42 - The Centennial S.H.

It was 1965 at Millsaps College when Melanie Maxwell Shain pledged Chi Omega. Little did she know at the time, amongst all the celebration of joining this Sisterhood, it would be just 30 years later that she’d be celebrating 100 years of our Fraternity as S.H.

“The Chi Omega friendships that I developed as a collegian were so cherished that it was clear to me that this was something that I wanted to nourish and expand for a lifetime,” Melanie Shain.

Melanie Maxwell Shain featured as a “Who’s Who” collegian in 1968
Melanie Maxwell Shain 1968

And that she did.

Her Time as S.H.

Melanie served as the Fraternity’s National President 1992-1998, years that represented tremendous accomplishments for the Fraternity and the Foundation. Under her watch, Chi Omega built one of the nation’s most superb non-profit headquarters at the time and celebrated its Centennial year during a magnificent gathering of Chi Omega Sisters and friends in Memphis.

Melanie Shain, third from the right, at Centennial celebrations at the Psi House, 1995

Melanie Shain, third from the right, at Centennial celebrations at the Psi House, 1995

“The accomplishment that made the most significant impact on the future of Chi Omega was the undertaking and completion of the Chi Omega Headquarters. It coincided with the beginning of the second century for Chi Omega. I am incredibly humbled and proud to have served with the many Chi Omegas who helped to make the Headquarters a reality. It propelled the Fraternity and Foundation forward in achieving countless strategies and accomplishments benefitting our entire Sisterhood and it continues to do so,” Melanie Shain.

The groundbreaking for the Executive Headquarters in Memphis. Left to right, Mary Ann Fruge, Roselyn Dabbs, Batey Gresham, Melanie Shain, David Hoback, and Mary Evelyn White, fall 1992

During Melanie’s leadership as National President, she worked closely with the Foundation to launch the Leadership Institute, now known as the Nancy Walton Laurie Leadership Institute of Chi Omega. Today the Laurie Leadership Institute is a distinguished program designed to engage alumnae and collegiate members in leadership training that is both insightful and inspiring. Through this training, Chi Omega empowers Sisters to explore and learn steps that result in extensive personal growth. The goal is to develop professionals who in turn will share their knowledge and skills with others on their campuses and in their communities.

“Chi Omega has developed and grown beyond my greatest expectations serving, involving, and benefitting an expanding number of Sisters. Our incredibly talented Sisters that give back and share their expertise with our Sisterhood have made this happen. The Laurie Leadership Institute is only one example of how our intergenerational involvement of Sisters can enhance and empower the growth of all our Sisters,” Melanie Shain.

Melanie Shain with Foundation staff and volunteers celebrating a successful initial Leadership Institute in February 1997

A Lifetime of Chi Omega Commitment

Although Melanie was well-equipped to lead Chi Omega through some of our biggest accomplishments, a lot of experience was acquired and skills refined before she reached this point in her Chi Omega story. In 1968 Melanie’s alumna experience began when she was hired as a Chapter Visitor, a role that we now know as our National Leadership Consultants.

Melanie Shain, second from the left, with her fellow Chapter Visitors at The Greenbrier, 1970.

Melanie Shain at The Greenbrier, 1970.

After serving as a Chapter Visitor, Melanie would go on to serve in a multitude of roles, learning the complexities and nuances of every area of the Fraternity. She has served as a member of the house corporation board at Beta Alpha/Pennsylvania and Iota Lambda/Villanova, as National Ritual Officer and National Treasurer for the Fraternity, and as a member of the National Panhellenic Conference delegation. In 2000 she was named the recipient of the Chi Omega President’s Award and is a loyal, recurring member and advocate of The 1895 Society.

Melanie Shain, S.H. at the time, middle, with the Installation Team for Delta Lambda/ Northern Arizona, 1996

Governing Council members Patty Disque, Roselyn Dabbs, Linda Niemczyk, Jan Blackwell, and Melanie Shain, then National Alumnae Officer, at St. Louis Convention

Melanie received her MBA from Lousiana State University and is a retired investment manager. With her background in international banking and finance and a caring, thoughtful approach, Melanie Shain currently oversees the Foundation’s resources as Treasurer of the organization.

Although Melanie is known for her financial expertise, many who truly know her adore her for her quick wit and love of having a good time.

“She loved the Night of Revelry at Convention and was always the one coordinating a skit or spoof for a group. She brought Halloween socks for every staff member during an October Council Meeting in Cincinnati, planned a 50th Birthday party for Punky Penberthy (fellow Governing Council member) in Memphis with an Elvis impersonator, created a Rosie the Riveter style “I Can Do IT” poster with Jane Rogers’ likeness for a Foundation gathering, and so much more,” Lyn Harris National Archivist.

The Rowdy and Lucky Shain Scholarship

Melanie, along with her husband, John, established the Rowdy and Lucky Shain Scholarship to honor the immense effect their two cats had on their family. Rowdy, rescued from a high-kill shelter, became known as the “peeping Tom” in the neighborhood because he climbed trees to peer into windows. Lucky, an emaciated stray, loved the neighborhood children and would escort them to the bus stop in the morning and wait for them in the afternoon. He became the topic of many of the children’s school essays.

“When Melanie was S.H., one would receive the following message on her voice mail: ‘Thank you for calling the Shains. If you are calling about Lucky our cat and live in the ____ office building area, please let him out and he will come home. We live very near there. Thank you for your concern.’ One year, Lucky was invited to attend the office’s holiday party in December!” says Lyn Harris, National Archivsit.

Melanie and her husband, John, have a goal for the scholarship to assist the growing core of caring Chi Omegas who are in a position to make positive changes in the humane treatment of animals.

Still Involved Today

Melanie and her husband currently reside in the Philadelphia area. In addition to her role as Foundation Treasurer, Melanie remains highly involved in the Fraternity. She recently attended Beta Alpha’s Centennial Celebration, one of the two chapters she is House Corporation President for, the other being Iota Lambda.

Melanie Maxwell Shain with S.H. Shelley Potter and Sisters at Beta Alpha’s Centennial Celebration 2019