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Leadership Highlight

Leadership Highlight: Dr. Rhonda Wooten the Basileus of Zeta Phi Beta’s Mu Lambda Zeta Chapter in Jacksonville, NC

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 Mu Lambda Zeta Chapter in Jacksonville, NC and did an interview with Dr. Rhonda R. Wooten 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. Dr. Rhonda Wooten, who works as a College Professor, has been in the position of Basileus for 4 years. 

We interviewed Dr. Wooten, who is a 2007/Jacksonville, NC 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 made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?

First and foremost, being an educator, I was drawn to Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. because of the founding principal of scholarship. Scholarship is so necessary for our black and brown girls. For many, scholarships are the only thing that allows them to pursue higher education, on any level. Secondly, BLUE has always been my favorite color! 

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

The one unique thing about Mu Lambda Zeta Chapter is the fact that we are made up of military veterans, active duty military members, as well as military spouses, located in a military town. 

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

Coming into office I implemented a Sister Buddy initiative by pairing a seasoned soror with a new soror. This program helped the newer sorors learn more about Zeta, as well as more about the chapter. The two talked regularly, texted, attended outings such as lunch, dinner and movies. This past year, I implemented Sister Circles. Instead of one on one paring, I created groups of 5-6 sorors. No one was in charge, it was all a team effort. Much like the Sister Buddy initiative, the Sister Circles did pretty much the same things, just as a group. The outcome was very satisfying, as it created a sense of comfort among sisters, as well as a sense of belonging. 

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

Know exactly what that role entails. Make sure that you have the time to commit to the task at hand. Understand that there is absolutely no “I” in team. Have thick skin. Learn to listen. More importantly, understand the fact that it is not about me/you, but what is best for the chapter. 

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?

Definitely. One of our chapter’s chartering members, our Dove, has been a Zeta for well over 60 years and is still very active within the chapter. She is the one who thought I was ready to become more involved within Zeta and convinced me to apply for a position on the Scholarship Committee, so I did. The first year, I was a committee member, the second year to present, I became the Scholarship Committee Chair for the State, as well as for the Eastern Region. I don’t think I would have even considered stepping up, without that push. She too, thought that I was ready for a leadership role within the chapter, thus my run for Basileus. She has encouraged and supported me every step of the way. I call her everyday! She is a true inspiration. 

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

It is important because it caters to “us” in a positive light. It highlights what we are doing in and around our communities and the impact that we are making. It’s important that “we” are seen in the forefront. It too, is important that we are heard. Watch the Yard showcases “us” doing just that….making a difference. 

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

I love the fact that I have 30 magnificent, phenomenal women who I have the privilege of calling my sisters. We don’t always agree, and that’s okay, but at the end of the day, they will always show up and step up, if, and when needed. I absolutely love the sisterhood and all that it represents. 

​​Lastly, what does sisterhood mean to you?

I am my sisters keeper-through the good and bad, the ups and the downs-ALWAYS having someone to count on. 

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Dr. Wooten for her work as the Basileus of the Mu Lambda Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1983. 

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