Meet the Lobbyists

Next week, a team of Pi Phis across North America will virtually advocate for legislation impacting fraternities and sororities on the Fraternal Government Relations Coalition’s (FGRC) annual day of lobbying. Each representative will have the opportunity to learn about legislation impacting the fraternity and sorority community and meet with members of Congress to share why these issues are important. Read on to get to know the members representing Pi Beta Phi!

Grace Haffner, Virginia Gamma

Why do you feel lobbying is important to the sorority experience?

This year more than ever, my chapter served as a constant and overwhelming source of support. The freedom of association for our organizations is important and worth spending the time to lobby for and work toward. At the same time, substantial change is necessary within the fraternity/sorority community. By working with peers across other campuses and chapters, lobbying for freedom of association and engaging in discussion about how to proceed as organizations, we will be doing important work to ensure future students can engage in uplifting, empowering chapters. 

What are your plans after graduation?

After graduation, I will be working as a federal management consultant for Accenture in Washington, D.C. I will be assisting on government contracts and working with federal programs to update technology and assist in digital transformations such as using cloud computing and AI. Working alongside government projects will be impactful, as much of the work the company does affects the entire country. I can't wait to start in the fall and join a Pi Phi alumnae club to continue giving back to the organization that made so much possible for me!

Kelli Susemihl, South Dakota Alpha

Why do you want to lobby on Capitol Hill?
The sorority experience has given me so much in my undergraduate years, including lifelong friends, leadership skills and professional networking opportunities. I believe it is important that our legislators understand the importance of fraternity/sorority life in today's college environment.

Why do you feel lobbying is important to the sorority experience?
In the evolving climate of higher education, the viability of fraternity/sorority life is often called into question. Lobbying Congress allows participants in the sorority experience to express how government can help set our members up for success to become more equitable and inclusive.

Maggie Genevich, Colorado Epsilon

Why do you want to lobby on Capitol Hill?
I decided to apply for this opportunity because, more than anything, I want to help secure the future of fraternity/sorority life on a national scale. The time I’ve spent as an undergraduate student in Pi Beta Phi has been some of the best and most rewarding years of my life. In participating in these meetings, I have been given the opportunity to advocate for the women who will come after me who deserve the same chance to grow in themselves and this sisterhood while at University.  The power that my voice holds is something I never want to take for granted and this is an amazing way for me to use my voice to make fraternity/sorority life better and safer for years to come.

What are you looking forward to most?
I am looking forward to joining together with not only other Pi Phi women, but other members of the fraternity/sorority community to work toward a common goal. This is a fantastic opportunity to make connections with other people who share my same goals and visions, while being able to work together on something we all care about a great deal.  I am also looking forward to making connections with United States House Representatives and being able to experience a little more of how things run in Washington D.C.

McKenna Plowman, Washington Beta

Why do you want to lobby on Capitol Hill?
I believe this opportunity will give me the chance to not only help secure a better future for the women of my chapter but also for Pi Beta Phi as a whole and the entire fraternity/sorority community. I want to do my part in ensuring the longevity and preservation of fraternity/sorority life through advocating for legislation that will work to preserve the original intent and safety of our organizations and its members.

Why do you feel lobbying is important to the sorority experience?
The fraternity/sorority experience, ever since its creation, has been placed under strict scrutiny. In recent years, our freedom to associate with single-sex organizations has been under attack. These actions are exemplified by the disproportional actions taken by Harvard University and many others. Students who join single-sex social organizations, like ours, should not endure punishment for doing so nor should they be subjected to restrictions in activities that do not exist for other student organizations. My Pi Phi experience has been invaluable to my development in college and has given me opportunities to grow as an individual, develop my leadership skills and flourish academically. I know the connections, friendships and bonds I have made through my experience in the fraternity/sorority community and Pi Beta Phi will continue to grow and support me throughout my life. Lobbying is a crucial part of preserving the longevity of the sorority experience to ensure all future students have the opportunity to choose what organizations they would like to join in college. I want to ensure that my little sister has the same opportunity I did, and my parents before me, to join a single-sex organization as I have witnessed first-hand the positive lifelong impacts of being a part of an organization like a sorority or fraternity. 

Tori Vasquez, California Epsilon

Why do you feel lobbying is important to the sorority experience?
Lobbying is important to the sorority experience because it can provide us with an outlet to utilize our voices and knowledge. Legislators may create laws and policies that affect our daily lives without actually experiencing it in the present day. In addition, we need legislators' assistance in passing laws that can enhance the fraternity/sorority experience. Lobbying provides a direct channel between collegians and congressional representatives, which creates a space for all of us to work together and enact change that improves the fraternity/sorority community.

Why do you want to lobby on Capitol Hill?
I am so excited to be selected for the 2021 Capitol Hill Visits! I chose to apply because I wanted to make a direct impact within fraternity/sorority life and raise awareness about issues affecting our community. Although we, as students, can make improvements within our own universities, involving our congressional representatives provides the opportunity to enact widespread change on a broader level.

Published April 8, 2021