In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the sorors of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.’s Gamma Pi Sigma Alumnae Chapter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and did an interview with Bridget Robinson the Basileus of the chapter.
The position of Basileus/president of a Black sorority chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Robinson, who is a human resource professional, has served in the position of Basileus for one year.
We interviewed Robinson, who is a Fall 2009 initiate of her sorority, and talked to her about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in the digital age.
Read the full interview below.
What does it mean to be a Basileus to you?
Taking on a leadership role in any organization is about making good on your pledge and commitment to carry legacy forward. I have the pleasure of serving as chapter Basileus for the Gamma Pi Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. in Milwaukee, WI and it symbolizes my desire to honor the efforts of our founding charter members. I serve as President to help steer the collective work of our chapter sorors in a way that pays homage to the essence of sisterhood and service. I serve as President to support much needed meaningful work in the community that I live, and work. I serve as President to be an example to other women that we need more voices at the table that see a need and do something about it. I am proud to be a leader in a graduate chapter that is continuously doing the work to uplift others.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
This year our chapter goals continue to align with the national initiatives of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. and in a way that addresses issues that are very necessary in our local community. Specifically we will focus on our Swim 1922 service project that is a a groundbreaking initiative that seeks to strengthen USA Swimming’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion by increasing swim participation and decrease drowning rates in the community. To this aim we seek to affect change and influence our community of black women and girls. Additionally we will organize our signature chapter event The Black History Quiz Bowl in an effort to work with young people in grades 6-12 to study the history of African American culture. The quiz bowl provides an opportunity for the community to gather and celebrate the pride of culture but also the academic excellence of students who have committed to learning beyond the classroom.
Our service work this year will also include our annual Hattie McDaniel Breast Cancer Awareness service project. To honor Hattie McDaniel – the first African American to win an Academy Award – a founding member of a Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. chapter – we support programming to provide education and support of early detection of breast, prostate, ovarian, colon and other cancers as well as research for prevention of the cancers specifically amongst African American women. This year our programming will include a health education women’s symposium that will extend our conversation and awareness to matters that impact black women the most.
What made you want to pledge Sigma Gamma Rho?
I joined Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. in Fall 2009 because I believe the organization stood for principles that matched my passion for beloved community amongst women and would strengthen my philanthropic work. I felt personally drawn to the women who were sorors of the organization and saw a light within their spirits that was very welcoming and inviting. I desired to be in relationship with an organization that would not only allow me to join in the work of their mission but one that would allow me to utilize my talents and interests to further its cause. Joining Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. has been a decision that I have never regretted.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The women that make up the Gamma Pi Sigma Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. are comprised of educators, business owners, human resource professionals, mental health professionals, project managers and so much more. We pride ourselves on being an inclusive chapter that make intentional efforts to help women as they grow in life. I believe we are unique because we have such a broad demographic of sorors who represent the many faces of black womanhood. We understand very well the balance of business and service and sisterhood and love.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think alumni chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2019?
A social media presence becomes very critical to alumni chapters and orgs in 2019. Long gone are the days where word of mouth is enough to spread the word about WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU DO. I think it’s important for alumni chapters to consider how essential branding becomes to setting you apart from organizations that may appear the same on paper. Nowadays folks want to visually feel connected to who you say you are and having an active social medial presence makes all the difference.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is about motivating and inspiring others to MOVE THE VISION AHEAD. It is a selfless act of – that doesn’t always come with a title – to be an example and set the tone for how to make action a reality. Leadership is a responsibility to transform followers into new leaders by way of support, coaching, mentoring and development.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the Yard continues to set the standard for debunking the myth that Greek Life is not positive. As chapters and organizations across the nation seek to showcase why our work and existence matters to our communities – we need a brand ambassador to help spread the narrative that we are more than social events and letters. I believe Watch the Yard helps to highlight the collective efforts of positive service that is making a long lasting and positive impact on young people that is truly a life long commitment.
What does brotherhood/sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood is the essence of connections that signify: when she wins, I win and when she hurts, I hurt. Sisterhood says that we are in this life together and therefore I will live in a way that allows us both to find everlasting peace and happiness.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
Currently our chapter provides oversight to (3) undergraduate chapters in Wisconsin: Marquette University, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and (3) the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Our advisors are charged with building strong partnerships with our undergrad students on campus and the campus greek life administrators. We understand that support extends beyond traditional advisor duties and often times requires a level of support that includes presence at events, financial assistance for work and on-call availability to streamline efforts to be seen and heard on campus. We acknowledge that this relationship between graduate and undergraduate chapters becomes critical to matriculation and growth.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Bridget Robinson for her work as the Basileus of the Gamma Pi Sigma Alumnae Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1963.