When Rena Pilalas was a collegian in Phi chapter at the University of Southern California, she served two years as recruitment chair. But, even as a highly involved collegiate member, she could have never imagined the massive impact Chi Omega would still have on her life decades later.
Rena remained involved as an alumna, participating in the local alumnae group in Pasadena, California, even serving as president. But, it wasn’t until 1986 when a fellow alumnae group member urged Rena to join Phi Chapter’s House Corporation Board that she became finely tuned into her house corporation endeavors.
“I knew very little about managing a chapter house and the challenges that would come up over the next ten years. (During my time) we did some remodeling of an old house and celebrated the 50 year anniversary of our chapter in 1991!” says Rena.
Rena would become house corporation president and during that decade spent volunteering with Phi chapter, she worked endlessly, managing finances, overseeing house operations and remodels, and engaging advisors and House Corporation Board members. In 1996, Phi chapter was unfortunately closed, but Rena’s love for Chi Omega had been reignited and she knew she wanted to continue working for Chi Omega in some capacity.
She proceeded to take on a myriad of roles including Alumnae Recruitment Information Chairman, President of the Pasadena Alumnae Chapter,
charter member of Foundation Advisors Board, member of the National Convention Team, and finally moved into work with the Chi Omega Foundation.
“Having met several wonderful members of Chi Omega’s Governing Council during this time, they encouraged me to get involved at the national level, first as a Foundation Advisor and then as a Foundation Trustee. I was honored to be asked, and I began a whole new experience working with this passionate group of women. Their dedication to Chi Omega and love of the Sisterhood was so strong that I wanted to contribute to this organization in a meaningful way,” says Rena.
On September 14, 2013, then S.H. Letitia Fulkerson announced that Chi Omega would honor Rena and Jason Pilalas by naming the National House Corporation Summit for them. In recognition of her and her husband’s significant contribution to the Chi Omega Foundation and Rena’s lifelong dedication to Chi Omega, the cornerstone house corporation education forum became the Rena and Jason Pilalas National House Corporation Summit.
“When we discussed a cause that I could sponsor it was decided that house corporation would be perfect. The need to train the members in procedures and risk is extremely important. Managing an organization and collegiate members is a skill that we need to ensure our leaders are prepared to handle in today’s world,” says Rena.
“The Rena and Jason Pilalas National House Corporation Summit is dedicated to educating, inspiring, and thanking Chi Omega’s local house corporation volunteers. Over 130 house corporation volunteers representing 96 collegiate chapters attend the informative and fun-filled weekend. The Summit serves all of our house corporations, whether they own their own facility, occupy a facility owned by their university, or even operate without a facility,” says Andrea McNeil, Director of Housing Resources at the Executive Headquarters.
Education and equipping our house corporations with the tools and resources necessary to protect and preserve the assets of their active chapters remains the sole focus of the weekend. Throughout the Summit, volunteers learn best practices for financial management, planning for the future, and reducing risk. In addition, legal and insurance professionals share important industry updates.
Our volunteers even had a little fun at the last Pilalas House Corporation Summit attending culinary demonstrations and learning of the latest decorating trends for collegiate housing.
“Our house corporation volunteers leave Memphis with a renewed commitment to running a successful non-profit corporation and learn of valuable resources to help them along the way – And what a great opportunity it was to be able to share ideas with other Chi Omega Sisters from across the country!” says Andrea McNeil.
Rena currently serves Chi Omega as Foundation Secretary and says, “I am proud to be a Chi Omega Foundation Trustee and fortunate to have Chi Omega as an important cause in my life for 58 years!”
She and her husband Jason are long-time supporters of the Chi Omega Foundation and have been leaders in the recent Chi Omega Foundation Strategic Initiative Fund. Rena has served as a member of the Assistance League of Pasadena, as well as president, social chairman, and benefit chairman–each for two years. She has also received the Ada Tallman Award for superior service to the Fraternity.
Rena and Jason spend winters at their home in North Palm Beach, Florida. They enjoy time at the Morgan Point Lighthouse–their home in Noank, Connecticut – which they purchased and restored in 1991. They have a daughter, a son, and two grandsons.
“We are so grateful for the support of the Pilalases and for their dedication to Chi Omega house corporations nationwide. We are looking forward to the next national meeting being planned exclusively for our house corporation volunteers taking place in 2021. Be on the lookout for more details!” says Andrea Mcneil.