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 Tau Eta Zeta Chapter in Baltimore, Maryland and did an interview with Tiffany Clemmons 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. Clemmons, who is a leadership coach, recently began her term as Basileus.
We interviewed Clemmons, who is a Spring 2013 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 elected the chapter’s president means your Sorors have entrusted you to lead the chapter in accordance with your organization’s principles. The role of the chapter president goes beyond the facilitation of meetings and completing required documents, this role encompasses the creation of an atmosphere where all members can flourish under a common mission and vision. As president of Tau Eta Zeta chapter, I hold myself accountable to not only to Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, but to the individual Sorors in the chapter who rely on me to leverage all available resources to ensure chapter success.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
Tau Eta Zeta chapter is known throughout Baltimore City for our community service efforts in areas where we are needed the most. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 2017, there were 2,669 Baltimore City residents experiencing homelessness. The ladies of Tau Eta Zeta recognize the need to support our city’s most vulnerable populations through direct contact community service. This year we will continue to expand upon our yearly Heart for the Homeless event. During this event, the members of the chapter along with our youth auxiliaries provide a variety of clothing items and food to Baltimoreans who are experiencing homelessness. Tau Eta Zeta will also implement our signature Elder Care, Domestic Violence, and HIV Awareness initiatives. All of our signature programs have intentionally met the needs of the communities throughout Baltimore City for the last 16 years.
What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?
My desire to become a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, originated from my interactions with women who embodied the principles of the organization. Greek life was not prevalent in my family, therefore Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated’s visual representation and interaction with the public significantly impacted my decision. In addition, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated’s history and principles appealed to my individual interests while also challenging me to be able to articulate and demonstrate talents I could bring to an established organization.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The Ladies of Tau Eta Zeta are also known as “The Tenacious, Hardworking, and Zealous Ladies of THZ”. Our chapter prides itself on building the leadership of the chapter through mentoring from charter members, seasoned members, and good old-fashioned teamwork. The 2019-2020 Executive Board of Tau Eta Zeta chapter is a shining example of this homegrown leadership pipeline. Seven members who were initiated through Tau Eta Zeta are now serving in a variety of positions on the Executive Board. Tau Eta Zeta chapter are also proud sponsors of all three Zeta Youth Affiliate groups (Pearlettes, Amicettes, and Archonettes). For 15 years, the youth groups have continued to grow with 40 young ladies enrolled last year and more anticipated for this upcoming year. The chapter also uniquely positions itself to be at the forefront of delivering high-quality and relevant service to the citizens of Baltimore City. Tau Eta Zeta’s goal is to ensure our principle of Service is an action verb at all times. The community service initiatives of the chapter range from supporting school-aged children at our Adopt-A-School to providing companionship to the elders of the Baltimore City community through engaging social activities. The uniqueness of Tau Eta Zeta is exemplified in the manner in which we live the principles of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.
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?
In a digital world, the representation of graduate chapters on all platforms is pivotal to the growth and sustainability of chapters. As the methods of public interaction, promotion, and communication continue to evolve over time, it is crucial for graduate chapters to embrace a multitude of interactive platforms through technology. Graduate chapters have the opportunity to use innovative means to not only broadcast their social events but high-impact community service and social action programs as well. The increased utilization of visual messages that are aligned to organizational principles will enhance graduate chapters’ visibility on a larger scale and also ensure the public is aware of the impact of graduate chapters.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership transcends positions and titles; it is the act of galvanizing a group of people around a common mission and vision in order to achieve collective goals. Leadership can be formal and informal, but true leaders are able to authentically motivate others to go beyond their perceived expectations. Leaders are also capable of yielding results from different types of people within a larger group by understanding their own personal leadership strengths and areas of growth, and using this knowledge as a guide towards continuous improvement.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the Yard is an important mechanism for historically Black Greek organizations to not only inform the Greek and Non-Greek public of trending activities on the collegiate level but also the significant social action activities, historical achievements, as well as overall achievements across all organizations. Watch the Yard provides a much-needed link to the history of organizations by consistently displaying past photographs, videos, etc. of Greek life over the decades. The work of Watch the Yard ensures the legacy of organizations will flourish throughout generations in a positive light.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
Sisterhood is one of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated’s principles and it is evident in the relationships built across generations. Sisterhood means to have authentic relationships with other women who share common interests and/or goals. Sisterhood is not predicated on familial relationships and can be developed based on selection. It (sisterhood) is the unwavering commitment to another woman through support, intentional and unintentional bonding, and motivation.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Tiffany Clemmons for her work as the Basileus of the Tau Eta Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 2003.