Ken Maddox, Oregon State ’75, spent the ﬁrst seven years of his career serving SigEp as a member of the Headquarters staff. Just ﬁve years after leaving to pursue professional opportunities back home in the Northwest, he was tapped to return to the Fraternity’s Richmond ofﬁce as executive director in 1987. Upon his return, Maddox described his objective for his new role in the May 1987 Journal, saying his intention was to “bring out the best in people.”
“I hope to make it my job to do that with the Headquarters staff so we, as a staff, can do that with the undergraduate members of the Fraternity,” he explained. On June 24, 2016, his brothers declared “mission accomplished” when the Fraternity surprised Maddox by announcing the endowment of the regional director training program, now named the Kenneth S. Maddox Summer Development Program.
Surrounded by dozens of past regional directors, volunteers and staff at Zollinger House, former Regional Director, past Grand Secretary and Order of the Golden Heart recipient Shawn McKenna, Maine ’77, revealed that the Fraternity had endowed the program. Sparked by conversations among SigEp CEO Brian Warren, Virginia ’04, and former staff members about how much Maddox has influenced them, the project had been quietly in the making for a year prior to the gathering.
Another former regional director and SigEp’s current Grand Secretary, Thomas B. Jelke, Florida International ’90, proudly stated, “Ken Maddox was summer development. He set the tone for how the regional directors were going to be educated. He set the tone for what was going to be expected of you as a worker for the organization. There was a professional ethic, a work ethic that was demanded by him. It is a no-brainer for me that I would help fund something to honor Ken that surrounded the concept of summer development for our regional directors.”
The Kenneth S. Maddox Summer Development Program is an in-depth, 10-week training period for SigEp’s regional directors. Held each summer in Richmond, Virginia, the program includes sessions with facilitators from the corporate, higher education and nonprofit worlds and educates new staff in leadership, finance, sales, recruitment, public speaking, crisis management and many other areas. Participants also attend executive-level management classes at the University of Richmond.
SigEp has provided professional support to its chapters since 1922 when Clarence Freeark, Illinois ’23, served as the first traveling secretary, a role now known as regional director. While serving as a regional director during the 1975-1976 school year, Maddox came to understand the tremendous impact that regional directors have on undergraduate chapters, their members, volunteers and college campuses. It was during his tenure as executive director that Maddox transformed summer development into a world-class professional training program. In the process, he made an indelible mark on the 106 regional directors who served the Fraternity under his leadership. And as the creator of a blueprint for summer development still in use today, Maddox has impacted the many hundreds of regional directors who have gone through the program since his time on staff.
Former regional directors cite their time under Maddox’s tutelage as instrumental in their professional growth. At the dinner held following the announcement, Scott Averill, Kansas State ’77, shared that when the person seated next to him on the plane had asked why he was coming to Richmond, he responded, “I’m going to celebrate my first mentor.”
Many who were unable to travel to Richmond for the surprise announcement sent video messages relaying Maddox’s impact on their lives. Among them was yet another past regional director who went on to serve as Grand Secretary and receive the Order of the Golden Heart, Roger VanHoozer, Washburn ’72. “The summer development program is really where Ken’s heart is. He has always recognized that when we have great RDs, we have chapters that grow and prosper,” said VanHoozer.
CEO Warren, a past regional director himself, summed up the impact of the endowment when he stated that the Kenneth S. Maddox Summer Development Program will enable the Fraternity to provide resources that will elevate the regional director professional training program now and in the future.
Brother Maddox was awarded the Sigma Phi Epsilon Citation at the 1997 Conclave and the Order of Golden Heart in 2015. He continues his volunteer service to the Fraternity today as the president of SigEp National Housing, where under his leadership, dozens of new building projects and renovations have been completed that provide safe, modern living-learning communities.