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Leadership Highlight

Leadership Highlight: Fenicia Jacks the Basileus of Zeta Phi Beta’s Graduate Chapter in San Francisco

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 Delta Delta Zeta Chapter in
San Francisco and did an interview with Fenicia A. Jacks 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. Jacks, who is a Social Worker for the San Francisco Unified School District supporting the High School Wellness Programs, has served as the president of the chapter for 6 years.

Chloe Jackman Photography // @chloejackmanphotos

We interviewed Jacks, who is a Spring 2000 Nu Mu Chapter initiate from San Francisco State 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 the chapter president is leading by example. I can’t ask my chapter members to do things that I’m not willing to do myself. It is important for me to have a good understanding of my chapter members’ strengths and how I could support their growth in Zeta while providing leadership opportunities.

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

Our chapter’s focus is on the mind, body, and spirit by specifically focusing on 4 specific initiatives that will help our community. Our Storks Nest program is designed to promote prenatal care participation and encourage healthy behaviors during pregnancy through two components-incentives and education. Stork’s Nest clients “earn” points toward incentives such as maternity or baby care items through a variety of positive, health-promoting activities: attending prenatal visits, participating in prenatal education classes, stopping at-risk behaviors such as smoking cigarettes and consuming alcoholic beverages, reducing stress, etc.

Since March of last year, we have hosted 8 virtual Wellness Wednesday Events, which included Yoga, Hip Hop, and Afro-Fusion Dance via Zoom. Our chapter will continue these events this year. During the Holidays, our chapter partners with First Baptist Church in San Francisco to provide families at our Adopt-a-School with a family game and snack basket for the holidays.

In addition, thanks to a financial donation from FibroGen Inc., we were able to provide 50 families with a $50 gift card for groceries. Last year my chapter began collecting monetary donations for our Domestic Violence Programmatic Initiative. We partnered with the Riley Center in San Francisco by adopting a room and donating new bedding, paintings, and supplies for decorations.

What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?

I joined Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated at San Francisco State University because of the sisterly bond that I saw the women on my campus have. Furthermore, how they exhibited the principles of Scholarship, Service, and Finer Womanhood. While the other organizations were passing out flyers to parties the Zetas were passing out flyers to attend the chapter’s monthly community services at Jefferson Park in Oakland to feed the homeless, and I was impressed by that. I knew this would be the right choice, and after 20 years it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made.

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

My chapter has been serving San Francisco since May 14, 1949. We are dedicated to serving the Bayview/Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley, and the Western Addition areas of San Francisco.

On June 25, 2019, The First Black Woman Mayor of San Francisco, London Breed, declared it to be Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. Delta Delta Zeta Chapter Day in San Francisco, Ca. We are the first Black Greek organization in San Francisco to have this declared. Each year going forward, we will be recognized for the uninterrupted service and love we pledge to this beautiful city by the bay.

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?

All alumni chapters across all organizations, need to convert to doing more things digital. There are various groups out there that help free of charge to train those who may not have as much experience in the technical world as others. Sororities and Fraternities within their own chapters can spend a little time going over these things with their members and the chapter’s executive board. Living in a digital world will help all chapters expand their reach and ability to service a wider audience.

How is your chapter adapting to navigate the pandemic?

Starting in February 2020, my chapter started having chapter meetings on Zoom. We started thinking of how we were going to continue the work of Zeta. In March, we began to have virtual events via Instagram Live, and Zoom. We have currently hosted eight Wellness Wednesday events to help provide a physical and mental outlet through yoga, dance, and meditation. We have also tried to focus on supporting the families and educators at our adopted school, John Muir Elementary in San Francisco. Through our partnership with the school, we have been able to virtually read to students, provide financial assistance for groceries, and PPE kits.

What does leadership mean to you?

A leader is someone you can look up to and be proud to follow. Their accomplishments are inspiring, and push you to want to do what they do. Leadership is the ability to lead and guide a team, motivating, and inspiring individuals to get them to where they need to be. A leader is being able to make the hard decisions that benefit everyone not just themselves or a small group.

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

Watch The Yard is important to Black Greekdom due to the simple fact of what it portrays. A well-known way for all of us to convene for videos, photos, and updates with what’s going on around the country for each organization and campus communities. Between the Covid-19 pandemic, Social Justice Issues, and just the world we currently reside in, it helps to have an outlet and see what different organizations are doing to continue the legacies of Sisterhood, Brotherhood, Community Service, and Scholarship.

Chloe Jackman Photography // @chloejackmanphotos

What does sisterhood mean to you?

Sisterhood to me means unconditional love. Throughout life, you have so many people come and go, but sisters remain. Not only do I have this relationship with my own younger sister, but I also have these types of relationships with my Sorors. Many of us have been around each other since our college days, we have grown together in countless ways, and we have seen each other at our worst and at our best as we strive for more. No matter the disagreements we have, the underlying love we have for one another always shines through. Deep loving relationships with other women are a form of intimacy that causes our energy to shift, in a way that lessens the burdens of everyday life… Built on positivity, honesty, trust, and love: we can always find solace in our sisters, and we know we are not alone.

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

Undergraduate advisory committee members from our chapter attend all their events on or off-campus, sisterhood retreats, financial support for conferences, and other needs as they come up. We also require them to come to out monthly meeting at least once semester to fellowship with graduate chapter members. Members of the undergraduate executive board are paired with members of graduate chapter executive board to provide support and professional development. This past year we have helped to encourage our sponsoring undergraduate chapter by encouraging the chapter to adapt previous in-person events virtually and to partner with other organizations such as the Black Student Union and SFSU Sister Sister Club.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Fenicia Jacks for her work as the president of
Delta Delta Zeta Chapter which has a long legacy that spans back to 1949.

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