In 1920, Phoenix boasted its first skyscraper, the Heard Building, a population 29,053, and several sorority women who wanted to gather for sisterhood. Because not a single sorority had an alumnae chapter in Phoenix at that time, they gathered on April 4th that year and created the Phoenix Panhellenic Association (PPA). A century has passed since then, and in those 100 years PPA, which was also known as the Pan-Hellenic Society or Pan-Hellenic club, has provided sisterhood, philanthropy, opportunities for service, and social events to the sorority woman of the area.
The ground was laid in 1919 when the Alpha Phi Quarterly reported that “A city Panhellenic in far off Phoenix, Arizona, is the latest addition to the roll. Sixteen fraternity women representing eleven national sororities organized at a lunch and laid the foundation of a permanent Panhellenic group. The sororities represented were KKΓ, KAΘ, ΠBΦ, ΓΦB, ΣAΙ, XΩ, ΔΔΔ, AΟΠ, ΔΖ (or perhaps ΔΓ), BΣΟ and AXΩ.” Margaret Mae Hurley, an Alpha Omicron Pi from the University of California-Berkeley was present and served as PPA’s first president.
From 16 women in 1919 to 100 women in 1923, PPA grew quickly. In 1925, the organization included women from eighteen national sororities and worked “to promote good fellowship among the various sororities and to aid newcomers in the city who are eligible in becoming acquainted” (1925 article in the Republic). By 1928, the city of Phoenix was home to approximately 48,000 residents, and the state had just celebrated its “Sweet Sixteen” birthday. Against this background of explosive growth, PPA offered sorority women an important way to meet each other and get connected.
To learn more about Panhellenic through the decades, download the PPA 100 Year History file.
At our first Phoenix Open in 1976, there were only 6 concession tents which were staffed by 450 Panhellenic volunteers who clocked 2,530 hours of service. Panhellenic volunteers were area alumnae and Arizona State coeds. In exchange for their service, they received all the food they could eat, free passes for the tournament, and an opportunity to see celebrities like Bob Hope.