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Leadership Highlight: Lakia Easton the President of Delta Sigma Theta’s Sumter Alumnae Chapter

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 Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.’s Sumter Alumnae Chapter in Clarendon, Lee, and Sumter Counties and did an interview with Lakia Easton the president of the chapter. 

The position of president of a Black sorority chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Lakia Easton, who works as a occupational therapist, has been in the position of president for one year. 

We interviewed Easton, who is a 2007 initiate of Delta Sigma Theta and talked to her about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in the digital age. 

Photo Credit: Charlie Mathis

Read the full interview below. 

What motivated you to take on the role of alumni chapter president?

After much contemplation and encouragement from my Sorors, I realized that I could be a positive change for Sumter Alumnae Chapter and the members. I felt I could encourage members to want to take leadership positions within the chapter to help our chapter thrive in future years. I felt my personality could be infectious in a way to build stronger bonds and unity within the chapter. I had a vision for the chapter and I wanted to see us reach it. The only way that could happen was I had to step out of my comfort zone and stop holding myself back from opportunities because they were challenging or scary. I finally realized that sometimes if you want to see change happen, you have to be the change. So, I prayed and prayed for God to give me an answer as far as what to do and this scripture sums it up: Isaiah 41:10, I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.] 

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?

Sumter Alumnae Chapter is implementing the following initiatives in our local communities: We have the following mentoring youth programs: a. Dr. Betty Shabazz/Delta Academy is for young ladies ages 11-14. The purpose of this program is to assist at-risk African American young women to maximize their potential, preparing them for the world in which we live. b. Dr. Jean Noble/Delta Gems is for young ladies from ages 14-18. This program provides the framework to actualize dreams through the performance of specific tasks and the development of a ‘can do’ attitude. c. Embodi is for young boys ages 11-18. Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence and “Preparing Our Sons for Manhood”. d. Delta Debutante Cotillion: This Program recognizes the achievements and accomplishments of qualified young ladies who are high school juniors and seniors and also offers the participants an opportunity to be active leaders in their school and community. We will be partnering and hosting several voter information and registration events. We will assist people with understanding how to use the voting machines, filling out forms to become a registered voter, discussing the myths and facts about voting as well as hosting town hall meetings to meet the candidates. We will host blood drives to collect blood for persons in need in our communities from accidents, transfusions, cancer, sickle cell, etc. We will provide meals, cleaning supplies, and toiletry items to the homeless and the shelters. We will collect books and then donate them to low-income schools. We will partner with various community organizations to educate and share information with the underserved populations in the community on building wealth, HIV/AIDS awareness, and health and nutrition education through workshops and webinars just to name a few. 

Photo Credit: Coretta Hooks

What made you want to pledge Delta Sigma Theta?

In high school, I was able to see how Deltas made an impact on their campuses and how well respected they were by their peers. They were friendly, encouraging, about their business, and well educated. The founders were not afraid to step out and take a chance to change their communities. That took guts and I wanted to be a part of an organization that would stand up for what is right and fair, work tirelessly towards equality and justice in black communities, and empower black women to become trailblazers and leaders in their communities. Then after doing my research on the sorority, I connected to the foundations of the sorority that were built on Christian principles, sisterhood, service, scholarship, and social action. From that moment on, I knew that Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was for me. 

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

In 1947, six women chartered Sumter Alumnae Chapter in Sumter, SC. In order for the Sorors to have a meeting place, the charter members put a lien on their homes to purchase a house for the chapter. The charter members took a huge risk knowing what they potentially could lose. Several of the charter members were able to see the fruits of their labor and see the chapter’s house paid off in full. These women were the matriarchs of the Sumter Alumnae Chapter, also known as the “Amen Corner” of the chapter. They passed down the history of the chapter and the sorority to members, they were well respected by all who knew them, they shared wisdom and knowledge every chance they could, and when they spoke everyone stopped what they were doing, listened, and was very attentive. The charter members demonstrated their lifetime commitment to the sorority and to Sumter Alumnae Chapter by sharing their sisterly love, energy, and spirit with all sorors and by remaining financial and active from their initiation day until their last day. 

Photo Credit: Theresa Gregory

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

Over the years, our chapter has found several ways to connect with the undergraduate members. We would pair an alumnae member with a collegiate member and encourage checkup calls, texts, and invites to dinner, lunch, and breakfasts. We would try to do something special for them when they are celebrating milestone events in their life (such as birthdays, graduations, holidays, engagements, etc.). The Alumnae chapter would also support campus events by attending, providing resources, setting up or cleaning up for events, or participating in the event itself. We would also invite the undergraduate members to the alumnae chapter meetings and events, have open communication with them about their school, work, and personal life as well as their chapter, the alumnae chapter, and their thoughts about transitioning to an alumnae chapter after graduation. 

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

There are several ways I foster unity in my chapter. I try to provide opportunities for members to work with sorors that they don’t typically work with or don’t know very well. I try to encourage sorors to participate in game nights, team-building activities, and Zoom events where sorors can learn more and understand sorors in different areas of their lives. I try to find ways to include sorors in the chapter at their comfort level of participation. I encourage sorors to be open to suggestions and to change. I establish and share my goals/vision for the chapter and allow sorors to do the same. 

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

It’s okay to be scared or nervous because that leaves room for growth. You never know what you can achieve until you go for it. You will never make 100% of the people happy, but be fair, be transparent, and be willing to lead by example. Set boundaries to balance the various areas of your life. Always have fun and enjoy what you do because it will show. Be willing to admit when you are wrong. Do research for yourself, constantly learn, and be open to change. Never underestimate or question your worth, abilities, or your power to make a difference. 

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?

My mentorship started before I even realized it. Sorors in my chapter saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. They planted a seed of encouragement to run for positions that I was not thinking about running for. They provided me with unsolicited feedback, explanations, and guidance on how I could make a difference in my chapter and offered support wherever I needed it. They directed me to resources and sorors with years of experience and knowledge to assist me in improving my leadership skills. Sorors recommended workshops I should attend and showed me examples of good leadership over the years. With constant encouragement and direction, Sorors helped me develop and discover the confidence within myself to want to be the leader that I am today. 

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

I believe that Watch the Yard utilizes a network on social media that provides a unique culture and comradery among the black Greek fraternities and sororities, undergraduate and alumnae chapters the same, worldwide. Watch The Yard must continue its efforts to provide an outlet for black Greek fraternities and sororities to present their stories, culture, events, history, and accomplishments to thousands of people from their perspective without it being altered, forgotten about, or erased from existence. 

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

Being a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is amazing. I love what this organization represents in the communities we serve and around the world. To me, Delta represents a sisterhood of trailblazers, strength, equality, leadership, opportunity, service, and change agents that are grounded on Christian principles. Delta’s core principles also correlate with my values. The sisterhood, the connections, the joy, and the relationships that I have created over the years in this organization are unmatched and the excitement I have about being a member of this organization is unexplainable. 

​​Lastly, what does sisterhood mean to you?

Sisterhood to me is a unique lifetime bond between like-minded women. A sisterhood means that you are never alone- there will be sisters across the nation to lend a helping hand, converse with, uplift you, and provide support and guidance. Despite the distance, the disagreements, or the differences that may arise among my sisters, our bond will forever remain strong. 

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Lakia Easton for her work as the President of the Sumter Alumnae Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1947. 

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