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Leadership Highlight

Leadership Highlight: Jeanetta Ellison the Basileus of Zeta Phi Beta in the San Fernando Valley

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 Nu Omicron Zeta in the San Fernando Valley and did an interview with Jeanetta Ellison 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. Ellison, who works as a special education teacher, has served as Basileus for two years.

We interviewed Ellison, who is a Spring 2003 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?

Being a chapter president is the epitome of servant leadership. Running for office during our centennial year was important to me, because I wanted to be able to make an impact and position my chapter to reach its full potential.

Being a Basileus requires you to lead by example and with empathy. I hope that my actions are seen and reciprocated by my chapter; empowering them to the do same in Zeta and in other areas of their lives. While leadership requires work, it requires empathy as well. I believe a good leader is someone who “sees” their members, and when allowed to sit with them and walk through life with them, it’s a hard task, but I take it with stride and pride.

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

Our mission to improve our surrounding community is driven by focusing on collaborating with like-minded organizations and youth focus programming. I believe collaboration is key to impact. “If you want to go somewhere fast, go alone. But if you want to go further, go together.” By collaborating with local NPHC groups and other community-based groups, we can service a wider demographic and reach more people in our community. These actions in turn will serve the greater good. Being an educator, youth are my passion. Therefore, we have three youth groups that we sponsor. We are working to help meet some of the needs of a local elementary school by donating supplies and sponsoring various cultural activities to help educate our youth.

What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?

As a high school student, I developed an interest in Black Greek-Lettered Organizations. When I attended college, I searched for a Sorority that I believed would be a god fit for me and align with principles. After much research, I discovered that Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., was the only choice for me.

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

Nu Omicron Zeta is a chapter located in an area where there is a small African American population. Our chapter consists of vibrant young professional women whose average age is 27 years old. We are young, engaged and mighty chapter impacting change in our communities.

As a chapter we sponsor three youth groups. One of our primary initiatives is to make sure that they see people who look like them doing amazing things and providing them multiple opportunities to interact with these individuals.

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 imperative that we are present in the digital world. As the basileus I am involved in helping our social media committee create content and actively engage with our followers. I ensure that we have accounts on all social media platforms. Chapters should interact and publicize themselves on social media. Chapters should focus on creating their brand and post daily, if possible, to encourage online interaction and engagement. Engaging and supporting different media outlets, like Watch the Yard is important to our growth and social presence. It’s a new world and we must make sure to stay tuned in.

What does leadership mean to you?

I touched on this a little in an earlier question. But to elaborate, leadership means to have vision, to be resilient and to have the ability to influence. In order to lead, you need to have vision…a direction as to where you are trying to go. Secondly, you need to be resilient.  You must be willing to walk the talk and take the road less traveled to get to the end goal. Lastly, you must have people to follow you, otherwise who are you leading? Having influence to encourage people to follow you and trust your vision is the only way to move the chapter forward in meeting the set goals.

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

It keeps us informed and allows us to say connected. I often hear about the achievements of the Greek community through Watch the Yard. They provide lucrative information, as well as entertainment. Having a site that is positive and open to all Greeks is a true jewel.

What does sisterhood mean to you?

Sisterhood means to support, encourage, uplift, provide and receive sisterly correction and be there in their time of need. It means to love each other and have authentic relationships. Lastly, sisterhood means giving of oneself to support another sister. I always say, “If it isn’t sacrificial, it’s artificial”. 

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

We attend all meetings and events. We provide mentorship and sponsorship for all sorority related activities. We help guide them as they transition out of undergrad and prepare them for graduate work.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Jeanetta Ellison for her work as the Basileus of the Nu Omicron Zeta which has a legacy that spans back to 1987.

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