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Leadership Highlight

Leadership Highlight: Dr. Ebony Coney the Basileus of Zeta Phi Beta’s Upsilon Alpha Zeta Chapter in Florida

Photo Credit: Xavier Harrington

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 Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.’s Upsilon Alpha Zeta Chapter in Miramar/Pembroke Pines, Florida and did an interview with Dr. Ebony Coney 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. Dr. Coney, who is a psychologist, is a newly elected Basileus as of 2019.

We interviewed Dr. Coney, who is a 2000 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?

To represent and lead a group of FINER women, who I admire, love, learned from, and respect is a priceless opportunity. As we resplendently stroll in royal blue and white into our milestone CENTENNIAL celebration and 15th Anniversary, it is truly an honor and privilege to serve as the newly elected Basileus of Upsilon Alpha Zeta chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, which was chartered on December 18, 2004 in Miramar/Pembroke Pines, Florida. Throughout my membership in this chapter, I have had the opportunity to learn, grow, serve, and bond with my sisters. I have held elected and appointed positions which have equipped me with the necessary skills to lead this amazing chapter. Additionally, my accomplishments are evident of my hard work, dependability, passion, and commitment. A formidable foundation has been laid and it a blessing to take the baton and lead us to 2020 and beyond.

Photo Credit: Xavier Harrington

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

We are an award winning chapter and pride ourselves on making a difference in the lives of others. As a community conscious, action oriented organization, Upsilon Alpha Zeta chapter adheres to our sorority’s service projects through our Zetas Helping Other People Excel (Z-HOPE) initiative with robust programs under Adopt-A-School, Social Action, and Elder Care. We will continue to meet the needs of students at our adopted school, Lenora B. Smith Elementary by donating school supplies, providing food and toys during the holidays, and participating in academic programs. The chapter has a consistent presence at the Alexander Nininger Veterans State Nursing Home delivering cards, baked goods, toiletries, and needed items. Upsilon Alpha Zeta also volunteers their time at the facility assisting with special holiday programs and events to help residents enjoy their stay. It is important to maintain a relationship with one of our most vulnerable populations. On the social action front, the chapter is committed to the grassroots mobilization of voter registration initiatives by partnering with the local NAACP and other state sponsored programs. Most recently, Upsilon Alpha Zeta was part of a series of registration drives in the local community as part of a larger initiative by the Starbucks company. Whether through a Hurricane Dorian relief drive, The Miramar Mayor’s 3k and Health Fair, or taking parts in walks for March of Dimes, Relay for Life and a variety of other organizations, Upsilon Alpha Zeta chapter keeps busy. Upsilon Alpha Zeta sets the bar high by focusing on the needs of the local community and beyond and putting in the work that makes a difference. Upsilon Alpha Zeta always thinks Z-HOPE!

What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?

As the first in my family to attend college, I was unfamiliar with Greek life. At Hampton University, much of my freshmen year was spent in the chemistry lab or library. There were many individuals that I had come across that shared their interests and made suggestions related to what I should pledge. I attended “Meet the Greeks” and spent time on the campus observing and attending various events. The sisterly love, commitment to service, authenticity, and welcoming spirit of the Zetas were unmatched. I knew Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated was for me and still the best decision I have ever made.

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

I am sure that every chapter defines themselves as unique. Well, Upsilon Alpha Zeta chapter is unique and transformative! We are a diverse chapter, each bringing a different piece of the puzzle to make the picture complete. We are multi-faceted and cannot be put in a box. We encompass different states, islands, and countries; HBCUs and PWIs; and we have a wide range of professional in our chapter. We enjoy being around each other and trying new adventures together. We are the “doers” who are commonly referred to as the Ladies in Blues. Those in the community that we serve, know that we are going to show up and handle the business whether they call us a month in advance or an hour in advance. We are UNSTOPPABLE women who get the job done no matter what.

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?

It is one thing to hear about us, but the digital world allows the world to see us. We are no longer limited in our reach. It is a great opportunity for alumni chapters to showcase community service projects, promote events, network, and highlight their respective organizations in the best way. We also have a chance to see what other chapters and organizations are doing. Upsilon Alpha Zeta is highly active in the digital world through our social media and website, which has resulted in donations, partnerships, and positive feedback.

What does leadership mean to you?

Someone in leadership possesses the ability to motivate and inspire others through direction and purpose. Leadership is about actions and these actions contribute to the influence and responsiveness of others. Leadership is comprised of walking the walk and being an example. It involves trust and effective communication. How can one follow someone that he or she does not trust or fails to communicate? Leadership includes the ability to bring about clarity and focus while also understanding the perspective of others who may agree or disagree. Leadership is vital because it can contribute to the advancement or decline of an organization. To be a good leader, you must have been an effective follower.

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

Watch The Yard is important to the advancement and depiction of Black greekdom. The spirit of greek unity is embodied as well as the accomplishments of undergraduate and graduate chapters of the Divine 9. I appreciate Watch The Yard for using their platform to celebrate and promote all the wonderful things that Black greekdom is doing.

What does sisterhood mean to you?

Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated has four principles. Sisterhood is my favorite. Growing up as an only child and a now a member of a sorority, I have learned the value of true sisterhood and formed lifelong bonds. It is a beautiful thing and my appreciation of sisterhood has deepened over the years. In my pursuit of higher education, I have relocated to different states and I was never alone. When I reached out, my sisters answered the call. When my life transitioned from carefree to caregiver, my sisters were there to assist or to simply help me indulge in me-time. As life happens, we are there to celebrate the good times, lift one another during hard times, and carry each other during fallen times. My sorors are my sisters – my family! I can go anywhere in the world and still have my sisters with me. “Sisterhood is the heart of it all.”

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

Upsilon Alpha Zeta does not sponsor an undergraduate chapter; however, we do support the undergraduate chapters in local area by attending events and donating to their initiatives. We are also active with our undergraduate alumni chapters.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Dr. Ebony Coney for her work as the Basileus of the Upsilon Alpha Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 2004.

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