Denise Marie Rugani
Denise Marie Rugani, Epsilon Omicron Chapter, University of California, Davis (1966- )
“Understanding and valuing the past is extremely important. Our history needs to be treasured. In order to move forward, I believe you need to know from where you have come.” – Denise Rugani
Denise Marie Rugani, UC Davis, served as President (2006-2010) as the Fraternity began to look ahead to its Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) celebration. She brought with her a history of leadership in the Fraternity as well as in her professional life.
Denise was known as a skilled motivator, one who practiced what she preached. She exemplified the Leadership Academy curriculum: Model the way; Inspire a shared vision; Challenge the process; Enable others to act; Encourage the heart. By expressing clear expectations, she enables others to make a difference, inspiring them to get involved and give back.
With her strong background in education and administration, Denise’s professional leadership roles grew along with her Kappa roles as she encouraged young members to live up to their potential.
Her lasting legacy to the Fraternity was GIRLS Academy (Girls Inspiring Real Leadership Service). A grant from the Kappa Foundation during her presidency made it possible to hold the first GIRLS Academy. Fifty girls from three California middle schools, including Riverview Middle School where Denise served as principal, came together for a weekend to learn the significance of leadership in everyday circumstances, evaluate their own styles and practice making ethical decisions. Undergraduate Kappas facilitated small groups, and all left with a sense of increased self-esteem and a belief that they can make a difference. This program for middle-school girls continues to be offered throughout the Fraternity supported by our chapter and association members.
Additional highlights of Denise’s terms as President were the creation of a five-year strategic plan to ensure that Kappa remained relevant to our members, launching an e-learning platform, creation of a bilingual Friends and Family page on the Kappa website and seeing the endowment for Leadership Academy become fully funded
Social media exploded during Denise’s presidency. Kappa could be found on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. A global platform was provided for the members to stay connected and also to enable self-paced learning through the Kappa Learning Institute.
Fraternity growth continued with the installation of six chapters: Eta Kappa at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.; Eta Lambda at Loyola University Chicago in Chicago, Ill.; Eta Mu at the University of California, Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, Calif.; Eta Nu at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, Calif.; Eta Xi at the University of California, Merced in Merced, Calif.; and Eta Omicron at Northeastern University in Boston.
“It is my belief that Kappa’s greatness comes from the visionary thinking, courageous leadership and can-do attitude that lives within each of us—those who have come before us and those who will come after,” said Denise, reflecting her belief in building on the past as the Fraternity grows in the future.
Treasuring the past, Denise felt a particular connection with Kappa’s roots when she participated in the placement of markers at the Founders Bridge at Monmouth College and Founder Lou Stevenson’s home in Monmouth, Ill., honoring the women whose foresight began Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Denise held numerous leadership positions in the Fraternity: Vice President 2004-2006, Director of Chapters 2000-2004, Regional Director of Chapters 1998-2000 and Pi South Province Director of Chapters 1995-1998. She served as Fraternity History Chairman 2012-2014; on the Ritual Committee 1994-1996; as an adviser to Epsilon Omicron Chapter, UC Davis 1993-1995; as an adviser to Epsilon Epsilon Chapter, Emory; as an adviser to Auburn University’s Panhellenic Council from 1992-1993; as a Chapter Consultant for Gamma Psi Chapter, Maryland and as a Traveling Consultant 1989-1990.
Family is important to Denise, and she is close to her parents, brother and two sisters, both of whom are members of Epsilon Omicron. She loves to swim, travel, play golf and work with disadvantaged children.
,She currently is the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the Liberty Union High School District in California.
“We must not stand for mediocrity but instead promote greatness by inspiring our members to make changes for the betterment of Kappa as well as all Greek-letter organizations,” said Denise.