In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate chapters across the world, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the sorors of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.’s Epsilon Rho Zeta Chapter in Wilmington, Delaware and did an interview with Michelle Mack-Williams 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. Mack-Williams, who is a Clinical Research Associate for Glaxo Smith Kline, has served in the position of Basileus for the chapter for two years.
We interviewed Mack-Williams, who is a Fall 2009 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 became a member of this illustrious organization in 2009. What really attracted me to Zeta was just all the programs for women and children. I loved Epsilon Rho Zeta because of its signature event, The Katherine B. Ross Scholarship High Tea. The tea is based off of the tradition of high tea in England. It’s the meal between lunch and dinner. The attire for the tea is your Sundays best with hats and gloves! This event spoke to me and it is the epitome of what Finer Womanhood is to a Zeta. My interest in leadership began with being the phylacter of the chapter. I truly enjoyed learning about Roberts Rules of Order. I read that book from cover to cover. Later on, I became the 1st Vice President of the chapter, which put me in charge of membership. Being president was not on my radar at all. Eventually, I desired to move forward in leadership and being president was the next step. It gave me the platform to plan strategic events for the chapter and to make community connections. As a leader still serving and learning while gearing up for the work that will lead to centennial, I always remind myself that it is a team effort and is not about me. The will of the chapter is facilitated by effectively working to ensure that all ideas are brought to the table by each and every member. My job is to help carry those ideas out.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
The specific initiatives of Epsilon Rho Zeta chapter under my leadership are our 2 signature programs the Katherine Ross High Scholarship High Tea and the Blue Revue Mentoring Program. As well as our other initiatives, the Storks Nest, our 501c3 nonprofit arm ZETA CAN, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated Centennial exhibit at the Delaware Historical Society. The work of each event builds upon the rich history of our organization while raising consciousness, encouraging highest standards of achievement and fostering a greater sense of unity among our communities. The events and programs improve relationships with elected and civic leadership at the local, state and federal levels.
What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?
The principle of Finer Womanhood called to me in ways that were instilled in me as a young woman and they still resonate with me today. It is the ideals of the principle of Finer Womanhood that represents commitment, discipline, integrity, strength and the Zeta call to service.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
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?
I believe that alumni or graduate chapter must remain message and brand consistent focused on national objectives and deliverables. Digitally we must use the various platforms for recruitment and promotional opportunities.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership to me is the ability to communicate by being a conduit between the chapter and leadership. It is being the face of the chapter consistently. It is setting well defined goals thru consensus. A good leader educates and empowers others to set up for the generation that comes after them.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the yard works to illustrate that fraternal and sorority life continues past the collegiate experience by showing the success rate of all members of all organizations.
What does brotherhood/sisterhood mean to you?
I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, which resulted in my having a double mastectomy. This year more than any other year, sisterhood was demonstrated during my time as the president of an active Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated graduate chapter in substantial ways. The members of chapter consistently supported the journey by attending medical appointments, conducted home visits, and participated in meal trains all while ensuring that the needs of our members and the New Castle community were met. Sisterhood in this chapter is a action not a word!
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
Epsilon Rho Zeta chapter is the sponsoring chapter for Chi Theta at the University of Delaware. We are responsible for advising and directing the general program for undergraduate chapter. We work to assist Chi Theta to coordinate chapter activities and work cooperatively with the faculty advisor and university.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Michelle Mack-Williams for her work as the Basileus of the Epsilon Rho Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1955.