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Leadership Highlight: Shyvon Lacy the Basileus of Zeta Phi Beta’s Iota Zeta Chapter in Indianapolis, IN

Photo: Danielle Lawson – @naturalnerd_designs

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 Iota Zeta Chapter in Indianapolis, IN and did an interview with Shyvon Lacy 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. Lacy, who is an administrative and facilities support for a philanthropic foundation, has served in the position of Basileus for three years.

We interviewed Lacy, who is a Spring 2003 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?

The Iota Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was chartered in Indianapolis, Indiana on June 30, 1931. Being at the helm of a chapter that has not only been a staple in the Indianapolis community, but also in the State of Indiana for over 85 years is a privilege and an honor that I don’t take lightly. Our chapter is the largest Zeta chapter in Indiana and we strive to set a standard of being a Five-Star model and example. I have the opportunity to be involved in understanding the ends and outs of our organization from our local chapter to Nationals. The lessons I have learned in this role have not only helped me enhance my leadership skills but have also taught me how to harness the spirit of collaboration and help cultivate new leaders. The charge of leading a chapter with such history and legacy within our organization is special and thus makes this position of unique importance.

Photo: Danielle Lawson – @naturalnerd_designs

What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?

This year Iota Zeta will officially launch our Stork’s Nest Foundation, I.Z. Nest Healthy Hoosier Babies Program, Inc. Stork’s Nest is an incentive-based, prenatal health promotion program for low-income pregnant women. A partnership of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and the March of Dimes, Stork’s Nest encourages women to make and keep prenatal care appointments and participate in prenatal education classes. Indiana ranks top 10 in the U.S. for infant mortality rate. Indianapolis/Marion County has received an “F”. Our goal is to increase the number of women receiving early and regular prenatal care in an effort to prevent cases of low birth-weight, premature births and infant deaths through our program.

We will also be celebrating 100 years of Scholarship, Service, Sisterhood and Finer Womanhood! During our Centennial year, we will be hosting a fundraiser gala, co-hosting our regional leadership conference, and convoying to Washington D.C. for our national celebration. This will be a time to reflect on all that Zeta has done and how we will continue to blaze paths to our next 100 years.

What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?

I am a proud legacy to my mother, Sylvia Lacy, who has been an active member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. for 44 consecutive years. As an only child, she would cart me along with her to her chapter meetings where I would eventually become a member of their Youth Auxiliary. In my adolescence, Zeta women were integral figures in my life; serving as surrogate mothers, aunties, and big sisters. When I had the chance to make joining this family a real thing, I jumped at the opportunity. Zeta was indeed ALL that I knew, but I never needed or wanted to look anywhere else. I wanted the opportunity to pour into other women and have them continue to pour into me as was done when I was a young girl. I was blessed to become a member of this phenomenal sisterhood, with my mother by my side, on March 15, 2003 on the campus of our nation’s first private HBCU, Wilberforce University, in Ohio. It has been an awesome journey to share together with her and the countless women I’ve become connected with along the way.

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

The Iota Zeta chapter is the ninth oldest graduate chapter in the Sorority. The history of the chapter is rooted in education. Iota Zeta chapter was started by six women who were connected through the Indianapolis Public School (IPS) system. Kappa Alpha Psi founder, Elder W. Diggs, who was an IPS principal at the time, assisted them in the organizing of the chapter. He understood the benefits Zeta would bring to the City of Indianapolis. This connection to education has led us to lead programs such as Adopt-a-School to help underperforming schools as well as providing scholarships to high school students since the 1970’s. Being the largest chapter in the state has allowed our membership to be diverse. We have members who have recently graduated college to almost 60 years of membership. We have people pursuing higher education; working moms, stay at home moms, and women working in varying industries. We also have youth auxiliaries and a women’s auxiliary. This diversity allows us to reflect the community we serve.

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 think it’s important for alumni chapters to be authentic and true representations of themselves without stepping outside of the founding principles of their organizations. We are all small pieces of a large puzzle, trying to better our communities. It is important that our pieces are aligned with the vision that our Founders’ set forth decades ago. It’s also no secret that alumni chapters operate a bit differently than our undergraduate chapters. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t engage in the tools that our younger brothers and sisters are using to connect with their campuses and communities. We should strive to have a presence on social media platforms and showcase our chapters and organizations with creative print and digital media. We can “Go Live!” at our events and add to our IG stories just like an undergraduate chapter because the mission is always to meet the people where they are and the use of digital formats is becoming the way of the world.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership means being in a place of authority but having the influence and insight to help guide others towards their goals. I’ve always prided myself in being the type of leader who does not micro-mange but gives those under me the spirit of being their own empowered leader to make their own decisions and use me as a resource when they aren’t quite sure about the direction they may need to take or may be faced with a challenge. I do my absolute best to help support anyone under me in reaching the goals that they’ve aspired to. Leadership is about having a “when one of us wins, we all win” mentality and should always be about making those around you better.

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

Watch the Yard is important to Black Greekdom because it is an ever-present reminder of the good that our Divine 9 organizations are doing. Highlighting positive storylines and images allows people to see our organizations in a different light outside of just “stepping” and “hand signs”. It also gives a wide perspective of the different aspects that make up our organizations. Whether undergraduate or alumni, a famous figure or a student on a small, little known campus, Watch the Yard finds the stories to give our organizations a central place to bring a spotlight from all angles, and that should be appreciated.

What does brotherhood/sisterhood mean to you?

Sisterhood is not a state of being but a bond. It is a bond that transcends bloodlines, geographical location, and education level, and creates a common ground from the love you have for the founding principles of your organization. This sisterhood has been a blessing to me as I didn’t have a lot of female relatives, younger or older, to learn from and lean on. I’ve gained women that I can laugh with, travel with, and vent to about Zeta or just about life. Those connections are even more special when they are present outside of the organization. Sisterhood is about being there for a Soror when she needs it. Being a listening ear when she seems troubled or just letting her know that you’re praying for her and are there if she needs you. It’s also about honesty and having tough conversations because you know it’s for her good and to help her grow. It’s about leaning on the shield when you’re in need and trusting your sisters will help you and have your back. I’m blessed that in the spirit of “sisterly love”, Zeta continues to shine a light on TRUE sisterhood.

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

Our chapter currently supports two undergraduate chapters: Epsilon Kappa at Purdue University and Iota Theta at Indiana State University. I have had the opportunity of being a primary advisor, prior to my role as President, and to serve on our chapter’s Undergraduate Advisory committee. The largest portion of our role as advisors is to help train our younger Sorors in the business and operations of Zeta. As a graduate chapter we provide regular training spotlights, and provide annual undergraduate retreats to provide leadership training specific to the needs to each chapter and discuss issues that many undergraduates generally face as college student. It can be challenging to always be available for them being an hour away from each campus while also making sure our own chapter runs smoothly. However, we are working to develop a deeper sisterly relationship where they can lean on us within and outside of Zeta. This includes introducing possible mentors/connections within their desired career paths or having one-on-one’s to understand their goals or challenges they may be facing.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Shyvon Lacy for her work as the Basileus of the Iota Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1931.

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