October 12, 2011: Oxford, Ohio—John Friend, Kent State ’87, was appointed the Buckeye North Domain Director on Jan. 18, 2011. The Buckeye North Domain includes Epsilon chapter at Mount Union, Beta Mu colony at Kent State, Gamma Pi chapter at Youngstown and Epsilon Psi chapter at John Carroll. Before being named Domain Director, Friend served on the Beta Mu Board of Governors as the risk management advisor and on the Beta Mu Housing Corporation (Phrenocon Trust Authority) as a managing member.
Here, John talks about his time as a Phi Kappa Tau volunteer and offers advice to other Domain Directors.
Marty Dunning, Kentucky ’07: Reflecting on your years of association with Phi Kappa Tau, what is the one thing that stands out as a point of pride for you?
Friend: This goes back a ways, but one significant point of pride for me was regaining the Beta Mu charter back in 1987. I was one of three Phi Tau transfer students. Craig Koszycki, Muskingum ’84, had transferred from Muskingum, Rick Donmoyer, Rensselaer ’83, had transferred from RPI, and I was the only Neophyte in the group from Bowling Green. Our initial meeting happened in a pub called The Robinhood, where I was a bartender. Over a period of two years we went from interest group to colony and then to getting the charter back.
Some of the original group of guys we recruited have made significant contributions to the Fraternity. We have one Phi Kappa Tau Hall of Famer, a couple past national staffers, and another one of them, Michael French, Kent State ’88, is a fellow Domain Director. When we got our charter back, the Beta Mu chapter had been off campus for nearly 20 years.
Oddly enough, I now preside over the very same efforts as the Beta Mu colony works to become a chapter again, more than 30 years later. We held the charter there for more than 25 years, the most recent time, and it will be another point of pride to be the Domain Director that helps the men of Beta Mu regain their charter again.
Dunning: You are a generous supporter of Phi Kappa Tau, with your time, your expertise and your financial gifts. Why is that so significant to you?
Friend: Being a part of something “bigger than oneself” has always been significant to me. To look back on my 28 years of affiliation with Phi Kappa Tau (causes me to feel my age a bit) makes me almost awestruck at the men I have come to know, the brotherhood I have shared and the accomplishments we have made as an organization.
I look forward to another 30 years (hopefully) of fraternal membership. The sum of all of our parts is truly a far greater institution than any of us could ever be individually. That is very significant to me.
Dunning: As you look at the young men on campus today, what challenges do you perceive that they face and how might Phi Kappa Tau play a role in equipping them to meet those challenges?
Friend: I think it’s more difficult for young men in college today than it was when I was in school. The amount of information that is thrown at them every day through technology, classroom work and their social experiences is almost overwhelming. Time management for them is incredibly important.
Many of them grew up in single parent homes (or homes that are a combination of families) so their sense of family is not always a strong one. We have an opportunity to be family to them and lead them to greater accomplishments through the experiences they will gain as fraternity men.
Leading a chapter provides experiences in time management, leadership development, organizational skills and working with others towards a common cause. I continue to be impressed by the young men in the chapters I serve. I get a great sense of accomplishment by providing guidance in their lives.
Dunning: Do you have one particularly fond memory that stands out from your time as a Domain Director?
Friend: This past summer I attended the inaugural Conclave. I was fortunate enough to share this experience with my family (especially my 11-year-old son). I was attending a social event around the fire pit in the Centennial Gardens at the Executive Offices with my son. CEO Steve Hartman, Muskingum ’89, and Director of Chapter of Services Tim Hudson, Truman State ’97, both spent time talking to my boy. As we left that evening he said, “Dad, I only want to attend a college that has a Phi Tau chapter.” That has to be one of the proudest moments in parental life for me. My son saw me interacting with my brothers and he truly got what that could mean to his life as well.
Dunning: Have you learned any effective tricks of the trade when working with a Board of Governors?
Friend: One trick I would share with my fellow Domain Directors is to use the resources available through the Executive Offices. As much as I have had my challenges with the technology, SharePoint is a great tool. And, I have learned a bunch from my fellow Domain Directors.
I also need to give particular “props” to Coordinator of Volunteer Development Tyler Wash, Georgetown ’06, and Hudson. They are both always available to me anytime I call. They make doing this volunteer job rewarding as I know they truly appreciate our service to the Fraternity.
Dunning: If you could offer a bit of advice to our Domain Directors from across the country, what would it be?
Friend: Wow, I am still a rookie at this. I don’t feel very qualified to give advice this early on. Rather than advice, here is a rule I try to follow for my work as a Domain Director, a coach, a dad, a husband or anything else in life: hold yourself accountable.
We do a lot of jobs in life for which we have no true accountability. At our job for pay, many of us have bosses or customers to hold us accountable, but in the rest of our “work” we typically don’t. I try to take time out each week, typically on Sunday night, to review the week and hold myself accountable for the activities of that prior week. This is not to dwell in the past, but to give me a sense of how I did. I evaluate myself, take some stock in what I did well and work harder on areas in need of improvement. I will even occasionally ask for feedback from my family and friends in how I am doing in those non-accountable areas.
Get to Know John
Family: Married for 18 years to my best friend, Mary Kay. I sound cliche to say that as a married guy, but she really is my best friend. I have a 15-year-old daughter, Darby, who attends Walsh Jesuit High School in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. She fancies herself a future pediatric surgeon and may well attend Miami University in 2014 (that trip to Conclave made a strong impression on her too). I have an 11-year-old son, Derek, who is my future Phi Tau legacy. He is a stud athlete and hopes to play college football someday.
Profession: I am a senior vice president for an insurance brokerage and consulting firm in Cleveland called the Fedeli Group. We work with firms of all sizes to help them place employee benefits and risk management programs.
Favorite Sports Team: Pittsburgh Steelers. I grew up close to Cleveland, but being a Browns fan is too tough to endure. Plus, I had a brother who lived in Pittsburgh during my formidable years of learning about sports. I grew up going to Steeler games with him.
Favorite Hobby: I ride motorcycles (a Harley and a sports bike), and I like to spend time with friends.
Life Philosophy: “Enjoy the ride” … life is too short to spend time worrying about insignificant issues. Give back as much as you can and God will bless you in ways you cannot even imagine.