The organization known as PHI BETA LAMBDA is the result of efforts by Hamden L. Forkner of Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, New York. In 1937-1938 Dr. Forkner proposed to business teachers around the country the need for a national organization for the thousands of business clubs in high schools and post-secondary schools throughout the nation. Official sponsorship of the proposed student organization for business students was accepted by the National Council for Business Education at its fall meeting in 1940. The sponsoring organization proceeded immediately with the appointment of committees for the purpose of formulating the general plans for the organization. The name, FUTURE BUSINESS LEADERS OF AMERICA, was selected and provisions were made for the organization of local chapters, state chapters, and the National Organization.
The post-secondary organization, comparable to FBLA, is PHI BETA LAMBDA. The name and insignia of PHI BETA LAMBDA are registered in the United States Patent Office under the Federal Trademark Act. Only officially chartered and currently active chapters of PHI BETA LAMBDA, their members operating in accordance with the requirements of their respective state chapters, and the PHI BETA LAMBDA National Organization are authorized to use the PHI BETA LAMBDA name and insignia.
Lees Junior College in Jackson was the first PHI BETA LAMBDA chapter organized in Kentucky in 1951 followed by Paducah Community College in Paducah in 1955. The first attempt at a state organization came in 1962 when Murray State University in Murray chartered. The force behind this beginning of PHI BETA LAMBDA in Kentucky was Eugene Smith, then State Chairman for the FUTURE BUSINESS LEADERS OF AMERICA and a member of the faculty at Murray Training School.
Operating as part of the FBLA structure, with only one state office, Kentucky PHI BETA LAMBDA chapters elected a second vice president to represent PBL on the FBLA State Board.
Upon the death of Mr. Eugene Smith in 1965, PHI BETA LAMBDA responsibilities were assumed by Mrs. LaVerne Ryan, a Murray State University faculty member, under the guidance of Mrs. Ethel Plock, who previously serving as FBLA State adviser, assumed chairmanship of FBLA.
State leadership conferences for PBL (called State Conventions at that time), were a part of the FBLA State Conference in Louisville. At the 1966 State Conference Ed Thomas of Murray was elected as its PBL state officer. Chapters in attendance were Murray State University, Morehead State University, Kentucky State University, and Pikeville College. At the 1966 FBLA-PBL spring board meeting, PHI BETA LAMBDA members were invited to operate the testing center for the FBLA State Conference. They continued to do this until 1970. In 1970 the first PBL State Conference was held separate and apart from FBLA at Western Kentucky State University with Dr. Charles Ray serving as convention chairman.
The Paducah Community College PHI BETA LAMBDA chapter was reactivated by the Murray State University chapter on March 15, 1967. At the 1967 State conference there was an increase of interest and enthusiasm among PBL members as Morehead and Murray competed in contests and delegates from Pikeville, Kentucky State, and Paducah Community College participated in the state election of officers.
The first effort for a PHI BETA LAMBDA Conference, apart from FBLA, was in 1969 when the PBL group wrote its own constitution, providing for a slate of state officers, and held contests and meetings at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville. This conference was held simultaneously with FBLA (located at the Brown Hotel in Louisville) and judges were shared by both groups.
The State Board members cast a vote in 1969 to invite area vocational schools with post-secondary students to participate in PHI BETA LAMBDA. The first vocational school chartering a chapter in PHI BETA LAMBDA was West Kentucky Area Vocational School (now West Kentucky Technical College), Paducah, with Mrs. Mary G. Sledd as adviser.
Since 1970, the awards presented to the winners of the Mr. and Ms. Future Business Teacher events have been provided by the Kentucky Business Education Association. The membership of the Kentucky Business Education Association is primarily Business Educators who want to promote and encourage young people to pursue a career in the educational field.
Beginning in 1969, the Division of Vocational Business Education, Department of Education, Frankfort, began working very closely with PHI BETA LAMBDA. The new organizational structure, located in the Frankfort office, provided that a State Chairman and Executive Secretary provide support in conducting the operation of the State Chapter. During the 1983 membership year, the positions of Executive Secretary and State Adviser were assumed by individuals involved in other educational employment outside of Frankfort and located in various parts of the state. This State Chapter operational procedure currently continues.