Candidate For President: Margaret Saunders

Margaret Saunders
Margaret Saunders

Name: Margaret Saunders
Pledge Class/Year: Spring 1988
Officer Position: President

As a prospective officer & leader of the ODPAA, what do you consider your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?

My greatest strengths include; my ability to listen and see all sides of a situation, my sensitivity, knowing that I am fallible and taking steps to avoid repeating errors. I am not afraid to ask questions or ask for help from others. I fully recognize that my weaknesses can also work for me as strengths and vice versa.

Some of my weaknesses include my ability to see all sides of a situation and my sensitivity. There are times when I know that I am being over-analytical and that I must try to keep in mind deadlines and come to a conclusion quicker when needed. I am a crier, always have been and always will be. While this may be viewed as being weak, I believe it helps me respect others’ feelings better.

If elected or re-elected to the position you seek, what is your commitment to serving out the full term?

It is safe to say that there will not be another repeat of an unexpected child-birth that occurred during my tenure as Secretary in 2014. Since 2009, I have volunteered my time one way or another to this organization. My introduction to serving the ODPAA was through the 50th Anniversary Reunion Committee when I coordinated online registrations, housing arrangements, and welcomed sisters back to Omega. This lead me to seek the position of Secretary when it was vacant and I also became a member of the Constitution Committee that drafted the Financial and Voting By-laws. When my son was born, my secretarial duties were graciously taken over by others, except for the database which I am still responsible for, until a replacement was voted on. Next, I was appointed as the VP of Membership. Lastly and as most can recall, I became Interim President by way of succession in July. To say that I was hesitant would be an understatement of epic proportions. I have come to realize that there are so many sisters willing to support me in leading this organization and I so humbled. It has been a pleasure to work with, speak with and get to know sisters through this process. I am committed to serve a full term or as long as the membership will have me.

Please describe accomplishments in your career and personal life that would benefit the ODPAA.

Having never completed my degree, my career life has always been a something that I have had to work very hard to achieve respect and success. I worked my way up the ladder in two different organizations in the fields of technology sales and higher education marketing. At my last job, I was thrown into a marketing role that I had no experience in and ended up an Assistant Vice President leading a team of 10. I seem to excel at trial by fire! I also was part of a team that researched, customized, implemented and trained thousands of employees on a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This endeavor required meeting with several business units and understanding their needs, mapping processes and communicating possible solutions.

My personal life has been somewhat of a struggle over the past 5 years but I have managed to pick myself back up and move on.

What is your vision for the future of the ODPAA? What changes would you advocate and why?

I would build upon our successes, try to correct missteps, and not necessarily advocate for major changes. Most importantly I would foster a culture of support, accountability, open communication and respect.

If elected or re-elected, please describe what you seek to accomplish:

  • Within your first 90 days

Finish loose ends from 2017, welcome and provide “orientation” for new officers, participate in the creation and approval of the 2018 budget, lead the appointment of new officers as needed

  • Within your first year

Continue to enhance campus relationships, provide different and more frequent forms of communication to the membership, increase networking opportunities

  • Within your full term

Explore an estate program, support all the efforts from our various committees

What does Omega Delta Phi mean to you? Please describe your experience as both an active member and an alumni.

As an active member, I took 4 little sisters (one de-pledged) and was assistant social chair. I was a horrible big sister and was too caught up in boys and the social scene. At one point, the house threatened to take my letters away because I said something stupid, harmless but stupid, to my little sister and one of her pledge sisters. I never fessed up to the house at that time because I was a coward and I am very thankful that my Omega experience did not end that day. I will forever be thankful to the active house at that time for forgiving me and giving me another chance.

My alumni experience began with attending Alumni Weekends (active house organized) and Bid Nights soon after I left school. I returned fairly often and have met many actives who are now alumni. My first summer reunion was for the 50th and I have attend a couple since then. I am much more involved as an alumni than I ever was as an active. My involvement is my way of giving back for all that Omega has done for me.

How would your sisters describe you?

Since July, I have had several people tell me that I am level-headed. Up to this point in my life, I don’t believe that anyone would have said that or at least noticed anyway.

Please describe your approach to communicating and working with the active membership.

I have reached out to our active sisters and let them know that I am available to them whenever needed. We need to assist when asked without interfering with their own decision making.

What are the top 3 things you would like the ODPAA and active membership to accomplish together?

  1. Partner to fix and maintain the property at 51 Elm
  2. Partner to continue to build and communicate the positive value of Greek life to the colleges and community
  3. Partner to continue to be successful in meaningful philanthropies

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.

In general terms, I try to first understand the situation, ask questions, empathize and offer solutions. Not every solution is going to appease everyone but I think I am pretty good at taking a fair, honest and fact-based approach to dealing with issues.

How do you motivate others?

I try to motivate others by remaining positive, empowering people and encouraging people to work together to accomplish goals. Obstacles are meant to be overcome and together we can do anything. It is important to give credit where it is due and praise those who surround you. I would not be in this position or running for this position without the endless support and encouragement from many people. A million thank yous are not enough. This in turn has motivated me to motivate others.

How do you handle criticism?

It is human nature for criticism to make us uncomfortable and initially defensive (Sometimes I might even cry – see above weaknesses). I am not different in this natural reaction, but am learning to not immediately react, but to reflect and learn from criticism.

What top 3 qualities do you think a leader should have?

  1. Vision for the future
  2. Supreme communication skills
  3. Accountability

Would you rather be liked or respected?

Respected, no question. Inherently when you respect someone, there is an element of liking them.

How do you spend your free time?

I enjoy spending time with my family golfing, playing games or just being together. I also like to solve technical problems, I am a self admitted geek.

For Fun: What’s your ‘superpower’ or ‘spirit animal’ and why?

A few people have described me as an enigma, so I guess I am not unlike a unicorn?

Is there anything else you would you like to share with your sisters?

My sincere thanks for supporting me always, even when I have made some not so favorable decisions personally. Sorry if I shared too much information in this questionnaire, but it is who I am.

Additional Bio Information

I pledged Omega Spring 1988 and left Potsdam in 1990 to raise my first child Elena. In addition to Elena, I have another daughter Lauren , and a son Johnny. We have lived in Pennsylvania since 1992 and in the Allentown/Bethlehem area since 2013.

Currently I am a stay at home mom, my previous positions include; Assistant Vice President of Marketing for the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), Executive Recruiter for Strategic Sales Solutions and Membership Manager for the International Computer Security Association.

During my time in the house I held the office of Assistant Social for one semester. Fortunately, I have been able to give back my time as an alumna by serving as the “Registration Queen” for Omega’s 50th reunion, being a member of the Omega Alumni Association Constitution Committee. I have also held the positions of Secretary, Database Manager, VP of Membership and Interim President. I enjoy my interactions with my fellow sisters and other Greeks as we seek to find solutions to all the obstacles faced by today’s students. I would welcome the opportunity to continue to serve in a leadership role.

A few of my personal goals for the office of President are; ensuring OAA transparency to all members, encouraging participation and inclusion, further enhancing relationships with the colleges, exploring new technologies to better manage the business aspects of the OAA, serving as a conduit to all BOT members and Officers, other alumni and the active sisterhood to strengthen and build upon our legacy.