Leadership Profile: Anne DiGiovanni

Rho Lambda, a leadership and honor society for sorority women, will feature individuals in a new Women’s Leadership Series based on their contributions to campus life and their achievements as leaders and role models in the Carnegie Mellon and greater Pittsburgh communities. Anne DiGiovanni is the organization’s first honoree for the series.

During her eighth semester at Carnegie Mellon, Anne DiGiovanni is battling with an unfamiliar feeling; as a second semester senior, she suddenly has free time on her hands. “Being a second semester senior is awesome,” she said. “I have nothing to do.”

The concept of nothing to do is relative, of course. While DiGiovanni has finished her law school applications and has concluded her term as president of Alpha Chi Omega’s (previously Zeta Psi Sigma), she continues to hold the position of Greek Sing chair, take a full load of classes, serve in the Greek Task Force, work as a peer tutor with Academic Development, and intern with the Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania.

Though enjoying this break from stress, she also admits that handing over many of her previous responsibilities has not been easy.

“This semester has been hard for me personally because I’m not in the driver’s seat anymore,” DiGiovanni said. In Alpha Chi Omega this transition has been particularly challenging. “Since I’m not president, I’m not in the loop anymore.”

Last semester Zeta Psi Sigma entered the process of transforming itself from a local sorority to a national organization, and in the past month decided on Alpha Chi Omega. As the president of her sorority and Panhellenic president the previous year, DiGiovanni was one of the ringleaders in the decision to become national. She was thus responsible for convincing her sisterhood that this new development would be a positive change rather than an unwanted renunciation of Zeta Psi Sigma’s own goals and values.

“A few of us decided we were going to lead this movement, and we didn’t know how everyone was going to take it,” she recalled. “But once we got it out there and knew that everyone was supportive, it became really exciting.”

DiGiovanni attributes most of her confidence as a leader on campus to her experience in Greek life. “I don’t think that’s what Greeks always get credit for, but it’s definitely what we are about,” she said.
As part of this semester’s Greek Task Force, DiGiovanni is working with leaders from other sororities and fraternities on campus to address current problems in the community and set goals for the future.
“We want to promote a social but a more responsible atmosphere,” DiGiovanni said. “In the end, we will need a culture change, that what we present to the public isn’t a party night on the quad or the attitude that all we are about is Booth, Buggy, and Greek Sing.”

As part of the risk management discussion in the Task Force, DiGiovanni hopes to bring up the at-times disconcerting relationship between men and women in the Greek community. “There are some blatant signs, including some fraternity rush posters, that show that women and men aren’t cooperating and respecting each other mutually.”

Overall, however, DiGiovanni feels that the Carnegie Mellon community is one in which female leadership can thrive.

“Women on this campus are strong leaders, and they hold their own,” she said.

She did not begin college as an active feminist, but has over the years become deeply immersed in women’s issues.

“I’ve done a 180 from religious and not liberal in any active way, to being completely liberal and a strong Democrat and a feminist. Part of it was personality change from not knowing who I was and being shy to being a woman and figuring out my identity.”

But it was an internship at the Women and Girls’ Foundation that has turned DiGiovanni into a vocal advocate of women’s issues.

This past fall she organized a press conference in relation to a protest called “Girlcott.” A group of local teens organized the protest against Abercrombie & Fitch and their line of T-shirts the girls perceived to be misogynistic. The boycott gained national attention, including coverage on CNN, and resulted in a removal of several of these shirts from the company’s line.

DiGiovanni encourages future women at Carnegie Mellon to get involved on campus early on in their academic careers. “Don’t sit around and waste your college years. Stand up for yourself and who you are, whatever that might be,” she said.

For next year, DiGiovanni’s plans include law school. Though she is not yet sure about the kind of law she wants to pursue, she sees women’s issues and political and social justice to be a good fit.

By exploring outward instead of turning inward, DiGiovanni is now finishing college with no