Refounding Father, Proud Alumnus
Why Todd Ackerman ’89 Believes in the ZBT Experience
As a refounding father of the Kappa Chapter of Zeta Beta Tau, Todd Ackerman ’89 had the opportunity that most aren’t able to experience. Along with his good friends, they were able to refound and mold the Kappa Chapter into what it is today—even securing their chapter house after discovering a sorority house was using it and the lease was up. “We decided to start from scratch, dictate the culture, and find people who wanted to do the same thing,” he shared.
Upon graduating from Cornell with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Todd realized it was important to him to work for himself. He has spent the last 25 years in the insurance business. His firm is Cedar Point Financial Services. Todd specializes in life and disability insurance planning, with an emphasis on helping people save money for retirement and defer income taxes. As an independent broker, he is able to represent any company or carrier, and most importantly, set his own schedule.
There is no question that Zeta Beta Tau has had a large impact on his business. “People like to do business with those they like and know,” he shared. There’s a natural connection between brothers, and Todd has taken the “brotherhood for life” mantra to heart. He remains in touch with his Kappa brothers, as well as ZBT alumni from across the country as the co-president of the ZBT Los Angeles Alumni Association. They meet for quarterly lunches and other events throughout the year. It’s ZBT’s core principles that truly make the fraternity stand out and keeps alumni connected.
Todd advises both current and future members to take advantage of these connections, as “you never know when your paths may cross again.” He believes that the fraternity experience while in college is almost an entirely different college experience from those who don’t get involved with Greek life. “The fraternity provides structure and the opportunity to meet like-minded people who share similar values,” he explained. Having the perspective and clarity he does now, Todd feels lucky to have been able to have that experience.
In addition to keeping up with his Kappa brothers, Todd enjoys spending his summers at a lake house he built seven years ago in the Adirondack Mountains, and the other half in Santa Monica, California. He also trains and competes in IronMan triathlons. Most importantly, he cherishes his time spent with his family, especially his two daughters. Todd looks forward to helping future young men follow the same path he did to Kappa and ZBT, so others can have the benefits of the fraternity—a brotherhood for life.
You can connect with Todd at email@example.com.
A Return Visit to One Edgecliff Place
Russ Neuman ’67 Recounts Introducing His Grandson to Kappa
I took my grandson Ben on a college tour. He’s only a junior in high school this year, but already curious about what lies ahead. He’s an avid fisherman and heard that the fishing was great around Dartmouth. (I know, I know, kids have crazy ideas about how to pick a college.) I insisted the lakes and rivers around Cornell have even greater fishing and we should check it out. Turns out, I might be right.
I joined Zeta Beta Tau my freshman year and graduated from Cornell arts and sciences in 1967 and, as it turned out, had not been back for 50 years. I heard that the chapter had gone through some tough times but was coming back to life. I was hoping Ben and I could eat dinner with the brothers and that Ben could sleep over to get a feel for fraternity life. I contacted Mike Cimini ’92 and Dave Burrows ’91 with the Kappa Foundation who put me in touch with the chapter president at the time, Alex Jalazo ’19.
Alex was amazing. He went out of his way to warmly welcome us, introduced the guys, and showed us how things worked. We got a chance to meet and talk with a dozen of the brothers at dinner. The energy and commitment of these young men was palpable. The spirit and pride of the current Zeta Beta Tau is very impressive. As I understand, Kappa has the second highest GPA on the hill. I told stories of the good old days and they told new stories. I explained to Ben that a reference “the city” at Cornell means New York City—there is no other. It’s still true.
The founding class of the reestablished Zeta Beta Tau brotherhood had graduated last spring, and Alex and many of the men we met joined as the second class. Katy is the chef and sort of plays the role of housemother to “her boys.” She runs an open kitchen. Nobody messes with Katy.
I left after dinner and Ben stayed over to get to know the guys. He loved it. I’m not sure what all happened, but I know Ben made some money on a basketball game bet. Now, Cornell is Ben’s first choice. There’s more to life than fishing. Nice going, Kappa.
There’s one additional note. The grounds outside of the building at One Edgecliff look fine. How-ever, the interior of the house is a different matter. The house took quite a beating during the inter-im when it was rented out, and the result is not the Zeta Beta Tau I remember. There are no curtains and very little furniture on the first floor. Things are more than a little dinged up. The basement needs work. No composite pictures of the brothers from back in the day or other pictures are on the walls. The composites are hidden away for safe keeping. Time to bring the composites back out and spruce things up. I’m sending in a check. You should too. And you should visit if you can. The renewed energy is incredible. They’d love to see you.
You can connect with Russ at firstname.lastname@example.org.