Sisters Who Serve the World: Jennifer McQuade

Dr. Jennifer McQuade (Lambda Gamma | Virginia). Known as one of “Harvey’s Heroes,” Sister McQuade (far right) helped mobilize medical efforts in Houston after devastating Hurricane Harvey hit earlier this fall.

Dr. Jennifer McQuade is a physician-scientist at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. In the August 2017, she became involved in medical disaster relief when she helped set up medical shelters in Houston after Hurricane Harvey. From this, she formed the Medical Disaster Response Network which has sent countless medical supplies to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

Dr. McQuade jumped at the opportunity to help her community when Hurricane Harvey dumped 51 inches of rain on Houston. When she went to the George R. Brown Convention Center to bring her donations, she saw controlled chaos. “Helicopters landing on the overpass every 10 minutes to drop off evacuees from high-water rescues, people arriving soaking wet loaded into the back of garbage trucks. There was one first aid table with one other doctor and 2 nurses who also lived in the neighborhood doing basic first aid with donated Band-Aids and Tylenol,” she recounts.

Dr. McQuade’s next step was to post a call for help for medical volunteers on a Facebook group page called the Physician Moms Group. From that posting, she received a message from Dr. Ashley Saucier who had set up the Baton Rouge Emergence Aid Coalition after the floods in Baton Rouge a year prior during which she had run a medical shelter. Dr. Saucier encouraged Dr. McQuade to start a medical shelter and explained how to make it happen.

“I did not run the shelter. The City of Houston EMS MD team did and did an amazing job. But when I came back to the shelter on Day 2, there were 5,000 evacuees and still no medications other than over the counter medications and not enough medical personnel to care for this vast tide of humanity with pressing needs for insulin, cardiac medications, antibiotics, advanced wound care, etc.”

Dr. McQuade put another call out on social media and by that evening, had an entire pharmacy set up of medications donated from a small independent pharmacy who heard of the need as well as physicians that emptied their sample closets.

By Day 3, there were 10,500 evacuees and a full team of 30 medical professionals round the clock with an operational triage system, different levels of care, and even an “assisted living facility” with 75 residents.

On Day 4, when the Federal Disaster Medical Assistance Team arrived to take over operations, they said it was the most well-stocked and well-run medical shelter they had ever walked into.

They then shifted the resources which continued to pour in to set up medical shelters at NRG Stadium and Lakewood Church and then began trucking and flying medical supplies via the Cajun Airlift to eastern and coastal Texas and western Louisiana.  From this, Dr. McQuade formed the Medical Disaster Response Network, a grassroots medical relief group meant to connect needs and resources during medical disasters.

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, 1,800 lbs. of excess medical supplies from the Houston shelters that were now closing were sent to San Juan for medical relief there. Dr. McQuade has now been involved in 11 flights of over 100,000 lbs. of disaster relief supplies to San Juan.

“I got involved because there were people in need and as a physician I have both the calling and the resources to help. I have stayed involved for the same reason. The first day in the shelter, I had diabetics that had been without their medications for 48 hours and I not only didn’t have insulin but I couldn’t even check their blood sugar. Patients with new cardiac stents that we didn’t have Plavix for, infected wounds we didn’t have antibiotics for, patients with epilepsy that we didn’t have seizure medicines for. That is a horribly desperate and helpless feeling. And I have heard that same helpless desperation in the voice of physicians in East Texas and in Central Puerto Rico. That feeling has kept me going and has left me with nightmares.”

Sister McQuade is a true Sister who serves the world! In disaster relief, she was able to immediately meet critical needs of her Houston community. Dr. McQuade is an alumna of the Lambda Gamma Chapter at the University of Virginia.

Her advice to the future generations of Chi Omega is to, “Get out there, get your hands dirty and DO something! Chi Omega is a service organization. Don’t just be the sister that enjoys the fundraising parties.”


Sisters Who Serve the World: Mary Evelyn White & Mary Anne Culpepper


Front Row: [L-R] Mary Evelyn Merritt White, Iota ’61 – Personnel Advisor; Mary Anne Massengale Culpepper, Iota ’59 – Rush Advisor, House Corp. Member*; Patsy Wren Potts, Iota ’57 -Forms & Records Advisor,  House Corp. Member*
Back Row: Kay Couger Hamilton, Kappa Zeta ’62 – Asst. Rush Advisor; Pat Rembert Hamilton**, Special Initiate Xi Kappa ’75 – Social Advisor; Susan Couger Tremont Jackson, Iota ’70, Financial Advisor, House Corp. Member*; Cathy Conway Jackson, Sigma Theta ’70 – Pledge Advisor; Beverley Cardwell Straub, Epsilon Zeta ’68 – Scholarship Advisor
*House Corporation Members:  House Corporation was formed in 1976, so at the time of the picture, it had not yet been formed.

Mary Evelyn White and Mary Anne Culpepper (both Iota | Texas). Both Sisters began advising at Xi Kappa | Texas A&M in its infancy, more than 40 years ago, and have helped lead the chapter to become one of the highest performing chapters at one of the largest schools in the state.

Mary Evelyn White and Mary Anne Culpepper began their Chi Omega days together at the University of Texas back in the early 60’s and that was just the beginning for this dynamic duo. Mary Evelyn and Mary Anne were in the chapter together. Mary Anne was Rush Chair when Mary Evelyn pledged. Mary Evelyn went on to serve as Personnel Chairman and G.H.  They were also involved in service organizations during their college days and they have continued to serve their communities and Chi Omega ever since.

As young brides, both Mary Evelyn and Mary Anne ended up living in College Station, TX, the home of Texas A&M University. They each connected with area Chi Omegas and became involved with the local Panhellenic group. In the late 60’s, there were no sororities on the A&M campus as women were only admitted beginning in 1963. Members of the Panhellenic group began to discuss the need for more social activities for the relatively small group of women on campus. They approached the TAMU Dean on Women to determine the interest of sororities. After their initial questionnaires, only 3 out of 700 women expressed an interest!

Three years later, four NPC groups were recruiting members and starting colonies on the Texas A&M campus.  Mary Evelyn along with other local Chi Omega alumnae worked with Winnie Bowker, S.H., to gain the support of Chi Omega to move forward with colonization. Mary Anne was eager to help recruit an advisory board to assist with the new chapter. In 1975, The Xi Kappa Chapter of Chi Omega was installed with our very own Shelley Eubanks Potter serving as a Charter Member.

In 1979, six sororities had purchased land and Chi Omega was able to build a chapter house. All of the local Chi Omega leaders worked hard to show the university examples of good citizenship and Chi Omega’s national and local high standards and restrictions for housing as well as the commitment to provide leadership and supervision for these young women and their living quarters.

From the beginning, Mary Evelyn and Mary Anne along with other dedicated Chi Omega alumnae, worked seamlessly to recruit potential members by hosting parties, planning interviews and meetings all while showing them the excellence and joyfulness that waited them as Chi Omega Sisters. After pledging these young women, the founding advisors became big sisters and mentors to the new members and were fondly thought of as aunts, older sisters and even second mothers.

As founding advisors for Xi Kappa Chapter, Mary Evelyn served as Personnel Advisor from 1975 to 1990, and  Mary Anne served as the Recruitment Advisor from 1975 to 1998. These Sisters continue to serve Chi Omega and their communities in meaning and purposeful ways!

Looking back over the last forty-two years, Mary Evelyn and Mary Ann are so proud of the chapter they helped begin in 1975 and are so grateful for all the wonderful women that helped along the way. The goal for the chapter was to build a strong, loving and caring sisterhood with character, integrity and leadership that was unique. Their example of service has influenced thousands of Chi Omega and their legacy of service will live on for generations of Chi Omegas to come!

Mary Evelyn White is a former Supreme Governing Council member serving as S.T.B., former chair of the Executive Headquarters Building Committee and current Executive Headquarters chair. She is the interior designer for the Executive Headquarter, both for the original construction and furnishings as well as for the most recent renovations and furnishings. Mary Evelyn currently serves as the Xi Kappa House Corporation President. Mary Evelyn was also awarded the Outstanding Personnel Advisor Award in 1990 and was the 1996 recipient of the Chi Omega President’s Award.

Mary Anne served as Recruitment Advisor for both Iota Chapter and Xi Kappa Chapter. She also served as a former Area Recruitment Information Chair and served as the Xi Kappa House Corporation Treasurer. Mary Anne currently serves as the Xi Kappa Panhellenic Advisor and as the Xi Kappa House Corporation Vice President. Mary Anne was also awarded the Outstanding Recruitment Advisor Award in 1994.

Sisters Who Serve the World: Nicole Smith

Nicole Smith (Alpha Lambda | Valparaiso). Nicole began a day of service and acts of kindness in honor or her daughter, Olive, who lived a short but meaningful life. Nicole also brings attention to infant bereavement and parenting and pregnancy loss through speaking engagements and writing contributions.

In July 2014 after a textbook pregnancy, I delivered our firstborn child. Olive was born unresponsive and unexpectedly passed away 36 hours later. My world was rocked, to say the least. I had prayed for and dreamed of this baby for so long and then she was just gone. I recognized I had two choices: I could stifle my grief or I could share it; I chose to share it. I began my blog Olive and Her Branches as a way to process my grief and to help educate others on infant loss, pregnancy loss (we’ve had three miscarriages) and parenting after loss (the joys and challenges of having a child after loss).

As the first anniversary of Olive’s birth and death approached in 2015, we asked people to do an act of kindness in her memory. I set up a Facebook event to help us see the beautiful ways people were spreading joy and love by using the hashtag #olivesbranches. We were blown away at the response. That first year, thousands of people all over the world spread kindness as a way to remember her and other babies/children that had been lost. It was beautiful; we witnessed everything from paying for someone’s Starbucks to delivering bottled water to local homeless shelters. We even had someone anonymously pay tuition for children to attend a private day school in our community!

What amazed me so much was the support I received from my Chi Omega Sisters. Both my initiating chapter and the chapter I advise showed support for our #olivesbranches day on their social media pages, and sisters that I hadn’t seen or talked to since college were posting the amazing ways their families were celebrating Olive’s life. Women I advised with showed up at the run/walk to benefit our local children’s hospital; ready to walk with our team in memory of Olive. I still, three years later, have Chi Omegas that will reach out to me and encourage me and let me know they are praying for our family; sisterhood truly never stops!

Each year #olivesbranches has gotten bigger and more meaningful to us. It’s been a great way to help us through a difficult day, but more importantly it’s a way for others to share love and kindness with a world that so desperately needs it.

The most rewarding part of all of this has been giving the community and, more specifically, other loss parents an opportunity to have an open and honest discussion about grief and loss – and what that looks like to each of us. I have been able to share my story from behind a computer but I feel most connected when I’m able to stand in front of a group of people and give a face to loss. Not one of us is exempt from death or loss and there is a stigma that we should deal with our feelings in private, but I disagree. While social media can be an outlet for oversharing, it can also open us up to discussions with people we wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to reach. Discussing one’s vulnerability with the public isn’t for everyone but it has been a great tool for me; helping others to know they are not alone – that they don’t have to grieve in silence or in shame – has been very powerful.

My faith has played a huge role in my journey. I believe the words of Jesus when he told us to love God and to love others (Mark 12:30-31). In Matthew chapter 14, beginning at verse 13, we see Jesus feeding the five thousand. “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.”

It’s easy to overlook this really important piece of the story. The “what had happened” in verse 13 that Matthew is referring to is the killing of John the Baptist. Jesus was mourning the loss of his cousin; his friend, the man who baptized him and prepared the way for him. Jesus tried to retreat, but the people continued to follow him and he does a remarkable thing: he serves them.

You don’t have to be religious or spiritual to find the importance in serving. We live in a world that so desperately needs to see our truth as human beings: we hurt, we help, we persevere. Sometimes we need the lifting and other times we do the lifting; it’s the most profound way to live in unity with each other.

Nicole Genthe Smith is an initiate of the Alpha Lambda Chapter of Chi Omega at Valparaiso University in Indiana. As an alumna she serves the Beta Lambda chapter as Personnel Advisor. Nicole also serves Chi Omega as a member of the Advisor Recruitment Team and the Fair Play for Chapters team. Prior to joining those teams, she served on the National Advisory Training Team for six years.

Nicole is married and resides with her family in a suburb of Milwaukee, WI. Since her daughter’s passing, she and her husband have welcomed a son, Abner, in 2015. In their free time they enjoy spending time at their lake home in northern WI. Nicole also enjoys cooking, reading, writing and public speaking.

You can follow Nicole on Instagram @oliveandherbranches, where she is most active, or read her blog,

Harvey’s Hero

Chi Omega is incredibly grateful to Sisters, neighbors, first-responders, and many more who have stepped up throughout Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to help with bravery and generosity.

One such Sister is Dr. Jennifer McQuade (Lambda Gamma | Virginia, pictured below on the left), an oncologist at Houston’s MD Anderson Center, who has been dubbed “Harvey’s Hero” by many in the community. The following was written about Sister McQuade on Facebook by fellow physician, Dr. Lourdes Eco-Jea on September 3, 2017:

“I wanted to share here first a story about a new friend I made about a very special Harvey Hero…Jennifer McQuade.

“She has been working nonstop literally since the early hours that this disaster hit. She was on the ground at George R Brown Convention (GRB) Center (walked from her home a mile away) when she heard that medical teams were needed to accept the first few evacuees….and initiated an overwhelming response during this tragedy. She just put out calls for help and assistance from GRB and brought complete strangers together working side by side.

“She has orchestrated such an amazing heroic response with the resources given her as hundreds and then thousands were bussed and unloaded out of metro buses and dump trucks. In a few hours, GRB was already double the capacity of 5,000 and still accepting more.

“I have nicknamed her so many names in these past few days…”corporate” because she was able with the help of another local Physician Mothers Group bring in much needed insulin and refrigeration (a rare commodity!) from reps of Sonofi, Lilly…almost like magic and the wave of her wand.

“[Another nickname] Wonder woman… From my ongoing texts with her and core group of heroes and brave boots-on-the-ground Physician Mothers Groupers she was literally flying from station to station at both the super shelters of GRB and NRG Park helping set up the initial medical response with donated medications from all over the city that we collected, sorted, and stocked (initially there was only Tylenol and ibuprofen and first aid kits).

“The evacuees were picked up in the early morning hours as the flood waters entered their homes and left them no time to take their own medications….they needed their injectable insulin, blood pressure meds, anti-seizure meds, antibiotics, and their psych meds…as well as trying to figure out what to do with other chronic medical issue needs of renal patients, chemo patients, special needs kids, nursing home residents, patients on long term tube feedings, etc…fellow colleagues posted their concerns and suggestions trying to seek solutions together in real time and virtual space. With her finesse, we were able to hold the fort until the Red Cross finally was able to mobilize their trucks and supplies through the flooded city…the following day it was the same response as we mobilized in a new super shelter at the NRG Center with a capacity of 10k.

“Today, I called her my Harvey Hero…she is running on fumes by now (day 5) along with her incredible and brave partners-in-crime Regina Troxell and Ashley Saucier … but because of her love for the city and the people that have welcomed her to her new home…she continued to run and make things happen. [She] brought in pallets of strollers and pack-n-plays so the kids could sleep without fear of falling off the cots or sleeping on a cold, damp floor….and even started to help mobilize the medical response team at the the Alexandria super shelter in Louisiana, sending shipments of the medications collected from Houston and also Oklahoma driven in by another Physician Mother’s Grouper Suzanne Cole across to another state!

“I know she will likely be one of the many unsung heroes during this unfathomable natural disaster…but I would like even for a minute highlight the wonderful and heroic role that this one individual has played. With so much division in our country these past few weeks…getting to know an individual with so much unselfish love and concern for others has truly restored my faith in our humanity and our capacity to give of ourselves for others. She is an angel.”