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Leadership Highlight: YahMoorah Shakoor-Hooker the Basileus of Zeta Phi Beta’s Rho Sigma Zeta Chapter in Erie, PA

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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 Rho Sigma Zeta Chapter in Erie, PA and did an interview with YahMoorah Shakoor-Hooker 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. Shakoor-Hooker, who is a Recovery Consultant for Progressive Insurance Company, just started serving in the position of Basileus on July 1, 2019.

We interviewed Shakoor-Hooker, who is a Fall 1996 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?

It’s an honorable task, and I do not take it lightly. My Sorors look to me for guidance and leadership, and I take that very seriously and don’t want to let them down. I want to make sure that my actions represent not only my chapter, but our illustrious organization in the most positive light. It means that I’m approachable, diplomatic, steadfast and present in all aspects of Zeta. I must be ready to lead my chapter in a manner that is respectable, set forth and accomplish our goals and have fun doing so. I appreciate the opportunity to serve, and the fact that my Sorors have faith in me to lead, it means the world to me.

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

This year, we will begin an exploratory committee to open up a Stork’s Nest in Erie. Stork’s Nest is one of Zeta’s signature programs partnered in conjunction with the March of Dimes. Our chapter definitely sees a need in prenatal education for new mothers in our community so it’s our hope that we can get a Nest open in the coming year or so.

We also want to shine light on women’s pay inequities – especially among women of color. African American women are the most educated demographic in the United States, but it’s not reflected in our pay, and many of us aren’t even aware. We want to education our young women entering the workforce to value themselves and their contributions as well as provide training for women already in the workforce to advocate for themselves and their families.

What made you want to pledge Zeta Phi Beta?

I wasn’t very familiar with any National Pan Hellenic Council Organizations when I entered college, but I remember one woman in particular who had a lasting impact on me. She was a counselor for a summer program I attended before my senior year in high school, and she was a Zeta. I just remember her light. She shone from within, and it was infectious. When I encountered the ladies of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. on my campus, they had that same shine – that light. I loved it. They were so friendly and kind, and I just couldn’t help but want to be part of that. I’ve never felt so welcome, and becoming a member was one of the best decisions of my life. It helped me to interact and not be so shy. Zeta helped me come out of my comfort zone, and I’m so grateful for the opportunities she has given me – as still does to this day.

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

We are all very different. We come from different backgrounds, religions, ages and experiences, and find a way to make it all work. We labored to get ourselves established in the community as we are somewhat newly re-established (since 2014). We were very resilient and fought hard to get where we are today. We doubled in size in one year from six to 12, which means our work in the community is reaching and influencing others who want to be a part of our sisterhood. That is quite an accomplishment that I am very proud of.

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?

We need to realize that in order to be relevant, you must have an online presence. Utilize your young members who are tech savvy and make your social media and online presence be your calling card – your positive brand. Embrace the change and use it to your advantage. You can influence so many lives by leveraging your service in the community to reach the masses. We all have a message that we want to share so utilize social media and our websites to do it. Most important, stay current! Don’t let your pages die with old content. Keep it fresh and lively.

What does leadership mean to you?

It’s not about me, it’s about us. To be a leader, you must take the accolades and the criticism. You are the cheerleader and the delegator. It means you must be steady, honest and reliable. I want my Sorors to trust me, and know that I support them. It won’t be sunshine and white roses all the time, so when we struggle, I want them to know I’m strong enough, stable enough to take those shots and guide us back on track.

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

Watch the Yard shows all of the NPHC organizations in a positive manner. It highlights our accomplishments and really illustrates that we serve in the highest capacity in our cities and universities. It also provides historical content, which I really enjoy viewing, because it brings back memories of when I was in college as well as learning more about other chapters and their activities even before I was born. That is amazing!

What does brotherhood/sisterhood mean to you?

No matter where I go, I always have Sorors and Frat waiting for me. I think that’s the most awe-inspiring feeling knowing someone will always reach out their hand to you no matter where you are. When I was a senior in college, I spent my last semester in college studying abroad in Spain. I was in downtown Madrid taking in the sights and all of a sudden I heard, “Z-PHI!!” I was wearing my line jacket so I immediately spun around and saw a Soror waiving frantically at me across the street. She was from Los Angeles and vacationing with her family. I’m half-way around the world, my immediate family so far away, yet my Soror was right there with me. That’s how it is wherever we go. Our Sorors and Frat, our family, is always waiting for us. That what sisterhood means to me

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

As a fairly young chapter, we are now getting the opportunity to fellowship and mentor young women to become Finer Women. It’s challenging and so worthwhile. Our goal is to demonstrate the qualities of what it means to be a Finer Woman of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. We want our undergraduates to be proud of our rich history – especially now that we are on the cusp of our centennial. We provide guidance, webinars and leadership opportunities. We also want to educate the importance of transitioning from undergraduates to full-time career women and graduate members, to know their value and worth and being able to demonstrate that in the workplace. We were founded by five trailblazing, brave young undergraduates. So, we must help our undergraduates thrive and grow and lead by example.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend YahMoorah Shakoor-Hooker for her work as the Basileus of the Rho Sigma Zeta Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1999.

Share this on Facebook and help us highlight YahMoorah Shakoor-Hooker and her chapter.

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