At the 54th General Assembly & Leadership Seminar held at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, the attendees were treated to keynote addresses from two U.S. congressmen.
The first was by Congressman Kevin Brady (South Dakota 1977) who spoke during Saturday’s Mastery Circle Banquet. The second was by Congressman Kevin Yoder (Kansas 1998)) who was the final keynote speaker at the Purple, Green & Gold Banquet.
U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady
Kevin Brady is the U.S. representative for the Eighth Congressional District of Texas. Brady began his political career in 1990 as a member of the Texas House of Representatives. Six years later he was elected into the U.S. House of Representatives and has been re-elected six times. A 2001 recipient of Lambda Chi Alpha’s Order of Achievement, Brady has remained true to his Fraternity. In 2009, he spoke to Lambda Chi Alpha undergraduates and alumni at our Centennial Celebration in Indianapolis.
During his keynote address at the 54th General Assembly, Brady divided his remarks into three major points.
Every other year in August, Brady and other alumni brothers from his chapter spend a weekend at Bonelake, Wisconsin. Even though they all have busy lives and families they make time for each other. They share the good and bad of their lives.
“It is amazing how that friendship, how that brotherhood is there, in a moment, the minute when we re-connect,” he said. “Any one of us will tell you, every two years, it is the highlight of our lives to get back together.”
Service Before Self
Brady cited the alumni brothers in the room as examples of this.
“It’s nothing about them and what they’ve received, it’s all about what they’ve given to you and me and Lambda Chi,” he said. “It really is remarkable the difference they’ve made to that service of a lifetime for you and me.”
“My job is to lift up, to lead from below to lift up those I serve — all shaped by Lambda Chi and how I was raised by my mom,” he said. “It’s that service that defines us and makes our lives complete. I guarantee you at any point in your life when you think of the moments that make you feel the best, that you treasure the most, it is when you are giving back and helping others.”
“I think God has a plan for each and every one of us,” he said. “In that path I don’t always know what that path is. At times it reminds me of the Ritual. It’s difficult, sometimes confusing, at points I think I’ve really messed it up. At the end of the day, we surface, you go through that, and realize there’s a much higher purpose for all of us.”
Brady challenged the attendees to take this opportunity to turn good men into leaders.
“You came here with a purpose and let’s leave here with a purpose,” he said. “Let’s go back and turn good guys into good leaders.”
U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder
Kevin Yoder is a fifth-generation Kansan who grew up on a grain and livestock farm near Yoder, Kansas. While at University of Kansas, he served as student body president and chapter president at Zeta-Iota. After graduation, Yoder attended the University of Kansas School of Law, where he served two years as the Student Bar Association president.
As an undergraduate brother, Yoder served on the Student Advisory Council, the International Ritual Team, and was a finalist for the Duke Flad Award. As an alumni brother, he has served Zeta-Iota as their chapter advisor and House Corporation president.
Prior to being elected to Congress, Yoder served as a state representative in the Kansas legislature. On January 5, 2011, Yoder was sworn in to serve his first term as part of the 112th Congress.
Before his remarks at the final banquet, Executive Vice President Bill Farkas (Butler) presented Yoder with the Lambda Chi Alpha Order of Achievement. Yoder then went on to share his story about how joining our Fraternity changed his life.
“I feel like I’m home tonight,” Yoder began his remarks. “I feel like I’m back where my journey began.”
Yoder spoke about, after growing up on a farm, how overwhelming the Kansas campus was with 25,000 students. He said he was looking for a family, a home, and he found that in Lambda Chi. The shy freshman joined our Fraternity, was soon elected to his first chapter office, and began his transformation into a leader.
“I can say without any hesitation that without my Lambda Chi experience I would not today be serving as a member of the United States House of Representatives,” Yoder said.
Yoder learned from Lambda Chi that service is a two-way street. The more you put into it, the more it gives back to you. He learned the rewards of hard work, the benefits of commitment to a cause and seeing it through, how to resolve conflicts, crisis management, tough brotherhood, and building lifetime friendships.
Finally, Yoder implored the attendees to take full advantage of all the opportunities Lambda Chi Alpha offers — run for an office, join a committee, start a program, make a difference.
“But most of all, learn, serve, and give all that you can to this wonderful Fraternity…and I promise you will get much more back in return,” he said.