Courageous Leader Award

"Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.” - C.S. Lewis

About the Award

In Phi Gamma Delta, we frequently talk about our values of friendship, knowledge, service, morality and excellence. But it is one thing to talk about values and another altogether to act on those values when they are tested. 

Phi Gamma Delta seeks to recognize individuals who through acts of selflessness or courage, made a difference in the lives of others and demonstrated a commitment to personal/organizational values at a testing point.


To recognize leaders who have gone above and beyond in courageously living the values of Phi Gamma Delta – who have made a positive impact on others and/or their community through selfless and courageous action(s). Secondarily, to support the mission of the Fraternity by inspiring courageous actions in our members.

Awarded for:

Acts of courage, whatever the role or setting.

Who Is Eligible?

All graduate and undergraduate brothers, pledges and friends of Phi Gamma Delta (faculty advisors, housemothers, parents of Phi Gams, supporters of Phi Gamma Delta, etc.).


Nominations are accepted year-round and awarded each January. Nominate by October 31 to be considered.

Time Period:

Recency is preferred (previous calendar), but the award committee will consider all acts of courage if they have not been awarded or submitted previously.

Selection Process: 

A committee will judge whether the nomination meets the provided criteria and warrants recognition. Award winners will be recognized at the Fiji Academy in early January.

 What Is Courageous Leadership?

There Are Three Elements of Courageous Leadership

  1. Understanding and committing to Phi Gamma Delta's values: friendship, knowledge, service, morality and excellence
  2. Recognizing the testing points - times when your values are challenged
  3. Applying the values at the testing point and confronting the issue

Courageous leaders have the strength to stand up for their values when they are tested. 

What Is a Testing Point?

A situation when your values are challenged and there are repercussions to the choices you make.

Types of Testing Points
  1. Stance: The courage to publicly profess your values, beliefs or opinions, especially when in the minority. These testing points pose risks associated with speaking out or expressing a contrary opinion.
    (Examples: Speaking up when hearing a racist joke, or voicing your opinion in class.)
  2. Intervention: Courageously embracing risk to actively stop or prevent an event or behavior. These testing points offer the potential to positively change the course of history.
    (Example: Intervening to stop a dangerous tradition even though your action might prove unpopular at the time.)
  3. Opportunity: Courageously embracing risk to create, start or support something new and untested. These testing points pose the same risks all entrepreneurs learn to face with courage.
    (Example: Seeing the opportunity to address sexual assault and pro-actively creating or supporting a new campus event to raise awareness.)
  4. Accountability: The courage to take personal responsibility for past actions or futures commitments. These recurring testing points - both big and small - form the foundation of integrity.
    (Examples: Taking ownership for a failure or mistake, or honoring your commitment to attend a chapter meeting.)

 Nominate a Courageous Leader

Nominees Must: 

  1. Understand our values – nominee clearly demonstrates understanding of values.
  2. Have recognized a Testing Point – nominee must know the stakes or at least be aware the action may have adverse personal consequences and requires courage.
  3. Have acted in accordance with the values to make a positive impact on others, their chapter and/or their community.
  4. Be a graduate or undergraduate brother, pledge, or friend of Phi Gamma Delta (Faculty Advisors, Housemothers, PGD parents, PGD supporters, etc.).


Provide a brief summary of the deserving person’s actions as well as recommendation letters or supporting articles, if applicable. The form should follow the Building Courageous Leaders template: Understand our values, recognize the testing point, and act in accordance with our values.

Nominations are due by October 31 for consideration.

Award Nomination Form


 Courageous Leader Award Winners

2020 Award Winners

Debbie Woodfin

Debbie is the former housemother of the Beta Sigma Chapter at Ball State. She became housemother when Beta Sigma was colonized in 1999, getting involved as soon as her husband, Dan Woodfin (Auburn 1964), became Beta Sigma’s first Purple Legionnaire. Brothers quickly saw that Debbie embodied the Fraternity’s values. She was a friend to every brother, taught membership development classes, and was a sounding board for any problem brothers faced. Debbie was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, an aggressive blood/plasma cancer, over five years ago. While saddened by the news, she refused to give up. She recognized this personal testing point and vowed to fight. Her courageous leadership was a quiet strength. She wasn’t overly vocal about her battle with cancer, but she led and inspired by example. Unfortunately, Debbie passed away on October 21, 2019, after a long-fought battle. The award was presented to Debbie’s family this spring. 

Matt Guzman (Arizona 2023)

In October 2019, Matt was walking on the UA campus when he saw a fellow student who had fallen to the ground from a dorm walkway. Matt ran to the student and saw blood coming from their mouth. He immediately called 911, and the dispatcher gave instructions to provide lifesaving compressions, which Matt performed calmly and with precision until EMTs arrived. Unfortunately, the student later died in the hospital. But Matt had not hesitated to help. He saw someone in need and immediately came to their aid. Rather than wait for someone else to act, he did the right thing when it mattered.


Learn More About Courageous Leadership & Testing Points


Courageous Leader Award Nomination Form