collegians and helping to provide the member experience they’re looking for is so rewarding. I’ve also connected with some of my own mentors and closest friends during alumnae life. Without a doubt, I would not be where I am without my Pi Phi journey. 

Volunteering with Pi Phi is also the reason I have my job! After becoming a mother, I was at a crossroads in my corporate career. I realized working with our collegians was a main source of joy in my life and decided to pursue my master’s degree in higher education. I now work in the dean’s office at Belmont University, supporting students as they navigate significant life events. 

How has your volunteer experience impacted you—and what impact do you hope to make through your work?  

This work has taught me to be brave: to try new things, have confidence and be open-minded to different ways of thinking. We’re all from different chapters and our experiences are not identical, but we’re all Pi Phis. As an organization, we can continue to thrive and help women lead—generation after generation—by staying committed to our core values. We’ve shown endurance, despite the change in the world throughout our history, because of the bonds of sisterhood we share. 

Why do you choose to stay engaged with Pi Phi as an alumna? 

At our first Officers Workshop following the onset of COVID, the theme was “Stick with Pi Phi.” I’d been asking myself whether I truly had time to volunteer with Pi Phi and if it was still the right fit. That weekend, spending so much time in sisterhood alongside my fellow volunteers reinforced my “why”—friends who walk with you through ups and downs, who know your story, who let you pick up where you left off, no matter how long it’s been. For me, even when things are hard and I’ve had doubts about my priorities, Pi Phi always finds its way back to the top because of the people. 

What would you share with other sisters who are considering a volunteer role with Pi Phi? 

Say “yes”—and do it in all the ways you can, for as long as you can! As much as you give of your time to Pi Phi, our sisters give it right back. For me, seeing our collegians grow is such an impactful opportunity. You create bonds that last long past college years. 

Volunteer leadership invites alumnae members to continue developing their skills while serving and strengthening our sisterhood. Pi Phi offers opportunities to mentor collegians, lead alumnae clubs and share professional expertise. No matter your background, interests or skill set, Pi Phi benefits from your involvement and can help you grow as a leader. Visit the Pi Beta Phi website to join our volunteer network. 

This story was originally printed in the Winter 2024 issue of The Arrow

Published January 15, 2024