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 Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc.’s Gamma Omega Chapter in Hampton & Newport News, VA and did an interview with Charles Omari-Salim Brown the Polaris of the chapter.
The position of Polaris/president of a Black fraternity chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Brown, who works as a Labor Organizer, has been in the position of Polaris for almost 2 years.
We interviewed Brown, who is a Fall 2009, Tennessee State University (Delta Beta Chapter) 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?
I’m one the youngest members in my chapter, so I want to make sure the batton of leadership continues with mine and future generations.
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?
This year we awarded $1000 scholarships to 5 deserving high school seniors in Hampton, VA.
What made you want to pledge Iota Phi Theta?
When I attended Tennessee State University between 2006 and 2010, the Iotas were the only “Black Greeks” who didn’t seem self absorbed and actually cared about service.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The Gamma Omega Graduate chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc is the second oldest graduate Chapter in our Fraternity. As such, it is home to some of our Fraternity’s 1st regional and national leaders.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
We make sure our undergraduate chapters have resources in the form of fraternal materials and funds when it comes to events like homecoming.
How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?
When the weather is nice, we meet up at local restaurants for what we call “Centaur Sundays”. We use this as an opportunity to bond socially, as well as discuss idea we may have in a more relaxed environment.
What advice would you give to aspiring leaders within your fraternity/sorority who may aspire to take on roles of leadership within alumni chapters?
Start early, but pace yourself. Work-life balance is key.
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?
Being one of the youngest members of my chapter, my older chapter brothers have all held leadership positions fraternally and professionally. They constantly impart their wisdom on me. Outside of my chapter, I would say being able to talk with my founder Lonnie Spruill to get a sence of his thinking during the early days of Iota has been heavily influential in my journey as an Iota.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard is one of the only publications that provides all the National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations the opportunity to share their work in an unbiased manner.
Looking back at it, why do you love being a member of your org?
At this moment in time, Iota is the only Fraternity with one of its Founders still living. I’ve been able to physically meet 4 out of my Fraternity’s 12 Founders, which I will cherish as long as I live.
Lastly, what does brotherhood mean to you?
Being present when those you share a bond with need a hand.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Charles Omari-Salim Brown for his work as the Polaris of the Gamma Omega which has a legacy that spans back to 1973.
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