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Leadership Highlight: James Waters the President of Alpha Phi Alpha’s Eta Rho Lambda Chapter in Rochester

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 Eta Rho Lambda Chapter in Rochester and did an interview with James Waters 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. James Waters, who works in human resources, has been in the position of president of his chapter for 4 years. 

We interviewed Waters, who is a May 6, 1988 initiate of the Rho Alpha Chapter his fraternity 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 motivated you to take on the role of alumni chapter president?

The motivation for me in assuming the role of chapter president was because I wanted to utilize some of skills ascertained through personal and business with my chapter. I wanted to see some changes externally and internally that I thought would push Eta Rho Lambda to another level. All too often personal agendas are pushed without the benefit of acting democratically at the chapter level. Ideas were not readily heard and traditional oversaw the growth that the chapter was capable. I wanted the chapter to better be seen socially in the community as it related to our national programs and to better servants to our community. My administration focusesd on colloboration and relationship building with city and local governments, partnered with other NPHC organization with the main focus of “Same Mission, Different Colors”. My administration focused on the concept that there is power in numbers and through it all we can impact drastically with Alpha serving as the lead. Lastly, I wanted the chapter to know my capabilities to work with men with varied personalities to better obtain a common goal while remaining focused on the mission and the vision of the organization. 

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?

Specific initiatives include greater emphasis on community service and working on the developing young people on particular young men and increasing graduation rates. Examples include Leadership Development Institute, Go To High School Go to College and Project Alpha. WE BELIEVE THAT STARTING AT THE GROUND LEVEL in educating youth will better development the community decrease crime with a greater emphasis on partnership. 

What made you want to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha?

I chose to Pledge Alpha Phi Alpha because of the rich history of the organization. I was intrigued on the various platforms that the Founders were involved and how they were the catalyst for other organizations development. I also wanted to be my own person as most of my family of men are part of another organization that did not readingly fit my personality not persona. While I researched and attended all informationals at the undergraduate level, none stood out as strong as the men of Alpha. I desired brotherhood, follow-up, accountability, friendship and the opportunity to grow within my own skin. Alpha was my catalyst for better development in and after College. 

What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?

My undergraduate chapter is small (less than 80 Brothers to date), housed at a PWI and is the only Black Fraternity to date on the yard. My undergraduate chapter was not envisioned to take place at my school rather the graduate Chapter wanted it to be a part of a “City Chapter” One of the Brothers at the graduate Chapter saw the need to have growth at my PWI and challenged Brothers to have the chapter at another college rater than a city chapter. There was much resentment however persistence prevailed. Uniquely 5 of the Founders that were part of the growth of my chapter and attended school at Rho Alpha Shingles do not share Rho Alpha rather the school that wanted a City chapter. 

How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?

Eta Rho Lambda Chapter provides support to the undergraduate chapters with fiscal support, advice on internal issues, attend undergraduates affairs and provides various workshops to support careers after College. The graduate chapter has an amazing relationship with the three undergraduate chapters. 

How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?

Complete Transperency and Effetive Communication among the masses. We attend graduate meetings among the area and solicit support where applicable 

What advice would you give to aspiring leaders within your fraternity/sorority who may aspire to take on roles of leadership within alumni chapters?

Remain Open, Accept Constructive Crticism Well, Understand Change, Never be Afraid of a Challange, Listen to Learn and Learn to Listen, Never be Always bit be Right, Seek Advicw from your predecessor snd finally your Never to young or old to learn!! 

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?

I have been mentored by various individuals in my undergraduate chapter such as Art Jordan (founding Father), David Quattlebaum and at the graduate level Dr. Thomas Cummings, Dr. Louie Tobias, Bill Davis, Jesse Allen and Anthony Smith. Lastly, Brother Rufus McGee has developed me to tye brother I am today. He entered the Omega Chapter way to early but embodied all the tenants of our Founders and provided gifts for internal and external growth. 

Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?

It provides an avenue for both young and old to stay current with BGLO activities. It offers a place to provide opinion and showcase talent where applicable. 

Looking back at it, why do you love being a member of your org?

There is nothing like Alpha, Manly Deeds and Scholarship, Love for All Mankind run through my veins. The Brotherhood is Real, Relentless and Offers Room for growth. My Brothers hold each other accountable and foster growth during and after college. 

​Lastly, what does brotherhood mean to you?

Brotherhood means growth, being held accountable, ability to pass nuggets for the next generation, support, guidance and advise. Brotherhood means love and admiration to learn. 

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend James Waters for his work as the President of the Eta Rho Lambda Chapter. 

Share this on Facebook and help us highlight James Waters’ chapter. 

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