LCA Made Women: Alyssa Gilles Was Skeptical About Working For an All-Male Organization, But Says She Was Welcomed With Open Arms, Developed Grit
“You’re a woman and you work for a fraternity?”
“Weren’t there any qualified men for that position?”
These are questions the women on staff at International Headquarters hear often.
March is National Women’s History Month, so we are introducing you to some of the women on our staff and sharing their passion for not only their position, but Lambda Chi’s mission.
Q: How did you end up at Lambda Chi Alpha, and what do you do on staff?
A: I really ended up at Lambda Chi Alpha by chance. I graduated from Ball State University in 2013, and immediately went to Grad School at Indiana State University. While at Ball State, I was heavily involved but never got involved with Fraternity and Sorority Life. So when I went to Indiana State to pursue my Master’s in Student Affairs and Higher Education, this was obviously one functional area I lacked experience in and immediately pursued an internship within the Fraternity and Sorority Life Office. During that experience, I started to see the bigger picture of how fraternities and sororities positively impact not only my field but also their campus communities. When I was job searching, I was looking for an entry-level conduct position and was limiting myself to Indianapolis. I had applied for a position at another Fraternity/Sorority Headquarters and called a friend that worked at Lambda Chi Alpha at the time to help prepare me. He quickly dismissed the preparation piece and asked why I wasn’t applying to the open Chapter Conduct Coordinator position here. I told him I wasn’t a brother, and he immediately laughed and said, “Well you aren’t a member of the other either.” Face palm. The rest is history. I have been here for almost three years, I have held four different positions, and I have truly loved every minute of my experience. Currently, I have the privilege to serve as the Director of Risk Management and Education. In this role, I oversee all of the fraternity’s crisis management processes, serve as a liaison between chapter’s and our insurance broker and oversee member development programming.
Q: Why did you want to work for a fraternity, and where do you find your passion for an all-male organization?
A: I had no intention of ever working for a fraternity. There are some days I laugh to myself about how I ended up here. I wouldn’t say I ever wanted to work for a fraternity. Lambda Chi Alpha sold the experience to me very well when I interviewed, and the organization has taught me so much about myself personally and professionally. My passion lies with the student experience. This is why I got involved in a Student Affairs and Higher Education program in the first place. It drives all of what I bring to the table at Lambda Chi Alpha. College truly should be one of the most impactful experiences of a student’s life, and I believe that members of Lambda Chi Alpha have an added advantage of being a part of something that provides true brotherhood, camaraderie and lifelong friendships. I am blessed to get to see that in action every single day.
Q: What have you gained professionally and learned about yourself in this role?
A: Professionally and personally, I have learned a lot about control. Most people would categorize me as a type A personality. I like to be in control, and unfortunately in my line of work you just can’t control everything. One of my favorite quotes that I lean on every day is: “When you can’t control what is happening around you, challenge yourself to control the way in which you respond. That is where your true power lies.” I’ve allowed this professional philosophy to work its way into my personal life and have found a lot of peace in doing so.
Q: It is National Women’s History Month. Why is it important, do you think, to have female representation in all jobs/careers? Why is it important, in your opinion, that we celebrate how far women have come in this nation?
A: My line of work is already heavily male dominated. Prior to coming to Lambda Chi Alpha, working in Student Conduct really allowed me to develop a resiliency and ultimately GRIT. Even with this experience, I was skeptical of working for an all-male organization because I was scared I wouldn’t have a voice at the table. Luckily, I had a great first supervisor and a Director who allowed me to be heard and believed in my value as an employee. My mother was also instrumental in working through these perceived challenges and fears. As a business owner, she was able to help me by leaning on her own experiences in another male dominated field. I now see that I, along with my other wonderful female colleagues at Lambda Chi Alpha, are able to bring fresh ideas, new perspectives and new experiences to the organization. This is important in every field, career and environment, and should be celebrated with open arms.
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