Founders' Day Proclamation 2020

Oct. 15 is the day we pause each year to remember the nine young women who founded Zeta Tau Alpha at the State Female Normal School in Farmville, Virginia, in 1898. We are so grateful for their vision and for 122 years of ZTA sisterhood.

We hope you’ll take the time to view the Founders’ Day greeting from National President Alicia Patten Williams and read the official Founders’ Day Proclamation below.

If you haven’t already heard, today is also the ZTA Foundation’s inaugural Day of Giving. If you would like to honor our Founders with a donation, you can do that here.

The recent months have shown us just how essential sisterhood is. Thank you for your continued loyalty to Zeta Tau Alpha.

Founders' Day Proclamation

In 1898, our Founders wanted to create a unique organization at the State Female Normal School. Two other sororities had already formed, but the nine friends envisioned a sisterhood on their own terms and with their own goals. “We were not content to be only a club,” Maud Jones Horner said. “We wished to be something stronger and greater, to reach far out and have influence wherever we went.”

That determination laid the groundwork to make Zeta Tau Alpha one of the largest organizations created by women, for women. The belief in a space for women to have a more meaningful collegiate experience propelled ZTA forward through the Great Depression, World Wars I and II and into the mid- 20th century.

One of the greatest threats to that experience came in the 1960s. Our nation experienced the assassinations of President John Kennedy in 1963 and Dr. Martin Luther King and Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968; protests against the war in Vietnam; and unrest erupting from the Civil Rights Movement. College students and administrators questioned the need for fraternities and sororities. At Convention 1972, ZTA delegates voted to remove exclusionary wording about religion and race from our Membership Selection Policy. Our growth remained strong as we installed 39 chapters in the ensuing 10 years.

Much like earlier decades, today’s complex reality is creating feelings of unrest, unease and uncertainty. This past spring and summer we began to navigate the impacts of COVID-19 and calls for the abolishment of fraternity/sorority organizations. We have renewed our stand against discrimination with the creation of our Inclusion Committee in summer 2019 and the development of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan. By upholding our Founders’ legacy of loyalty to each other, we will sustain our sisterhood and help it prosper for decades to come.

As we face these challenges together, we have a calling to extend our reach, to have that greater influence and to keep ZTA Steadfast & Strong.

Given under my hand and seal, I proclaim the fifteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty, as our 122nd Founders’ Day.

Alicia Patten Williams
National President