Man of Achievement

Faith, Family and Fraternity

Serving Others Is A Part Of Living Life To The Fullest For Brother Mike Callais

by Jeff Jowdy
University of Georgia, ‘83
Foundation Chairman

Brother Callais alongside his mother, Gloria (left) and wife, Blanche (right).

Service to others is a part of living life to the fullest, says 2018 Man of Achievement Mike Callais (Louisiana State University, ‘84).

“Service is important for anyone – and that goes along with faith. It helps you to know that there’s something more that you can work for,” Mike believes. “Cajuns like to live life to the fullest. That’s one part of just having a happy life.”

A 1984 graduate of Louisiana State University, Brother Callais embodies the term “servant leader” and our fraternity’s motto, “Give, Expecting Nothing Thereof.” Today, the seasoned business leader is chairman of Abdon Callais Offshore, as well as a board member at Community Bancorp. His diverse leadership experience includes influential roles in the real estate, automobile, solid waste and cable industries.

Mike’s late father, Harold, was a faith-filled man who helped lay the foundation for his son’s approach to life.

“He firmly believed in controlling the things you can control and not worrying about the things you can’t,” Mike says.

“He did teach me the importance of sharing our blessings, our time, talent and treasure with others,” he adds. “It’s not for us and not from us – those blessings come from God and we’ve got to return them to God.”

Mike shared that his father’s final words were profound: “God is good!”

His mother, Gloria, instilled faith into her children early on.

“My dad couldn’t go because of his work obligations, so she was the one who brought my brothers and me to church every Sunday,” Mike says. “She was the first one to teach us the importance of a spiritual life. She taught us that God is with you always.”

Mike is a board member of Phi Kappa Theta Foundation. He and his wife, Blanche, have been instrumental in the Foundation’s support, enabling the Fraternity to develop programs that provide a spiritual pillar for collegiate brothers. Mike is actively engaged at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church in Golden Meadow, LA.

Also involved in many nonprofit organizations ranging from Leadership Lafourche to Nicholls State University, Mike was the recipient of the Diocesan Service Award presented by the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux as well as the Outstanding Rotarian Award from the Rotary Club of Golden Meadow. He is a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and has been recognized several times as Knight of the Year.

He is also instrumental in conversations on re-chartering the Phi Kappa Theta chapter at LSU.

2018 Man of Achievement, Brother Mike Callais (Louisiana State University, ‘84) (left), alongside 2018 John F. Kennedy Award recipient, Ali Soufan (Mansfield University, ‘94). Both pictured at IMPACT18 in Orlando, FL this past August.

Like the servant leader he is, Mike accepted the 2018 Man of Achievement award with great reluctance and great humility. We even had to enlist Blanche – our “secret weapon” – to encourage him to accept!

Mike credits his success to those who have guided him throughout his life.

“This organization has helped in the formation of many successful leaders of government and industry over the years,” Mike shared in his acceptance remarks, “so being chosen for this recognition is such an incredible honor for me. I accept it on behalf of my family and friends who over the years have inspired and guided me.”

He also encouraged his fellow brothers to invest in developing servant leaders.

“I urge you all to make a contribution – some contribution – to our Foundation,” Mike said, adding that we are each called to lift up others wherever we can.

We don’t know why we were put into this situation, but other people are put into other, different situations,” Mike explained, “so, we need to try to remember them and help them reach their full potential as well.”

Watch Brother Callais’s speech from IMPACT18 in Orlando, FL:

Brother Paul Allen Passes

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA | Tuesday, October 16, 2018 – Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity is saddened to report the passing of our dear Brother, Paul G. Allen (Washington State University, ‘75). Brother Allen died from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma on Monday afternoon. He was 65 years old.

Brother Allen was most recently with Phi Kappa Theta Brothers from across the country during the 2017 Biennial Convention, where he was honored with Phi Kappa Theta's Man of Achievement Award. As an introduction to his acceptance of the Award, Phi Kappa Theta created this video to highlight why we honored him as a Man of Achievement.

During his acceptance speech, he shared his belief that we were in an era where "Each of us will feel called by different causes and opportunities to serve and Phi Kap's emphasis on servant leadership reminds us that each one of us has the opportunity to make a difference." View the full video presentation of Brother Allen's Man of Achievement Award Presentation:

Paul Allen was without a doubt our most famous living Phi Kappa Theta brother. Brother Allen is famously known as a co-founder of Microsoft alongside Bill Gates. He left Microsoft back in 1983 due to health circumstances, devoting his time to philanthropy, space and tech ventures and sports. He was an avid sports fan, owning the Portland Trailblazers and the Seattle Seahawks. He is also Founder and Chairman of Vulcan Inc.

He was as driven in his philanthropy as he was in his business. Brother Allen never stopped asking the question “What could be?” and he was not afraid of tackling some of our most pressing issues – or even showing his love for a community by saving a professional sports team. He saw the world around him and continually looked for ways to make a difference and make it better. His Fraternity experience was so profound that he personally made possible return of our Phi Kappa Theta chapter to Washington State University and he provided resources to ensure that it would excel. It is a model we want to emulate.

Brother Allen was truly a role model servant leader who lived our motto: Give – expecting nothing thereof.

Jeff Jowdy (University of Georgia, ‘83) Foundation Chairman

Paul’s ideas and actions have meant so much to the world. Allen spurred the rebirth of the Alpha Delta Chapter at Washington State University. In 1993 he joined together with a group of collegiate brothers who sought to reestablish Phi Kappa Theta at Washington State University. He led and funded construction of the chapter house, completed in 1996. Giving life to a Fraternity that continues to promote brotherhood, leadership and lifelong friendships just as it did for him. Paul’s vision and generosity opened the door for hundreds of Phi Kaps to enjoy the same comradery that he treasured from his days at Phi Kappa Theta.

Our condolences go out to his family, his corporate peers and to his own chapter, Washington Alpha Delta at Washington State University, who benefited from his generosity and support the most.

Adrian Gonzalez (University of Texas at Austin, '78) Fraternity President.

Brother Allen was a visionary leader who changed the world through technology and serving the world through impactful philanthropy.

View the Statement made by Vulcan and his family regarding the passing of Brother Paul G. Allen.


Founded in 1889, Phi Kappa Theta Fraternity currently has 40 collegiate chapters across the United States. Phi Kappa Theta actively develops men to be effective leaders who passionately serve society, Fraternity and God.

Setting Examples

Robert S. Basso Recognized As Phi Kappa Theta’s2018 Man of Achievement

by Nicholas R. Scalera
Seton Hall University, ‘63

(left to right): Seton Hall University Alumni Brothers Nicholas R. Scalera (‘63), Robert S. Basso (‘67), Peter Riccardo (‘67), Raymond De Carlo (‘67) and John Bland (‘66).

Robert S. Basso (Seton Hall University ’67) of San Rafael, California was honored by Phi Kappa Theta as a 2018 Man of Achievement at the fraternity’s IMPACT18 conference in Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, August 4th.

The award recognizes brothers who have risen to prominence in their fields of endeavor. Basso received the award for his 45 years of executive experience in the field of finance and for his many acts of charity.

In accepting his award, brother Basso recounted the major milestones in his personal life and professional career. He expressed appreciation to his parents, wife, sons and many friends who helped him along the way. Bob also emphasized the vital role played by Phi Kappa Theta in shaping his views and values.

“My fondest memories of college life, and the lifelong friendships I’ve been blessed with, have all come because of our beloved fraternity,” he said. “Giving back is perhaps the most important lesson we can ever learn, but clearly one imparted not so much in the classroom but rather in everyday life – by what we do and by the examples we set.”

Basso’s professional career included work with Loeb, Rhodes & Company, Merrill Lynch, UBS Paine Webber, Fidelity Investments, National Financial Services and Correspondent Services Corporation. From 1969-71, he served with the US Army, including a 13-month tour of duty in Vietnam

Although a long-time resident of California, brother Basso is an authentic “Jersey Boy.” He was born and raised in Point Pleasant Beach, NJ – a popular seashore town with a traditional wooden boardwalk, amusement rides, games of chance and vendors selling world-famous Jersey Taffy.

Bob left New Jersey in 1981 to pursue a business offer in California, where he met and married Mary Healy and started a family. Mary attended the ceremony with the couple’s sons: John, who is with the FBI, and Robert, who works in finance.

Three of Bob’s lifelong friends and pledge brothers surprised him by showing up at the MoA ceremony: Raymond De Carlo ’67, Peter Riccardo ’67 and John Bland ’66. In his remarks, Basso said they “have remained as close as any set of real brothers could possibly be for almost 55 years.”

They were joined by Robert Cianciulli, a 1967 graduate of Glassboro State College in NJ. Cianciulli, whom the guys refer to as “Chinch,” was not a Phi Kap back then but hung out with his Phi Kappa Theta buddies so often that they considered him an “honorary” member. The guys remained in touch long after graduation.

Basso thought the perfect time to initiate Cianciulli into Phi Kappa Theta was while they all were in Orlando but he didn’t tell Chinch of his plans. Instead, Bob secretly worked with the Phi Kappa Theta National Office to plan Cianciulli’s induction ceremony, which took place after the Man of Achievement event.

Cianciulli only learned of the honor when Basso disclosed it during his MoA acceptance remarks. Chinch was startled and deeply grateful. The ritual was conducted by Phi Kap trustees, national office staff and several alumni brothers.

Brother Basso said he always “held sacred” the Fraternity’s motto, Give, Expecting Nothing Thereof. “But in reality, by expecting nothing, I’ve received so much more than I could have ever imagined – let alone expected – from lifelong friendships to opportunities and experiences I could never have possibly envisioned.”

Basso served as Associate Member President and Associate Member Director, as a member of the Student Council for three years and as host of a business talk-show for the student radio station. He then ran for Student Council President but lost.

Bob described the loss as “an ironic twist of life that really set the stage for what was to become my future! Two invaluable life lessons: 1. sometimes a loss can be a huge win; and 2. service can actually have multiple meanings.”

After losing the Student Council race, Bob was appointed as the Seton Hall student representative to the United Nations – a program that included students from universities throughout the world. He said the UN position “provided insights into a global environment that I could never have imagined. And little did I know that that seminal event would be a precursor to my life’s work in NYC.”

Bob and I were not at Seton Hall at the same time. But we got to know each other when he was a collegiate and I was an officer of the alumni chapter, now known as The Phi Kappa Theta Alumni Association at Seton Hall.

Brother Basso is a long-time member of the Seton Hall Board of Regents. He’s also a generous donor to SHU, New Jersey Phi Beta Chapter at Seton Hall, Phi Kappa Theta National Foundation and numerous charitable organizations.

Bob has been a trustee of several California-based academic institutions, including St. Raphael School in San Rafael and Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield.

In 2000, Bob and Mary created the Basso/Healy Foundation, a nonprofit that helps youth-based education and social service agencies provide scholarships to needy students. In 2010, they created the Basso-Healy Endowed Scholarship to help Marin Catholic High School students attend Seton Hall.

Upon retiring in 2007, Bob founded Best Partners, an independent financial services consulting company. Later, he was a director of Poniard Pharmaceuticals, a publicly traded firm.

In his Man of Achievement remarks, brother Basso said he considers Phi Kappa Theta “the single most important part of my college experience and the reservoir of my fondest memories.” He remains a loyal Phi Kap, an icon in the field of finance, a devoted husband and father, a generous philanthropist and a dedicated and humble servant leader.

Watch Brother Basso’s speech from IMPACT18 in Orlando, FL:

2018 Honored Alumni

Watch Mike Callais (Louisiana State University, ‘84) receive the 2018 Man of Achievement Award and view his Driven Video.

Watch Robert S. Basso (Seton Hall University, ‘67) receive the 2018 Man of Achievement Award and view his Driven Video.

Watch Ali Soufan (Mansfield University, ‘94) receive the 2018 John F. Kennedy Award and view his Driven Video.

Watch Colin Nguyen (University of Washington, ‘05) receive the 2018 Outstanding Young Alumnus Award and view his Driven Video.