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Leadership Highlight

Leadership Highlight: Danielle Epps the Basileus of Zeta Phi Beta’s Graduate Chapter in Atlantic City

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the sorority sisters of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.’s Xi Tau Zeta Chapter in
Atlantic City, New Jersey and did an interview with Danielle Epps the president of the chapter.

The position of president of a Black sorority chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Epps, who is a Director, Outreach and Admissions (PDSO) at Rowan College at Burlington County, has served as the Basileus(president) of the chapter for 3 ½ years.

We interviewed Epps, who is a Fall 2003 initiate of the Zeta Lambda Chapter and graduate of Kean University 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 is a position that is to not be taken lightly. It is one where you may have long hours, late nights, stress, and often thankless for the work you do. But this position is one of true reward! It is the ability to lead those that believe in you even when sometimes you don’t. We as presidents are to uphold the principles and guidelines of our organization, be the bearer of information, and guiding light in the dark. This position has truly allowed me the alight my professional experience with my Zeta experience to help me become a stronger leader in my profession and resource for my chapter/sorors.

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

This year has been one of constant change in an unknown environment and our greek organizations have truly had to adjust how we operate quite a bit. For my chapter we have become more grounded on our principle of SERVICE, for a deeper focus on helping others. This year we are focusing on the homelessness and looking to help those in need to provide additional resources for local community partners. Through this work we are looking to ensure we help to provide the basic needs that most of us take for granted to those in need.

What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated was imprinted on my heart at a very young age by my Aunt Gina Merritt-Epps, Esq. (whom I call my “Mom-tie”). She exposed me to the principles of the organization through her tireless efforts in serving Zeta and moreover Xi Tau Zeta Chapter. I was able to see the true definition of the lifelong commitment to serve, lead, and continuously learn about an organization that the sisterhood was truly unmatched. As a leader of that very chapter (where she served as president too) I strive to do my best to live up to the great example my Aunt has been to me and so many more. I hope I make her proud as I am honored to be her legacy!

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

My chapter is the graduate chapter serving the greater Atlantic City area, which is a small tourist town with big city dynamics. We have 17 members and though this may not be large we are mighty in one thing, sisterhood. Our chapter has a dynamic group of women (in experience, professions and age) who truly respect, admire, and love each other. I see them always showing support and looking to help each other no matter what. It is truly unique to see women who truly just enjoy being around each other no matter the work or project and to always be sisterly. To me it is inspiring as I know being apart of organizations can be a challenge but to see it work and flourish is simply amazing.

We now live in a digital world, what do you think alumni chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2021?

As the digital world advances our organizations need to do so by stepping away from what we are comfortable with and moving into uncharted territories. We typically are used to marketing through email, print or word of mouth but we need to begin to use digital marketing to promote our events/orgs. Use of digital marketing campaigns like Facebook/Instagram ads are a great opportunity for us to broaden our reach beyond our traditional audiences. It allows us to gain the attention of others who may not have known who we are and what we do to have a better understanding. With most people home, or working remote many more are on the computer / phone much more and we need to ensure our events/orgs are coming up on their timelines and feeds!

How is your chapter adapting to navigate the pandemic?

As we know the pandemic has truly all been trying on our organizations going from in-person operations to fully remote overnight, our chapter is no different. We have tried to use this time to transition in ways that streamline areas of inefficiencies. Such as moving to a condensed reporting presentation that allows the presenter to present the pertinent information and leave the details in the written report. In the past we would focus on the full details of the reports which would cause meetings to be lengthier. Thus through this change it has allowed us to reduce our meeting time and the engagement of the members has increased with an improved attendance rate for monthly meetings.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership to me is not about position or title (as most leadership positions are powerless) but it is the ability to listen, develop, motivate and inspire those whom you work with.

– LISTEN to what people are saying as give them a safe space to speak their truth.
– DEVELOP others by sharing your knowledge and skills with others so they can learn them.
– MOTIVATE by building enthusiasm and excitement to want to serve.
– INSPIRE others to strive for the best versions of themselves they may not always see.

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

Black greekdom is one of the most misunderstood and underrated communities within the United States. We are organizations consisting of leaders in all industries throughout this country where many we interact with may not even know we are apart of them. This year we have seen our organizations gather more notoriety and Watch the Yard has been at the forefront of this movement. You are showcasing the stories of the unsung heroes who are doing the work on the ground level and helping the voiceless or the unknown. Your ability to spotlight and shine those who serve because they truly to be of service is one that helps to share this message and inspires others to get out and do the same!

What does sisterhood/brotherhood mean to you?

Brotherhood/Sisterhood is a bond that is unbreakable will always continue to make our organizations thrive. It provides a sense of accountability and dependability on each other to help reach our organizations individual and collective goals. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. is truly special as we share a constitutionally bound with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and this foundation is truly one is embedded by our founders in how we support and collaborate with each other in doing the work of our principles.

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

Our chapter has the pleasure of supporting Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.’s Phi Mu Chapter of Stockton University as the sponsoring graduate chapter. The ability to guide our undergraduates is very near and dear to our chapter as they truly are the future of our organization. We strive to provide them not only the guidance and support but to instill a deeper understanding of the principles of scholarship, service, sisterhood, and finer womanhood in them. Through this pandemic we have increased our level of communication with our collegiate members to ensure they are supported more in-depth in their mind, body and spirit with sorors of our chapter lending their professional talents and resources to them.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Danielle Epps for her work as the president of
Xi Tau Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to April 29, 1990.

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