Blackwelder to become Alpha Chi Omega National President
Diane “Wilson” Blackwelder, ’70, wouldn’t have guessed her name would be mentioned back when she was being initiated into the Omicron chapter of Alpha Chi Omega (sorority) Fraternity on Baker’s campus in 1967.
This opportunity wasn’t anywhere on her radar, but she has done more than enough upon graduating from Baker University to earn it.
Blackwelder has been slated to be named the next National President of Alpha Chi Omega and will be elected at the national convention in July in St. Louis. The National Council is made up of a president and five vice presidents, who are nominated for the position before the National Nominating Committee gives its final recommendation. If Blackwelder is elected, her duties as president would begin Aug. 1.
She held numerous roles in the organization leading up to this position, including serving as the chair of the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation for four years and a trustee for eight. In 1996, Blackwelder was named to the National Council as a vice president, which she held for two, two-year terms.
“I do feel that I’ve had many years of experience in many different capacities and roles that have prepared me,” Blackwelder said. “I feel well qualified and ready to assume this awesome responsibility in leading our fraternity.”
Alpha Chi Omega is made up of 132 collegiate chapters, all of which Blackwelder will oversee. But it started with the Omicron chapter at Baker, which Blackwelder credits for getting her to this point and admits will still be her favorite of the 132 chapters.
“I’m honored and feel that Baker University was the start of all of this, being in a wonderful environment where I was not only encouraged to become involved but I had a quality experience,” she said.
Blackwelder has come from a chapter in Kansas to the national stage, but she wasn’t the first to blaze this path. Two other alumnae of the Omicron chapter at Baker University, Jan Crandall and Martha Hanlon, have also overseen the fraternity as the national president.
Molly Schmeidler, Baker senior and 2011 Omicron chapter president, wrote a recommendation letter asking for Blackwelder to be nominated for president, and Schmeidler learned about her work as soon as she rushed at Alpha Chi Omega. Schmeidler enjoyed getting to know Blackwelder during her time as chapter president and knows seeing Baker alumnae serve in these roles motivates and gives confidence to current members to pursue a similar path.
“It’s so cool to see the hope that you might have for the future,” Schmeidler said. “It’s cool when you can see that personified right in front of you and how this will reflect on the girls.”
Blackwelder has balanced these positions within the fraternity, which are all on a volunteer basis, while also serving on the Baker Alumni Association Board of Directors, raising a family and working as a professional educator.
Blackwelder may not have seen her involvement with Alpha Chi Omega coming in 1967, but her experiences have made the hours of work pay off. Her responsibilities will extend nationwide, but her heart will remain with the women of the Omicron chapter at Baker University.
“I would say it’s just that personal reward that you’re making a difference. That you’re able, hopefully, to serve as a mentor and role model for other women and keeping our values alive,” she said. “(Members of the Omicron chapter) are family. It’s always home for me. I feel very much at home. I would not trade that experience. I love coming back to Baldwin city and Baker to be with those women.”