2012 Campaign Official General President Candidate Interviews
The Sphinx Interview
34th general president nominee Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. is Southwestern regional vice president and past Southwestern assistant vice president
What is the singular most important issue facing the fraternity in 2012 and why? Restoring the trust and faith of our members and putting Alpha on a sound financial footing. Alpha Phi Alpha develops leaders and serves downtrodden humanity. But, we cannot do this if members are not fully engaged and inspired to lead. To be effective, we need to develop ourselves financially. As a trained and experienced fundraiser, I will within the first 100 days implement elements of the CAMPAIGN FOR ALPHA, a capital campaign that will raise $25 million over five years to ensure long-term viability and resources to conduct our programs with real impact on the communities in which we serve. Explain how your personal and professional life experiences will benefit you as general president and the fraternity as a whole? I owe Alpha for saving my life. I was a poor, lost boy, raised by a single mom; and Alpha men filled the void. With their help, I learned how to be a better father to my children and what it meant to “go to high school, and go to college.” That’s how I received my Ph.D. before the age of 30. These life experiences coupled with my professional fundraiser skills will benefit not just me, but the fraternity as a whole. I’ll be able to reach out to those we serve, while raising needed funs with transparency and accountability. What is your plan to keep the fraternity solvent? As general president, I will use my experience to ensure Alpha remains solvent and grows financially. I am the only candidate with professional experience raising millions of dollars and being a great steward in the management of those dollars. I have raised more than $30 million and authored grants of more than $100 million as a university vice president. My plan is simple: “If we do not have it, we won’t spend it, if we don’t need it, we won’t buy it. For more information, visit my website: www.rodericklsmothers.com. What role should the fraternity play on college campuses to enhance fraternity life there in general and Alpha Phi Alpha in particular? Many of our fraternity’s greatest general presidents have been leaders in higher education, as I am. Many of them served as general president while they were college presidents, including William H. Hale and Walter Washington. It’s the best of both worlds when our GP can also be a college executive. It allows the GP to really get a sense of daily college life and the concerns of college brothers. I have had the experience at two major universities, as vice president of institutional advancement.
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How would you bridge the longstanding gap between college brothers, just-graduated brothers and alumni brothers? By using my extensive experience on all three levels— especially what I learned as a regional assistant vice president while at Louisiana State University. That post prepared me for later roles as national chairman of the College Brothers Affairs Commission. Now, as a university vice president, I coexist with college and alumni brothers daily. As I said earlier, it’s the best of both worlds that gives me the unique perspective to bridge the gap. What role should Alpha play in other areas of human existence, i.e. military, education, social, political, business activities? Alpha should always play a leading role in these areas of concern whether it is a Don Thompson at McDonald’s or General Walter Gaskins, deputy chairman of the NATO Military Committee. Alpha has always been on the forefront of human existence. For example, more Alpha men serve as college presidents than any other black Greek groups; we have more members of Congress than the others; we were THE leaders of the Civil Rights Movement; and we built the King Memorial. As general president, I will keep us on the right track outside the House of Alpha. You and your opponent both worked together on the fraternity’s board of directors. Please cite seven positive things you have to say about the opposing candidate in the race for general president and why? Bro. Tillman is my friend. Bro. Tillman has a very quiet demeanor. He freely accepts input on how to better his convention planning. I have shared with him some of the commonly accepted principles of fundraising that will benefit the fraternity as a whole. He has a very big sense of humor and will make you laugh. We have and will continue to work collaboratively on the board of directors and beyond. I am very proud to call him my brother. H
The Sphinx Interview
34th general president nominee Mark Tillman is immediate past Midwestern regional vice president
What is the singular, most important issue facing the fraternity in 2012 and why? As a fraternity, we are first and foremost a brotherhood. So we must never lose sight of that aspect. We must concentrate on the business of brotherhood. The most important issue I see is fraternal apathy. Have we truly asked ourselves why 75 percent of our brothers lose interest in Alpha Phi Alpha within five years of their initiation—and they no longer remain engaged with the fraternity? My platform and my vision, the Alpha Investment, is about re-enforcing the value proposition of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. The details are located at my website, www.thealphainvestment.org. Explain how your personal and professional life experiences will benefit you as general president and the fraternity as a whole? I have more than 20 years of leadership experience in the information technology industry, with managerial experience in leading teams and managing systems design costs. That experience provided me with effective organizational skills with attention to cost-efficient systems. I also have excellent interpersonal, communications and team-building skills with sensitivity to cultural differences of individuals. In my personal life, I believe in balance I enjoy other activities, and I have a supportive wife who allows me to maintain balance. My life reflects that I support Alpha Phi Alpha. I am respectful of our precepts and our mission. What is your plan to keep the fraternity solvent? My vision statement states “…committing to a sound fiscal infrastructure that strengthens the fraternity’s financial position….” I will provide fiscal leadership with all facets of the organization, including the planning of any national event with a strong focus on execution under budget, being fiscally transparent, being accountable, and meticulously negotiating with service providers to provide high value at a reasonable cost. My experience and leadership as a Midwestern regional vice president resulted in each regional convention being profitable, and that success was shared with the host chapters in those cities. I will hire a full-time director of development and involve the brotherhood in all aspects. What role should the fraternity play on college campuses to enhance fraternity life there in general and Alpha Phi Alpha in particular? The meaning behind the Alpha Investment platform is the continuing evolution and development of the next generation into solid contributors to society and to our organization. Our role on college campuses is to provide guidance and mentorship with a focus on scholastic achievement for all students, and our college chapters are a major part of that. Alpha Phi
Alpha is enhanced by demonstrating the organization’s belief and support of education, personal achievement, and chapters of college-age men who are worthy ambassadors to our mission. I will ensure we work with campus leadership to enhance our position on their campuses. How would you bridge the longstanding gap between college brothers, just-graduated brothers and alumni brothers? My platform outlines the following for brothers to remain connected to the fraternity: communicate to every member and connect him to the fraternity regardless of membership status; develop a welcome packet that invites any member to join an alumni chapter anywhere on the globe; provide and promote affordable activities that allow for brothers and families to connect with others to strengthen our fraternal bond. We will develop a major marketing effort to encourage brothers to reinvest their time and talents in the fraternity. Together we will remove the perception of a gap. Every brother brings value to the whole. What role should Alpha play in other areas of human existence, i.e. military, education, social, political, business activities? “…Provide service and advocacy for our communities” is our mission. Our role as an organization is to demonstrate our relevance to our communities. We will continue to exercise the collective and stabilized strength of our membership to provide awareness to health concerns, the mentorship and education of our youth, and enlighten voters so none are hopeless. We will also partner with business and civic organizations because, in today’s world, Alpha Phi Alpha cannot do everything and we cannot do it alone. We must rely on the effort and resources of others to be an organization of service. Uplift the downtrodden masses. You and your opponent both worked together on the fraternity’s board of directors. Please cite seven positive things you have to say about the opposing candidate in the race for general president and why? My relationship with Brother Roderick L. Smothers, Sr. as a fellow brother in service has always been respectful, brotherly and fraternal. From the moment I congratulated him as a newly elected vice president in 2009 through two years as board members, we maintained a relationship that is supportive and collaborative. As a tenured vice president, I did not hesitate to support the Southwestern Region to further its goals when Brother Smothers asked for assistance. We were able to share ideas with consideration to each other’s diverse opinions. We have distinctive ideas as candidates, but he will always remain my brother. H Winter/Spring 2012 H THE SPHINX
The Sphinx Interview with 34th general president nominees Roderick L. Smothers, Sr., Southwestern regional vice president and past Southwest...