First Panhellenic endowment is tribute to sisterhood

ECU a launch pad for Bond’s career

Stephanie Bond considered only two schools when she was looking for a college. She decided on ECU during her campus tour.

“My campus tour at ECU had a significant impact on me and solidified my choice,” Bond said. “I connected with the tour guide and felt an immediate sense of belonging. ECU offered the perfect blend of a big-campus vibe with a small-campus feel.”

ECU offered a balance of independence and proximity to her family that Bond valued. She could enjoy the sense of freedom college life provided and get home on one tank of gas to see her parents. Bond said ECU provided an affordable education, especially in a major – fashion merchandising – which ignited her passion.

“ECU felt like a place where I could truly be myself, find my path and step into adulthood confidently,” Bond said. “I left home with a sense of purpose, ready to embrace the world of college and the opportunities it held.”

At ECU, Bond found a foundation that led to an exhilarating career journey in various facets of brand, product and marketing. Through an ECU job fair, she secured a position with Abercrombie & Fitch as a store manager in Atlanta for the newly launched Hollister brand.

The brand’s rapid expansion led to Bond’s involvement in opening Hollister stores nationwide. She advanced within Abercrombie & Fitch, ultimately reaching the company’s headquarters in Ohio, where she contributed to the company’s mock store operation.

Bond made connections across North America, including with the Fossil Group, where an informal interview at a Fossil Group happy hour evolved into Bond becoming a global brand, product marketing and merchandising leader for the Fossil Group in Dallas. Her work spanned renowned brands like adidas, Diesel, Burberry and Marc by Marc.

Bond later joined Lennox International, supervising and implementing a comprehensive business to business to consumer (B2B2C) marketing strategy.

During her time at Lennox, Bond initiated the “Feel The Love” program, an initiative to provide heating and cooling systems to those in need. The program’s focus on giving back to the community led to Bond being awarded the AMA Marketer of the Year in corporate social responsibility and a Silver Stevie Award in the Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year category.

In addition to her career work and service at ECU, Bond and her husband, Devin Benton, are deeply involved with the Seeds of Africa Foundation. They have supported and visited the non-profit pre-K-8 school in Ethiopia for more than a decade and serve on the board of directors. The organization is dedicated to nurturing children and families, offering quality education and development programs to those living at or below the poverty line.

The bonds of sisterhood are a powerful influence for those who seek out a sorority to join in college. A group of Chi Omega sisters, led by Stephanie Bond ’02, have created East Carolina University’s first Panhellenic sorority-specific scholarship endowment.

Bond earned a degree in fashion merchandising from the College of Health and Human Performance and a minor in business. Connections made at a campus job fair led to a superlative career in branding, marketing and product merchandising.

Brands that have not faded, even slightly, in Bond’s esteem are ECU and Chi Omega.

“ECU and Chi Omega highly impacted the trajectory of my life,” Bond said. “These institutions provided confidence to excel in the real world. My college experience was defined by academic success, a sense of belonging and active involvement in the sorority.”

In Chi Omega, Bond found her closest friends. The sorority provided her a space she felt authentic, with sisters whom she related to immediately. Bond lived at the house her junior year and served as house manager, planning menus every week. Her passion for food, even back then, led her to organize girls’ nights out to enjoy nice meals together.

Bond said the ECU Rho Zeta Chi Omega Scholarship Endowment is a tribute to the unbreakable bonds of sisterhood and an unyielding pursuit of academic excellence. A high GPA was one of the things that drew her to join the Rho Zeta chapter of Chi Omega.

Six sorority sisters have joined Bond as founding donors of the endowment. Donna Dees Aldredge ’00, Julie Marco Finn ’03, Leanna Fundora Mangum ’02, Leah Fundora Holder ’02, Lori Brantley Stockdale ’02 and Emily Nelson Weaver ’04 each have pledged to give a portion of the $25,000 to establish the core endowment. They also have established a $5,000 supplemental fund, allowing for immediate scholarship support while the endowment grows.

“The group of remarkable sisters who united to establish this trailblazing scholarship holds a special place in my heart,” Bond said. “Their commitment, resilience and shared vision to uplift and transform lives through education stand as a testament to the profound power of sisterhood and collective action. Together, we are shaping futures and fostering opportunities that will resonate through generations.”

The first scholarship will be awarded in 2024. Active members of the Rho Zeta Chi Omega sorority, with a demonstrated financial need, are the first priority for the scholarship. Eligibility also includes relatives (gender inclusive) of Chi Omega alumnae.

Doing good for ECU

Bond is fueled by a sense of gratitude for the impact ECU has had on her life. Giving back is her way of ensuring that the opportunities she was provided are available to others. Education is an important cause to her, and Bond is committed to doing good for ECU.

She was appointed to the ECU Foundation board of directors in 2022. She also serves on the fashion merchandising advisory board in the College of Health and Human Performance, allowing her to create opportunities for students similar to those she had at ECU. She previously initiated a board scholarship in fashion merchandising.

As a Rho Zeta Chi Omega advisor for alumni relations and career development, Bond mentors students, assisting them with essential career tools like resumes, LinkedIn profiles and mock interviews. In recognition of her contributions, she received an ECU 40 Under 40 Leadership Award in 2020.

Enduring legacy

Through the ECU Foundation, Bond recognized the potential of an enduring legacy of an endowment and felt the idea mirrored the emotion and experience of her Chi Omega sisterhood. The notion of being pioneers in fraternity and sorority life at ECU was compelling, too, and Bond and her Chi Omega sisters embraced the opportunity.

The founding members were passionate about creating an opportunity to help someone else. They also see the scholarship as a strategy for retention at ECU.

Bond’s sisters have come to understand that when she is passionate about an idea, she pursues it relentlessly. This determination spurred her idea to endow a scholarship, emphasizing the importance of providing opportunities for others.

“When I get behind a cause, I don’t give up,” Bond emphasized. “Providing others the opportunity to learn and succeed is what truly matters. It’s not about me, or us,” Bond continued, “but about making a meaningful impact.”

Bond is proud that the Chi Omega endowment is the first of its kind at ECU. She feels Chi Omega has paved the way and removed barriers for giving so other fraternities and sororities can consider the same opportunity.

“I love that it’s trailblazing, but I don’t want it to be the only one,” Bond said.

Opportunities to engage

ECU alumnae from left, Julie Marco Finn, Leanna Fundora Mangum, Lori Brantley Stockdale, Leah Fundora Holder, Stephanie Bond, and Chi Omega sisters Donna Dees Aldredge and Emily Nelson Weaver, not pictured, have created the first sorority-specific scholarship endowment.

ECU alumnae from left, Julie Marco Finn, Leanna Fundora Mangum, Lori Brantley Stockdale, Leah Fundora Holder, Stephanie Bond, and Chi Omega sisters Donna Dees Aldredge and Emily Nelson Weaver, not pictured, have created the first sorority-specific scholarship endowment.

The commitment from the founding donors will create an annual $1,000 scholarship. Bond hopes to grow the number and amount of scholarships the group can provide through fundraisers and donations from other Chi Omega alumnae.

The sisters launched scholarship fundraising during homecoming alumnae events in October. The opportunity was a first step to engage with alumnae and reconnect them with Chi Omega and ECU. Bond led the way with plans for an intimate dinner fundraiser, an alumnae social and breakfast at the Chi Omega house over homecoming in support of the scholarship.

“There’s immense potential of time, talent and treasure from the Chi Omega alumnae. There are incredible humans who want to give back and simply don’t know how,” Bond said. “If women get involved with their time, they are more likely to give financially. The ultimate goal is to inspire engagement, demonstrating its profound impact on both ECU and Chi Omega’s enduring legacy.”

ECU’s Pursue Gold campaign to raise half a billion dollars will end in December. This ambitious effort will create new paths to success for Pirates on campus, across the country and around the world. Donor gifts during the campaign will keep ECU constantly leading and ready to advance what’s possible. Learn more at pursuegold.ecu.edu.