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 Eta Zeta Chapter in Baltimore, Maryland and did an interview with La’Shelle D. Page the 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. Page, who works as a Public Health Advisor, US Dept. of Health and Human Services, has been in the position of president for a few months.
We interviewed Page, who is a Tau Eta Zeta Chapter, Baltimore Maryland, Spring 2009 initiate of Zeta Phi Beta 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 motivated you to take on the role of alumni chapter president?
It’s an amazing thing when others believe in you even when you don’t quite believe in yourself yet. In the beginning of my Zeta journey, I was just trying not to “mess up” too badly, earn the respect of my Sorors, and find my niche. When you begin finding and committing to the things that bring passion and purpose, the talents and abilities begin to shine through. Several prominent women in the organization that I honor and respect, saw that and begin charting a course that I wasn’t aware was available to me. These women spoke success and leadership over my life in a way that challenged my thinking of what was possible. I could really do this!
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the local community or the broader Black community?
Tau Eta Zeta Chapter has termed those initiatives of significance and longevity as our “signature” programs:
○ Domestic Violence: this one is personal! Over the short 20 year existence of our Chapter, three of our Chapter Sorors have succumb to domestic violence. The most recent this past July 2023. There is no way that domestic violence and gun violence are not top priority for us moving forward. Our programming will be educational, social, and financial. I’m charging each committee in the Chapter to infuse Domestic Violence into their programming, whether community service related or not. We do this to help prevent another tragedy and to honor our Sorors who’s names we will always speak: Triumphant Soror Sharon K. Harvey, Triumphant Soror Nichelle Scarborough, Triumphant Soror Cynceray Washington-Greene!
○ Heart for the Homeless: Heart for the Homeless is a program that Tau Eta Zeta has become known for and that our community has come to expect. Different Chapters of various organizations come out to support and lend their time as we feed, clothe and pour into the spirits of Baltimore’s unhoused population. It is one of our largest and most well attended activities.
○ Mental Health: We need our communities and our Sorors whole. Our goal is to incorporate mental health across the spectrum of our internal and external activities.
○ Social Action: One of my goals as President is our Chapter’s presence not only within the community, but within the halls and room of decision makers. We want to be “in the room where it happens” with our “seat at the table.” Members within the past week received voter registration training and are actively researching our local legislative calendars to ensure our voices are heard.
○ The Sharon K. Harvey Memorial Foundation: Our foundation is the 501(c)(3) arm of our Chapter and we are honored and privileged to be able to provide scholarship opportunities to deserving Baltimore City students and member our our Chapter’s Youth Auxiliaries.
What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?
I was blessed and fortunate enough to matriculate through and receive my Undergraduate Degree from Howard University, birthplace to 5 of the Divine 9. It was the education of a lifetime in so many profound ways. During my first two years, three of the four Divine 9 Sororities had a presence on campus, some larger than others. It wouldn’t be until my Junior year that the fourth would return, rounding out the Divine 9 Sororities on Howard’s campus. Some non-Divine 9 Sororities and Fraternities were making their presence known and growing their respective memberships as well. It seemed like everyone wanted to be “something” and knew exactly what that was. They had plans, knowledge, and for some a lineage that I just didn’t have. I was one of the first in my family to attend college. There was so much I didn’t know. Then, there were the ladies in Blue! A smaller group of women, who I’m sure at that time had just become members of the organization themselves, who were ALWAYS together. They flowed like water. From dropping each other off at class, meet ups on the yard, I just always seemed to notice “them” and I wanted to be “water”. I wanted to flow. From that point, it was research mode, reading everything I could get my hands on. I listened to other women and their “why” for the organizations of their choosing. But it was ZETA for me; a connection, a gravitational pull that I couldn’t quite explain but knew I had to be part of. I tried and failed to become a member at Howard. So, I shifted and spent my entire senior year researching graduate Chapters back home in Baltimore. I would not fail again.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
Baltimore is an AMAZING place to be and an amazing place to be from, but the challenges are real and sometimes on display for all of the world to see. I think back to the untimely death of Mr. Freddie Gray. It was one of the few times in my memory that Baltimore made INTERNATIONAL news. Not easy, but we are still fortunate. Because of our location and proximity to so many different places, we have access to some of the greatest minds and resources out there. Our Chapter is extremely diverse in age, occupation, education and life experiences. We have members originally from California, New York and everywhere in between. That broad perspective, knowledge and insight allows us to meet some of our community’s most pressing challenges head on and in creative and innovative ways.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
At this time, our Chapter is not directly responsible for the undergraduate chapters in our area. They are housed with our phenomenal sister Chapters. However, we have the benefit of many of our members having matriculated through those same undergraduate Chapters. Further, some of amazing undergraduates had their introduction to Zeta through our Youth groups and/or have moms that were already members of the Chapter. They are informal connections, but powerful ones. These connections allow us to be present, available and aware whenever our undergraduate Sorors may want or need our support.
How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?
Commonalities and common ground are key. We have all committed our time, energy, resources and talents to improving the lives of those in our respective communities. I start there. Everyone cares about something. What that “something” is may vary from person to person, day to day. However, determining what is important to my membership and crafting messages, programming and resources around that while linking it back to Zeta has been a gamechanger. Find out what folks care about, tap into the common mind of service, and deliver messages in a respectful way. Those are the ties that bind.
What advice would you give to aspiring leaders within your sorority who may aspire to take on roles of leadership within alumni chapters?
DO IT SCARED! Fear is no excuse, but rather allow it to be motivation. Leadership is not easy, but its one of the greatest gifts an individual can give to themselves. You will learn so much about yourself. You are more powerful than you give yourself credit for. Believe that. Loosely paraphrasing our Forever First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama “Leadership doesn’t make you who you are, it shows you who you are.” Every gift, talent, and blessing will be tapped and we NEED it. I would advise any aspiring leader not to let the fear force them into missing out on blessings. Please do not to deprive our communities of the blessings that only you can bring through the leadership that is uniquely YOU!
How has mentorship helped you get to where you are today? Are there any specific people in your org who have made a significant impact on your life as mentors?
I have some incredible women who have modeled this journey for me. Women who are smart, honest, tough, innovative, thoughtful, and sisterly. There are so many to mention, so I will limit the list to the Past Presidents of Tau Eta Zeta Chapter: Sorors Tamara D. Harris, Lisa M.Nixon, Wanda A. Calvin-Claiborne, Kimberly Whitaker, Brenda McKinley, and Tiffany Clemmons. I have served with each of them in formal and informal capacities during my time in the organization and throughout their various leadership endeavors. Additionally, Dr. Katana Hall-Banks is the prayer warrior I never knew I needed. These women continue to help me imagine and reimagine what is possible. They push me far beyond my insecurities and offer that sisterly correction when needed.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Its is important for our stories to be told by those with shared, similar, or like experiences; those who are invested in our success and on the front lines with us. Its important for the narrative of Black greekdom to be told and shared by Black greekdom. Watch They Yard is a truth-telling platform, allowing for the stories that reach far beyond the typical headlines. We need for the world to see who we are and for those coming up next to see what they can become and surpass.
Looking back at it, why do you love being a member of your org?
There is an uncompromising sense of strength, resilience and aptitude that makes me choose Zeta each and every day. I LOVE being a member of this organization because we have bars yet to set, history yet to make, and heights to reach that I am eager to be part of. This organization has a legacy of showing up in powerful ways during some of the best and worst times in our history. We owe it to ourselves to see just how far we can go and not rest until we get there.
Lastly, what does sisterhood mean to you?
Like Kanye says “this is family business.” And the family business in terms of Sisterhood is empathy, compassion, and honesty. Sisterhood is meeting your sister exactly where she is and not where we feel she should be. We work hard and we love harder. Sisterhood is being absolutely intentional with our words and actions; agreeing to disagree and loving her anyway.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend La’Shelle Page for her work as the President of the Tau Eta Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 2003.
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