In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.’s Beta Gamma Lambda Chapter in Richmond, Virginia and did an interview with Carlos Stewart the president of the chapter.
The position of President of a Black fraternity chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Stewart, who is a regional manager in the dental industry, has served as the President of the chapter for since July 2018.
We interviewed Stewart and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What does it mean to be a chapter president to you?
Being elected Chapter President of an Alumni Chapter was a huge personal accomplishment for myself. I honestly had no desire to become President when I initially joined this Chapter, but the desires changed as I became more active and realized my own personal potential. It also came with a great deal of responsibility and pressure to lead a group of accomplished gentlemen to ensure we continue to uphold the mission, objectives and motto of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. I feel eternally grateful and privileged to be able to represent my Chapter in this role and thankful to the Brothers who elected me.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
Each year it is required by our Chapter to complete all our National Programs to remain compliant with our General Organization. Our four National Programs are Brother’s Keeper, A Voteless People is a Hopeless People, Go To High School, Go To College and Project Alpha. Through these programs we can advance the mission statement of Alpha by providing service and advocacy for our communities. Also, my chapter has a huge focus on mentoring students in the Richmond Public Schools System year-round. We mentor 80-100 students for an entire year through several of our special initiatives: Making Men, Young Achievers, Leadership Development Institute and 7 Leaders 7 Scholars. We also have a huge focus on Reclamation to help Brothers return to the house and allow our recently graduated Undergraduate Brothers to transition smoothly to Alumni Chapter. The more Brothers we have, the bigger the impact we can have in our community. We also partner with our Education Foundation and host a Black-Tie Affair to raise money to award scholarships to deserving high-school students in Richmond. Last year we were able to award $10,000 to these students that participated in our Leadership Development Institute.
What made you want to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha?
My first exposure to Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. came when I was watching Road Rules: Australia. There was a gentleman (Bro. Kefla Hare) who was wearing an Alpha sweatshirt. I was impressed with him and his representation of the organization, so I googled it to learn more. After researching the organization and learning about its ideals, mission and motto, I knew instantly that I wanted to be a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc when I went to college. Once I arrived on campus at Louisiana Tech University, I was exposed to the Brothers (who would later become my Prophytes) of Eta Kappa Chapter. The Brothers of â€œHKâ€ exemplified the same characteristics of Alpha that I learned during my research. Alpha embodied the same principles I had in my personal life. My Mother raised me to be respectful, ambitious, courageous and compassionate. Also, academics always played a huge role in my life. To me, Alpha had the same principles. I wanted to join a Brotherhood where I did not have to comprise my personal beliefs and that allowed me to impact my community/surroundings in a positive way.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
My Chapter was established in 1935 in Richmond, VA. In 2020 we will be celebrating 85 years of service to the Richmond community. The Beta Gamma Lambda Chapter has members from all different facets of the community and has impacted Richmond in a very positive way. The Brothers who came before us were vigilant in advancing the mission statement of Alpha. We are looking to expand upon their reach. Currently we have around 80+ members and there is a good mix of seasoned Brothers and younger Brothers. Most people associate Alumni Chapters with old people, but I wanted to change that mindset. So, the Chapter has put a huge focus on reclaiming recent college graduates and initiating young men (who are less than 3 years removed from college) who did not have the opportunity to join on the undergraduate level. Over the past 5 years or so, there’s been a huge shift in our median age in the chapter. Our Chapter puts in serious work through our National Programs, Special Initiatives and working with our Undergraduate Chapters we oversee.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think alumni chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2019?
I think Alumni Chapters will have to come into the digital world to remain relevant and attract new members. My chapter is working on a social media overhaul now with our current Associate Editor of the Sphinx. We just recently created a Facebook page to advertise and promote the work of the Beta Gamma Lambda Chapter. We are revamping our website, creating a twitter and Instagram page. I think it is necessary for all Alumni Chapters to have a strong Technology committee who can promote each organization’s brand in the digital world.
What does leadership mean to you?
“Leadership is defined as a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more coherent and cohesive.” – Karrie Ybema That definition exemplifies leadership to me. Our goal as leaders is to be a positive influence on others to accomplish the ideals and objectives of our fraternity. One person cannot accomplish it all alone. A true leader must have reach beyond their wildest dreams to be able to make it all happen. It really takes an entire Chapter to sustain the pressures of adversity and to accomplish our goals that we set forth. In my professional life I work as a Manager and have responsibility to lead teams of people to create successful results. I take all the things I learned in undergrad and graduate school and transfer the learnings into Alpha to build solid and functional teams.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
I think Watch the Yard is super important to Black greekdom. For me personally, Watch The Yard promotes the positivity of Black greekdom. You all highlight each organization very well and everyone follows your page! I always love seeing each organization and I frequently visit the Facebook page and Instagram page daily/weekly to see what’s new in D9 world. The conversations are always about what went viral off Watch The Yard. I know my friends, Brothers and fellow Greeks immensely appreciate the work of your site. Everyone is always trying to make Watch The Yard, because of the exposure and positive influence you have in our communities.
What does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood has meant many things to me throughout my membership in the organization. The journey of Brotherhood goes back to undergrad and meeting my ten Line Brother’s. At that time, it meant sacrifice, commitment and love. Our Prophytes taught us many things about the word Brotherhood and what it meant to them. The love, admiration and respect my Chapter Brothers displayed back in undergrad paved my way into Alpha. As my journey evolved and I met Brothers throughout the Louisiana District, the Southwestern Region and Nationally, Brotherhood took on a different meeting. The poem, House of Alpha really hit home. Goodwill was truly the monarch of this HOUSE! We entered, shook hands and exchanged greetings! This organization allowed me to meet complete strangers and be treated like blood. Alpha truly has been beyond my wildest dreams. As I have grown in life and Alpha, Brotherhood was even more prevalent during my relocation to Virginia. Coming to a state where I knew no one, Alpha stood in the gap during my transition. The Brothers of Beta Gamma Lambda welcomed me and the poem, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother echoed throughout. Looking back to the journey in 2001 to become a member of this organization and all the things I learned this was the TRUE spirit of the Fraternity! I now try to pay it forward like Brothers did for me throughout my journey.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
The Beta Gamma Lambda Chapter currently oversees two undergraduate Chapters: Theta Rho and Xi Zeta. The Xi Zeta Chapter is seated at Longwood University/Hampden-Sydney College in Farmville, VA. The Theta Rho Chapter is seated at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. We support them by providing Advisors from the graduate chapter who are certified in according to our Fraternity’s constitution. We also provide financial support and mentoring throughout the fraternal year. This year we plan to do more collaborative programs with both our undergraduate chapters for increased visibility and awareness. Brother Vann Davis is currently serving as the Advisor for Xi Zeta and I serve as the Advisor for the Theta Rho Chapter. It’s certainly not ideal for me to serve as Chapter President and Chapter Advisor, but it’s worked so far. The Brothers of Theta Rho and Xi Zeta have been amazing to work with thus far. Brother Jamal Price is President of Theta Rho and Brother Anthony Jackson is President of Xi Zeta. We are excited about their continued leadership for their respective Chapters.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Carlos Stewart for his work as the president of Beta Gamma Lambda Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1935.
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