In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the sorority sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.’s Tau Pi Omega Chapter in Stone Mountain, Lithonia, and Stonecrest, GA and did an interview with Portia L. Brantley the Basileus of the chapter.
The position of Basileus/president of a Black sorority chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Portia Brantley, who works as a Contracts Administrator with Kaiser Permanente, has been in the position of Basileus for less than a year.
We interviewed Brantley, who is a Kappa Omega Chapter, Atlanta, GA – Spring 1999 initiate of Alpha Kappa Alpha and talked to her about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What motivated you to take on the role of alumni chapter president?
1. Collective Impact: It is my desire to work collectively with the members of my chapter to reflect a collaborative approach to leadership. This is essential for fostering a sense of unity and teamwork, which can lead to more impactful and sustainable community initiatives.
2. Lasting Impact: I wanted to leave a lasting impact in the communities we serve to demonstrate a focus on outcomes that extend beyond the immediate term. I am hopeful this long-term perspective can guide my chapter’s projects and initiatives towards meaningful change.
3. Catalyst for Change: I am intentional in being proactive and transformative in this role. By pushing for innovative and new approaches to address community service initiatives that allow for forward thinking and community engagement, I hope to inspire positive changes that benefit both my organization and the community.
4. Leadership Development: Building the next leadership bench is crucial for the continued growth and success of my chapter. By nurturing and empowering emerging leaders, I want to ensure the sustainability of Tau Pi Omega’s efforts and impact.
5. Service and Sisterhood: I wanted to foster a supportive environment by emphasizing service and sisterhood, as it speaks to the values that Alpha Kappa Alpha holds dear. My vision is to create a strong sense of purpose and belonging among the members.
6. Influence, Motivation, and Enablement: It was my desire to influence, motivate, and enable others to take action, providing the support and resources needed for success.
7. Purpose Beyond Oneself: I recognize that people can accomplish much when inspired by a purpose beyond themselves. When individuals feel connected to a meaningful cause, their dedication and enthusiasm tend to be stronger.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the local community or the broader Black community?
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® – Tau Pi Omega Chapter is deeply committed to making a positive and meaningful impact on the community through our involvement in the Soaring to Greater Heights of Service and Sisterhood program initiatives. Our particular focus on Empower Our Family, Build Our Economic Wealth, and Uplift Our Local Community demonstrates a well-rounded approach to addressing various aspects of community well-being. Empower Our Family:
1. Childhood Hunger Initiative Power Pack (CHIPPTM): Our partnership with the Atlanta Area Food Bank and Berean Christian Church showcases a collaborative effort to combat childhood hunger. Providing weekend and holiday meals for students at Stoneview Elementary School is a tangible way to address a crucial need in our community. The dedication of chapter volunteers to manage and distribute food highlights the hands-on involvement that drives real change.
2. Youth Leadership Institute (YLI): Engaging with local middle school students through the Youth Leadership Institute is a fantastic way to empower the youth and prepare them for their future roles as leaders. By exposing them to a diverse range of topics, we are equipping them with valuable knowledge and skills that go beyond the classroom. This initiative has the potential to have a lasting impact on the participants’ personal and professional development.
3. Build Our Economic Wealth: The “Pink Own Black” Black Dollar Days event was a creative and impactful way to promote and support Black-owned businesses. By organizing seminars on financial and wealth management alongside showcasing local vendors, we were not only contributing to the local economy but also fostering financial literacy within our community. This initiative has the potential to strengthen economic resilience and promote entrepreneurship.
4. Uplift Our Local Community: Partnering with Antioch A.M.E. Church for the Farmer’s Market on a regular basis highlights our commitment to addressing food insecurities. By providing free fruits and vegetables, we are directly contributing to the health and well-being of the community members who need it most. This initiative not only addresses immediate needs but also fosters a sense of community and support.
What made you want to pledge Alpha Kappa Alpha?
My personal values and background aligned so well with the principles of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®. My upbringing as a pastor’s kid, with a strong focus on community service, had a profound impact on my values and sense of responsibility towards the well-being of others. I’ve carried this commitment into my role as the president of my chapter. The history of Alpha Kappa Alpha, with its emphasis on service, sisterhood, and women’s empowerment, resonated deeply with my core values. The organization’s legacy of making a positive impact on communities and fostering strong bonds among its members aligns perfectly with my desire to lead and serve. My involvement with this sorority allowed me to channel my innate dedication to community service into a structured and impactful platform.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Since our chartering on January 23, 1993, Tau Pi Omega has had a long and impactful journey of service, growth, and dedication to the community. My chapter’s presence has left a lasting impact on the Stone Mountain and Lithonia communities, and our commitment to engagement, improvement, and global awareness is truly commendable. Tau Pi Omega’s dedication to addressing issues that matter to the community demonstrates a strong understanding of community-driven initiatives. By actively involving community members and addressing their concerns, we have created a sense of trust and collaboration that is essential for meaningful and sustainable change. Our commitment to improving not only the communities we serve, but also extending that dedication to the broader world showcases a global perspective on service. This approach highlights the interconnectedness of issues and emphasizes that positive change knows no geographical boundaries.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
1. Mentoring and Guidance: Providing guidance and mentorship to undergraduate members is an invaluable resource. College life can be both exciting and challenging, and having a support system in place can enhance their experience and personal growth.
2. Smooth Transition: Our efforts to ensure a smooth transition from college to graduate life demonstrate our understanding of the importance of continuity. By fostering a connection between undergraduate and graduate members, we are creating a sense of belonging that can positively impact their ongoing involvement in the organization.
3. Integration into Graduate Chapter: Inviting undergraduate members to chapter meetings, retreats, and other events is a wonderful way to integrate them into the larger chapter community. This exposure not only helps them feel valued and included but also sets the stage for their future engagement as graduate members.
4. Financial Incentives: Recognizing the financial challenges that new graduates may face and offering incentives is a practical and considerate approach. This support not only eases the transition but also showcases our commitment to the well-being of our members beyond their academic journey.
How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?
I am a firm believer in “meeting people where they are” and “we have more in common, than what separates us.” To that end, we have formed Sister Squads with the members of the chapter. These squads are comprised of different generational ages and also sorority ages. The goal is to find that commonality that affords the opportunities to bond as sorority sisters and women. We have organized a variety of activities that encourage interactions among Sister Squads. These included casual meetups, workshops, mentoring sessions, service projects, and even discussions on topics that matter to all generations. By facilitating these connections, we fostered an environment where everyone feels valued, supported, and united in their commitment to our organization’s goals and values.
What advice would you give to aspiring leaders within your sorority who may aspire to take on roles of leadership within alumni chapters?
1. Know Your “Why”: Understanding your motivation for taking on a leadership role is crucial. It provides a solid foundation and clear sense of purpose that can guide your actions and decisions throughout your leadership journey. Asking yourself why you want to assume a leadership role is an essential self-assessment. It helps differentiate between genuine commitment to the organization’s goals and personal ambitions.
2. Preparation: Being prepared for the responsibilities of the position you seek is vital. This includes not only understanding the role’s tasks but also the broader mission and values of the organization.
3. Chapter-Centric Leadership: Prioritizing the needs of the chapter over personal desires is a hallmark of effective leadership. True leaders are dedicated to serving the collective and driving positive change for the entire group.
4. Mentorship: Seeking a mentor who can offer guidance, feedback, and honest advice is a wise decision. A mentor can provide valuable insights from their own experiences, helping you navigate challenges and decisions.
5. Leadership Principles: You’ve highlighted three key principles of leadership:
• Service: Leadership is about serving others and contributing to the greater good. A leader’s actions should reflect a commitment to benefiting the community.
• Accountability: Effective leaders take responsibility for their actions and decisions. Accountability builds trust and credibility.
• Sacrifice: Leadership often requires personal sacrifice. Leaders may need to prioritize the needs of the group over their own comfort or convenience.
How has mentorship helped you get to where you are today? Are there any specific people in your org who have made a significant impact on your life as mentors?
Mentorship has been such a pivotal part of your growth and development as a leader within my organization. Mentors can offer invaluable guidance, insights, and encouragement that contribute to personal and professional growth. My mentors saw my potential and encouraged me to seek out and embrace leadership opportunities that I may not have considered otherwise. They have offered insights into navigating challenges, making decisions, and approaching various aspects of leadership. Through my mentors, I have been connected to a network of experienced individuals who can offer advice, resources, and support when needed.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
I hold Watch the Yard in high regard for its significant contributions to the Black Greek community. My perspective on its importance reflects my understanding of how the platform serves as a digital hub for celebrating achievements, sharing knowledge, and fostering inspiration within Black Greekdom. This digital platform promotes unity, achievement, and community engagement and is a testament to the power of modern media in advancing the values and impact of the Black Greek community.
Looking back at it, why do you love being a member of your org?
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated® has had a profound impact on my life. I have a deep sense of gratitude, connection, and appreciation for the sisterhood I’ve been a part of for the past 24 years. The strong and lasting sisterly bonds formed with fellow members are incredibly special. These connections go beyond just being friends; they represent a network of support, trust, and understanding that uplifts me in all aspects of life. Knowing that my sorority sisters have my back provides a sense of security and comfort. In times of both celebration and challenge, having a group of supportive individuals who share my values is immensely reassuring.
Lastly, what does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood extends far beyond just a temporary connection. It’s a commitment that endures throughout the course of life, demonstrating a lasting dedication to the sisterly bonds formed. This involves investing time, effort, and care to ensure that the relationships remain strong and meaningful. No relationship is without its challenges, but by demonstrating grace and offering forgiveness you maintain healthy and resilient connections. Sisterhood isn’t passive; it’s an active practice that requires ongoing effort and intentionality. Even in challenging times, dissolution of the bond isn’t an option.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Portia L. Brantley for her work as the Basileus of the Tau Pi Omega which has a legacy that spans back to 1993.
Share this on Facebook and help us highlight Portia L. Brantley’s chapter.
Leadership Highlight2 days ago
Leadership Highlight: Michelle Banks the Basileus of Sigma Gamma Rho’s Gamma Omicron Sigma Chapter in Jacksonville
Leadership Highlight2 days ago
Leadership Highlight: Sharae Half Sharp the Basileus of Zeta Phi Beta’s Sigma Psi Zeta Chapter in Fort Washington, Maryland
Deltas2 days ago
Leadership Highlight: Takija Gardner the President of Delta Sigma Theta’s Oakland East Bay Alumnae Chapter