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 Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.’s Kappa Beta Sigma Chapter in Brooklyn, New York(aka “The Brooklyn Sigmas”) and did an interview with Clifford Mondesir the President of the chapter.
The position of president of a Black fraternity chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Clifford Mondesir, who works as a Executive Director in Higher Education, has been in the position of President for 2 years.
We interviewed Mondesir, who is a Fall 2002 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?
The driving force in becoming an alumni Chapter President was the challenge of being more than someone who just talks about the things they would like to bring to the table and actually being a changemaker. The support from Brothers that once led the chapter encouraged this Flatbush kid who started in a humble undergrad chapter, called Xi Epsilon “The House”. Their faith that I could one day lead them was motivation to say the least. From late night roundtable conversations with multiple chapters, to leadership conversations on the alumni level about what we need to do and can do when we gain the ability to enact change in our communities with the proper guidance and support seemed like a dream come true. Transferring into an Alumni Chapter with such a rich history and strong will while being able to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who came before me to lead the future of “The Brooklyn Sigmas” was a mission worth taking action on.
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?
The Brooklyn Sigmas have multiple initiatives that service the local and broader community.
1) Bigger and Better Business: We created the Luc Severe Small Business Grant which is an annual grant geared towards providing financial relief for certified Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE).
2) Social Action: We launch a Holiday campaign starting with providing meals to the less fortunate for Thanksgiving in partnership with neighborhood schools and God’s Love Delivers. We continue our Brooklyn Sigma Holiday campaign by hosting a Toy Raising Party, Bedstuy YMCA giveaway, SCO Family of Service Holiday Spectacular, Fatherhood Academy with Kingsborough Community College, and volunteering with District 45 of Brooklyn Holiday Special.
3) Education: Back to School Block Party with District 45 of Brooklyn with community partners. Our Annual Hutson Lovell Scholarship distribution, along with our nonprofit the K B S Foundation Limited, awards graduating male Brooklyn High School Seniors of Color.
4) Sigma Beta Club: Mentorship, Robotics Club, and Recycle 4 Education.
What made you want to pledge Phi Beta Sigma?
By the time I was ready to join an organization I held the second highest position within the student body/student government on the campus. I looked for an organization that shared my similar ideals, goals, and commitment to hard work. I did the necessary research on each fraternal organization while attending and interacting with the brothers that appeared on campus. There was one particular organization whose openness and honesty on what the organization has done for them, as well as how they felt about the members in the organization that captured my interest. As I continued to interact with these Brothers, you can hear the Brotherhood that resonated between them with every discussion. This level of camaraderie was unexpected and since then my decision was made. I was locked in and knew that this Fraternity was the one for me. I am currently a proud Life Member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Kappa Beta Sigma also has the honor of having three past International Presidents, Honorable Bro. Hutson L. Lovell, Esq. our 16th Past, Honorable Bro. Peter M. Adams, Esq. our 30th Past and Honorable Bro. Jonathan A. Mason, Sr. our 34th and Immediate Past International President. Past distinguished members include Honorable Bro. William E. Doar, Jr., Past National Executive Director, Honorable Bro. Dr. Gilbert H. Francis, Past Distinguished Service Chapter President and Past President of National Pan-Hellenic Council, Honorable Bro. Richard E. Alleyne, National Auditor and Honorable Bro. Sydney Moshette Jr., 2005 Distinguished Service Chapter inductee, just to name a few. Kappa Beta Sigma has had countless brothers that have held various State, Regional and International positions throughout our 90 years of existence including our current New York State Director position.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
We have established an Advisory Network for all our Collegiate Chapters, where two advisors are assigned per campus. Our undergraduate Chapters consist of Beta Lambda of Brooklyn College, Xi Epsilon of Long Island University, and Alpha Alpha Phi of Medgar Edgar College. We also support the National and Regional Conference attendance for the undergraduates. Lastly, we conduct Alumni-Collegiate dialogue sessions to aid in free flowing and most importantly consistent conversations.
How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?
LISTENING. I think many times the best thing a Brother can have is an empathetic ear. This allows us to relate to the Brothers from various places in life and identify the commonality among us all. Once that commonality is identified, we encourage the different viewpoints to interact. Most times the most common solutions for fellowships are often the most simple and effective ways to foster unity.
What advice would you give to aspiring leaders within your fraternity/sorority who may aspire to take on roles of leadership within alumni chapters?
Don’t sell yourself short because you have never seen someone from where you come from make it, don’t be afraid to be the first. There are tons of people that live by the should have could have would have mantra. Don’t let your story be defined by others or even worse be passed up because you didn’t want to take a real shot at it. You will face ups, downs, wins, and losses, so be prepared to not only learn from each but to build from them.
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?
Absolutely. Whether the mentorship has been in an official or an unofficial capacity it has helped shape and continues to shape me. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank past leadership in my Alumni Chapter who I often have dialogue on everything from event coordination, organizational leadership, governance, and even some on the editing of the agenda for the meeting. All welcomed advice as it allows me to take my game to the next level. Life lessons have been a consistent experience with my undergraduate Prophytes while all the Brothers that came in after undergraduate and graduate alike serve as an inspiration, even to this day.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch The Yard amplifies the voices, accessibility, and experience of Black Greekdom. It allows Greeks and Non-Greeks into a world that we collectively find so important and dedicate our time to. Whether it is seeing the next generation come in to fold, organizational milestones, or just some wholesome competition. It brings a well rounded perspective to unknown areas you don’t usually see on entertainment programming.
Looking back at it, why do you love being a member of your org?
I love being able to impact my community in ways I never thought possible. I love that since becoming a member, I’ve never gone through any major life moments where someone from Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. wasn’t there.
Lastly, what does brotherhood mean to you?
Brotherhood, is the responsibility and awareness to be there for one another on all levels. Not just the good or the easy times ,but the difficult times as well. The times where you are tired, the times where you may be fighting, the times where you may feel unappreciated are the times you need your Brothers the most. Brotherhood is being that UNBREAKABLE cord that ties you to your Brothers and your Brothers to you.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Clifford Mondesir for his work as the President of the Kappa Beta Sigma Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1928.
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