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 Beta Theta Zeta Chapter in the Norfolk, VA and did an interview with Michelle McIntosh 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. McIntosh, who works as a claim service manager at USAA, has served as Basileus for two and a half years.
We interviewed McIntosh, who is a Fall 1983 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 means upholding the legacy of the chapter and our purpose, Scholarship, Service, Sisterhood and Finer Woman. It means encouraging my chapter sorors to perform to their optimum at all time and drive organizational success. It means being about to influence and persuade my sorors to follow alongside me as I make a positive impact on them and others. Through this process, I have learned to be humble, have an open mind and an open heart.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
The Beta Theta Zeta Chapter is one of two graduate chapters in the Mid-Atlantic area to have a partnership with the March of Dimes and the Resource Mothers in our local community where we promote prenatal care participation and healthy behaviors of low-income women during pregnancy through our National Stork’s Nest program. The women of Beta Theta Zeta Chapter work tirelessly to ensure that the needs of the women and children are met through fundraising initiatives and donations from the local communities. Our goal is to increase the healthy birth rate of all infants born in low income communities which would in turn decrease and/or eliminate mortality amongst infants and children.
What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?
When I entered college in the fall of 1982, I was not familiar with any Greek organization. I attended an interest meeting for Phi Beta Sigma’s Silhouettes and became a member. As a Silhouette I developed relationships with the Zetas on campus and learned that most of them had been Silhouettes as well. The Zetas on campus were warm, genuine, approachable and friendly. They were the definition of Finer Women and were visible on campus and in the community: and I knew that I wanted to be a member not only because of the relationships that we had developed and the service to the community, but because of the bond they had with each other along with the bond they had with their Brothers of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The local chapter was organized on December 17, 1927 as “Rho”, an undergraduate chapter. On November 30, 1944, the Rho Chapter was re-organized as a graduate chapter and the name was changed to Beta Theta Zeta Chapter. Our very own Triumphant Soror, the Honorable Yvonne B. Miller was a member of Beta Theta Zeta Chapter and a member of the Virginia State Senate. The Beta Theta Zeta Chapter continues to propel the legacy upon which this sisterhood was founded through its regular coordination of, participation in and support of community programs.
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 very important that chapters represent themselves by displaying their Brand of quality, consistency, competency and reliability. Chapters and individuals should always look their best at all times and represent with pride and dignity.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership means leading by example, being transparent and having an open mindset. Being energetic, supportive, leading for the good of the organization and not for personal gain. Being a leader has its rewards and challenges, but by being in a leadership role, you take on everything that comes with the position, at all levels, and walk in your truth.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the Yard is important to Black greekdom because it shines a positive light on the Divine 9 organizations by showcasing and preserving our legacy. It is a great way to give our organization more exposure and allow us to showcase our talents and community service as demonstrated through the work we do in our local communities and on our college campuses.
What does sisterhood and brotherhood mean to you?
Greek Sisterhood is a group of women who come from different backgrounds, having very little in common, but come together to develop relationships through a strong unbreakable bond. We rely on each other by having each other’s backs and helping one other through adversities, hardships and joyful times.
Brotherhood has a special meaning to the Zetas, as Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., is unique because of our distinct relationship with our constitutionally bonded brother organization, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. We both enjoy and foster a mutually supportive relationship as a sister and brother organization.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
The Beta Theta Zeta Chapter sponsors two undergraduate chapters, Zeta Gamma on the campus of Norfolk State University and Rho Nu on the campus of Old Dominion University both in Norfolk, VA. As an undergraduate sponsoring chapter, the graduate chapter support our undergraduates by attending their events, mentoring, and recognizing their individual and chapter academic achievements at the local, regional and national level.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Michelle McIntosh for her work as the Basileus of the Beta Theta Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to November 30, 1944.
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