Cathy Thompson Carswell
Cathy Thompson Carswell E – Illinois Wesleyan (1943- )
Vision – combining wisdom with foresight – and furthering the goals formulated under the previous administrations – have been the focus of Cathy Thompson Carswell, President of Kappa Kappa Gamma (1996 – 2000).
Viewed as people-oriented, this Illinois Wesleyan graduate often harks back to the courage and vision of the Founders when talking about the Fraternity’s future, stressing the standards and values that “make our Fraternity a timeless organization.”
In a stirring 1998 Convention speech, Cathy noted that many members “share their lives with Kappa, not for personal recognition or praise, but because of a strong belief in the principles developed by those six visionary women in Monmouth.
Membership, integrity and education are seen as the keys to Fraternity endurance and success in the future. “We must educate all Kappas – especially our new members – about the standards and values which make our Fraternity a timeless organization. Many of our lives have been shaped by our belief in those values and our love for Kappa Kappa Gamma.
These ideas are reflected in the accomplishments of Cathy’s administration, which included significant growth in areas of programming, such as the implementation of the New Member Program. The membership classification of “pledge” was amended in the Fraternity Bylaws to “new member” by vote of the 1998 Convention. More than two-dozen Kappa trainers were recruited to present educational programs and to facilitate workshops on leadership and volunteer support, and “Kappa Kinetics” continued to inspire members of all ages. A new, user-friendly chapter finance program was developed to help chapters handle finances more efficiently. Her administration also oversaw completion of History 2000…Kappa Kappa Gamma Through the Years, the Fraternity history commemorating the year 2000.
With a renewed commitment to academic standards, Cathy’s term saw another significant achievement with the Fraternity-wide chapter grade-point-average reaching the goal of 3.1.
Also in her 1998 Convention address, she noted that the need is greater than ever to collaborate with all of the Greek world so that fraternities and sororities can “speak with one voice” to outside challenges and support each other in eradicating negative behavior by some of the Greeks. Importantly, Kappa worked jointly with other Greek groups to support federal legislation guaranteeing freedom of association for students on college and university campuses.
Before serving as President, Cathy served as Program Chairman, Vice President and President of the Westchester (N.Y.) Alumnae Association, Alpha Province Director of Chapters and Region I (Alpha, Beta and Rho) Director of Chapters.
As Director of Personnel (1990 – 1992), she initiated the bylaw revision that changed the name of that position to Director of Standards. She also served as Director of Chapters (1992 – 1994) before becoming Vice President (1994 – 1996).
At home in Greenwich, CT, she has been active in her community as well as in Junior League and her alma mater, Illinois Wesleyan, where she has been a member of the Board of Trustees. She is married to Bruce Carswell and the mother of one son.
Of being an officer Cathy has said, “Kappa provides a way of life for so many of us who serve the Fraternity. Whether an alumnae association or chapter officer, an Advisory Board or House Board member, or an elected or appointed Fraternity officer, each of us finds joy in our relationships and tremendous satisfaction in the work we are doing.”