At Conclave this week, SigEp brothers and friends committed to create and fund the Shawn McKenna Presidents Academy. As part of the Carlson Leadership Academy, the program will be named for late National Director and Order of the Golden Heart recipient Shawn McKenna, Maine ’77.
On Friday evening in Orlando, SigEp alumni, volunteers and friends attended the second biennial Conclave gala. The brothers and friends in attendance dedicated the evening and its proceeds to honor Shawn’s legacy of leadership.
National Director Garry Kief, Southern California ’70, announced the plan to teach Brother McKenna’s leadership philosophy to SigEp’s young leaders saying, “The Shawn McKenna Presidents Academy will teach the young men charged with leading our chapters how to make tough decisions and how to think critically to achieve their goals. They’ll learn to be the men our society needs — men like Shawn.”
After defeating cancer twice, McKenna lost a prolonged battle with the disease in June. His wife Deb joined Foundation President Dr. Ed Hammond, Emporia State ’66, and Grand President, Rick Bennet, Central Missouri ’74, on stage to accept a proclamation officially establishing the Shawn McKenna Presidents Academy.
During Saturday evening’s Conclave banner auction, Tom Jelke, Florida International ’90, placed the winning bid and donated the banner to the Maine Alpha Chapter in honor of Brother McKenna. By Conclave’s close, more than $275,000 had been committed to honor Shawn and establish the program.
From 1977 to 1982, McKenna served on Sigma Phi Epsilon’s staff as a regional director, director of chapter services and managing director for the National Housing Corporation (now SENH). A director of SigEp National Housing for over 30 years, Shawn served as its president from 1988 to 1990. In each role, he was an advocate for fellow volunteers, working to ensure they had the resources and support needed to succeed.
A lifelong advocate for teaching leadership, Shawn wrote a course in leadership and taught it at the University of Maine. The Shawn McKenna Presidents Academy, based on McKenna’s leadership philosophy, will equip SigEp’s undergraduate chapter presidents to confidently lead our Fraternity into the future.