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Leadership Highlight

Leadership Highlight: Janette Bishop the President of Zeta Phi Beta’s Eta Chi Zeta Chapter in Joliet, Illinois

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 Eta Chi Zeta Chapter in Joliet, Illinois and did an interview with Janette Bishop 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. Bishop, who works as a Deputy Sheriff, has been in the position of president since 2020.

We interviewed Bishop, who is a Fall 1987 initiate of Zeta Phi Beta and a graduate of Mississippi 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 motivated you to take on the role of alumni chapter president?

Being a Chapter President was never an aspiration of mine, but I believe we are all charged with upholding the legacy of our Founders. I strive to put the needs of others first and help people reach their fullest potential to develop a pipeline of leaders. I was inspired to continue the great work our chapter began and I wanted to work diligently to lead Eta Chi Zeta Chapter successfully into the next generation.

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?

The international focus for Zeta Phi Beta Sorority is “The Extraordinary Power of S.H.E. (Social, Health and Economic Justice) The women of Eta Chi Zeta Chapter proudly work together to empower women of color. Through our Youth Program, we provide a curriculum that will expose young girls ages 4-18, to STEM careers, Personal Safety, Social Skills’ Enhancement, Mentorship, Cultural Awareness, College Readiness and Community Service. We support two adopted schools by providing electronics, school supplies and financial support. Eta Chi Zeta’s – Pearl Essence Foundation provides educational support to African American young women by providing scholarships and book awards during our Annual Black & White Gala. Through Social Action, we partner with local and National organizations to bring awareness to issues that impact our community. We fundraise for the importance of research and educational support for breast cancer and premature births. We will continue to use our resources to ensure the programming aligns with the vision of our International President & CEO, Dr. Stacie NC Grant.

What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?

Growing up, my Sunday School Teacher – Mrs. Mary Nell Mosley was (is) a Zeta. She was so gentle and kind and had such a huge heart. She always gave the best hugs. I never heard her yell or raise her voice. She would often wear the sorority colors and letters, but as a child, I didn’t understand what they meant. But, I knew I wanted to be just like her. When I reached high school, my cousin, Paula Drungole-Ellis became a member of Zeta at Rust College in Holly Springs, Ms. That in itself, sparked more curiosity. Once entering college at Mississippi State University, I began to realize that Zeta aligned with my personal beliefs and values. It finally dawned on me why Mrs. Mosley was a Zeta. I knew that with Zeta’s history and profound rich legacy of Service, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated was the only organization for me.

Photo Credit: Darryll Hammond

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

Our chapter’s culture and diversity and multi-generational representation make the members of Eta Chi Zeta unique. Our members range in age from 24 thru 70+. Our members arise from various backgrounds and walks of life, this often enriches our discussions by adding a unique perspective with a wide variety of expertise and experience.

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

Eta Chi Zeta currently support the undergraduates at Northern Illinois University, in Dekalb, Illinois. We ensure that they are equipped with mentorship, financial assistance and emotional support. We attend and support their events, sponsor conference attendance and recommend participation in the opportunities Zeta offers at the collegiate level. We embrace our young sorors and encourage a smooth transition from college to graduate chapter by inviting them to events, activities and chapter meetings.

How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?

I foster unity outside of formal meetings in an effort to connect in a relax setting to encourage Sisterly Sisterhood Connections, during our annual Chapter Retreat and often getting together for a bite to eat after chapter meetings or service events. We celebrate Extraordinary accomplishments, encourage “check-ins” and offer support to sorors in difficult times. Under the guidance of our First Vice President, Chandra Allgood-Foster and our Social Chair Ericka Williams, they both play pivotal roles in encouraging engagement and camaraderie with our members.

What advice would you give to aspiring leaders within your sorority who may aspire to take on roles of leadership within alumni chapters?

My moto is “Serve with Pride, Lead with Confidence and Inspire to Impact Others”. True leadership is about service, accountability and sacrifice. I would advise the aspiring leader to educate themselves on the governance and structure of the organization . I would also suggest that their heart and service align with the needs of the organization and community. And most importantly, set boundaries.

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?

Mentorship has played a pivotal role in catapulting my potential. I am especially grateful to the 20th International President of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Dr. Jylla Moore-Tearte, Mrs. Gloria Conley, Michelle Porter-Norman, Gina Merritt-Epps, Esq., The Honorable Paula Drungole-Ellis, Keisha D. Smith, Ira Ebbs, La’Kitha B. Hughes, Adrienne K. McDay, Renee Byrd and Janielle Gooden for their significant impact to ensure I am equipped and prepared to lead and teach. Each of them inspire me to be better and push me to go further and further outside of my comfort zone. The Extraordinary women who proceeded me as President of Eta Chi Zeta Chapter, I stand on their shoulders, and I am forever grateful for their continued and unwavering support.

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

Watch the Yard is very important to Black Greekdom because it is a a digital memoir of Black achievements. It showcases the essence of Black Letter Greek Organizations. It highlights the good work and positive impact the Divine 9 has on the community. Watch the Yard is an innovative vessel that serves as a resource for current events in the Black Greek community.

Looking back at it, why do you love being a member of your org?

I love being a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated as the bond brings sisterly love, support and encouragement that will last a lifetime. Zeta allows me to surround myself with intelligent accomplished women who push me to be the best version of myself.

​​Lastly, what does sisterhood mean to you?

Sisterhood is the essence of patience, grace and forgiveness. Sisterhood is a verb. It is demonstrated in our actions towards each other. It requires intentional and continuous love. As member of Zeta for 36 years, I’ve learned in order to have a good Sister, you must BE a good Sister!

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Janette Bishop for her work as the president of the Eta Chi Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1973.

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