Mary Ruddick Silzel, Whitman, reminisces about the founding of the Desert Alumnae Association:
"After I was named Province Director of Alumnae in 1994, I started looking at areas within Kappa Province where we might establish or revitalize associations. Many of my former chaptermates and friends from the Pacific Northwest were wintering in the desert, and I was eager to find a way to get them together during the months they were away from their home associations. At the same time, the Fraternity was starting to plan for its 2000 General Convention which would be held in Palm Desert. It was obvious that this was an area made-to-order for a new association.
We needed a contact or two to get things rolling. An officer of my home association (Orange County), Susan Martyn Clark, UCLA, announced she was moving to the desert area, and another OCAA member Melinda Bray McCrea, Kentucky, mentioned that her chaptermate Ambie Markolf Henderson, Kentucky, lived in the Coachella Valley. That was what was needed - two loyal Kappas to be the keystones - and I began corresponding with them. We decided to plan a Founders Day luncheon in November 1997 to bring together as many desert Kappas as we could, through the few with permanent desert addresses and by word of mouth, to see if there was enough interest to move ahead. This resulted in a wonderful turnout, a wonderful celebration, and a wonderful Kappa spirit.
The 20 to 25 who attended enthusiastically decided that they wanted to help start a "little Kappa group" in the Coachella Valley. Susan Martyn Clark, UCLA, and Ambie Markolf Henderson, Kentucky, agreed to serve as charter co-presidents. Others, including Delieu Moore Scopesi, USC, Susie Mobley Moore, Kansas State, Lois Normandin Handy, USC, Jean Davies Hollenbeck, Oregon State, Gigi Gysin Roberson, Cincinnati, and Barbara Coffman Stone, Kentucky, stepped up to the plate to serve as the required officers and chairmen to get things off the ground.
These Kappas grabbed the ball and ran with it, and with only minimal guidance and assistance on my part, soon had a newsletter ready to send out, were recruiting the names of Kappas who wintered in the desert via The Key magazine, were planning future events and projects, and anticipating with excitement and commitment to hostess the Convention in three short years! Susie Mobley Moore, Kansas State, moved into the presidency for the term leading up to Convention, and we know what a 'spark plug' she is. We knew success was guaranteed.
From there, the association assumed a vibrant life of its own. Soon Kappas were 'signing in' as soon as they arrived at their winter homes from all over the U.S. and Canada, interest groups were building, and the association was making its mark on the philanthropic scene as well as impacting the community.
The 2000 Convention in Palm Desert continues to be hailed as one of the best organized and hostessed in history. Frequently we hear an alumna say, 'Let's go back to Palm Desert - that was the greatest Convention!' The Fraternity Council was rather awed by the skill with which the fledgling association accomplished this major task. The secret? Probably that the Desert Alumnae Association enjoys a membership of wonderfully supportive alumnae who prioritize Kappa and treasure the opportunity to share with each other the values and ideals we hold dear.
Since then, you all know the happy story - a model association which provides to Kappas the essence of sisterhood, friendship, support, and loyalty. I am so proud to have been a small part of its founding and to remain a dual member. I only wish the miles were fewer between Orange County and the Coachella Valley so I could enjoy all the gatherings instead of the few I do."