Today's Special: Serving Up Sisterhood

Sisterhood and food seem to go together naturally. Can it really be a ZTA event without food? In the early days, the Founders shared the gift of fresh red strawberries and made delicious stew from oysters sent by the Coleman sisters’ father. Today’s Zetas may gather for family-style dinner at the chapter house, order pizza for a movie night or host a potluck as an alumnae chapter. Food enjoyed with sisters is always delicious.

Read more about four talented Zetas—three alumnae and a collegian—whose love of food, family and fellowship has guided their successful career paths.

Brittany Wills

By Hannah Newman, Contributing Writer

Although college comes to an end, a Zeta’s job to serve is never over. The end is only a transition into the beginning.

For alumna Brittany Wills, that transition to a new beginning came just before graduating from the University of Missouri when she and her then fiancé, Allen, signed their first lease to open a Pickleman’s Gourmet Café in Springfield, Missouri.

The Pickleman’s near the Mizzou campus played a pivotal role in Brittany’s collegiate experience and became the place where her past, present and future collided. It was well-known for catering fraternity and sorority events and being open late for college students when everything else was closed.

Brittany knew she wanted to invest in a business where she could prioritize working with people and her relationships with them. She wanted a business that would grow alongside its workers and serve the community with love.

“Our goal is to provide a high-quality meal in a reasonable amount of time with a smile on our face,” Brittany said. “If we can make someone’s day just a little bit better, then I feel like we do our part one guest at a time. We want to be a positive part of our guests’ lives and our community.”

Brittany and Allen now make days a bit better at seven stores in communities throughout Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas and soon, Texas. Their experience as business owners has flourished into more than just a place for people to work and enjoy a pleasant eating experience. Their restaurants have become an opportunity for the local areas to grow and better themselves because of Pickleman’s goal to touch the lives of their community.

“We focus on partnering with local schools, food banks and children’s organizations to give back through community fundraisers. My husband and I are both very passionate about education; we are working on different scholarship programs for our employees who are pursuing their education. The goal is not to hold onto our teams forever, but to send them on in their journey better than when they started with us,” Brittany said.

Brittany was initiated at Eta Lambda Chapter (College of Charleston) and then transferred to Alpha Psi Chapter (University of Missouri). She currently lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she is a member of the Northwest Arkansas Alumnae Chapter. She is the former General Advisor and current Housing Advisor for Epsilon Chapter (University of Arkansas) and current Mentor to Alpha Upsilon Chapter (Oklahoma State University).

Brittany’s inner Zeta has overlapped with her role as a business owner. She continues to embrace lifelong learning, leading and serving daily. “I enjoy working with Zetas from all walks of life and different experiences than me. It challenges me and keeps me on my toes, making me a better mom, wife and businesswoman. To see so many collegiate women go on to become successful career women brings incredible joy; knowing one day they will be the advisors to women like my 6-year-old daughter is a full circle moment.”

Jessica Siegel Lehrer

By Peyton Harris, Contributing Writer

After growing up in her family’s restaurant business, Jessica Siegel Lehrer insisted her career would follow a different route.

She graduated from the University of South Florida in 2005 with a degree in psychology and criminology. Then she attended Cambridge University in England for her master’s degree in criminology. When she returned to the States, she worked as a police officer for the City of West Palm Beach. But something was still missing.

Fast forward to now; Jessica is a mother, wife—and yes, a restaurant owner.

“I missed being with my family,” she said. “I missed the experience of working together.”

Since 2007, Jessica has helped manage the family business, Adam & Joe’s Gourmet Eatery. In 2017, she became a partner in the restaurant that specializes in perfectly curated lunches.

Adam & Joe’s website features colorful wraps, bowls and sandwiches. One post encourages customers to “#eattherainbow.” Jessica began working in the catering side of the business before she became an owner. She has worked to modernize the restaurant while maintaining its California-inspired core.

“We’ve always been quick to adapt with things that need to change, either with technology or the way we have to do logistics,” she said.

Talking to new people and exploring creativity are her favorite aspects of the job. “What I get to do every day is a little different, which is exciting,” she said. “There are always new things to create and new ideas.”

An average day for Jessica consists of taking her children to school, reviewing catering orders for the following day and organizing the catering team. “It could be a sandwich platter for 10. It could be box lunches for a thousand. It could be a burger bar for 500,” she said.

In 2003, during her junior year of college, Jessica became a founding member of Kappa Sigma Chapter (University of South Florida). Helping to establish a new chapter on the campus provided a great experience for her. “I know that if I reach out to any of my Zeta sisters, even if I haven’t talked to them in 15 years, they’ll take my call. I know they’ll respond,” she said. Her involvement in ZTA has continued after college. She lives in Boca Raton, Florida, and is a member of the Broward County Alumnae Chapter.

Throughout her time in the business, and her life in general, Jessica believes getting to know new people, or “lifelong learning” is the value she retains most as a member of ZTA. “What I carry most is really getting to know people who are different and learning how to connect on a real level with other people.”

Mickela Mooney

By Liv Gardner, Contributing Writer

Trails and row crops form the pathways that connect the houses of the Mooney family in Chesterfield, Tennessee. On that small family farm, surrounded by aunts, uncles and grandparents, Mickela “Mickey” Mooney learned the definition of hard work.

Her family paved a path to set her up for success and sent her off to The University of Tennessee at Martin to pursue a degree in agriculture business. Her parents and grandparents served as her foundation, but it was her sister, Reed, who served as her inspiration.

“Reed worked for a local business that specialized in charcuterie boards and she eventually took it over,” said Mickey. After a couple of years, Reed made the decision to step aside. Mickey faced a choice most college sophomores don’t expect: Could she remain a college student and become a business owner?

In August 2022, Mickey took out a loan.

She had done the research, talked to renters and loan officers, consulted with her mom and shadowed her sister.

A signature here, an initial there and the finishing touches were all in place. All the licenses were now in her name.

She had done it. After months of dreaming, she was officially a business owner at age 20.

At the same time Mickey was deciding to run her sister’s business, she was also taking on a new challenge: becoming President of the Delta Mu Chapter (The University of Tennessee at Martin).

A self-proclaimed tomboy who never saw herself in a sorority, Mickey accepted a continuous open bid in spring 2021. Since then, she has served the chapter as Director of Campus Activities, Treasurer and now, President.

“I don’t think I would have been able to take on the business if I hadn’t served in those ZTA roles,” said Mickey. “Being Treasurer taught me so much, from how to manage a budget, to paying bills, to basic time management skills.”

Mickey opened the doors to her own business, The Charcuterie Queen, in November 2022. Her first customers? Her ZTA sisters.

“I’ll never forget our opening day. My advisors chipped in to send flowers and my sisters stopped in between their classes to support me,” said Mickey. “It meant the world to me.”

With six employees on staff, including several Zetas, Mickey operates Monday to Saturday, stopping in between her classes and Executive Council meetings to make sure everything runs smoothly. She has modified her sister’s menu to make it her own and even offers occasional charcuterie classes for locals and students.

“I’m definitely proud of what I have accomplished, but I wouldn’t say that it’s why I’m most proud of myself,” said Mickey. “A lot has happened with my family and friends recently. I am proud of myself for still being able to be a daughter, a sister and a friend.”

Stacy Heuer

By Maddie Willis, Contributing Writer

Stacy Heuer turned her love for cooking into a 30-year career in the food industry by following a unique post-college path.

She majored in food science at Purdue University. Most students who study food science end up working as product developers or manufacturers. Instead, Stacy became a project manager, guiding new product development projects from the beginning stages of formulating an idea to getting the product on store shelves and beyond.

She finds her work in the industry relatable because food is relatable for everybody. “This has turned into being just that perfect mix between something I’ve always loved to do, which was cook, and then actually taking a piece of that and turning it into a career,” Stacy said.

Stacy valued her time at Purdue University. She enjoyed her studies and received direct guidance from the program department head. “I got the advantage of going to a big school but being in a department that felt like I was part of a much smaller school, so the best of both worlds,” she said.

Her career in the food industry began during a co-op opportunity with Continental Can Company. The company offered her a position immediately out of college.

Later, Stacy worked for Keurig Green Mountain when the company launched its cold beverage products. She was the program manager leading the development of the K-pods used in Keurig beverage makers.

Stacy has been in her current position as project manager at Integrated Project Management for the last seven years. As a project manager, Stacy oversees the entire process of any given project. She works alongside many different departments, including research, marketing, finance and development to get a new product on the shelves. She described her project manager position as, “...being equal parts air traffic controller, therapist, bullfighter and toddler daycare director.”

Trying new things was also part of Stacy’s college experience. She decided to get involved with something different by going through recruitment. She was initiated into Alpha Theta Chapter (Purdue University) in 1985 as a first-year student and lived in the chapter house for three years. “My two closest friends are pledge class sisters,” she said.

Stacy believes her time as a collegiate ZTA helped her develop skills she uses daily in her professional career. “You can learn the technical skills really easily to be a project manager, but frankly, it’s a people job,” she said. “I’ll credit ZTA for helping me build some of those people skills.”

Stacy is currently a member of the St. Louis Alumnae Chapter, where she always feels a sense of family. “No matter where you went to school or what you do for a living or anything like that, there’s a consistent common bond between everyone.”

Outstanding Alumna

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