The position of Basileus/president of a Black sorority chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Tijuana Everhart, who works as a Owner of TJ Everhart Consulting, LLC a boutique consulting firm that focuses on strategic planning and workplace development training for public and private sector organizations, has been in the position of Basileus for two years.
Everhart, who is a Spring ’02 Omicron Mu (Samford University) initiate of Alpha Kappa Alpha talked about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in the digital age.
What motivated you to take on the role of alumni chapter president?
My motivation is the firm belief that I should be the change I want to see. It is easy to sit back and complain, but that is not my nature. I am action-oriented, and complaining doesn’t lead to action; it can lead to discord. The previous presidents of my chapter had done a great job of carrying us in our short time of chartering, and I recognized that I had a set of skills that could help us continue to be the great chapter we are. My strength is leadership development; my vision is that my chapter is “Leader full.” That was my motivation to take on the role of chapter president.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the local community or the broader Black community?
Our chapter aligns our initiatives to our international initiatives which are all designed to improve our local community and the Black community. Those initiatives are: Empower Our Families Build Our Economic Wealth Enhance our Environment Advocate for Social Justice Uplift Our Local Community Our chapter have planted trees and we recycle plastic bags. We planted a garden at one of the area women’s and children’s shelter. We understand that black community has $1.6 trillion spending power. To leverage this, as it relates to Building our Economic Wealth, for the month of June we wore pink, spent green and shopped black. We also showcase black businesses consistently throughout the year and we maintain a roster of local black-owned businesses. Another initiative we have is a Youth Leadership Institute that is a black youth-led program to develop them to be world changing leaders of the future.
What made you want to pledge Alpha Kappa Alpha?
I am blessed to have a family of AKA’s; there are 10 of us. From a young age, I had the ability to see the work of the sorority through their eyes. I saw trailblazers and women of strength and class. It was the way the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha carried themselves while at the same time keeping the service of the community at the forefront that showed me that AKA was the only way for me.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
We are The Loving Chapter. Not only do we serve together; we care about each other. Because we are not an extra large chapter, we have the opportunity to know each other. We know when you haven’t been at chapter meeting for a while and we will call to check on you. We are there for our sisters in their celebrations and in their hard times. When sorors visit us they always leave saying that they felt so welcomed by the atmosphere we have. Not only do we care but I believe that the work of the sorority should be fun and I do all that I can to create that type of atmosphere.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
We are the supervising chapter of Mu Mu, The University of Montevallo. Not only do we support them financially but we serve with them. We do joint community service projects with them and we hold a joint chapter meeting with them twice a year. We also mentor them as they serve in leadership roles within their chapter. We celebrate their successes and we are their biggest cheerleaders. I am blessed to supervised such a wonderful group of highly intelligent, kind and amazing young ladies of Mu Mu.
How do you approach fostering a sense of unity and camaraderie among alumni members, and what strategies have you found effective?
We have sister squads where chapter members with similar hobbies gather together and meet on their agreed upon times and dates. We also have a sisterly relations activity in every chapter meeting to help each to learn more about each other. Those activities could be table topics centered around finding out something that they did not know about the sister that is sitting at the table with them.
See full interview here.