After more than 3 years as Managing Director, I have made the decision to resign from this position and make room for new adventures. As Taylor mentioned in her departure announcement, it is time to pass the baton to the next generation of leadership for the sorority. This is very bittersweet as it has been an immense honor to serve an organization I love so much in this capacity. I’ve had the great privilege of working alongside so many wonderful members as we pursued our mission to provide service to the university community, to the community at large, to the members of the sorority and to the nations of the world; and to promote friendship, leadership and service. 

This opportunity was unexpected yet a lifeline for me during the height of Covid-19 and many personal and professional transitions. Creating a virtual team and community was an outlet for me during some of my hardest and darkest times. The camaraderie of our evolving team over the past three years is unmatched, and I am forever grateful for the ways we supported each other and the cherished relationships I will take with me. 

As Managing Director, I’m most proud of our ability to persevere through extremely challenging times and achieving big, big goals for Omega Phi Alpha. We’ve worked hard to move forward with a strategic vision created by former National President Jan Titsworth, which was to create more paid positions and minimize the heavy lift of volunteers in order to create sustainability and consistency. That started with hiring two independent contractors and progressed to having a team of five W2 employees. Through this vision, we created the chapter health initiative and have worked tirelessly to provide customized, one-on-one support to many (all) chapters. We’ve significantly improved the communication between chapters and the national team in a very positive way. With these big changes, we’ve maintained fiscal sustainability and ensured that our budgeting and spending is intentional. We still have a team of member volunteers but have been able to hone in on volunteer needs so that we can avoid volunteer burnout and create sustainability as it relates to the operations and leadership of the organization. 

In each of my semester in review reports over the past several semesters, I’ve shared all that we’ve accomplished during that time period. As I read back through those, I am in awe of all that our team of staff and volunteers has accomplished during my tenure as Managing Director. I certainly haven’t done it alone, and I’m really grateful for this wonderful team of contractors, staff, and volunteers who have worked hard both with and for me and OPhiA. 

One of the things that I didn’t expect when I stepped into this role was the demanding expectations of the members of our organization. I’ve learned that it is really challenging to manage the expectations of a large demographic of people (active and alumni) and it is impossible to satisfy everyone. I’m not a people pleaser by nature, but I recognize that I came into this role a bit naive with the assumption that we all want what is best and share the same goals for the sorority. I also assumed that my fellow sisters would always be respectful and considerate. I know now that we each carry our own perceptions and definitions of “best,” and respect and consideration are not always the default. I have been tested in many ways, and I can be honest in sharing that the way that I’ve been treated by members of this organization has, at times, made it very difficult to show up to work. I’ve grown a lot through these challenges, particularly in the way I process and respond to feedback. Ultimately, this experience has improved my leadership. I believe that all the feedback comes from a good place, as I believe that we all care deeply about Omega Phi Alpha and its mission, values, and future success.

The challenges of working with a membership organization that has been almost exclusively volunteer-led for more than 50 years extend well beyond member expectations. The two Boards of Directors that I’ve worked for have held ambitious goals that have required a lot of change, and sometimes it is challenging to bring people alongside you through change. Add in the large team of volunteers spread across the country with varying skill sets, sporadic availability, limited resources, and a history of high turnover, and you can imagine the additional challenges we’ve faced. 

I started realizing several months ago that I was approaching burnout due to many of the reasons mentioned above. I began to see the need for a fresh perspective to come in and lead OPhiA to the next level. My strength in this position has been rooted in my ability to evaluate organizational needs and create systems for efficiency, effectiveness, and growth. I’ve done that and am confident that the sorority is set up for long-term operational success with the right people in place. Over the past several months, I’ve worked with the Board of Directors to create a transition and hiring plan. After reviewing a few dozen applicants for the Programs Director position, it became clear that we had a very strong candidate to become the next Managing Director. 

The Board of Directors has hired Macey Normyle (Delta) as the Managing Director in Training. Macey has significant experience in nonprofit management, operations, finances, and strategic planning. She is the perfect person to further Omega Phi Alpha’s mission and goals. Macey is in training until the end of August and then will step into this position on her own (but not alone). 

As for my next step, I am moving on to a full-time position at 100 Degrees Consulting as the Client Services Manager. In some wild chance of luck, I was connected to 100 Degrees when I was searching for a bookkeeping firm to take over the sorority’s monthly bookkeeping. This opportunity will allow me to combine many of my passions and strengths – human resources, team development and management, nonprofit operations, relationship building, and strategic planning. I will also have the opportunity to work a predictable schedule for the first time in several years, which will open up more time for pottery, adventures, and, dare I say, relaxation! While I will certainly miss working for a mission-driven nonprofit organization that I care so deeply about, I’m excited to work closely with many local, regional, national and international nonprofit organizations through my position at 100 Degrees! 

To all of you who have served/worked on my team over the past three years—THANK YOU! You have taught me so much about leadership, the importance of diverse perspectives, the power of listening, and the value of recognition. It has truly been an honor to get to know each of you through your roles on the OLT or HQ staff. You’ve each left a mark on me and Omega Phi Alpha. 

To the Board of Directors (present and past) – THANK YOU for trusting me to lead this organization! You have made me feel valued and heard. You’ve put so much trust in me when it comes to the sorority and doing that has truly set the sorority up for its next chapter. You all helped me find my strengths and improve my areas of opportunity. I’ve learned so much from each of you. Omega Phi Alpha is really lucky to have each of you volunteer your time and talents for the betterment of our beloved organization. I will forever cherish your support of me! 

To all the members of the sorority – Thank you for your support, feedback, and the opportunity to continuously improve the sorority! This is not goodbye forever. From being a founding member of Alpha Zeta Chapter in 2006 to now, it’s safe to say that Omega Phi Alpha certainly will not disappear from my life any time soon. I look forward to future opportunities to be involved and stay connected to the lifelong friendships I’ve created over the last 18 years.

Alyssa Bernhardt

Alyssa Bernhardt

Managing Director