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 Eta Theta Sigma Alumnae Chapter in Silver Spring, Maryland and did an interview with Dawne Stanton 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. Stanton, who works in Installation & Program Management for the Department of the Army, has served in the position of Basileus for three years.
We interviewed Stanton, who is a Fall 1997 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 chapter president to you?
Serving as chapter president is a constant challenge but a position I am honored to serve in; as it has provided an experience I would never change. The challenge is ensuring the vision you have not only contributes to the legacy and sustainability of the chapter, but nurtures the individual member as well. I remain grateful, and always humbled, that my chapter entrusted me to navigate our branch of Sigma.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
For the 2019-2020 sorority year, Eta Theta Sigma is focused on three national programs and two chapter specific initiatives in support of our surrounding community. One of those is our year-long programming initiative Operation Big Book Bag (OBBB). OBBB is a national program of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. created to provide resources and materials to assist the educational needs of students throughout the school year. In support of this initiative, Eta Theta Sigma has partnered with a local middle school, Francis Scott Key, in Silver Spring, MD; and annually programs atleast three events to support their student body. This year we have already hosted a summer book drive, where we collected over 500 new and gently used books for summer school and camp programs to support reading enrichment. Additionally, we hosted our annual summer soiree fundraiser, where we collected book bags and school supplies for donation to Francis Scott Key during their recent Back to School Night. In total proceeds raised provided 105 book bags filled with supplies and were individually donated to students at the school by our chapter.
What made you want to pledge Sigma Gamma Rho?
I was immediately attracted to Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. based on the rich legacy and focus towards education. As a historically black sorority founded by seven educators at a historically white institution, it clearly represented for me an organization that was willing to push the mark. Even in the most difficult times, our founders trailblazed a path for equality and diversity. What greater way can you be most impactful in the community then through education. Knowledge is truly power! Therefore, there was no other choice for me but Sigma. An illustrious sorority focused on sisterhood, service and scholarship!
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Eta Theta Sigma Alumnae Chapter is unique in that we stand by our chapter slogan of “Excellence Through Sigma”. We are applying this to how we operate as a chapter, in our Soror relationships and representation of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Our chapter has an avenue for each member to learn, grow and shine in the sisterhood; and still embrace their individuality.
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?
Understand your brand is not just about the images you put out there, but how you make people feel. Ask yourself, do the images you put online represent the feeling the community will get when they meet you, come to an event or receive contributions of your service.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership requires one to trust their instincts and abilities while also recognizing the talents and treasures your membership offers towards the overall goal. Leadership is patient, transparent and honest. Most of all leadership requires self-reflection and a desire to always learn. No great leader was made alone, they are the manifestation of those they come in contact with, glean from and lift up along the way.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
There can often be a negative connotation to black greek life. Unfortunately, our accolades never get as much shine as the bad press. Watch the Yard helps to shape the positive narrative that each one of the Divine Nine organizations are working to empower our communities whether by education, civic responsibility or financially.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
For me, sisterhood has meant mentorship and friendship amongst dynamic women, who without the bond of Sigma Gamma Rho I may have never met. There is something truly unique and special about being able to walk into a room full of Sorors; who for anyone else would be a room of strangers, but know for you they represent family.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Dawne Stanton for her work as the Basileus of Sigma Gamma Rho’s Eta Theta Sigma Alumnae Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1990.