Dr. Mari Ann Callais

Dr. Mari Ann Callais is more than a speaker! She offers an array of unique programs for Fraternity and Sorority Life and for the college experience.

“Dr. Mari Ann was so much more than I expected and the event with her went 1000 times better than I could have ever dreamed! I honestly couldn’t give her a higher rating or be more pleased with her speech.”

– Sara Lillard, Alpha Omega Epsilon

“Because Mari Ann “did her homework” on our organization AND attended our awards dinner the evening before her keynote, she truly understood who we are. She started out with some songs which got the audience on their feet like I have never seen with this group. Both collegians and volunteers (from age 22-75) were dancing, singing, and just raving about her keynote.”

– Liz Watson, Sigma Delta Tau

“Mari Ann is amazing! She was very informative and easy to talk to. The interactive actives worked so well and really engaged the audience. She was perfect for our campus!”

– Haley Jozwiak, Sam Houston State University

“Mari Ann could not have been more on target with what our sororities and fraternities needed. I think she had a relaxed and fun tone, but because of her ability to connect with the students, she could be honest and real with them. That was amazing.”

– Ginger Taylor, Texas Lutheran University

Stepping Up and Leaning In: A Woman’s Guide to Living and Leading the College Experience

The possibilities are endless. As many educational opportunities exist for women, as for men. Women can enter into any field. Women work alongside men every day, sharing responsibilities in the workplace, home, and athletic fields. So why are women paid less, promoted less often, and oftentimes slighted when great accomplishments are made? The women’s community on any campus is sizeable, often outweighing the men. Are the women standing up to their male co-leaders when an idea goes against the women’s values or policies? Are women still participating in degrading activities in order to be viewed as fun or attractive? Do women find themselves feeling unheard in different areas of student government or academic departments? It’s time to lean in! Perhaps it’s time for women to “lean in”, taking an active role in their careers, relationships, and neighborhoods. And the best place to do that can be within the campus community. Sheryl Sandberg’s book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” explores why women have a tendency to sit back passively when given the opportunity to step into leadership roles. Oftentimes, women don’t feel they deserve to be respected, or to hold a high-ranking position. Women are invited to the table, but in order to gain respect and achieve their goals, they must know how to come to the table effectively, with intention, confidence, and poise. Dr. Mari Ann Callais has worked with women in various communities for over 25 years. In this dynamic keynote, Mari Ann will challenge women to stand up and be more respected by men, campus administrators, professors, their roommates, their friends, and themselves. By leaning in, women can take hold of their experiences and make a difference in the lives around them. Customizable for new students or sorority audiences! Learning Outcomes As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • The ability to find resources to make changes in their lives and their communities.
  • How to make changes and assist others who may need encouragement and mentoring.
  • To stand as a proud woman, or to become someone who is able to support strong women.
  • To have the courage to be bold, take risks, and be a change agent in the world around them.

From Ritual to Reality

Using music, humor, and storytelling, Mari Ann offers a truly unique keynote about values, ritual and the responsibilities of being a lifetime fraternity or sorority member. For nearly a decade, she has built a legion of admirers with her fun, honest, upbeat keynotes on fraternity and sorority values. Fraternity and sorority communities have asked her to campus to discuss the importance of community service and ritual with new members. She is among the most popular retreat facilitators in the country. As the past national president for Theta Phi Alpha Fraternity, Mari Ann offers a unique blend of local and national perspective on sorority issues and has helped numerous Panhellenics deal with the issue of sorority hazing. When you bring Mari Ann to campus, you bring a speaker who approaches fraternity and sorority education in a completely unique way. She brings her guitar and uses music to create a relaxing environment. Students rate her keynotes highly because she talks with students, not to students. She can lead them in goal-setting one minute, then lead them in a sing-along of Jimmy Buffet songs the next. By sharing her experiences and observations, Mari Ann helps fraternity and sorority members explore their values and their reasons for being part of a fraternity or sorority. Learning Outcomes As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • To have a better understanding of how to put the concepts shared in our ritual ceremonies into practice.
  • How to challenge their membership to create experiences that are aligned with the promises and values expressed in the creeds, ritual ceremonies, and educational programs of their organization.
  • Ways to take care of one another and how to challenge each other – because it is what they said they would do in their membership oath.
  • To understand that their founders created a foundation for us to live lives of values and purpose, and that they are better members because of their involvement in a fraternity or sorority.

Why Do We HAZE and How Do We Change?

This keynote takes the focus not from a hazing perspective of what not to do, but from the perspective of why are chapters still participating in activities and behavior that contradicts our values as people and as organizations. This keynote is interactive and incorporates concepts of behaviors and values congruence within our chapters. Learning Outcomes As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • Why such a vial behavior as hazing exists.
  • How contradictory hazing is to many organization’s values.
  • What they can do to be a role model against hazing.
  • The power of hazing to do lasting harm.

Making the Most of Your College Experience

This keynote is great for new student orientation, parent programs and first-year experiences programs. Using tips from her chapter “Making the Most of Your College Experience” in the book Roadmaps to Success in College, Mari Ann shares her experiences from both a professional and personal perspective. This keynote is upbeat, entertaining, motivational and educational. Learning Outcomes As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • How to make the most of the resources available to them.
  • How to make friends quickly and with ease.
  • How to find your place in a large school.
  • How to optimize their time and energy

Leadership Out Loud: Life Lessons for Success

When you think of leadership, is it something you know or something you do? More than likely, it’s both. Many people hold leadership positions, but do they understand what leadership truly means? Dr. Callais has more than 25 years of experience teaching, facilitating, and leading organizations toward providing more effective experiences. She has led a national organization, once close to extinction, to become the successful, thriving organization it is today. She has taught teams, both in the corporate world and in campus communities, to communicate more effectively and motivate their members to lead with integrity. This program is applicable to residence life trainings, campus activities, leadership, professional staff development, and even graduate student development. Dr. Callais has worked with student organizations on both community college and university campuses. She has served a faculty member teaching student affairs leadership and student development classes as well as freshman leadership courses. Additionally, she has served as the National President of her sorority, worked with youth groups and summer camp programs, and countless national leadership organizations. Her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Research has helped Dr. Callais understand college students and the professionals who work with them, not only because she has read about leadership, but also because she has lived it. Learning Outcomes As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • Team building strategies and techniques.
  • What motivates people to step up and lean in to being leaders that lead with integrity, and how to develop these types of leaders.
  • How to market the leadership experience they are having.
  • How to improve communication in order to create more positive environments within their organizations, staff, etc.

Breakout Sessions

Dr. Callais can customize the following programs to address specific needs and will develop an experience that will help make a difference on campus and in organizations.

Leadership Training Experience

Educating leaders, student organization officers, residential life staff, and fraternity and sorority members is Dr. Callais’ life work. If you are in need of a customized training program, facilitation workshop, or problem solving session, Mari Ann is the perfect person to work with you and your students or professionals.

Recruitment Counselors: Navigating a Meaningful Recruitment Experience

Mari Ann has worked with recruitment counselors for more than 20 years at various different levels. She approaches Recruitment Counselor education from the perspective that they are a key component to trust within the Panhellenic Community as well as helping the potential new members make the right decision for themselves. She creates an experience that truly motivates recruitment counselors to understand their role not only during recruitment, but to also be advocates for the fraternity and sorority community on their campus. Some campuses have hosted Mari Ann for over a decade because of the success in their overall recruitment process they’ve found as a result of the hard work their recruitment counselor team puts in after attending this impactful training.

Student Affairs Workshops and Retreat Facilitation

Mari Ann understands the field of student affairs. She customizes a one or two-day workshop or retreat to assist with team development, understanding today’s students, and other developmental aspects of working with students. Having served in various student affairs departments as well as teaching in a student affairs graduate program, Mari Ann has a wide range of experience working with professionals as well as students.

Other Services Provided by Mari Ann

As a result of her experience as a former fraternity/sorority advisor, campus faculty member, Delta Delta Delta staff member, and volunteer for her sorority as well as others, Mari Ann can assist with other aspects of campus life:

  • Helping to build conscience and develop ideas to assisting all fraternity and sorority councils to work more effectively together as a community
  • Assisting chapters with evaluation of their current chapter health and how to develop a plan to be successful
  • Assisting chapters on how to educate and how to teach ritual and the application of our values
  • Leadership retreat facilitation

Mari Ann’s Bio

Dr. Mari Ann Callais has worked in higher education for 16 years, and most recently served as an assistant professor at Mississippi State University. Professionally, she serves as the Senior Director of Special Initiatives for Delta Delta Delta Fraternity and as a speaker for CAMPUSPEAK. She has also held the position of NPC Delegate and national president for her sorority, Theta Phi Alpha. Mari Ann has presented hundreds of workshops on fraternity and sorority values, student leadership and team building. Mari Ann holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Loyola University New Orleans, and a Masters of Education and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Research from Louisiana State University where she wrote her dissertation on Sorority Rituals and Behavior. She has been presented several awards through the years, which include the Sigma Sigma Sigma Greek Advisor of the Year, Theta Chi Outstanding Greek Affairs Professional Award, Alpha Sigma Tau’s McCrory Order of Interfraternity Excellence and has received the Southeastern Interfraternity Conference Advisor of the Year Award twice, and the Fraternity Communications Association’s Varner Award. Mari Ann was awarded the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors Distinguished Service Award, the National Diversity Council’s 2011 Most Influential and Powerful Women in Louisiana award and the highest award that Theta Phi Alpha bestows on a member, The Guard of Honor.

Mari Ann’s Topics

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