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Leadership Highlight: Denise Johnson the Basileus of Sigma Gamma Rho’s Delta Omicron Sigma Alumnae Chapter in Ohio

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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 Delta Omicron Sigma Alumnae Chapter in Columbus, Athens and Wilmington, Ohio and did an interview with Denise Johnson 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. Johnson, who is a Compliance Director at Nationwide Insurance Company, has served in the position of Basileus for one year.

We interviewed Johnson, who is a 2016 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?

Being a chapter president means leading your chapter to greatness by defining the chapter’s vision and goals, while keeping them aligned with the mission and values of the national organization. It also means leading by example, which creates higher engagement and higher quality work. It’s hard work and requires taking on many managerial roles behind the scenes to ensure that the chapter runs smoothly and is successful.

What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?

It’s Our Vision to create a culture that supports sisterhood, empowering women to lead and positively impact our communities through intentional service and activities. This year Delta Omicron Sigma chapter will focus on “Making an Impact” in our community by partnering with the Dowd Education Center/The Homeless Families Foundation. This Center supports 85 students in their after-school education program and 90 children that are homeless or moving back into their own family home. Chapter members will be volunteering at the Dowd Center in the following ways; being reading mentors at their after-school program, hosting leadership discussion groups with their teen outreach program, volunteering at various center activities, and hosting our chapter national service initiatives from this center.

What made you want to pledge Sigma Gamma Rho?

It was my desire to make a difference in my community and continue to do the work on behalf of an organization. I attended a few functions sponsored by Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. DOS Chapter, where I was impressed by their community service work and sisterly relationships. My passion for people and willingness to serve, aligns to Sigma Gamma Rho’s Sorority motto “Greater Service, Greater Progress” which made it a perfect fit for me.

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

What makes Delta Omicron Sigma Alumnae chapter unique is we’re the oldest chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority in Columbus, Ohio; being chartered 44 years ago on July 20, 1975. Our membership consists of 44 professional women, that are Educators, Doctors, an Attorney, Social Workers, Directors, Consultants and more. Our chapter is also known as #DOSProud because we’re proud of the legacy of service, hard work and branding we’ve established over the years. We’re also known as the chapter that wears a hint of cheetah print to our chapter attire.

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?

As an organization, we need to use social media to highlight the great work we’re doing in our communities for the world to see. Delta Omicron Sigma Chapter has done a great job of using our social media sites to share pictures of our chapter in action performing community service work, flyers of our upcoming service events, and highlighting awards/recognitions given to various chapter members. Sharing information this information online has increased our social media presence, brand recognition, and interest in our chapter.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership is having the capacity to influence others through inspiration motivated by passion, vision, and purpose. Being a leader is can be a rewarding experience, but it also means facing a host of anticipated and unexpected challenges. Learning how to respond to challenges and deal with difficult situations will allow you to become an effective leader.

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

Watch The Yard represents the great work of the D9 organizations and the black college experience. I think it’s important that the world can see a positive example of Black Greeks and that we represent the legacy of our founder’s and the vision they set for us. It’s also a great resource for individuals that are interested in following the Greek Black college experience.

What does brotherhood/sisterhood mean to you?

Sisterhood is a bond between women who share common goals and values. Sisterhood is not a bond that happens overnight; just like forming a friendship, it takes time and effort. However, sisterhood is one of the most rewarding aspects of sorority membership. Sorority membership is for a lifetime, and there is nothing greater than the unconditional and lifetime bonds of sisterhood.

Photo Credit: Cocoa & Co Photography

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

Delta Omicron Sigma Alumnae Chapter advises 3 undergraduate chapters Delta Phi (The Ohio State University), Eta Psi Chapter (Ohio University), and Tau Omicron Chapter (Wilmington College) in the following ways:

– Showing our support by attending their programs on campus.

– Actively involved with the campus NPHC and Student Life Administration.

– Model financial expectations and benefits of transferring their membership over to the graduate chapter upon graduation.

– Applaud their academic success.

– Include them in graduate chapter activities.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Denise Johnson for her work as the Basileus of the Delta Omicron Sigma Alumnae Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1975.

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