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 Sigma Omicron Zeta Chapter in Gwinnett County, GA and did an interview with Katrina Owens 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. Owens, who is the a financial planning and analysis manager, has served as Basileus for three years.
We interviewed Owens, who is a Spring 1996 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?
I am honored and delighted to serve Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated as the president of the Sensational Sigma Omicron Zeta Chapter of Gwinnett County. To serve as chapter president as our beloved organization prepares to celebrate its Centennial is quite exhilarating. As the sole Zeta Chapter serving the nearly 1 million people of Gwinnett County since 2002, I have the opportunity to lead a group of women in building a legacy of positive community impact. As chapter president I am extremely proud to lead the charge of One Zeta as I network and collaborate with other chapter presidents in the Metro Atlanta area, the great State of Georgia, and the world.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Sigma Omicron Zeta Chapter has a very busy but exciting calendar for our Centennial year! We pride ourselves as being one of the top service organizations in the county. Our partnership with the local March of Dimes organization remains as strong as ever. In 2019, our chapter was the top non-family March for Babies team in the county! Our goal is to exceed our fundraising dollars in 2020 and continue to support mothers and babies within the Gwinnett County area. Sigma Omicron Zeta Chapter is focused on hosting impactful community programming this year. We aim to move the conversation forward around the importance of mental health, an increase in physical activity and heart disease prevention within the African American community. Sigma Omicron Zeta chapter will continue our focus on Gwinnett County youth. Our Adopt A School initiative allows us to increase academic achievement within a Title One school through mentoring, tutoring and supporting the school and administration where needed. Sigma Omicron Zeta chapter supports our county’s growing number of foster children, providing emergency supplies caregivers need to help ensure a smooth transition. We are also excited to continue our tradition of awarding our annual scholarships to deserving senior high school ladies as they begin their journey to college. As the excitement is building in anticipation of our 100-year celebration, we have not forgotten about the upcoming elections. Sigma Omicron Zeta Chapter will remain engaged, routinely attending local council meetings within Gwinnett County to discuss candidates and legislative changes that will impact our communities.
What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?
I attended Wilberforce University, which is one of the oldest historically black colleges and universities in the US and is the home of many single letter undergraduate chapters for the divine nine. What caught my eye were the members of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. actively engaging new students on campus. It really made an impression on me that the sole brother and sister organizations worked together and the love between members as they lovingly called each other frat and soror. That bond is what inspired me to pursue membership into Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
What makes Sigma Omicron Zeta Chapter so unique are its members. The nearly 60-member population is made up of lawyers, nurses, teachers, project manager, IT managers, financial planning & analysis managers, doctors, authors, athletes, and politicians. Our members’ ages range from 23 to 72, all of whom bring innovative thinking, ambition, and a collaborative spirit to every chapter meeting. Sigma Omicron Zeta chapter members are the trailblazers who are elevating the brand with our fresh visual presentations and community responsiveness.
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?
As a graduate chapter, we need to fully embrace social media and social marketing. To effectively increase community reach it is imperative for a local chapter to have a fully functional website and a social media presence. Major sponsors want to see what you are doing in the community. The best way to showcase community service, scholarship recipients, and fundraising efforts is online. Not only should a chapter maintain an online presence, a local chapter needs to understand their website analytics. The analytics will help the chapter understand their website traffic and can provide valuable insights to help the chapter further develop their online representation.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership to me is more than just a title. I believe leadership is an art that comes from your very core. A great leader has the ability to achieve great things by extracting the full potential of the people they influence. An effective leader must be in constant development through a never-ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the Yard is critical to Black Greek Life as it is one of the premiere media companies that positively showcases the black college experience and black Greek professionals. Watch the Yard is also bringing the important conversations online where millions of us visit daily.
What does brotherhood/sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood to me is sharing an unbreakable bond with women who share the same commitment to uphold the principles of Scholarship, Community Service, Sisterhood, and Finer Womanhood. Sisterhood to me is knowing that wherever I travel I can reach out and have a sister to lean on. As sisters we empower, support, respectfully disagree, and most importantly, we LOVE each other.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
Currently, Sigma Omicron Zeta does not sponsor an undergraduate chapter. However, we as a chapter support our undergraduate chapters in our state by participating in their programs and fundraisers. We have also financially sponsored undergraduates at State, Regional, and National Leadership conferences.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Owens for her work as the Basileus of the Sigma Omicron Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 2002.