Advocating for the Future of Phi Kappa Psi and Fraternity & Sorority Life

By HQ Communications Staff

Brothers Ransom and O’Keane

While most of their peers take in the last days of college life and prepare for exams, Max Nelson Minnesota ’19 and JD O’Keane DePauw ’20 join a select group. Every year, members of Congress and their staff meet with undergraduates, alumni, and members of fraternities and sororities to talk about issues related to Greek life.

The Fraternal Government Relations Coalition’s (FGRC) annual Capitol Hill visit brings fraternities and sororities to Washington, D.C., where they advocate for legislation supporting the future of single-sex organizations. Phi Kappa Psi selected Nelson and O’Keane as representatives for their outstanding collegiate achievements.

On the hill, they each shared their Phi Kappa Psi experience and its lifelong impact. O’Keane says he owes much of his success to Phi Psi. “My brothers encouraged me to take on new opportunities and seek to develop myself academically, athletically, and professionally.”

Nelson agrees. “Phi Psi has given me so much more than I could ever ask for during my four years as an undergraduate.”

For Nelson and O’Keane, taking part in the Capitol Hill visit is a way to give back. O’Keane believes that “through our advocacy for the success of Greek life, we ensure that Phi Psi has the necessary support to provide incredible connections and experience to thousands of future brothers.”

Nelson and O’Keane made time for this trip despite it taking them away from campus a few days right before graduation. Their college careers reflect their enthusiastic support for building community, the Fraternity, and the country.

Nelson held several roles in his 100-plus chapter, including Fraternity Educator and Chapter President. He also served the Navy ROTC at the University of Minnesota as the Command Master Chief and Senior Enlisted Advisor to the battalion’s commanding officer. His visit to Washington, D.C., occurred weeks before he was commissioned as an officer (see In the Military on Page 20). He is enrolled in a master’s program at the Naval Postgraduate School in California.

Besides being an Economics and Political Science double major, O’Keane played as an offensive lineman for the DePauw football team. The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame awarded him membership in the Hampshire Honor Society, which includes 1,758 premier college football players. Entrance requires maintaining a 3.2 GPA or higher during their college football careers. O’Keane most recently served as the student body president and won election to the DePauw University Board of Trustees this year. He’s a Walker Cup recipient, named after Guy Morrison Walker DePauw 1887. It awards a graduating senior with a passion for equity in education during their college career. O’Keane now serves as an analyst for BMO in Chicago.

O’Keane says his time representing Phi Psi in Washington, D.C., is something he will remember for decades to come. Nelson sees his visit as a once-in-a-lifetime experience and an absolute blast to represent Phi Psi on the Hill. “Hearing back from members of Congress and their staff saying they are sponsoring legislation that directly affects our Fraternity made all the hard work we put into it worth it.” 

Accompanying Nelson and O’Keane to Capitol Hill were Volunteer Director of Government Relations Byron Cain Vanderbilt 70, National Secretary Christopher Wheeler Lousiana Alpha 01, and Executive Director Ron Ransom Butler 00

“I was able to meet other passionate public servants who share in Phi Psi’s core value of ‘Service to Community,’” reflects O’Keane. “If you are a Phi Psi with any interest in government or politics, I cannot recommend applying enough,” Nelson said.

Undergraduates interested in participating in hill visits in 2024 should keep an eye out for more information in late fall of 2023.

Watch for information on the 2024 trip and application dates to be announced soon.