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Leadership Highlight

Leadership Highlight: Darkesha Moton the President of Zeta Phi Beta’s Graduate Chapter in Laurel, MD

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 Tau Delta Zeta Chapter in Laurel, Maryland and did an interview with Darkesha Moton the Basileus(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. Moton, who is a Human Resources & Management professional working for the federal government, has served as the president of the chapter since June 2020.

We interviewed Moton, who is a Spring 2012 initiate from The Pennsylvania State University – Harrisburg and a Life Member of the 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 being selfless enough to give my all to my members, chapter, community, and fellow Greeks. Being a chapter president is more than being the face and voice of the chapter, it means having a strong back bone to carry the weight of the chapter and it’s membership at all times; being an ear to listen; providing creative ideas and recommendations; and setting the tone for how the chapter should operate. I strongly believe being a chapter president provides a platform to make great and positive change internally and externally, by either helping others develop as leaders or providing a service to those in need. Service is embodied by the president and exemplifying that all times is what makes a great president in a sorority.

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

TDZ has been very committed to social action during this critical election year. We sent postcards to registered voters to get out the vote across the states and to support the Georgia Runoff. We also volunteered at the polls on election day by giving snacks to those who were in line to vote.

We have a newly formed non-profit entity, the Distinguished Pearls Foundation that has partnered with a member of the City Council to support seniors during the pandemic. We have also recognized essential workers by delivering meals to them.

We have an event upcoming that will address domestic violence. This is very important as the numbers have increased during the pandemic. Domestic Violence is also one of Zeta’s international programs. The chapter has expanded mentorship of youth and now has auxiliaries that support girls between ages 4 and 18. We feel that keeping them engaged in healthy activities is very important as they struggle to adapt to the current national norm.

What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?

As I got older, I witnessed Greek- Lettered Organizations in the community and I saw the service they provided, but never knew much about what their principles were. When I got to college, I attended a “Meet the Greeks” event, and I just went around the room and read about all of the Sororities, and introduced myself to the ladies that were there. When I reached the table of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. the energy in the room shifted and I knew “they” were the ones for me. I felt welcomed, informed and ready to learn more. I began my in-depth research and knew in my heart I embodied Scholarship, Service, Sisterhood, and Finer Womanhood. I started supporting events and observing how things were done in the community and I knew I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to serving especially with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Pledging Zeta was one of my best decisions and I am forever grateful to my dear sorors who has been supporting me ever since.

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

In TDZ, we say “TDZ is the Place to Be”; and that saying has become who we are. Our motto is to “Expand and Serve” and the only way we can do those things is if we take Zeta and put her into action. My chapter is quick to come together to brainstorm and execute premier events and service projects in the community. We strive in building partnerships through collaboration in order to reach women and youth in our area. TDZ is committed to being transparent and willing to step up when there is a need. The members of TDZ are a diverse group of Zeta women who bring their various areas of expertise to the chapter. They make Zeta and our community better. Sorors are also willing to teach and mentor newer members, which increases confidence. We are also intentional about positively reflecting Zeta’s image.

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?

Chapters should take this time to re-evaluate their public appearance and appoint members who are technology savvy into roles that can thrive in a digital world. Chapters should make use of this time to review budgets and identify line items that are no longer needed now or in the future when we go back to normal. This time should have provided an opportunity for all chapters to realize that money doesn’t always have to be spent to operate. The last thing I would recommend is having a committee dedicated to posting on all social media platforms, including YouTube to help grow their virtual audiences.

How is your chapter adapting to navigate the pandemic?

Tau Delta Zeta is thriving while navigating in the pandemic. From the Executive Board to the members, we all have come together to support each other in times of need, doing car parades, participating in safe and sisterly outings, and spending more time checking in. We are also taking this time to re-educate ourselves by hosting and attending training to ensure we have all of the tools to function virtually while in the pandemic and still reach and impact the community. We limit the number of sorors who may attend in person service projects, but we still make a great impact with all that we do. As a new Basileus and during a pandemic, it has been rewarding because it provided me an opportunity to learn and grow at my own pace and to make this experience my own.

What does leadership mean to you?

I consider myself a Servant Leader, because it’s never about me, and I don’t lead for clout. Servant Leadership focuses on others and their needs, as well as helping them to grow in different ways. To me leadership means leading by example, listening to others wants and needs, making rational and smart decisions, and not being power hungry. Leadership should be about motivating and encouraging others to succeed and never about pushing anyone down. I also think leadership means giving others a safe space to learn and thrive to reach new heights. With a 2020-2021 theme and vision to T.H.R.I.V.E., I encourage my members to become a part of the Transformation of where TDZ is going, Honor our Founders by exemplifying all principles, Raising awareness in the community, Innovate through technology, be Vested through their membership, and Educate in order to grow for themselves in the sisterhood.

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

Watch the Yard is important to Black Greekdom, because it’s a platform that unifies all Black Greek-Lettered organizations to promote and highlight all achievements without the extra backlash from regular social media platforms. Greeks can visit Watch The Yard for ideas, a good read, and/or a time to reflect on past events through videos. It’s so important to have Watch The Yard because it influences us in so many ways. This platform also shows the Divine Nine in a positive light.

What does sisterhood mean to you?

I define sisterhood as loyalty, patience, support, and understanding. Everyone knows the saying “I am my sisters’ keeper” but when I say it, I mean it. As sisters and as women, there will always be ups and downs, but as long as the aforementioned characteristics are there, then nothing will come between sisters. I am committed to being loyal in this sisterhood and building bonds that can never be broken.

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

TDZ does not sponsor an undergraduate chapter. However, we do have three Zeta Youth Affiliate Groups, Pearlettes, Amicettes, and Archonettes, that we sponsor and support. We currently have 51 young ladies across all three groups that we invest time in by teaching leadership skills, public speaking through Toastmasters, and encouraging service projects just the same. We have a little sister/big sister program, where Sorors of TDZ provide direct support to an assigned Archonette.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Darkesha Moton for her work as the president of
the Tau Delta Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to April 10, 2003. .

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