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The National Society of Leadership and Success at Siena College

This semester, Siena College has created its own chapter of The National Society of Leadership and Success, or NSLS. NSLS is a student honors society that aims to foster the leadership potential in Siena College Students. The National Society of Leadership and Success’s mission is to equip Siena Saints with the leadership skills necessary to make positive impacts inside and outside the Siena community and refine the necessary skills to achieve successful careers. To encourage Siena Saints to grow into leaders, the NSLS chapter was devised to create a network of young professionals from all fields that aim to effect change in the world and in their own lives. 

How does NSLS implement an actionable plan to reach this target? Through recurring meetings of Success Networking Teams, or SNT Groups, NSLS members are encouraged to set concrete and specific goals, with fellow students in each SNT group serving as a support system to motivate each other and monitor each other’s progress. Through recurring check-ins, students in SNT groups can share updates about their achievements–whether these be academic, professional, or personal–and receive encouragement from their peers who recognize the determination involved in shaping one’s own future. 

The National Society of Leadership and Success also offers students a series of guest speakers that share life lessons with students about fortitude and leadership potential. These speeches serve as a companion piece to the student-led Success Networking Teams by allowing NSLS members to reflect on the lessons and advice each speaker shares and use these to apply to their own lives. Currently, Siena’s NSLS chapter has organized viewings for students with speeches by journalist Mehdi Hasan and businesswoman Bozma Saint John. 

Saints were able to get involved in the chapter of The National Society of Leadership and Success through an invitation sent in early January 2023 that highlighted members’ academic and leadership potential. Emily Attassi ‘25, a sophomore selected for Siena’s chapter, speaks to the value of an NSLS membership: “I think The National Society of Leadership and Success is a great addition to Siena! It’s nice to have an honor society focused exclusively on leadership, which will complement our academics and classroom learning.” With 275 members and counting, Siena College’s NSLS program has started off strong in its mission to cultivate young leaders for tomorrow.

What impacts will an NSLS membership have on students years down the line? According to Siena’s NSLS chapter, members will learn the priceless skills of leadership, motivation, and determination, as well as gain the ability to access a wealth of scholarships, job boards, and guest speakers’ advice both during college and with a lifetime membership that comes with entry into NSLS. 

The National Society of Leadership and Success was implemented as a part of the 2022-2027 Siena College Strategic Plan as a cornerstone of Siena College’s new Siena Center for Franciscan Leadership. With this, Siena College has become the latest to join nearly 700 chapters of The National Society of Leadership and Success around the nation that serve 1.5 million college students. Mr. GM (Jerry) Defrancsico ‘68 and Mr. Zachary Brimmer ‘20 serve as co-advisors that coordinate events and communicate NSLS news to students, from membership and recruitment announcements to recurring virtual speaker events. 

Jaden Whittaker ‘25, the President of Siena’s Chapter of The National Society of Leadership and Success knows that NSLS is “off to a great start.” He speaks to the leadership skills students can gain from NSLS and the benefits of working with Siena’s chapter co-advisors: “NSLS shows how professional development and leadership go hand in hand creating better leaders for the next stages of our lives. Currently, I am the President of the Chapter and it holds a lot of responsibility to make sure that all the students get everything they need before the deadline so they are eligible for Induction. Mr. Brimmer and Mr. Defrancsico are awesome people to work with along with the rest of our E-Board. This initiative will make Siena grow in multiple ways and cannot wait to see what the future has in store.”

Working in tandem with Jaden Whittaker is Elena Cahill ‘25, who serves as the vice-president of Siena’s NSLS chapter. She reflects on the experience acting as vice-president: “In my time so far serving as vice president, the NSLS community has stood out to me as a supportive environment that empowers its members to achieve their goals. I have been working with our advisors, Mr. Brimmer and Mr. Defrancisco, as well as my fellow E-Board to make a positive impact in our community and continue to offer valuable resources and networking opportunities to help students grow and succeed as leaders. As a member of the NSLS, my role is to actively engage in the organization’s activities, contribute to its mission, and collaborate with other members to achieve our goals. I am so thrilled to be a part of the development of the structure of this program and be able to work with the team to shape this program into something the Siena College community will value.” 

According to Mr. Brimmer, beginning a new chapter of NSLS carries a unique advantage: “The biggest benefit to being a new chapter of NSLS is the opportunity to make it our own and “Sienaize” the chapter. What I mean by this is Siena has special traditions and opportunities that other colleges do not have. NSLS provides us with many resources but we are also able to make it our own and grow it to be different from other colleges and universities.” 

Mr. Brimmer and Mr. Defrancisco each take on a unique role as co-advisors by pioneering the program at Siena, which entails both short and long-term planning to secure the chapter’s success. Mr. Brimmer explains the process of structuring the timeline of NSLS for this semester and the future: “Being a co-advisor means many meetings with the NSLS organization to make sure we are on track with our goals. There are also many other meetings to help plan for the next semester and beyond. I have also been meeting with the E-Board to help design the rest of the semester as well as the induction at the end of April. I have also been very fortunate to do all of this with a great mentor of mine, Jerry. He has been a great co-advisor to this program and every time I talk with him I learn from his expertise and just really enjoy working with him.”

Although starting a brand new program at Siena may seem like a daunting task, Mr. Brimmer explains that the work is incredibly rewarding: “Being a co-advisor to the program has been a great opportunity. I have been able to work with so many students around campus in many different majors, grades, and backgrounds. I think my overall favorite part has been seeing the program exceed our expectations. We originally did not think we would get close to 275, but that is how many people we have had register for the chapter.” As the NSLS program expands in the future, Mr. Brimmer notes the “exciting” prospects that the chapter shows: “Since this is part of the strategic plan for 2022-2027, the NSLS chapter is just the beginning of the Franciscan Leadership Center at Siena. We will have advanced certificates in the future as well as a new class of students each semester that we will welcome into the program and center.”

Through the powerful support system Siena’s chapter of The National Society of Leadership and Success provides through students, faculty, and guest speakers, members will decisively lead for the rest of their careers at Siena and beyond.