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 Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.’s College Park Sandy Spring Alumni in College Park-Sandy Spring, MD and did an interview with Mark Ellington the Polemarch of the chapter.
The position of Polemarch/president of a Black fraternity chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Mark Ellington, who works as in Real Estate – Sales, Investment and Development, has been in the position of Polemarch for over one year.
We interviewed Ellington, who is a Spring 2016 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?
Working in the Chapter and running Committees successfully – eventually elected to leadership roles and elected as Polemarch in 2022 and re-elected in 2023
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?
New Event: Kappa Derby – Raises money for Guide Right/Kappa League and community service programs.
Kappa Takeover: Largest D9 Event on the East Coast in June. Over 2500 patrons and raised over $90,000 for charities along with several other Kappa chapters in the Eastern Province
GuideRight/Kappa League: Award-winning mentoring program for middle school to high school boys to teach STEM, finance, etiquette and industry awareness programs. Each year we give out thousands of dollars in scholarships to high school students in the program for college
IMPACT: Community program where we work every other Saturday to distribute food, toiletries and toys/gifts during the holidays in association with Rainbow Community Church
BACKPACK Drive: Stuffed 3,950 backpacks and distributed them to 8 schools in the DMV Region along with our partner Beyond The Badge
Social Action: Forums on policing and the Black community as well as domestic violence initiative to support victim shelters
Collegiate Affairs: Advisors to the Theta Theta of KAΨ at UMD-CP. Advise Undergraduates through academics and community programs and provide resume and interview skills to obtain jobs at graduation. We have a 98.3% Graduation Rate over past 6 years. Also partnered with the local community college and through our foundation – KCDF gives 2 scholarships to deserving students at Prince Georges Community College.
The culmination of all of our programming, events and community involvement has truly made a IMPACT within our community and specifically our Black and brown families. We have won numerous awards through our fraternity both regionally and nationally and are committed to enhance these programs by growing them to help as many people as possible.
What made you want to pledge Kappa Alpha Psi?
I was introduced to Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. in 1980 when my brother pledged at Theta Theta and came home in paraphernalia. After attending college in Texas for a year, I transferred to University of Maryland College Park and met the brothers on the yard. I had interest during my undergraduate time on campus however wasn’t able to cross – however 20+ years later, I renewed my interest and commitment to finish my Kappa Journey and crossed in 2016 at CPSS. I believed then and continue to believe now that this organization stands by its motto of “Achievement in Every Field of Human Endeavor” and my relationships before crossing continued my respect for Kappa and the bond of brotherhood has only increased my love for the fraternity and my commitment to being active and a brother that does the work needed to keep Kappa Strong!
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
I believe the combination of brothers made from all over the country both in undergrad and alumni coming together for a common cause of supporting the community and furthering out fellowship amongst brothers makes CPSS unique. Also the innovation of ideas and programs has led to our name as ‘The Blueprint Chapter’ as we act on our plan that ours can emulate to succeed as an alumni chapter
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
Our Collegiate Affairs Committee act as advisors to the Theta Theta of KAΨ at UMD-CP. We advise our undergraduates through academics and community programs and provide resume and interview skills to obtain jobs at graduation. We have a 98.3% graduation rate over past 6 years. Also partnered with the local community college and through our foundation -KCDF gives 2 scholarships to deserving students at Prince Georges Community College so they can transfer to UMD after completing their Associates program.
How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?
In 2022, we reimagined our Reclamation Program and rebranded it as Reclamation and Retention. Our purpose is to not only bring brothers back to Kappa, that may have for many reasons have not been active in a chapter since leaving school; but to keep active brothers engaged and excited to be a part of the chapter. We accomplish this through a fellowship schedule that includes many facets of brothers’ interest and throughout the month to allow for brothers’ busy family and business schedules. It definitely has allowed brothers to stay connected and be able to ‘hangout’ as well as goto events like bowling, whiskey tastings, cigar nights, game nights, happy hours etc.
What advice would you give to aspiring leaders within your fraternity/sorority who may aspire to take on roles of leadership within alumni chapters?
I think it’s important to learn the infrastructure of the operations of the chapter, the region and the National HQ. It allows awareness of both what is expected and understanding the politics of working successfully with within the chapters as well as the bigger organization. In addition I suggest to join committees in which you have interest and experience and then take leadership in the Committees that will show your ability to lead both the program and a team of brothers.
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 think mentorship and coaching is critical in all levels of growth, personally and in business. Past Polemarchs have poured into me over the past including Brother Sean Osborne, Frank Griffith, Vernon Marrow and others. As well, province officials have helped me understand the dynamics of the organization including Brother Charles Gilbert, Paul Robinson, Robert Jenkins Esq. and others. They have been very helpful and managing and strategizing the chapter for continued success
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
I think it’s a central portal for greekdom to access for the ‘what’s happening’ around the country both in undergrad chapters as well as alumni. Also, the features of fellow greeks who are achieving at high levels and in corporate and government. Also it gives current happenings so that everyone can follow what’s happening at their undergraduate schools
Looking back at it, why do you love being a member of your org?
I simply love the bond of brotherhood with like minded men that are focused on achieving and helping others achieve. Kappa is a organization that emphasizes being brotherly and that shows in our relationships and how we are able to work together for a common cause,
Lastly, what does brotherhood mean to you?
Means to always be there for your brother – you may not always be friends but you will always be a brother and for that reason I have a responsibility to make sure you’re OK and to help whoever and whenever needed and I experience that in return from these great Kappa Brothers
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Mark Ellington for his work as the Polemarch of the College Park Sandy Spring Alumni which has a legacy that spans back to 2005.
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