AEPi Goes Virtual

Work from home. Hybrid learning. Zoom. These are all terms that we have become all too familiar with over the last six months since COVID-19 became a global pandemic and upended how we function in our day-to-day activities. It hasn’t been easy and many of us have had to adapt to the new world we’re living in, AEPi included.

From the moment the pandemic gained speed across the globe, AEPi staff was quick to mobilize to assist chapters in their greatest areas of need. After schools sent students home early in the spring, many chapters had to pivot their new member education programs, philanthropy events and other aspects of chapter operations. AEPi staff worked with chapter leadership to adjust to this “new normal,” teaching them how to host chapter meetings online and continue engaging chapter Brothers via Zoom through reimagined events for the remainder of the semester. We launched a COVID-19 resource page for Brothers to reference but knew this wasn’t enough to truly fulfill our mission of developing the Jewish leaders of tomorrow. This was the moment AEPiConnect came to fruition.

AEPiConnect was created as a space to bring undergraduate and alumni Brothers together to learn from, connect with and motivate one another. Launched in March, the page continues to evolve every day. Through AEPiConnect, chapters can find resources that offer tools, tips and techniques to running a smooth chapter operation; Brothers can look over the programs that AEPi’s partner organizations are offering, and we’ve sprinkled in a few fun opportunities like the AEPi Discord Channel. However, our most resourceful tool has been the AEPiConnect webinars we’ve offered.

AEPiConnect webinars offer a wide array of programs to inform, engage, motivate and inspire Brothers. Tailored to both alumni and undergraduates, AEPi has hosted more than 65 sessions since the start of the pandemic. Thanks to AEPiConnect, more than 1,000 Brothers have come together to learn from alumni at the top of their field. Attendees have heard from speakers such as Former President & Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, Brother Rich Frank (University of Illinois, 1964), to Home Depot Co-Founder, Brother Bernie Marcus (Rutgers, 1952), to the President of Jay-Z’s ROC Nation, Brother Michael Yormark (Maryland, 1988).

“It is unique to hear how a large corporation started with very humble and human beginnings; this definitely helped me to better understand how values can be scaled as an organization grows.” – Quote from Brother Ryan Shulman (Texas A&M, 2017) after Brother Marcus’ session.

AEPi has been proud to offer undergraduate Brothers the opportunity to engage with one another through town halls, where Brothers come together on Zoom within their geographical region to discuss common issues amongst their peers with top-level staff like Chief Executive Officer Jim Fleischer (Kent State, 1993). We have also been able to offer several chapter development programs where we teach the basics like virtual rush, philanthropy, social media 101 and more.

After a Rush Rush Rush webinar, Brother Luke Weisberg (ERAU, 2023) told us, “I learned a lot about the magnitude of rush. As a founding father, I have not gotten to experience rush yet from either side of it, but I am now aware of everything that goes into rush and I will put great emphasis on it when it comes time to organize and execute rush in the future.”

Recordings of our webinar programs can be found on AEPi’s YouTube page.

In the early stages of the pandemic, many campuses had closed, and chapters could no longer observe Yom HaShoah together. This year, AEPi decided to rebrand its annual We Walk to Remember Program, which is the world’s largest and longest-running multi-campus Holocaust remembrance program, to We Watch to Remember (WW2R). For this year’s event, AEPi partnered with One More Candle. Both organizations value the sentiment of L’Dor V’dor – from generation to generation. On Yom HaShoah, AEPi adopted the names of 1,953 young men – young men who could have been our undergraduate Brothers – and read their names aloud during the virtual program. You can watch this program on AEPi’s Facebook page.

Many of you had the opportunity to join us for AEPi’s 107th International Convention which, for the first time in AEPi’s history, went completely virtual. Click here to read about the success of this event.

We’re sure that virtual events will have to continue in the long run but understand that it’s imperative to do this for the health and safety of our Brothers and their friends and family. We’re excited to roll out more virtual programming in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for what’s to come.

As the situation with COVID-19 continues to unfold and develop, AEPi promises to remain a beacon of leadership and hope for Brothers. The situation on campus and in our communities is ever-changing and Brothers continue to find themselves charging into the unknown during these unprecedented times. You are not alone; you have a network of thousands of Brothers waiting to help you through this whether it’s a job recommendation, advice or just having a shoulder to lean on. We will adapt and change our operations based on the need of our Brothers worldwide, and we look forward to the day where we can all gather together again to celebrate this truly amazing Brotherhood in person.

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