The History of the Richmond, Virginia, Alumnae Club
The Richmond Alumnae Club was originally named in honor of Maryland Alpha May Lansfield Keller, a founding member and Grand President of Pi Beta Phi from 1908–1918. Dr. Keller was the first Pi Phi initiate of the Maryland Alpha Chapter at Goucher College, where she served as the first Chapter President as well as class president. During her 10 years as Grand President, she installed 21 chapters and dedicated the new school building for the Settlement School in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Having recently celebrated the club’s 100-year anniversary, the club has expanded interest groups to meet member needs, has a dedicated travel group (that has been taking trips for 20 years and counting) and includes a very active Read > Lead > Achieve® literacy group. The club also encompasses memorable events throughout the year including a raucous White Elephant Christmas Gift Exchange annual raffle, Speed Read with Virginia Eta, and simple get-togethers to enjoy the club’s sisterhood.
The Richmond Alumnae Club has always focused on literacy. In 2016, they dedicated a Little Free Library at St. Andrew’s School in Richmond, which is one of a handful of schools in the country providing high-caliber education to children from low-income families through a full scholarship for every child. What began as a partnership with the club’s local First Book® organization has resulted in monthly readings at two schools – both of which have applied for and received 500-book grants from Pi Beta Phi Foundation. In 2017, the club was awarded another 500-book grant for St. Andrew’s School.
The club also supports The Elizabeth Kates Foundation (est. 1942), created by and named for a Pi Phi. This small, all-volunteer organization has helped thousands of women incarcerated in state prisons in Virginia improve their chances of a successful return to the community. With a focus on education, this group provides financial support for onsite community college courses, correspondence courses and vocational courses. Richmond club members are active board members, contribute money to Dollars for Scholars (the scholarship program), provide gently used clothing to Kate's Kloset and manage Kate's Readers, a book club for offenders.
Awards and Club Recognition
- Club of Excellence
- Club of Superior Performance
- Excellence in Communication
- Nashville Alumnae Club Award
- Top 10 Club
The club's dedication to literacy has been evident since its beginning. The club coordinates with the University of Richmond Virginia Etas on a number of events including Fraternity Day of Service, Cookie Shines, fraternity heritage events, initiation, leadership transitions and Founders' Day festivities. The club expanded the scope of chapter support to include the University of Virginia (Virginia Epsilon) and the College of William and Mary (Virginia Gamma).
- May Lansfield Keller
- Elizabeth Kates