Our Beginnings

The D.C. Area Phi Beta Kappa Association was formed in 1913. The founding of our association and other associations across the country at this time was due to the tireless work of Phi Beta Kappa Secretary, Oscar M. Voorhees. He worked for four years with Phi Betes in Washington, D.C. to attempt the formation of an association, to which the only challenge appears to have been a lack of people with enough time. The United Chapters in New York constantly updated the list of Phi Betes who moved to Washington, and eventually from those lists an Organizational Committee was formed. In the fall of 1913 an invitation was mailed to all on the list to attend a meeting to organize a Phi Beta Kappa Association. On December 6, 1913, ninety Phi Beta Kappa alumni living in the Washington D.C. area gathered at the University Club on 15th and I Streets, NW, Washington, D.C. and founded The Phi Beta Kappa Association in the District of Columbia.

Their goal was to foster scholarship, friendship, cultural pursuits, and intellectual exchange among PBK members in the region. Since that time we have stayed true to our roots, while expanding our programming to meet more diverse interests.

In the 1990s, seeking to welcome Phi Betes from across the entire DMV area, we became the D.C. Area Phi Beta Kappa Association.


Our mission in the D.C. Area Phi Beta Kappa Association (DCPBK) is to uphold and promote the Society’s ideals of life-long learning and strong civic character. We do this by providing members an opportunity to participate in cultural and intellectual activities and networking opportunities. Each year we organize a range of talks, educational tours, and recreational events. We are often treated to special exchanges with eminent thinkers arranged just for us. DCPBK has a very active Young Professionals Program with happy hours and customized activities. We also have a popular Book Club and a Mentorship Program pairing experienced and younger members.

As one of the largest and most dynamic PBK alumni associations, DCPBK has been setting a high standard nationwide. We were honored with the Outstanding Association Award at the 2009 Phi Beta Kappa Triennial Council Meeting, and again at the 2018 Phi Beta Kappa Triennial Council Meeting. We have also been recognized for our commitment to the local community through our longstanding High School Awards Program for college-bound local seniors, as well as our ongoing engagement with the PBK Chapters in area universities.

To learn more, check out this DC PBK Short History.


DCPBK president Nina Kuo (left) with former DCPBK president Liz Anderson at the 2018 PBK Society Triennial Council Meeting holding our second Outstanding Association Award in less than 10 years.

DCPBK officers at the 2009 PBK Society Triennial Council Meeting accepting our first Outstanding Association Award.


DCPBK meets with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.