LCA Made Women: Sunny Reed Says in a World Where Women Are Told to ‘Turn Ourselves Down,’ Lambda Chi Encourages Her to Speak Up
“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.
Last but not least, Sunny Reed, a controller in the Business Affairs Department, shares her story.
I previously worked on the management team for Sam’s Club corporation. My husband is an aircraft maintenance contractor and took an open-ended assignment in Indianapolis, so I transferred in my position with Sam’s Club because it was expected that managers relocate periodically. About a year after being in Indianapolis, my region restructured and I was given the choice of accepting a severance and leaving the company or relocating (again). My husband and I made the decision that I would accept the severance and stay home since our sons were soon to graduate high school, leaving their sister who is 10 years their junior behind. Since the kids were in school, I began an online program to earn my Masters in Accounting which would enable me to go into online instruction upon graduation and still have the freedom to be home and available for my family. Three months into this new lifestyle I found myself going crazy trying to occupy my days and one of the moms in our group who works for another Greek organization told me about an open position with Lambda Chi Alpha. She really sold me on the family environment and work-life balance of working for a Greek organization. I joined staff as the Controller in July 2014. My formal job description would state that I oversee the accounting function of the organization and ensure the integrity and reliability of our financials. I say this translates into “everything.”
Why did you want to work for a fraternity, and where do you find your passion for an all-male organization?
Initially, I did not set out to work for a fraternity specifically. The standard I did set for myself when deciding to re-enter the workforce was to find an organization in which the staff is working toward something they have a vested interest in. During my own work experiences and leading teams of employees, I found the best contributors to be those who were passionate about their “why;” and it was never monetary. I find my passion for Lambda Chi Alpha in every staff member, every undergraduate, every alumnus and affiliated nonmember I encounter. The dedication of the individuals I serve and work beside everyday inspire me to give the very best of myself.
What have you gained professionally and learned about yourself in this role?
Well, since coming on staff, I completed that masters program I started during my short stint as a stay-at-home mom. What I’ve gained professionally is a variety of accounting experience that comes with managing the accounting for two very different organizations — the Fraternity and Educational Foundation. My opportunities for professional development are endless, as our department is always exploring ways to operate more efficiently to ensure our ability to provide unique and meaningful programming and resources for our undergraduate members. What have I learned about myself in this role? I’ve learned that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being an assertive woman in the workplace. As women, we tend to want to “turn ourselves down” to avoid causing others to feel intimidated or simply because we’ve been programmed to believe that women aren’t supposed to have a strong presence. As a woman on staff, I am fully empowered to perform my job duties, and my assertiveness is not only accepted. It is appreciated.
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?
I think it’s important to have female representation in all careers because many women grew up being told what they could not become. Personally, growing up as a minority female in a low-income, single-parent home made even more opportunities unrealistic and out-of-reach. This is part of the reason we should celebrate how far women have come in this nation — the mere notion that we are not products of our circumstances nor are we limited to anyone else’s threshold of opportunities. I volunteer in many different capacities to mentor young people mainly because I live by the principle of “being who I needed when I was younger.” I needed someone who “looked like me” as an example of the opportunities outside of my then, very limited existence. I think all any woman hopes to do is inspire other women, young and old, to continue our progress.
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