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Leadership Highlight: William Briggs the President of Alpha Phi Alpha’s Rho Chapter in Philadelphia

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 Rho Chapter in Philadelphia and did an interview with William Briggs 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. William Briggs, who works as a school administrator, has been in the position of president for three years. 

We interviewed William Briggs, who is a Rho Chapter Fall 1995 initiate of 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?

Rho Chapter has a history of phenomenal community impact. I wanted to have a larger role in ensuring that we continue to have a strong presence in the communities that we serve. 

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?

Our “Go to high school go to college” initiative, which is one of our national programs. We have seen the effects that COVID has had on education as a whole. The lack of access to resources and the great digital divide has had a negative impact on students in Philadelphia and across this nation. We have several programs from mentorship to scholarship that work to counteract the harmful effects that COVID has had on our student’s academic progress. We have the Rho Academic Leadership Academy (RALA), Alpha’s read (we visit schools and read with and to the students), Rho chapter book awards (we give gift cards to the young men we mentor to a local black owned bookstore), Annual Virtual HBCU college fair. The ripple effects of mentorship, emphasis on educational excellence, and financial assistance to help pay for college will have an immediate effect on those involved the programs and positive implications for the broader black community as these individuals become productive members of the community. 

What made you want to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha?

My desire to serve the community in excellence and on a larger scale made me want to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity incorporated. 

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

Rho Chapter is unique because we are the only single letter alumni chapter in the fraternity. 

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

We support the undergraduate chapters by serving as mentors/sponsors. 

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

I try to foster a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members by providing them with an opportunity to lead as they serve. This garners their engagement. Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated develops leaders. 

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

You have to understand that leadership is about service. If you are not fit to serve then you are not fit to lead. It sounds like a cliché but it is true. 

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 definitely helped me get to where I am today. I have several Rho chapter living past presidents that pour into me and offer advice and encouragement. 

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

Watch The Yard helps facilitate a sense of comradery amongst Black greekdom. 

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

I love being a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity incorporated because I see reflections of myself that are inspiring and empowering. Reflections form the past and in the present. As I work to empower the communities that we serve, the fraternity serves me and empowers me. 

​Lastly, what does brotherhood mean to you?

When I am in need of anything, I have brothers that are willing to use the resources and relationships that are at their disposal to help ensure my success and wellbeing. With that being said, I freely do the same for them. 

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend William Briggs for his work as the President of the Rho which has a legacy that spans back to 1914

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