In an effort to highlight the people who are leading alumni chapters across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to the sorority sisters of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc.’s Eta Pi Sigma Chapter in
Grand Rapids, MI and did an interview with Keyuana Rosemond the Basileus(president) of the chapter.
The position of Basileus of a Black sorority chapter is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Rosemond, who is a Chief Innovation Officer & non-profit Executive Director, has served as the Basileus of the chapter for two years.
We interviewed Rosemond, who is a Fall 2015 initiate from Grand Valley State University 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 chapter president is about consistency, accountability and visibility. It means putting on a good face for your organization, being an example of your Founders’ vision and executing those tenets in your public facing work. It also means shining a positive light on your chapter and service projects for community members who are less familiar with your organization.
What specific initiatives is your chapter heading up this year and how do you think they will improve the surrounding community?
Black and Latinx communities are more likely to suffer from drowning incidents than their white counterparts. To address this disparity, our signature project is Swim 1922 which is a water safety/drowning prevention initiative in collaboration with USA Swim. This initiative is important because it promotes skill development in life saving swimming techniques and exposes youth and adults to local swimming opportunities in their neighborhoods. We also partner with the city of Grand Rapids to offer free swim lessons to families to increase access. It is our goal to provide this information to decrease incidents of drowning and to reduce the cost barrier for families to participate in swim lessons.
What made you want to pledge Sigma Gamma Rho?
I pledged Sigma Gamma Rho because I truly believe in our fore-mothers’ mantra of “quality versus quantity”. Although we are the “last created” the work of Sigma Gamma Rho aligns with my personal mission and is rooted in education and service to round out the “best design”. Sisterhood is truly felt in our organization and I am grateful for the opportunity to embody this legacy.
What is it about your specific chapter that makes it so unique?
The Eta Pi Sigma “Golden Grand Rapids” chapter is unique because we trend younger in age so the energy for service and community involvement is high! We have members that are elected officials at various levels, educators, creatives and executives who support our overall goals and yet still prioritize our bonding activities and sisterhood. In particular, we are the only organization locally that is led by a member of the LGBTQ+ community and has Latina members and affiliates, symbolizing our commitment to inclusion and affirmation of diverse identities.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think alumni chapters across all orgs need to do to represent themselves online in 2021?
Be SHARP! The best publicity is how you represent and uplift the values of your organization and why not start with your appearance and personal brand? Our membership is very intentional with how we show up in our greater Grand Rapids community by wearing our colors/letters at public facing online events, posting regularly on our social media accounts, and collaborating with other organizations for civic engagement and fellowship activities. We also do little things like having our chapter logo on our zoom wallpapers/screensavers to increase visibility.
How is your chapter adapting to navigate the pandemic?
With “no-contact, no in-person” mandates in place, we have utilized technology to collaborate more with other chapters in our state and region. In addition to virtual chapter meetings, we have partnered with community centers and virtual classrooms to host events and service initiatives which have been successful. Our last effort “Soles for Little Souls” in collaboration with a local community center, was a no-contact shoe drive where we procured over 200 pairs of shoes to donate to the center’s clothing pantry for youth in need.
What does leadership mean to you?
It means getting your hands dirty and working in partnership, delegating, and knowing when to seek counsel. Being willing to continuously grow and learn from your membership and not thinking that you solely have all the answers. I consider my leadership style to be “servant leadership” which means I’m not going to ask someone to do a task that I would be unwilling to complete myself.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black greekdom?
Watch the Yard is an important platform because it highlights the positive work that our organizations do on a regular basis. Often we see narratives that paint Blackness and Greek life in a negative light. Watch the Yard offers a counter narrative to these portrayals that is more accurate and far more common – Black Greeks working towards a greater purpose of advancing our communities.
What does sisterhood mean to you?
Being your sister’s keeper by respecting each other, showing up for one another and choosing to love each other through challenging times.
How is your chapter providing for the undergraduate chapters you support?
Our chapter advises a traditional undergraduate chapter at a public four year university and regional undergraduates from schools that either do not allow Greek life or do not have a colony or chapter present on campus. For our undergrads we provide support, leadership opportunities and guidance as they reach young adulthood. In the past few years, we’ve grown our undergraduate presence by 70% and are continuing to matriculate our undergrads into our graduate chapter.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Keyuana Rosemond for her work as the president of
Eta Pi Sigma Chapter which has a legacy that spans back to 1993.