Alpha Connect Sisterhood Series

Janet Crook Conroy, Beta Pi, on being a Flight Attendant and her new role as Regional Coordinator at the Office of Drug Control Policy

March 11, 2022 Kelly McGinnis Beck Season 2 Episode 20
Alpha Connect Sisterhood Series
Janet Crook Conroy, Beta Pi, on being a Flight Attendant and her new role as Regional Coordinator at the Office of Drug Control Policy
Show Notes Transcript

On this episode, Kelly chats with Janet Crook Conroy, Beta Pi, on her path to becoming a flight attendant and her new role as a regional coordinator at the Office of Drug Control Policy in West Virginia.

Disclaimer: This transcript was developed with an automated transcription program, spelling and grammar errors may occur.

Kelly  0:04  
Welcome to the Alpha Connect Sisterhood series podcast. I'm your host Kelly McGinnis Beck, national president. This podcast is all about sharing the stories of our members and our connection through Alpha Sigma Alpha. Thank you for joining us today. Welcome to the podcast, Janet Conroy.

Janet  0:24  
Oh, thank you. I'm so honored to be here.

Kelly  0:27  
I'm so excited to have you. And I'm excited to share your story. So let's dive in like I do with everybody. Tell us your Alpha Sigma Alpha story. How did you become a member? Where did you become a member, chapter name, school name, all that fun stuff.

Janet  0:40  
Well, I attended Concord College back then now it's Concord University. And I actually lived so in towers, we had floors for all the sororities, and I actually lived on the sigma floor, the Tri Sigma floor before they actually thought I was gonna pledge them and boom, I honestly, I don't remember why I know there was a girl that was from my hometown, that was Alpha Sigma Alpha. And I was friends with her and they were small. And they were well rounded. And, and I'm like, I just want to be one of them. So I ended up pledging Alpha Sigma Alpha. And it was, I will say, Now, it was probably the best decision I've ever made my life. And that's how I really became an Alpha Sigma Alpha.

Kelly  1:24  
So did you did you join fall or spring, formal recruitment or informal recruitment? What was your process like?

Janet  1:33  
I, Well, I started, I went to a community college. And then I went to, to Concord college for my last two years. So I pledged in the spring of my first year, and there are six people out of that pledge class. And it was a small group of people of women that were in Alpha Sigma Alpha. And all of a sudden, after we pledged our six people, we started growing, and it was amazing.

Kelly  2:00  
I bet. So were you a junior, then?

I would have been a junior. Correct. 

So go backwards. How did you end up living on the Sigma floor?

Janet  2:10  
Well, whenever you... Well, when you get your assignments, I guess they just put you wherever there's an open space. I mean I was just coming into...yeah, right.

Kelly  2:22  
Oh, fascinating. All right. I bet that was an interesting experience in and of itself. 

Janet  2:27  
It was. I actually, I actually went to the Sigma dance. I was hanging out with the Sigma's. They thought I was ashooin.

Kelly  2:37  
Well, they took you for granted and we gobbled you up. So you are a member of the Beta Pi chapter, which Concord University is in West Virginia. Now, did you? Were you in school the same time as Cindy Kelly?

Janet  2:54  
No, Cindy, I'm a little older than Cindy. Okay. And we met I think I met Cindy when she was a leadership consultant. And I actually went to Wagner College. Where is it? Wagner College or University? I'm not. I don't remember

Kelly  3:11  
it. I think it was Wagner College. I think it still is up in New York. 

Janet  3:16  
All right, well, I went to their installation. And that was my first big thing I ever went to with our sorority because I just wasn't involved. I didn't know anything. And I moved to Boston, and went to the Boston Alumnae chapter and met Mary McGuire, and she just kept tagging me along with everything she was doing. And I just, I loved it. I loved every bit of it.

Kelly  3:44  
So let's talk about the Boston Alumnae Chapter, which recently celebrated its 100 years in existence, which was so much fun. And so many of those women attributed to the fact that the Boston Alumnae Chapter has lasted so long because of you. So talk a little bit about your experience being involved in the Alumnae Chapter and the ups and downs. I know I've heard the story, but not everybody else got to hear the story.

Janet  4:09  
Yeah, well, that's very kind of you to say it was contributed to me, but everybody was involved. But Mary McGuire, she she was my inspiration and getting me involved in the national organization. And Mary moved. And I'm like, what you can't leave. I was. And I don't know the Boston chapter is very unique because people would come to Boston to go to grad school. So we'd have people coming in and we'd be we had a ton of members and that graduate move on. So I always describe Boston has been like a hit like we had our peaks and we had our valley's. And when we were in our peak, it meant a ton of people were living in Boston and we had a full board we had a ton of people active and then and then they'd get married and move out of the city. And we go into the valley. And then we get a whole new group of people in and that'd be our board. We're rocking again. So I, you know, you just had to accept that all your events weren't going to be a ton of people. And you just had to really appreciate whenever four or five people came out, and you got to really know each other and really enjoy each other's company. And I think that really builds on a sisterhood.

Well so many of them that had moved away, came back for the 100th anniversary celebration, which I thought was really cool. Getting to see some of them like Mary McGuire and Shannon Pretty and Deb but just forgotten her last name. 


Kelly  5:48  
Yes. You know, it was just so cool to see them come back to celebrate that even though they no longer live in the Boston area.

Janet  5:57  
Yeah, it was. I bribed them. I told them, better get there. No, no, it was just there was such a huge part of the whole chapter is like, they, they need to be there to celebrate this, because obviously, it's going to be this gonna be a one time celebration, it's not going to happen again. And they just needed to be there to celebrate all the great things we did. I mean, when I did I researched 100 years of our chapter. And just some of the unique things that I found and and you saw the display of all the awards of Boston chapter one, it was pretty, it's pretty impressive. I have to say myself, I I was impressed. But I don't know they were all a part of it, and they need to come back to celebrate it.

Kelly  6:44  
Absolutely in the scrapbooks were amazing to get to look through and all of the historical artifacts that you guys still have, which is pretty cool to get a chance to look through.

Janet  6:55  
Yeah, it was I actually I had to let it all go because I had kept that sacred for so long. And I finally passed the tub of documents and paperwork off to Autumn. And I had a little twinge in my stomach when I did it. I'm like, oh, no, is this going to be safe? I hope they catch care of it, because we need it for the next 100 years. But

Kelly  7:19  
Absolutely. hopefully, it's not like some of the things that happened in our Collegiate chapters where they're in somebody's apartment, and they never quite make it to the next person's apartment. And then they're lost.

Janet  7:29  
I know, I know, I'm sure there's there was stuff, you know, from all those 100 years of history that we probably could have found. But I just you know, all the ladies, they were they had passed away. It was a lot of the Theta Theta ladies from Boston University who started that chapter. And it was really one thing. I was just telling somebody this yesterday. I'm like, it was super interesting to look at the history because back in like the 30s and 40s. All their names were Mrs. John Jones. This is, you know, their husbands names. And then as you keep going, then it's like, you know, I'm married. It's Janet Crook Conroy. And then you keep going, and it's just the person's name like are hyphenated, or they haven't been married. I mean, it was, you know, back then it was like, You got married. And just the trend. 

Kelly  8:27  

Janet  8:28  
I just loved I just loved looking at all the trends and all the changes.

Kelly  8:33  
Yeah, it certainly makes you I think appreciate the women's movement, right? Like where were we we started to claim our own identity and not the identity of our husbands.


Fascinating. So tell me what brought you from West Virginia to Boston.

Janet  8:52  
So I graduated Concord as a teacher at a teaching degree. And there were no teaching jobs in West Virginia. So I'm working at my dad's office, and I'm like, I am not doing this for the rest of my life. So I started looking through the phonebook. The first thing was a for airline, and I called the 1-800 Number. I'm like, how do you become a flight attendant? Next thing I know they sent me an application, I filled it out. I had the interview, I got hired and I was whisked off the training before I even thought about it. And I went to New York. My parents I don't think they were like they're like what? So I went to train in Dallas Fort Worth for six weeks.Went straight to New York City. Poor little West Virginia girl going straight to the city. It's quite an experience. I lived there for a couple years then I transferred to Boston accidentally. I know I know many of the younger people listening to this are gonna be like what, but we had just gotten computers and my roommate and I were practicing at work, we're like, oh, here's an entry. Let's try this entry. Well, it was actually to put your name on a transfer list. And we're like, Yeah, let's do that. Because the rumor was Boston was so senior, nobody's ever gonna hold that. And well, the next week, we were based in Boston. So that's how I ended up in Boston. 

Kelly  8:52  
Okay. I love the fact that you opened the phone book. And the first thing you saw was airline. I never in a million years would have thought that was how you decided to become a flight attendant.

Yeah. I know. It sounds kind of crazy.

I love it. Oh, my God, that is great. So you move to Boston. Go ahead.

Janet  10:42  
Yeah, well, the interesting thing is the day so you know, I have an education degree, I should be teaching school somewhere. But the day I got my flight attendant letter that I was hired, I also got a letter for a high school in Petersburg, Virginia to teach there. So it was like, which one do I do? So I chose I chose to be a flight attendent. It was it was probably the best choice for me. It really was.

Kelly  11:07  
I so I'm sure you have traveled the world tell us, you know, what was what was that like? Especially, you know, being young and I imagine if, if, if I've heard the stories correctly, like when you're early on, you kind of you take whatever route they give you. It's not until you get your seniority that you get to pick some better routes and whatnot. 

Janet  11:31  
Yeah, yeah. When I first started you, you know, it was so different when I first started as as it is today,

Kelly  11:39  
Were they called flight attendants then?

Janet  11:42  
Oh, yes, we I was hired as a flight attendant, but I worked with many stewardess and we heard lots of really great stories. And you know, flight attendants started out hiring just male. It was Eastern airline, and they only hired male male Stewart Stewart's they were called Stewart's, and I don't, I don't really know, when it switched. And they start, oh, I do. When the war started happening. Then they had to start hiring women and they called up stewardess. And then they hired women as nurses. Most of them were nurses. And then the trend went to a lot of teachers. So I know people think that, you know, flight attendants are educated or, you know, that kind of thing. But most of them have college degrees. They're nurses, teachers, just a ton of things. And then after their hired, we have so much time a lot of people go back and get additional degrees. They're lawyers, some doctors and they still fly. It's a very addicting job. It's hard to give up.

Kelly  12:42  
I bet. So where what's been the most exciting or exotic place you've ever traveled to?

Janet  12:52  
Okay, so being from West Virginia, you know, thinking this is where you're gonna live the rest of your life and not really thinking about traveling outside of West Virginia or, or outside of the East Coast. I think the most exciting place would be when I was based in LA and I flew to New Zealand and Australia.

Kelly  13:13  
Oh my now when you get to do those trips to you get some downtime that you get to do sightseeing.

Janet  13:19  
Oh, yeah, we Yes, we do. We take a nap. And we hit the ground running and, and it was just so unique about we go to the same place all the time. So if you went on vacation, you're packing it all in. And you're one week there. So we get to do one thing, every vacation, so I feel like you can remember it a little bit better.

Kelly  13:39  
Oh, that's interesting. I hadn't thought about it that way. So you traveled that route then a couple of times? 

Janet  13:45  
Oh, gosh, for almost five years. 

Kelly  13:48  
Oh my goodness. So that i That's awesome. Like I just I'm thinking about all the different things that you could do each trip and just kind of adding to your list.

Janet  13:59  
Absolutely. And then you've done everything, all the tourist things. So then you start digging into more of the local things and and going you know, more outside of the city taking the train outside of the city to different different little cities and and learning about those.

Kelly  14:15  
So what were like what are some of your best memories of things that you saw or experienced in New Zealand and Australia?

Janet  14:24  
Oh my gosh, one thing people ask me what's your favorite place? What's your favorite thing? I'm like everything. i Oh, gosh. I don't know if I can answer that right now. I just loved everything I always did. Oh, I know in New Zealand, I didn't really watch ring Lord of rings, the Lord of the Rings. 

Kelly  14:46  

Janet  14:46  
So I actually got to take a tour down to the set of Lord of the Rings. And that's a tour now because you know, they take the little bus through and you get to walk there. That was pretty incredible. 

Kelly  14:59  
Oh I imagine.

Janet  15:01  
I don't know if that was my favorite thing. But that was that was the most unique thing. Well, I don't know everything. I loved everything. I mean, I was in China, I got to go to the Great Wall of China.

Kelly  15:12  
Oh, wow.

Just so many opportunities.

What was the most interesting foods you ate? I imagine in different countries, you're getting very different experiences. 

Janet  15:30  
Yes, um, gosh. Well, my brain just went dead. I don't know. 

Kelly  15:40  
I'm putting you on the spot.

Janet  15:41  
Yeah, that one's a tough one. I always like to eat the local food. Definitely try all the local stuff. And, and I will say this, that all of a sudden, if you're not flying to a certain destination, you start craving something like, I hadn't been to London a long time. And there's a couple of Indian restaurants that we love to go to. And you're like, Oh, I can't I need to get a London trip. So I can go get some Indian food. Literally, that's how a flight attendant mind thinks like, oh, I need that destination. So I can go to this restaurant.

Kelly  16:14  
I can imagine and I've heard like, I've not eaten Indian food when I've been in London. But I have heard they have some amazing Indian food there.

Janet  16:22  
Its amazing. 

Kelly  16:24  
Amazing, not what you would think of when you think about London, England?

Janet  16:27  
No, but you have to think that they have a large population of Indian.

Kelly  16:33  
Yeah, it's really it's almost like a New York City. Right. It's just a conglomerate of people from everywhere in Europe and Asia that that come there, which is fascinating.

Janet  16:45  
Yeah, I don't feel like the world now is getting so mixed up. There's popular there's, you know, everybody's everywhere.

Kelly  16:52  
Well, and certainly, planes allow us to travel everywhere, as opposed to, you know, going over on a boat or something that would take forever.

Janet  17:00  
Yeah. Well, here's the, here's the unique thing I can share with you about flying. So flight attendants favorite thing is when you get to that city, obviously, when do the tourist attractions, but we go to the same city all the time. So a flight attendant will know every deal around, but we go to the grocery store, and there are certain things you know, that you buy from that country. So we're there buying all that and bringing it back with us. Back, gosh, in early 90s, we go to the store in London to buy some unique things there. But now you can get them here in the states. So as it's not as fun, but we still race to the grocery store and bring all kinds of stuff back.

Kelly  17:43  
Yeah, I think you know, the ability to ship things everywhere doesn't make it maybe not quite as unique as it had been once before.

Janet  17:51  
Yeah, I here's, here's, here's a good story for you. So when my son was small, I flew Paris a lot. So we would bring Patay and cheeses back. And my son was he loved it. And we I guess Paris went seasonal. So it wasn't going to Paris and all of a sudden, one day he pipes up. He's like, Mommy, you need a Paris trip. We don't have any Patay.

Kelly  18:17  
How old was he?

Janet  18:19  
Oh my gosh, he must have been like six. 

Kelly  18:22  
That's so cute. 

Janet  18:24  
Oh, no, of course mommy solving the problem. I just went to the store and got some liverwurst and he didn't know the difference

Kelly  18:32  
That was a quick trip to Paris you made. 

Janet  18:34  
Yeah, right. I'm like, Oh, I'd have to stop this. I'm creating a little monster.

Kelly  18:39  
That is so funny. Now. Did you get to take him on some trips to?

Janet  18:45  
I did there Yeah, several times. I would take him I know. Everybody knows probably Jen Rashard. O'Byrne now she would travel with me I'm like you have to go with me so I can take William I took them to Paris with me. several places she was my she was my caretaker for my son. So she gets to all these places.

Kelly  19:09  
How special I did not know that. That is fun. And of course you met Jen through the Boston Alumnae chapter.

Janet  19:18  
Yes, I did. 

Kelly  19:20  
fSoFun. So tell me are you an expert at packing?

Janet  19:28  
I'm not gonna say I'm an expert but I will say that I do try to pack everything that mixes and matches. I roll everything. I take little bottles of everything I just per trip. You know if it's a three day trip, I take enough stuff that just need for three days. And I'm not a snob with my hair shampoo and stuff. I use the hotel shampoos

Kelly  19:49  
So rolling your clothes is the way to go. I've always heard that but I always feel like it takes up more room but I guess not.

Janet  19:57  
No, try it sometime. Take this stuff that you're gonna put in your suitcase and just fold it and put it in there. Take it all out, roll it and you'll see there's there is much more room.

Kelly  20:07  
Good to know. I'm gonna have to try that on my next trip because I always feel like I'm like squishing stuff in there. I used to be a good packer when I was a consultant. I am not a good packer anymore. And I think the pandemic made it worse because I hadn't been on a plane for so long. So now I'm constantly like, I want to take all the things and then I come back and I'm like, I didn't wear half of the stuff in my suitcase. 

Janet  20:29  
Yeah, no. 

Kelly  20:33  
So have you ever had a famous person flying your flight?

Janet  20:38  
Oh, gosh, yeah, lots of..

Kelly  20:40  
Oh do tell

Janet  20:41  
Oh, my goodness. All right. Well, I'll just from recent, I sometimes have to be probed to remember who, who I've had a ton. But the most recent one that I can think that always remember, it's just like this untouchable. So we all know the Beatles, right? So you just think there's somebody there out there. You'll never see them meet them? Well, I had Ringo Starr on my flight. Yeah, customer service comes on and I gave you some direction. They're like, No pictures, don't ask for the autograph. Or like, okay, got it. Him and his wife are on my flight and I'm working first class and he sits down. And we're just like, alright, don't even look at him. Well, he rings his call light. And I had I had to go over and help him. His seatbelt got stuck down in his seat. So I had to fix that. Then he had a problem with this screen. I had to go fix that. So I don't think we might have to bleep this out. But you know, there's a phrase they say in London, and he's like your Blink. Brilliant. You get that on a on a pillow. Because Ringo Starr thinks I'm freaking brilliant. We'll just say freaking brilliant. Let's see one of my favorite female people. Drew Barrymore. Yeah, I feel like she's my best friend now. She was pretty awesome as I don't know if people watched the show that she was in called St Clarita Diet. So I had her on.

Kelly  22:13  
Yeah, but I just saw her last night on 50 first dates. It was on TV. And I was watching. I was like, Oh, I haven't seen her in a while.

Janet  22:20  
Oh my gosh, she's, she's the she's just so cool. And she's just normal. But it was right after that. In the show. She eats people. She eats bad people.

Kelly  22:31  
Like literally eats?

Janet  22:32  
Eats. Yeah. Like she's, I can't even I she gets attacked by something in this house that she's in and all of a sudden, she I guess. So she eats people. And so her and her husband decided, okay, so to meet your needs, we're just gonna, we're gonna kill the bad people. So whenever so in first class, I have to pass out menus. So when I gave her her menu, I'm like, I just want to make sure that you read the menu closely because the flight attendants or the passengers are not on the menu. So she got a big chuckle out of that. So that was fun. 

Kelly  23:11  
Oh, I bet she did. That is funny. Any political people are like dignitaries or whatnot, or do they all have their own planes?

Janet  23:20  
No, no, we get them a lot about a lot of political people, senators, especially living in Boston. And when I was based there going to Washington,

Kelly  23:31  
Did you meet the Kennedys?

Janet  23:32  
I met. Oh, my God, what's the youngest brothers of, Ted. I have met Ted a couple of times. Yes.

Kelly  23:41  
Okay. This is me being naive, because obviously, to my knowledge, I never had a famous person on my flight. Normally, do they board with everybody else? Or is it separate? Like, is there?

Janet  23:54  

Kelly  23:56  
Depends on the person?

Janet  23:58  
It depends on the person, it depends on their...It depends on what they want. Because they usually go to a special lounge in the airport. And then a special service agent will bring them to the plane either first, or either last.

Kelly  24:12  
That makes sense. I can see the last ride because everybody else is boarded. So there's not all the oohs and ahhs. And as people walk past them getting on because you typically on most flights walk through first class.

Right, right.

Fascinating. So you've spent your career at least your most of your career as a flight attendant. I've got to ask you the inevitable question of you know, traveling pre post 9/11. Were you traveling on 9/11?

Janet  24:42  
Interest... Good question. I actually was based in Boston at that time, and I flew predominantly Boston, London, London, Boston a lot. So we had a few of those test runs. We had some of the terrorists on our flights. As a matter of fact, I can remember two specific flights where I had Mohammed Atta, he was a passenger in first class. And then we had another incident where we had him on a flight with a bunch of other guys. And they were doing the test run. I really, I can't say much more about that. But I was not flying on 9/11 I was at home, getting ready to watch Martha Stewart. And I saw the plane go into the building. I'm like, oh, no, I just thought it was a little Cessna, and somebody had a heart attack. And that was that. And as I'm watching it, we see the other plane. And the first plane was an American Airlines. And that's who I worked for. And, and they were my friends. I knew all the people that were on that plane. And it was pretty devastating. My friend came over and we were sitting there, of course, you watch the news all day long. And our phones, my home phone, I call waiting. Both of our cell phones are call waiting. It was just non stop. People would call and just hang up when we answered to make sure we were home, or we're not on that flight. And I heard from so many people that I hadn't heard from in a long time. It was it was it was touching.

Kelly  26:12  
I'm sure. I know that day, we all thought about everyone we knew and where they were at that. 

Janet  26:20  
Absolutely. It was it changed the airline industry tremendously.

Kelly  26:24  
I was just gonna ask. So from your perspective, I know, you know, from a passenger perspective how it changed. But even from your perspective, no, what were those I have to imagine, you know, getting on a flight after that might have had you a little jittery?

Janet  26:41  
I don't know if it was jittery. But we definitely paid way I paid more way more attention. And I know you're not supposed to profile. But it was hard not to. You know, we were like telling passengers. Like if you see something, say something, I mean, that goes even today. If you see something, say something, we can always apologize. If we don't know about it, and something happens. We can't apologize. So we are still live by that rule.

Kelly  27:11  
Yeah, I think that's important. If you see something that is suspicious for anyone to you know, try to get a better understanding of what's happening. I see that a lot. Even when I'm in New York City and in the subway, or like on a train or something. Somebody will still no, you still hear that a lot everywhere. 

Janet  27:29  
Uh huh. I mean, even leave somebody leaving a backpack somewhere. It could be an accident. They may not have meant to leave it there. But you don't know why. And you need to report it. A bag by itself needs to be reported. 

Kelly  27:41  
Yeah. I mean, I was literally just traveling the other weekend and somebody left a bag in the bathroom. And there was a woman standing there going, like she looked at me, she goes, is that your bag? And I was like, No, she's like, whose bag is this? And I'm standing here like, and still the thought of my head was like somebody left a bag in the bathroom. Get out.

Janet  28:00  
So get out.

Kelly  28:02  
I mean, just it's such a different world that we live in now compared to them.

Janet  28:08  
It is it is.

Kelly  28:10  
So you're not flying anymore?

Janet  28:14  
Well, that is that's everybody's confused about that. I know.

Kelly  28:21  
I remember that. 

Janet  28:23  
What is that? 

Kelly  28:23  
You took a sabbatical? I remember that.

Janet  28:26  
I did well, right now, you know, with the whole COVID thing. They were we, you know, we had to stop a lot of our flights. So they gave us opportunity to take a two year leave a 18 month leave, you know, and I took that whole two year leave. And I'm thinking I'm going to get a job. You know, with my new you know, I just got my master's. So I'm going to like dabble in my new field. Well, that didn't work out. But I did take the leave. And I am still a flight attendant and I am back to work. I'm now based in Charlotte. And I'm flying it just my the base amount that I have to fly. And I did get a job. Finally, in my new field, and I'm here in West Virginia, working with the I'm a regional coordinator for the Office of Drug Control Policy.

Kelly  29:15  
So tell us about I remember you got your degree, um you went to Harvard. So tell us about that. Because you did that while you were still you know heavily traveling as a flight attendant. And I heard you say at the beginning, lots of folks go and get degrees while they're working as a flight attendant because there's a lot of flexibility. So talk a little bit about that and what you've done and what got you interested in that?

Janet  29:41  
Well, when I was raising my son to stay home I had started a business go simple, and it was just a professional organizing service to help people reorganize, declutter and reuse things and I really didn't know that I was part of the let's save the Earth. I just I like to recycle and reuse things, and not be wasteful. So I always wanted to go back to Harvard and get a business certificate that they offered, but I never had the time or the money. And when William my son went to school, he got a scholarship to go to Norwich University. So I took his money and went back to Harvard. No, it wasn't, it didn't. It sounds very simple. But it wasn't that easy. I went to one of their information sessions, and I'm like, Oh, my gosh, I can't do this. So the next year, they send me the same invitation to come to their To what do I forget what the meeting was called? It was like just her information day. So I went back, I picked better sessions. I'm like, You know what, I can do this. So I signed up. And it was not, I I'm so glad that I have that degree. But it was not easy. Going to Harvard was not easy. It's like, what are you asking me? Like, just ask me in the question, the questions you had to have, decipher before you can even answer them. It was hard, but I met a lot of contacts a lot, I made a lot of good friends. And that having that on my resume has opened a ton of doors for me.

Kelly  31:13  
I can imagine. So and I remember you did a women's advancement series with you know, some of your tips from from that early company. And I, I have shower rings that hold my scarves in my closet. Thanks to you.

Janet  31:28  
Oh, good. You know, but you know, the funny thing is, is having that business, it was like going to Harvard and getting a master's in sustainability was like the adult stuff of that business. Like I just perpetuated into that. And it was good. I learned a lot and I'm using it now. I know working for the Office of Drug Control Policy doesn't sound very sustainable. But if your city is not sustainable, and it's, you know, filled with people overdosing, that's not a sustainable city.

Kelly  32:01  
Interesting. So do you focus on? So you talk about kind of, you know, people who are overdosing. So is it really about the I don't know what the question is, I'm trying to ask.

Janet  32:15  
Okay, so what I think you're trying to ask is, what do I actually do? 

Kelly  32:19  

Janet  32:20  
So I actually work in prevention. And if you have, if you can prevent people from getting addicted to drugs or doing drugs, you're going to save money in the long run and treatment and recovery. So that's what we we go to the statehouse and we solicit for more money and prevention so that we can save money in the long run. And if we try to collect data on overdoses are trying to pinpoint where overdoses are happening, when they're happening, if there's something that triggers that, and if we can pinpoint where the drugs are coming in from so that we make it mitigate that travel. 

Kelly  32:56  
So are you focused on mostly illegal Drugs and Substances versus prescriptions? As I think about kind of, you know, the the OxyContin and all this other drug overdoses where people get addicted to painkillers and whatnot, are you focused on both?

Janet  33:14  
We're kind of focused on both. But here I'm in West Virginia, Southern West Virginia, specifically, I'll just reference there's a book called dope sick, and there's a mini series on Hulu called dope sick. And if you watch that, it's a real eye opener. So basically, the pharmaceutical companies kind of pinpointed areas that had high injuries, coal mining, Pittsburgh with the steelworkers. And those people who have high injuries, we're getting addicted. So we have a huge addiction in southern West Virginia from from doctors who are prescribing and now they figured it out. And then when they start prescribing opioids, they're still addicted. So they move to heroin. 

Kelly  34:00  

Janet  34:01  
And you know, a lot and if you watch this miniseries or study it, you'll see that a lot of them were trying to also change the stigma of drug addicts. Some of them don't want to do it, but it's just so hard to get off of it. It makes you literally sick to get off of them, and they just can't do it. Of course, there's some people who like it and they just continue to do it. But the majority of people don't want to be addicts. They really don't.

Kelly  34:28  
I have Dope Sick actually saved in my Hulu things to watch because someone else had told me it was a good series and I worked in the pharma  industry. So I was really curious to hear since it's focused on big pharma and you know, how they intentionally targeted which is just, you know, makes my stomach turn to even think about it because the whole point of being in this industry is to help people not to, you know, turn their lives upside down, making them addicted to something that no longer helps them that hurts them.

Janet  35:02  
Exactly. You know, so therefore, we're trying to change the stigma also. 

How do you do that? 

Well, you just educate people on on exactly what happened, like, how these people became addicted, what they're what what happened. I'm just trying to change some of the terminology. And I can't give you that now. I'm still learning all the terminology changes instead of drug addicts. There's a different term for that. Just to...

Kelly  35:35  
Change language.

Janet  35:36  
Yes, yes. Changing the language.

Kelly  35:40  
That makes sense. Do you focus predominantly on education in schools or the community or like, because I, I imagine there's a number of entry points from a communication standpoint.

Janet  35:55  
So my, what I am focusing on is meeting people in the community, especially in law enforcement EMTs trying to collect data. I'm also focused on meeting business owners, and we are focused on Narcan training. And that is a whole different topic, please. People are like, we don't want it that has a whole stigma to itself. Like how are you giving them Narcan to save them? Well, it was pointed out to me, Well, if it was your son, you would want to save them. And if we can save them, maybe we can help them in a long run like okay, but here's the most important thing with Narcan is you've got fentanyl. And that is more potent than anything, and sometimes you can touch it and overdose. And that's what's happened with the law law enforcement. They're overdosing because they just touch fentanyl.

Kelly  36:51  
Even if you touchd it you could,

Janet  36:54  
yeah, it's there's car fentanyl, there's three different phases of fentanyl. And if there's one, like just three grains of salt, that much could result in an overdose situation. So if you have Narcan handy, that's going to help a civilian, what if you're just a civilian walking by and I don't know, you touch it, it's going to be wanted, I had to have a mind change on that whole whole topic myself, once you learn a little bit more how it can save just innocent people's lives as well.

Kelly  37:26  
Yeah, I know, that's been a hot topic. But you know, you hope that you can get some of these folks that are addicted into some sort of treatment. But it's, it's a long road, right? It's just not one and done. And it would be great if it was but if they're addicted, they call it addiction for a reason, right? It just it takes hold of you.

Janet  37:52  
Well, once you if you when you watch dope sick, you understand a little more about the receptive and, and how it really how it really affects your body and your cravings. And, and you really have no control over it. It's, it's not sometimes it's not a choice, you just can't live without it.

Kelly  38:12  
It is interesting, I work in a field where we're developing a drug and one of one of the side effects is around addiction for certain types of drugs, not necessarily ours. But so in order to test it to prove that ours isn't addictive, you have to do those preclinical studies. So you are literally like giving a rat cocaine, and then giving a rat this and trying to see like as you test them, like in what like you kind of take them through a maze. And they know if they go to this certain box and they push the button, they get their cocaine addiction, they start to develop that addiction, and then you take that away, and then you put something else in and you try to see like, where they head in that maze. And I know I'm not doing it justice to describe it. But it's something along those lines where you start to see it. And it talks about the different receptors in the brain and how they you know, you get that, that rush and it triggers that and they're you know, same thing with impulse control behaviors, and it triggers these receptors that make you go down, you know, and start to do things that you might not normally do because you've got that increase in dopamine or whatever it is in the brain that triggers you to crave certain things. A whole brain thing.

Janet  39:31  
Yeah. And then you know what that leads into, we do a lot of harm reduction as well, education because when people are addicted to drugs, they do a lot of things they normally wouldn't do. So now we have a big outbreak and HIV and hepatitis C. From sharing needles from doing whatever they have to do to get get their choice of drugs.

Kelly  39:53  
We haven't heard of an outbreak of HIV in a long time.

Janet  39:56  
Yeah, it's out there. It's becoming more popular. With a drug use

Kelly  40:03  
well, all important things to educate on and interesting to me, at least in terms of your point of how you build a sustainable community. I wouldn't have thought to tie all those things together. But as we talked about it, it makes complete and total sense,

Janet  40:21  
right? Because you've got, you've got people who are addicted to drugs, you don't have people to work. I mean, here in southern West Virginia, one of the biggest issues are businesses can't find people to pass drug test to work in that establishment. So therefore, you're hurting the business industry.

Kelly  40:40  

Janet  40:41  
So it, it all ties in together.

Kelly  40:46  
Now is is West Virginia, still heavily a coal state coal miners?

Janet  40:52  
It is it is but you know, where I live in Beckley, West Virginia, we're right beside Fayetteville, which just became the latest National Park. That's where we do a lot of whitewater rafting and now it's become a quite a tourist spot.

Kelly  41:10  
I remember when I was a consultant and I visited Beta Pi chapter and the chapter president and I can't remember her name. Jamie Vandergrift would remember. Oh, yeah. Jamie wasn't the president. But she she and I spent a lot of time together, she would remember the President's dad worked in a coal mine. And so she gave me a piece of coal he had brought from the coal mine, I still have it to this day, it was one of my most cherished cherished gifts because it was just so thoughtful, and, you know, tied to the community and the area. And, and I still have it, I love it. Every time I think about it. I think about my trip to West Virginia.

Janet  41:49  
Yeah, west Virginia is pretty unique. I'm happy to be back. It's I don't know, I feel like I can breathe.

Kelly  41:57  
It's definitely a different pace than Boston.

Janet  42:00  
Well, I've been told. I've been told by all the people I'm working with, like, you know, we were a little slower, because I'm like, Alright, let's do this. Let's do that. Let's get this done. No, like, yeah, we're a little more relaxed.

Kelly  42:17  
You have to learn to slow down.

Janet  42:19  
Yeah. Okay. I'll practice.

Kelly  42:24  
I love it. They don't know you? Well, because I'm not sure you ever had a slow speed?

Janet  42:30  
I don't know. I don't think so. I just like to be busy.

Kelly  42:33  
I was gonna say you've got too much passionate enthusiasm to keep you moving.

Janet  42:39  
I do. Well, why don't you ask me about being an Alpha Sigma Alpha in southern West Virginia.

Kelly  42:44  
Well, tell me about being an Alpha Sigma Alpha in southern West Virginia.

Janet  42:49  
Well, I have been roped into being the advisor at Beta Pi. Yes, we they were in debt. They were in financial, financial probation. Is that was that what it's called?

Kelly  43:01  
I think so. Financial issues.

Janet  43:04  
Yes. They were having some financial issues. Well, we've gotten together and we have tapped into our alumnae, and we have paid off their debt, and they have a cushion. And they are thriving. They're doing really well. We just need to get it..

Kelly  43:20  
Thats fantastic.

Janet  43:20  
I know it is. I'm very excited for them. They're there. It's a small chapter. And everybody's trying to help them. And I think they're going to survive, they're going to be great, because they're going to be 75 years old in September. 

Kelly  43:37  
Oh, my goodness.

Janet  43:38  
I know. I'm glad to have practice planning a 100 year anniversary. So now we're gonna plan a 75 year anniversary. But that, Oh, go ahead.

Kelly  43:47  
Sorry. I won't be national president then. But I'm happy to still come visit.

Janet  43:51  
I will. I would love we would love to have you. We would love to have you. But in addition to that, I have tapped into all the Alpha Sigma Alpha's in southern West Virginia. And we formed an alumnae chapter. We haven't got our charter yet. But we're one step away from getting our charter. So we'll be the new country roads Alumnae Chapter.

Kelly  44:13  
Awesome. Well, I am not surprised by any of this, Janet, because I couldn't imagine you moving to another city and not finding your connections into Alpha Sigma Alpha. And if they weren't available, creating them.

Janet  44:27  
I know. Well, you know, I preface my letter of like, this is the how did I write it? I said, you know, I'd like to create an alumnae chapter because I've just moved back here from Boston. And I'm kind of doing this for selfish reasons, because I really miss my Boston alumnae chapter. But we have a Facebook page we have 51 numbers. 

Kelly  44:49  
Wow, that's awesome. 

Janet  44:52  
Now we're getting ready to send out you got to pay your dues. So we'll see what how that works. But we've decided that the dues paying members are going to be our We're founding members and then not just have to send out paperwork in and hopefully we'll be recognized at the convention in Baltimore this summer.

Kelly  45:08  
That's awesome. So is Sharon Manzo part of the alumnae chapter?

Janet  45:14  
Of course. I will. She's still working with The Collegiate chapter. And she's going to be part of our alumnae chapter. Yes.

Kelly  45:24  
When I think about beta pi, I think about Sharon, because she was the chapter advisor for such a long period of time.

Janet  45:31  
Oh, she's been there a long time. She's been an inspiration to so many women.

Kelly  45:37  
Absolutely. So you're coming to Baltimore, right?

Janet  45:40  
Yeah. Oh, can I miss it? I've only missed one convention since 1994. 

Kelly  45:48  
And which convention was that? 

Janet  45:50  
It was the one in 96. Only because I was giving birth.

Kelly  45:54  
Oh, well, so you and I share something in common because I've only missed one convention. And it was in 2006. Because my son was born. How those babies kind of take control your life and air. 

Janet  46:09  
I know. 

Kelly  46:10  
You okay, so you miss 96? That was my first convention.

Janet  46:14  
Oh, I missed that one. Where was it? That the saddlebrook.

Kelly  46:19  
Yeah. Ark in Tampa. And it was it was quite the experience because there was a amends. Well, I don't think it was amends. But there was like an IT convention or something that was also there, which was predominantly a male field at the time. And so there were all these older men all over the property. You can imagine how excited they were to see a sorority convention at the same property. 

Janet  46:43  
Oh, I could imagine. Oh, yeah. I always had to laugh because I was on the planning committee or the convention committee, when we were going to have our convention, New Orleans. And we were there next. Yeah, we were there. Just a week before Katrina hit. And I'm thinking, I was thinking to myself, Oh, my gosh, we're all having fun, and we're lost. What's going to happen to the Collegian? But, but as it turned out, we went to Plan B and the convention in Boston, which was very convenient for me.

Kelly  47:21  
I know I was so disappointed to meet Tim. miss it. I had every intention of coming with my with my kiddo who probably would have been, I don't know, six weeks old at that point. Who knows and and I was still planning to go, but he had been born with a heart defect. And they recommended we stay close to Children's Hospital Philadelphia. So that was why I ended up not coming. But I was planning to come baby in tow. And I love Boston. So I was like I saw, you know, saw the pictures and hear the stories. And people went to Fenway Park and I was like, Oh, I'm like, I can't I hope we go to Boston back to Boston at some point because I would love to go to convention. They're not like, I can't hop the train and go to Boston whenever I want. It's a six hour train ride up, you know, upstate, it's easy to get to, but still,

Janet  48:07  
I know and I had the pleasure of you staying at my house when you were interviewing.

Kelly  48:12  
I remember that that was so much fun. That was the other thing I love about you know, going to different cities where you get to know our alumnae is you get to know visit in stay at people's houses. So I remember that that was so much fun. You were a great host as I came into town to interview for a job, which I ultimately didn't take, but was so glad that I got a chance to spend some time with you.

Janet  48:32  
I know I was a little disappointed. I'm like, Oh, yay. I hope you come here so we can have you in our chapter.

Kelly  48:39  
Yeah, my ex husband wasn't too keen on me moving to Boston with my son. 

Janet  48:44  

Kelly  48:45  
He wanted in closer. So we ultimately stayed here. Although I like I said a Boston is a city that I love New York City is my ultimate favorite city in Boston is probably a very, very close second for me.

Janet  48:57  
Yeah, both cities are great. Both cities are great. 

Kelly  49:01  
They are. Well, Janet, this has been so much fun. And I have loved hearing all of your stories. So thank you for sharing them with us.

Janet  49:10  
Well, it's a pleasure. I have to tell you, I've listened to all the podcasts that you've put out. And I was absolutely astounded when you asked me to be part of it. Because I just looked at all the other people in the podcasts are like so important and do so many great things I like wow. So I was very honored to be asked. 

Kelly  49:35  
Well you're an amazing woman who does great things as well.

Janet  49:39  
Yeah, I don't know. You always just look at everybody else. Like they do so many more. bigger and better things, but I guess I do. You do?

Kelly  49:46  
Most definitely. So thank you for sharing your story today and to our listeners. Until next time,