My adventure to St. Louis to attend the Presidents Leadership Conference was exciting, eventful, and entertaining, but above all, it was an amazing learning experience. I met Phi’s from around the nation, listened to amazing speakers, ate more food than I should have, and contributed to in-depth discussions about how to best lead a chapter with my fellow presidents. My travels began on a brisk Thursday morning…

Presidents Leadership Council


Day 1

After groggily waking up at 4 a.m. I was dropped off at the Missoula airport to catch my first flight to Salt Lake City. I spent the flight chatting with a self-sustainable rancher who raised cattle and sheep outside of St. Ignatius. I boarded the plane in Salt Lake City to discover that the President of the Utah Alpha chapter was two seats in front of me. After a brief chat, I fell asleep even before the plane took off, and I was awakened to the baby in the seat next to me vomiting on my leg. I cleaned my khakis off and returned to my seat for the flight.

After getting off the plane, I was unsure of where the airport shuttles were, so I simply followed a group of gentlemen who were dressed almost exactly like me (Sperry’s, khakis, polos, peacoats, etc.). We found the airport shuttle, and made it to the hotel in time to catch the opening session lead by Rich Fabritius, General Council President. He talked about climbing the “leadership ladder,” and touched on the point that even though the attendees of the conference had ascended to the highest office in the fraternity, we still need to keep climbing the ladder to better ourselves. By doing so, we not only better ourselves, but the men we lead in the fraternity.

The opening speech dismissed to a three course dinner before reconvening for another general session lead by Corey Ciocchetti. He discussed chasing authentic success by living your values rather than just saying them. Any Phi Delt across the nation can recite our three founding principles (friendship, sound learning, and rectitude), but we should challenge ourselves every day to live those principles (pictured below: the view from Kappa chapter during general sessions).

Day 2

Waking up at 7:15 after a long day of traveling on minimal sleep was a little rough, but well worth it when I reached the breakfast table. We moved quickly from breakfast into a general session led by David Almacy who presented a helpful tips to great leadership. He summed everything up neatly into the acronym PHI DELT (Plan, Help, Innovate, Delegate, Evolve, Laugh, Transition) to help us remember some of the most essential parts of leadership.

Joe Desh at Presidents Leadership Council

After a snack break, a team meeting, and lunch, we all attended another general session that covered event planning, managing events, and legal responsibility before going to another snack break, another team meeting, and dinner. Dinner transitioned into a general session presented by Suzette Walden Cole entitled “Taking a Stand” against sexual assault on college campuses. It was an exciting way to launch Phi Delta Theta’s nation-wide campaign against sexual assault, and I was happy I got to be there to discuss the issues facing campuses today. After the general session, I got to spend the night working on my short game by playing putt-putt golf in the hotel ballroom (pictured below: It’s not me in the photo, but you get the idea).


Day 3

The last day of the conference by far was the most inspiring. After another amazing breakfast, we listened to past council president Rudy Porchivina speak about how to effectively run a chapter meeting. In between his near constant jokes, he gave a lot of incredibly valuable advice on what should be handled at chapter, what should be handled in a committee, and how to manage a large group of rowdy gentlemen into a productive unit.


After the usual schedule of events (snack break, team meeting, a meal), we had the opportunity to meet with our leadership consultants and the presidents in our region to prepare for chapter visits and build relations (including our friends north of the border in the Tau North province. If you’re reading this, let’s meet up during the spring, eh?).


The highlight of the evening (besides eating beef brisket and ribs while watching the Ravens/Patriots game with fellow presidents) was listening to Dr. “Sparky” Reardon give an amazing speech titled “The Hinges of Destiny.” I can’t really do it justice by describing it here, but it was an incredibly inspirational speech focused on the responsibility and commitment to our brothers that each one of holds.


To relax after a long day of meetings and sessions, we unwound by watching Erik Hand hypnotize about 15 of the presidents. Among other things, he made them think that they were: naked, completely frozen in place, secret agents, Victoria’s Secret models, and oak trees (pictured below: Phi Delt presidents become oak trees and grow sky high).

Phi Delt PLC




All in all, the conference was a blast, and I walked away feeling far more confident about leading the chapter during my term as president. I’m grateful for the opportunity to attend, and I was blown away by the quality of the speakers that were there. Meeting Phi’s from across the nation and making connections instantly and easily with brothers that I had never met before was pretty incredible. I’m looking forward to leading the chapter this year, and I know that what I learned at PLC will help it be a great year for the Montana Alpha chapter. Proud to be a Phi.

Phi Delta Theta Presidents Leadership Council

Joseph Desch

President - Montana Alpha Chapter