Servant Leadership

There typically aren’t crowds camped out along the tree lawns and grass medians of the Booty Loop, as it’s come to be known, but today is an exception. Thousands of riders have come out to take part in a day of riding. Having started at 7p.m. the night before, many riders have exceeded 100 miles or more. Along with the usual participant signage displaying a number, many cyclists have signs pinned to them reflecting what inspired them to ride; some with signs that read ‘I ride in honor of…’, others ‘I ride in memory of…’, some even have teams formed in honor of friends or family who’ve battled cancer. All ride together in a shared purpose Ð to raise funds and awareness for the fight against cancer.

Along the route, Basil Lyberg jogs the sidewalk against the flow of cyclists. Stopping to stop to check in with volunteers and thank those cheering on riders, he even manages to cheer on a few riders by name as they pass. As Executive Director of 24 Hours of Booty, his work each year all leads to this event, now in Charlotte and several other cities. With only a few hours left in the event, his time is spent ensuring that riders are safe and give quick thanks and direction to the volunteers and supporters who are helping to keep the event running. Leading up to this event, riders were able to raise $1.25 million to go to local and national cancer charities, and 24 Hours of Booty was able to pledge $1.1 million to the Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte.

When our members are able to live the values of Pi Kappa Phi and Push America, the result is what can best be described as ‘servant leadership.’ This dedication to lead efforts to benefit others is a characteristic that follows men beyond their undergraduate years when experienced at a meaningful level. Basil Lyberg is a shining example of servant leadership. An initiate of Beta Xi (Central Michigan), Basil has applied his experiences from his time within the chapter, and carried on his passion for service instilled from his experiences on Journey of Hope to lead an organization that strives to have a lasting impact on cancer survivors in Charlotte and other communities. Formerly a staff member for Push America, Lyberg now serves as Executive Director of 24 Hours of Booty, a 24-hour cycling event that raises funds and awareness for the fight against cancer. His work in the nonprofit world has gained him recognition from many, including the 2012 Distinguished Young Alumni Award from Central Michigan University, the Rising Star from FundRaising Success in 2009, and as a finalist for the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce Young Professional of the Year Award in 2013.

24 Hours of Booty began in 2001, with the solo ride of Spencer Lueders, who simply wanted to do more to help fight cancer. The following year, Lueders established it as an official event. Twelve years later, thousands of people have ridden in the event, raising nearly $12 million. The event has become a key philanthropic event in the Charlotte community and is expanding elsewhere, with rides now taking place in Atlanta, Columbia (Maryland) and Indianapolis. Lyberg got involved with 24 Hours of Booty in 2007.

“My aunt was going through her battle with cancer so I thought it would be a way to honor her. I joined a team with another Push America staff member and rode 200 miles. It was an awesome experience, and I was taken with the event.” Later on that year, Lyberg connected with the organization and offered to volunteer. Using his skills and expertise from his role as Director of Cycling Events for Push America, he served as a volunteer for a year when he was approached about serving as the Executive Director.

For Lyberg, it was an ideal offer, one that his experiences with Pi Kappa Phi and Push America had prepared him well for. “It carried over in kind of an odd, perfect way.” Through the course of his work with Push America, Lyberg took part in the recruitment and fundraising for Journey of Hope and Gear Up Florida, assisting in the addition of the TransAmerica route of Journey of Hope, and Build America, eventually moving into fundraising as the Director of Development.
As Lyberg stated, “Each of those segments of my time at Push America were all things that 24 Hours of Booty needed. Building these skill sets of nonprofit Ð logistics, fundraising, strategic planning and some of the other things that the organization had gone through groomed me well to take on this role.”

Lyberg also credits his undergraduate experience with preparing him for a career in nonprofit. According to him, “As an undergraduate, taking on different leadership roles, organizing a group of people, working to achieve on campus, the opportunities that afforded were experiences that I wouldn’t have had if I wasn’t a part of the fraternity. I wouldn’t have been set up for my first job to step in day one and lead events and projects. The fraternity provided leadership skills that I could fall back on.”

“Those leadership experiences gave me a lot of small wins that helped to build my confidence that prepared me to be successful in a career after college.” Additionally, Basil credits the literal impact of what the fraternity has given him, saying “It’s funny how one decision can have so much impact on your life.”

He was introduced the fraternity as a freshman at Central Michigan by a friend from his rival high school. Initiated into Beta Xi chapter in Fall of 1995, Lyberg credits the fraternity for finding an on campus job, meeting his wife and getting to ride Journey of Hope. “It was a domino effect of long-term impacts.”

As a member of the Board of Directors for the Charlotte chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals, Basil is a believer in the power of mentorship and maintaining a strong network in order to excel in ones career. When asked what advice he could give to brothers graduating college and entering the professional field for the first time, he reiterated this, as well as having the willingness to show tenacity and work ethic in everything you do.

“It’s important to take advantage of where you are, and if it’s not where you feel that you need to be, then take advantage of good mentorship opportunities anywhere that you can. Take a long-term approach to development rather than just thinking about what moves you want to make over the next six months.”

Regardless of whether or not nonprofit is the chosen path, he emphasized the importance of servant leadership beyond ones collegiate experience. “Getting involved with other areas… You want to give back, you want to make your community better and that’s totally instilled from friendship visits and all the time spent fundraising.

You can see where that impact goes and it makes you want to continue to perpetuate that because you know where it goes and you know that you’re making the city that you live in better. I’d say that my work with Push America and 24 Hours of Booty has shifted my perspective from service as a one-time activity to something you make a part of your everyday life.”