Name: Valerie Henninger Steltzer
Pledge Class/Year: Fall ‘69
Officer Position: Chief Financial Officer
As a prospective officer & leader of the ODPAA, what do you consider your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
I believe some of my greatest strengths that would benefit the ODPAA as CFO are my many years of success in all aspects of the daily financial workings of companies I have worked for, including payroll taxes, quarterly and yearend tax reporting and reconciliations. I have proven success in total responsibility. My organizational skills help me view situations, evaluate what needs to be accomplished, and how best to accomplish the desired outcomes. As a prospective leader in our association, I believe I have the ability to help unite all of our sisters in our common desire for true sisterhood; to see that the strengths and experiences of all sisters actually enhance our organization.
If elected or re-elected to the position you seek, what is your commitment to serving out the full term:
If elected, my intention is to serve the complete term.
Please describe accomplishments in your career and personal life that would benefit the ODPAA.
My career in the bookkeeping part of businesses is in direct line with the requirements of a CFO. Working as THE person in a one person office of small companies, I have dealt with everything except the actual hands-on production of products. Time management and organizational skills are crucial to be successful in this type of situation.
What is your vision for the future of the ODPAA? What changes would you advocate and why?
My vision for the future of the ODPAA is increased participation of our alumni. Personally reach out to sisters and invite their participation.
If elected or re-elected, please describe what you seek to accomplish:
. Within your first 90 days
As CFO, my immediate goal would be to completely familiarize myself with the complete finances of the ODPAA, set up and transfer information to a QuickBooks program, and work with the Fund Raising Committee to gain complete understanding of their work. To clarify… I do mean ‘understand’ your work, not take over.
As part of the BOT, we need to reach out to the active members regarding their membership numbers. I was at the house in October. The sisters are absolutely wonderful, but I am terribly concerned about the low membership. There are 14 active members and 4 prospective new members (pledges). 8 will graduate this year.
- Within your first year
I feel it’s necessary to continue to reach out to the active house to understand their finances and offer guidance where needed. I believe that Cathy has successfully done this in the past. With the amazing efforts of the Fund Raising Committee in their work to raise funds through the Heaven and Earth project to make major repairs to the house, we need to make sure that the active members are able to financially maintain it. Please reference my comment above regarding numbers.
- Within your full term
My focus will be on the financial workings of our association.
Understanding one another. I have been to the last 3 summer reunions, and the love and sisterhood I experienced was so amazing. 3 years ago, I knew very few who attended, but came away feeling so great having met so many wonderful women, my Omega sisters. Not once in those 3 reunions did I see, or experience, anything but love between all. I have also attended a few mini reunions, both planned and unplanned, and met even more sisters. These sisters spanned many decades, but meeting together, we celebrated what we had in common, and listened to and rejoiced in our differences.
Within my full term, I would encourage more person to person interaction. I know that it is often almost impossible to attend summer reunions when you are caring for families and careers. The mini reunions are a wonderful way to spend a few hours together with sisters we know, or don’t know yet. I encourage the spread of these get togethers to simply have fun, and also understand one another. Let us learn to celebrate our differences. Our sisterhood should be like a quilt, many different patches that, when put together, become a beautiful masterpiece.
I believe that it is important that we maintain a strong presence on campus. Omega, both actives and alumni, has made an impact on Potsdam campus in so many positive ways. In general, the Greeks together have done this. I was part of a conversation with President Esterberg during the 2015 Sweetheart Breakfast at reunion. She stated that she has been very impressed with the positive things the Greeks have done on campus and throughout the community. It is important for all Greeks to have this kind of positive relationship with the administration.
What does Omega Delta Phi mean to you? Please describe your experience as both an active member and an alumnus.
To me, Omega Delta Phi means love, friendship, warmth…….
On hell night, when I was asked why I wanted to join Omega, I said something about having 3 sisters, but we were all away from home in different directions, and I felt the need for sisters. In reality, I really liked the OPDA sisters, and simply wanted to be a part of it all and accepted for who I was. And… that’s exactly what I got. I had lots of fun experiences, starting right with pledging. For those of you from small pledge classes, you can only imagine the experience of getting to know over 24 pledge sisters in addition to the many active members. It was a great start. I did indeed feel the acceptance that I sought back then.
As an alumnus, it has the same meaning, but on a much larger scope. Our numbers are greater, our experiences are more diverse, and the joy we can share and caring we can offer one another is priceless. I only became aware of the ODPAA in recent years. I had the opportunity to work on the reunion committee in 2016. It is now time for me to step up and offer my assistance to the association where I can use my knowledge.
How would your sisters describe you?
I believe my sisters would describe me as caring, honest, helpful, and friendly.
Please describe your approach to communicating and working with the active membership.
My approach to communicating with and working with the active membership is to make further visits to the house, offering help wherever I can in an effort to develop a genial relationship with them. It is important that I develop a nonthreatening relationship with the current treasurer so she is confident in me and my knowledge to examine their financial records and offer assistance as needed.
What are the top 3 things you would like the ODPAA and active membership to accomplish together?
I hope we could work together to find a way to attract larger numbers of active members. As I stated previously, the diminishing number of active members is very concerning. Hopefully, former rush chairmen could work with/advise the house on how to accomplish better results.
I believe we should continue to work with and support the active membership in their very impressive fund raising efforts.
I would also like the alumni association and active membership to work together to spruce up the house grounds and inside rooms to make it attractive to future members; to make a good first impression. This is beyond the major repairs that are needed.
How do you deal with difficult people & situations? Please describe a situation in which you took a position that upset someone else, and explain how you handled it.
Difficult people and situations are certainly a challenge. At times I will have a discussion with myself to ease any frustration that I may feel about the situation. Then, I do whatever I can to discuss the situation with the difficult person in an effort for us to see each other’s side. Please read below.
Unfortunately, we are all knowledgeable about the recent anger expressed to one of our ODPAA sisters this summer regarding her thoughts on the house repairs and funds needed to accomplish it. Many people attacked her for her timing, being negative, and a whole host of other worries. I stood up for her since she had every right to express her feelings. I made a few comments and I, too, was then personally attacked on the post. The offending post was removed rather quickly. I then private messaged the sister who posted it. We proceeded to have a conversation about respecting other’s right to express their opinion without being attacked, even if it does differ from our own. The conversation was an opportunity to explore each other’s feelings and to discuss respect for each other. I believe we came to an amicable understanding and I now look forward to meeting this sister.
How do you motivate others?
Most important is to recognize what strengths each person has that can contribute to a particular situation, and encourage participation from there.
How do you handle criticism?
I don’t always like to hear it, but I do sit back and evaluate what was said to me. If I feel I need to make changes, I do my best to make the them.
What top 3 qualities do you think a leader should have?
Patience/understanding, listening/compromising skills, and the ability to motivate are all important qualities for successful leaders.
Would you rather be liked or respected?
Respected, without a doubt. Respect speaks of one’s character, such as honesty and compassion, which is earned over a period of time. Being liked is great, too, but it is possible to simply be a fun person without being respected for good character traits.
How do you spend your free time?
I play in our Church Bell Choir as well as participate in various other Church activities, help out in the local food pantry, visit with our 11 grandchildren, do various kinds of needlework, and in the summer, enjoy the Adirondack Mts.
For Fun: what’s your “superpower” or “spirit animal” and why?
I am not certain what is meant by these phrases, but I can tell you what drives me and keeps me focused. It is my faith in God and my upbringing that controls what I do and how I treat others.
Is there anything else you would like to share with your sisters?
My husband and I returned to campus many times between 1990 and 1995 while 2 of our children attended Potsdam. In more recent years, we came back for Crane spring concerts, but in 2015, Bruce and I made the decision to return to campus for alumni reunion. We had an amazing time reconnecting with his Sig Tau fraternity brothers as well as my Omega sisters. Until then, I had been unaware of how active our alumni association was. I have benefited from participating in various events. So many people have worked very hard over many years building ODPAA to a wonderful organization. The opportunity is open for me to “give back” by using my abilities to help our association as CFO. I hope you will give me the opportunity to do so.