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 Beta Lambda Sigma Raleigh Alumnae Chapter in Raleigh, North Carolina and did an interview with Nichole Gladden McCall 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. McCall, who is a Pharmaceutical Marketing Product Manager, has served in the position of Basileus for three years.
We interviewed McCall, who is a Spring 1992 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?
It’s an honor and a privilege to serve as my chapter’s president. I am humbled by the responsibility. The respect I have as my chapter’s leader is not just given, it’s earned. I never lose sight of this. Leadership means nothing if you can’t get people to follow you. They won’t readily follow you if they don’t respect you. Further, my biggest job is to build other leaders. So, I govern myself very carefully appreciating that I have the opportunity to influence my members in a positive or negative way at every interaction.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
Supporting minority businesses builds local economic vitality, uplifts communities, and helps close the racial wealth gap. We started an initiative called the Black-Owned Dine Around Raleigh. We are converging on black-owned restaurants following each of our business meetings and encouraging our local NPHC, family and friends to do the same. We use the hashtag #SGRHODineMob to bring attention to the these efforts. You gotta eat! Why not eat minority owned!
What made you want to pledge Sigma Gamma Rho?
I knew a great deal about the BGLOs before I attended my HBCU. Finding the right fit for me was very important. The ladies of Sigma Gamma Rho showed themselves friendly, approachable, and scholarly (A member was the SGA President when I was a freshman). They exemplified my definition of sisterhood and manifested “My Sister’s Keeper”. Their support of each other was unconditional and unwavering. The chapter’s advisor, whom would later become our International Grand Basileus, mentored many students. Her influence was far reaching. She represented the kind of woman I wanted to be. So while members of my family were in a different organization, I chose Sigma Gamma Rho because I found within it the the inspiration for a fine and true character.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Rapid growth and strategic planning. 5 years ago we had 19 active members. Today we have 100. We developed a strategic plan at the local level to reclaim, retain, and recruit new members. We also set a standard for how we serve, communicate, and execute programs within the community. The commitment of my sorors in this space is nothing short of amazing. It reminds me of the quote from the movie Drumline, “One Band, One Sound”. There is soo much good we can do in the community. To be truly impactful you have to extend the roster. A fist of 5 fingers can strike a mightier blow than just one!
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?
Embrace our millennial and centennials in this space! They have always lived in a digital world. Let them lead in this area so we can broaden our reach. A marketer by profession, the power of video should be embraced. It is exponentially more beneficial than print media. Finally, all of our organizations are deeply rooted in history. Digital yearbooks are a great way to capture and store history for the ages.
What does leadership mean to you?
It’s soo important to appreciate that leadership is not about the title. It’s about impact, influence, and inspiration. As a leader my mantra is to lead with love and love leadership! Those aren’t my words. I learned them from another great leader in my organization. Oh and by the way, never take credit for someone else’s contribution. A smart leader surrounds herself with people who are brighter and smarter than herself. If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. That quote isn’t mine either! Lastly, everyone wants to win, but how you win matters. As the leader of my chapter I always celebrate the win, no matter how small or large. When people are inspired to win to they will want to win more and more.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the Yard is important because it celebrates the great work of BGLOs and our impact on the communities where we live, work, and serve. It represents the very best of us. Our legacy is inseparable from “The Yard” or the college experience. So we must keep our hand on the pulse of what’s happening in our educational systems, especially HBCUs.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
I can’t imagine life without sisterhood, and I wouldn’t want too. It means never having to experience life’s joys or sorrows alone. This is the inheritance of sisterhood. It is being called to something greater than yourself that propels you to become your personal best. When it’s all said and done, we will carry each other out. Literally.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
Besides mentor-ship, we give our undergraduate chapters a stipend to start off each semester of the year. We also support them with attending leadership conferences at the regional and national level. When they transfer immediately to our graduate chapter we discount their local dues. As a further step, a graduate member typically pays those dues as a gift to these transferring members. We know the first few years after college can be challenging financially. The hope is that they get involved and stay involved after graduation. Transitioning undergraduates to graduate life has key to our chapter’s growth.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Nichole Gladden McCall for her work as the Basileus of the Beta Lambda Sigma Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1949.
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