Spotlight on Jonathan Markowski

Caleb Morris | From the TBS 75th Anniversary Podium Special Edition

In 2017, Jonathan L. Markowski was elected the 37th National President of Tau Beta Sigma. Jonathan was first elected to the National Council in 2011 and served in all the elected positions on the council prior to assuming the role of President. A Fall 1996 initiate of the Delta Delta Chapter at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Jonathan was an oboe player in the concert band, marched color guard in the Minuteman Marching Band, and even marched with Blessed Sacrament, a world-class winter guard.

During his 10 semesters of active membership, Jonathan served as both a chapter and district officer. After graduating from UMass in 2001, he became a Life Member and later served as an advisor and honorary member of the Eta Gamma Chapter at Boston University, where he coached color guard.

Jonathan’s Accomplishments as a National Officer Propel the Sorority Forward:

  • In 2012, as National Vice President for Communication and Recognition, Jonathan helped educate the active membership on the newly introduced Online Membership and Reporting System (OMRS).
  • In 2014, as National Vice President for Special Projects, Jonathan encouraged chapters to become more involved with the National Programs by creating the Focus on Five Campaign.
  • In 2015, as National Vice President for Colonization and Membership (VPCM), Jonathan helped reintroduce chapter visits back into the Sorority culture with the creation of the Chapter Visitation Assistant Program.
  • In 2016, also as National VPCM, Jonathan established the standard that all chapters would submit their Membership Education Program (MEP) for approval. This laid the groundwork for the introduction of Overture, the National MEP in 2019.
  • In 2019, as National President, Jonathan presided over the 37th Biennial National Convention at our Alpha Chapter, Oklahoma State University.

First of a Kind

Each member of the Sorority who has the honor of being selected to serve on the National Council uses their unique viewpoint and skillset to the benefit of the Sorority, and Jonathan was no different. In fact, Jonathan had a viewpoint different than any other National President, for he is the first male to have served in that role.

Founded as an organization for women only in 1946, Tau Beta Sigma removed membership restrictions based on gender in 1977. Since then, many men have been initiated into the organization and served in positions of leadership. While Jonathan was the first male National President, he was not the first male to serve on the National Council. Johnnie Vinson (1999-2005) and Greg Byrne (2005-2007) previously served in the appointed role of National Vice President for Professional Relations, and Kevin Earnest (National Vice President for Special Projects, 2011-2013) preceded Jonathan as the first man to be elected by the students in 2011.

Jonathan reminisces that when he ran, he was not sure if Tau Beta Sigma was ready to have men serve on the National Council, “Was TBS ready? Who knows? Who decides? Students. Even when I first got onto Council, I don’t think it’s unfair to say there were a lot more students who were ready to have a man on the National Council then the older members of the Sorority. But part of the whole wonder of it all is that the students drive the bus. The people that go to convention, who vote, those are the ones that make the decisions.”

Jonathan on His Legacy

Despite serving as the first male President, Jonathan does not want that to define his legacy, “I really don’t want [to be known as] first male National President, I very much prefer [to be known as] 37th National President of Tau Beta Sigma. My presidency wasn’t about me being a man. That happened, but it’s not the most important part…it’s not the defining characteristic of my biennium, I would hope.”

As you can see, Jonathan certainly contributed more than just being the first male national president. In his final National President’s address, Jonathan named one of his skills that allowed for all the accomplishments he was a part of during his time on National Council: “How did I participate or facilitate these things happening? As Ms. Norbury says in Mean Girls, “I’m a pusher, Cady.” I have advocated, strong-armed, directed, cajoled, begged, reasoned, pleaded… and pushed leaders, staff, and students, in the direction I thought was forward.”

Jonathan certainly pushed the Sorority forward. The tie that binds many of his accomplishments, from helping the active membership learn a new system for submitting paperwork, to creating an MEP template to start the process of standardizing membership education, to getting more chapters involved in National Programs through Focus on Five, Jonathan’s “pusher” mentality helped for Tau Beta Sigma become more unified through its diversity.

A Lifetime of Service

Despite concluding his run as President in 2019, Jonathan is still involved in Tau Beta Sigma as Immediate Past National President and as a member of the Board of Trustees. He described his “why” for continuing to be involved in the Sorority. “I think if I had to boil it down to a word, it would be need. There’s a need for our organization in the world. There is a need for skilled, knowledgeable leaders in the organization. So, I continue to be involved because we do good work. We do work that is valuable and meaningful, and because I have a skill set that can help the organization be effective and accomplish its mission.

So, there’s desire. I want to continue to be a part of things. This is an organization that I have been a part of for a long time.

The Sorority–I don’t want to say has its hook on you–but, when there’s something that you care about deeply that you’ve worked for, that you volunteer your time and energy for…it’s a complicated answer and yet it’s simple one. The sorority is good, it does good work, it fills a need in the world in our society, and if I fill a need in a leadership role within it, then I will continue to be involved.”

In 2021, as we celebrate 75 years of Tau Beta Sigma and the many amazing leaders that have gotten the organization to where it is today. Jonathan L. Markowski is certainly one of those leaders. Thank you, Jonathan, for all that you have done to push the Sorority forward into the next 75 years!

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