Bill Kinsella receives 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award

Aug 22, 2023 – Bill Kinsella awarded the Deltasig Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2023 Grand Chapter Congress during the Awards & Recognition Banquet.

The following is his acceptance speech in its entirety.  For full video of the speech, visit the Delta Sigma Pi Facebook page.

"Because of my position as Chancellor for this Congress, I’ve had to speak from my head; tonight, I get to speak from my heart.

I am honored to be here tonight to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award. As the years went along, I was not sure that I would be honored in this way, and I am so grateful to the Fraternity for this recognition. 

When Corey called me in February, I thought he was calling to talk about GCC planning matters and indeed that was how the conversation started. After a couple of minutes of discussion, he added something like “and by the way you are the 2023 Lifetime Achievement honoree”. It was one of the happiest days of my fraternal life, even if the headline was buried just a bit.  

I know I have been fortunate to have a long and rewarding career in the Fraternity. I knew and know, worked and work with some of the most talented people in the world, and I have learned so much from them. And as I have learned these past few days and weeks, I have also had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others, and that is something that I am very proud of. 

My fraternal journey began in February 1973 and was formalized on June 2, 1973. And tonight, the Golden Helmet commemorates those 50 years of membership and service. 50 years - it seems like a long time, a “lifetime” if you will, but I remember my initiation it as if it was, well, tonight. And believe me, back then, it was a late, late night for me and my 13 pledge bothers. Another speaker earlier this week noted how things were different today than at the turn of the 21st century but imagine 1973. The year before saw the last manned mission to the moon. The first personal computer, the Altair, wasn’t developed until one year later. Wozniak and Jobs barely had found a garage to work out of. And the first true handheld mobile phone was just invented but wouldn’t become commercially viable for at least 10 more years, and even it was bulky and super expensive. When I traveled for business and the fraternity as a national officer in the 1980s, I had a phone credit card and the last stop before boarding the plane, and the first stop on arrival, was to find the nearest pay phone in the terminal, dial “0,” enter the credit card number and then the phone number.  

I know this past week there has been much discussion about the need for change, to “transform” the organization. And there is work to be done by our new leaders, and I wish them nothing but success in their endeavors.  

But our Fraternity has been changing constantly during these last 50 years. Just a few examples:  

  • Today, the fact that at least half the attendees are women, and many, many are national officers including two past grand presidents, is no big deal. But as the older brothers in the room can attest, this was not the case in 1975 at my first Grand Chapter Congress in Tan-Tar-A, Missouri. I’m sure there were other proposals the debate, but to the young, impressionable 19-year-old attending his first GCC, the only thing everyone was talking about was whether or not to approve the Board’s use of emergency powers to admit women the year before. That was indeed a transformative change in the truest sense of the word.  

  • Officer Training Schools (OTiS) has evolved into the LEAD Schools and the Presidents Academy.  

  • The DSP Educational Foundation morphed into the Leadership Fund and now into our current Leadership Foundation.  

  • Regional Vice Presidents used to be known as Regional Directors and were members of the national Board of Directors.    

Clearly many other changes both organizationally and ritualistically, have occurred since then. Many of those changes have turned some of my Fraternity memorabilia into collector’s items – my Yellow Dog card and pin for one. And apparently now my Scholarship Key will also join that list of historic items.  

There were many sessions and speeches this week about leadership. I’m not going to try to compete with those, especially when I learned that even Ted Lasso utilized leadership principles, who knew?? 

But let me offer this perspective:  You tell me and I forget. You teach me and I remember. You involve me and I learn.  – Ben Franklin 

This quote is attributed to Ben Franklin. The last line – “You involve me and I learn” matches well with one part of our Purpose - “… mutual advancement by research and practice…” By being involved and being able to practice, I’ve learned much from my fraternal experiences including, among others:  

  1. Embrace a challenge - Professionally and personally, the things I hold dearest are those that were the most challenging and required good old fashioned hard work to achieve. Joining this Fraternity was one of those challenging things, being Grand President perhaps even more challenging. This week I’ve been proud to wear my diamond badge presented at the conclusion of my term as Grand President – believe me, every Grand President earns that diamond badge. But tonight, I wear the badge I received that night 50 years ago when becoming a member of the Delta Sigma chapter.   

  1. Participate. This seems obvious but sometimes your participation can change your life forever in the best way. For me, this happened at a Fraternity beach party on the Fourth of July 1974 where I met a friend of a friend and talked to her for almost the entire party. More on this in a moment, but you can probably guess how this ends. And, if I hadn’t gone to the 1983 Denver Congress, I might not have agreed to be a District Director, which led to being Regional Director, and so on. 

  1. Perseverance – Keep at it if at first you don’t succeed. There’s more to that Fourth of July beach party story. I thought I had made a pretty good impression on that friend of a friend. So, the next day I called her. She answered the phone and I, full of confidence, said “Hi, this is Bill.” I wasn’t prepared for her response of “Bill? Bill who?”  

You would think maybe I would get the hint…. BUT,  

Keping in mind that when I saw this friend of a friend walk out of her house when I picked her up, I thought to myself “she could be THE ONE," I didn’t give up. So, once I properly educated her on who was calling, we went out again. One thing led to another, and that friend of a friend I met 49 years ago, married me five years later, and is also the mother to our two wonderful children and grandmother to our three (and counting) adorable grandchildren. I could not have done what I’ve been able to do in the Fraternity without her love, help and support. Brothers, please join me in thanking my bride of 44 years, and counting, …. Janet! 

Two of the other most important people in my life have also joined us this evening. When visiting chapters or attending fraternity conferences or events, I often return to LAX on a Sunday evening (and a Sunday evening at LAX is a zoo) and there would be Janet along with two little munchkins in their car seats saying “Mommy, mommy, we’re hungry“ but also including the words to soothe any parent’s soul “Daddy, daddy, you’re home!” Please welcome my two, now fully grown children, but who will always be munchkins to me – my son, Mark, and my daughter, Megan.  

  1. Pay attention to the details – Many have questioned if this next example is just myth, but it really happened. I attended a Fraternity event held in Toledo, Ohio. I flew into Chicago and took a local flight into Toledo. The weekend event, held east of Toledo, was very successful. My return was the reverse – local flight from Toledo into Chicago and from there to LAX. A Brother, who was very familiar with the area, volunteered to give me a ride to the Toledo airport, on the west side of Toledo, a relatively short and easy drive. We drive, get on the highway, and begin to talk about the weekend’s events. It started to feel that the drive was taking longer than anticipated but I figured the driver knew what they were doing. (Keep in mind that back then there was no Google Maps, the standard for wayfinding was a printed record called “Thomas Brothers”) I did not start to become concerned until I saw a sign stating, “Welcome to Michigan”! Although I was not that familiar with the area, I knew enough to realize that Toledo was not in Michigan. Just about then, the driver, who shall remain nameless in order to protect the guilty, turns to me and says “Bill, I think we are going the wrong way!” We turned around and sped back the other way probably violating several speed laws. As we drove up to the Toledo airport, the other side of the fence, I see my two-prop aircraft winding up propellor number one, but the door was still open. I raced through the airport, and just made the flight. Thank goodness there was no TSA back then. 

I recognized my family members here tonight but there are many other fraternity Brothers that deserve to be recognized and thanked for their support and friendship over the years for without them, literally, I would not be receiving this award tonight. So, from the bottom of my heart, I express my gratitude and thanks to: 

Paul Garcia, Chuck and Lisa Brown, Fred Lipsey, Greg Howell, Jami Ball, Beth Keith, Marc Robbins, Louise Santos, Joe Tacto, Sam Shaheen, Laurie Gail Senko, Jim Higgins, Adrian Avalos, Crystal Justice, Patrick and Tricia Bonfrisco. And the current Western PVP, Erica Kolsrud.

Thank you again for this recognition and celebration of the past 50 years. But this is not the end. Sitting in the audience of the Leadership Foundation meeting this week began to rekindle old passions so who knows what lies ahead but I look forward to my continuing adventures during the next 50 years of fraternal involvement!  

And I remain, as always, proud to be a Deltasig!

  • Brothers of Delta Sigma Pi
  • Award/Recognition