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magazine | winter 2011

Jylla Speaks! Zeta's 20th Grand Tells It Straight

In Memoriam Tributes to Past Grands Harrison & Kissner

Leadership Void? 5 Tips to Become the Leader Your Organization Needs!

Get Real, Soror! The Truth Behind the Controversial RealZetas.com

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dovely Dovely Magazine Staff Editor-in-Chief

Amber Pratcher

Writers

Kelly Edmond Kendall Ridley Denise Marie Snow

Art Direction & Art Production

Kendall Ridley Element K Creative www.elementkcreative.com

Website Design & Maintenance

Tonicia Kelly eGreekSites, LLC www.egreeksites.com

Consultants

Dovely means being cutting edge "and innovative while still upholding the original ideals of Zeta. ”

"

Dovely is a celebration of Real Zetas making a real impact across the United States and around the world.

Kendra Hatcher King Nikeshia Womack

Dovely Magazine Website www.dovelymag.com

contents » winter 2011

Dovely is about being fierce and "feminine. It's about being the best woman and Zeta I can be. ”

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Letter from the Editor

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In Memoriam

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www.realzetas.com

Dovely Magazine Editorial Policy Dovely Magazine is devoted to highlighting the accomplishments and activities of members of RealZetas.com and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Dovely is a publication of RealZetas.com and is not affiliated with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. The views expressed in Dovely are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Dovely or its staff.

Please submit your materials to the editor by the deadlines indicated. Materials received after these deadlines will be considered for the following issue. If you have a question regarding submission, please direct your questions to the editor at editor@dovelymag.com.

Sorors on the Move We take a look into the lives of Soror Monica Britton, a Zeta who went from the entertainment business to the business of serving her community, and Soror Rhonda M. Lawson, published author and soldier in Iraq.

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Leadership Void? You Can Fill It!

20th Grand Basileus Dr. Jylla Moore Tearte Speaks! Never one to refrain from speaking her mind, Dr. Tearte shares her frank views on leadership, responsibility, and what the sorority needs most right now.

We remember Triumphant Past Grands Harrison and Kissner and Soror Edda Pittman.

RealZetas Website

All persons interested in submitting materials for publication in Dovely acknowledge the editor’s right to accept, deny, or edit any materials submitted for accuracy, clarity and length. Photographs submitted are preferred to be of high resolution (300 dpi or higher). Please include captions with all photographs. By submitting photos, you affirm that the photos are your property or that you have the right to use them, and you grant Dovely the right to use the submitted photos as we see fit.

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RealZetas.com: What's the Deal? Is there another community of Zetas that is more loved, more despised, and more misunderstood than RealZetas.com? We interview the site's creator and reveal the details behind the website that sends tongues wagging.

Writer, speaker, and trainer Soror Gigi Gilliard gives us 5 tips on what makes a great leader and how you can fill the leadership void in your organization.

Dovely Magazine is published quarterly — winter, spring, summer and fall.

Upcoming Submission Deadlines Spring 2011 issue Summer 2011 issue

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March 1 May 1

On the Cover Dr. Jylla Moore Tearte was photographed at her home in Atlanta, Georgia. Photography by Justin Scott Parr.

Rho Alpha Zeta Chapter (Nashville, TN) at their "Evening of Jazz" event. Photo courtesy of Jason Martin/Martin Imagery and Rho Alpha Zeta Chapter.

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text the editor from

in memoriam text

C

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apese?" by Kendall Ridley and Kelly Edmond

Greetings! My name is Amber Pratcher (SP '01), and I am the creator and administrator of RealZetas.com ("RZ"). Dovely Magazine was created based on inspiration acquired from RZ, where amazing things have been shared by sorors and about sorors since 2004. For quite some time, RZ has received many requests for a compilation of these amazing bits and pieces via newsletter. Since RZ contains phenomenally talented Sorors willing to contribute, we have produced this e-zine. I hope that you learn a little bit about what RZ really is via this e-zine, and I encourage you to contribute your stories and submissions about Sorors you know who are doing wonderful things. The sorors on RZ have a great love for the sorority and wish to use this opportunity to shout from the virtual rooftops about how terrific its members are.

Talk to us! We welcome comments from our readers. Email your comments and your full name, chapter, city/ state, and phone number to letters@dovelymag.com.

The Real Zetas community was shocked and saddened to learn

Edda was feisty and often described herself as a rabblerouser. Edda was an instigator of both sound thought and deliberate action!

of her sometimes wicked sense of humor. Edda was about maintaining order and proper procedure in carrying out the business of the sorority. After a particularly heated topic of conversation began recently on RealZetas.com, we wondered when Edda would chime in with an opinion and suggest a course of action. We didn’t know why she hadn’t commented on the situation, but her absence in the conversation was immediately felt and profound. Through our network of sorority sisters, the members of Real Zetas discovered that Edda had passed away, fittingly, at her laptop.

Our fond farewell to Soror Edda Pittman

Enjoy!

Edda Pittman in the 1964 Sorority "uniform." Photo courtesy of Edda Pittman via RealZetas. com.

AMBER PRATCHER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Soror Pittman was inducted into Pi Alpha Chapter in Winter 1963 while an undergraduate student at Harris Teachers College in St. Louis, Missouri. Her formal line name was “The Eternal Flame,” but she often referred to herself as her unofficial line name “Little Sister Crybaby” or the “little old colored lady” of RZ.

Edda had long discussed establishing a “cyber chapter” of the Sorority, and we believe she considered RealZetas.com to be the embodiment of such.

I look forward to reading your feedback on Dovely. What would you like to see more of? Do you know a soror who's doing amazing things? Write me at editor@dovelymag.com.

Submissions may be edited for length and clarity.

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After offering sage advice on parliamentary procedure or political maneuvering, the last word of Edda Pittman’s posts on RealZetas.com was often “Capese?” The correct spelling is “capisce,” but who was going to correct the senior soror of RZ on in memoriam such a non-issue? We knew what Edda was asking us. She wanted to make sure we understood her. We usually did.

on August 19 of the passing of our senior soror, Edda R. Pittman, age 64.

Edda joined RealZetas.com on April 25th, 2005, and racked up 4,997 posts during her time with us – on average, about three posts per day. RZ members would find that during the night Edda had peppered the site with relevant commentary and questions that required us to think. And if we were lucky, we’d find that Soror Pittman’s posts included a dose

The editors and staff of Dovely Magazine and the sorors of RealZetas.com extend our heartfelt condolences to Soror Pittman’s family, friends, and her chapter of affiliation, Xi Zeta Chapter of St. Louis, Missouri. We will miss you, Edda. We already do. ■

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in memoriam

We remember Soror Harrison . . . Triumphant International Grand Basileus Lullelia W. Harrison, b. 1913 d. 2008 At the young age of 30, Soror Lullelia Harrison became our 12th International Grand Basileus (1943–1948) and was celebrated for restoring the sisterhood following the Great Depression. Originally from Houston, Texas, she became a member of Zeta at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, where she was awarded in 1997 with an honorary doctorate of humane letters for her dedication to the community. In addition to her leadership as International Grand Basileus, she served Zeta as a director for the Southern Region and also as the National Historian. Soror Harrison successfully used her gift of organization and motivation to personally connect with sorors, tripling the number of chapters during her administration from 50 to 150. Her legacy lives on today, including her formation of the Amicae (friends of Zeta) auxiliary group and life membership chapter. She is also recognized for establishing the first national executive office for an African-American sorority.

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My first Boulé was in 1994, and it was held at the Marriott World Center in Orlando, Florida. I had been in the sorority a mere three years, and I was excited to scrape enough money to attend Boulé and meet new sorors, learn steps, chants, and just fellowship. I was in the lobby talking to a soror from New York, and this soror approached us about going to a workshop. She told us it was a “Chat with the Past Grands,” and I agreed to go. After a few minutes, I was sitting on the floor at the feet of Grand Wolfe and Grand Harrison. Grand Wolfe spoke about the purchase of the [sorority's] house at New Hampshire Avenue and how for a Black woman in that day and age that was such an accomplishment and that a house in that area [of Washington, D.C.] was prime real estate. She also talked about being married to a white man and how some of our sorors didn’t approve. I could hear the hurt in her voice, but like the spirit of most strong Zeta women, she prevailed and pushed forward in the best interest of the sorority, regardless of any personal misgivings. Listening to Soror Wolfe made me real proud but also made me scared and

anxious because that meant I had big shoes to fill. Was I up for the challenge? Soror Harrison spoke about "being in competition,” and this has always stuck with me because she was exactly right. She said, “We are in competition, for better members, better programs.” I always kept a competitive spirit because of what Soror Harrison said that day. But what I remember most about Soror Harrison happened later during the conference: I saw her at the ball doing the electric slide in her pantsuit. She was telling sorors in the conference room earlier to be zealous in our works as we are in competition, yet on the dance floor she reminded me that we are still a sisterhood. Soror Kelly Edmond Zeta Gamma Zeta Chapter Tampa, FL At the Pacific Regional Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona (which was also the [location of the] National Executive Board meeting), Past Grand Basileus Harrison was there, among other esteemed sorors. Soror Harrison was speaking at the podium, so elegant and beautiful. She had to already

be in her eighties. She said one thing in particular that I remember to this day. She said, "I have made an oath only to three things in my life — my church, my husband, and to Zeta, and I have never forsaken any of them. That short statement, spoken so simply yet powerfully, will always be my internal motto for Zeta – that no matter how difficult it becomes to stay a member, I made an oath to Zeta, and just like my oath to my church and my husband, I will not forsake this organization. Soror Nichele Laynes Xi Lambda Zeta Chapter El Cerrito, CA Soror Harrison was a member of our region and of Lambda Zeta, the graduate chapter in Houston, where I moved after graduating from Lamar University in Beaumont, so I had the chance to meet and talk with her several times. The one time that I remember most vividly is when we were still undergraduates. We were talking with her outside of a session at Regionals. She was sharing advice about how to be a good Zeta. She advised us to not become "whiskey-head Zetas." Soror Kim Green Harlem, NY

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in memoriam

Triumphant International Grand Basileus

We remember Soror Kissner . . .

Janice Gantt Kissner, b. 1940 d. 2010 Soror Janice Gantt Kissner, affectionately known as “Grand Jan,” was Zeta’s 17th International Grand Basileus (1974–1980). She was initiated into the sorority at Cheyney University's Chi Chapter where she received her undergraduate degree before earning a master’s degree at Penn State. Although she was born in Pennsauken, New Jersey, she called Chicago home for many years until her death. She was a proud member of Zeta Zeta in Dolton, Illinois. As one of the youngest elected International Grand Basilei, she helped to strengthen relationships with undergraduate members. She also leveraged her professional role at the March of Dimes as the Director of Community Services for Women to advance Zeta through public recognition in the community and on the national stage.

photo courtesy of Dr. Jylla Tearte

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It was during her administration that Zeta first defined itself as “a community-conscious, action-oriented organization.” Soror Kissner also helped broaden Zeta’s focus internationally with the first regional conference hosted in Africa, and chartering a chapter on the Caribbean island of St. Croix.

I first met Grand Jan on October 3, 1987, at my first Illinois state conference. Zeta Zeta Chapter of Dolton, Illinois, was being rechartered and she was a charter member along with 32 other sorors. (Originally chartered in 1926, [Zeta Zeta was] the oldest grad chapter in Great Lakes.) This was the first time I ever saw Zeta robes, and those charter members looked an awesome site in their robes at the charter ceremony. After the state conference, the chapter had a hospitality suite in the hotel and Grand Jan was the star of the show. She was telling all kinds of stories. I was truly in awe, being a little undergraduate! So as an undergraduate, I had the honor of her being in my sponsoring graduate chapter. Her home on 103rd [Street] was like a museum. She had stuff everywhere: Pictures, plaques, silver cups — you name it, she had it. She was a walking Zeta encyclopedia! Soror Michelle Porter Norman National Grammateus Zeta Zeta Chapter Chicago, IL

I first met Triumphant Soror Kissner at my first Boulé. I told her that I lived in Chicago and she told me that I should come visit her. Several years ago, she had a heart attack or stroke just about three days before Christmas. Back then I was a state and regional officer, so I knew the obligation that was dictated by protocol. I believe it was Christmas Eve the first time I went to see her in Providence Hospital. I remember picking out the cards at Walgreens. Do you know how hard it was finding three different cards that do not have pink, green, red, and yellow on them? I spent several hours talking to her. There are many memories I have of her. Memories of tenacity, vivacity and other [qualities]. I had the opportunity to sit at the foot of Zeta history. And for a still young soror four or five years in the game, I considered it an honor and privilege to learn of her. I am so thankful for the time [we] shared. Soror Khandicia Randolph Eta Zeta Zeta Chapter Columbia, MO

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sorors on the move

Soror Monica Britton

Soror Rhonda Lawson

"

Every soror should do community service at least once a month.

Soldier. Novelist. Award-winning soldier-journalist.

It’s not just about writing a check.

"

photo courtesy of Monica Britton

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hat do pop icon Janet Jackson, hip-hop duo Gang Starr, and community activist Rev. David K. Brawley have in common? Each of them inspired Soror Britton to seek perfection. She adopted her boss Reverend Brawley’s philosophy: "I want perfection, but I’ll settle for excellence." This philosophy became the guide for how she approaches life. Originally setting her sights on becoming a newscaster, Soror Britton majored in English, but she found herself working at an alternative rock radio station in Long Island, New York, after graduation. Thirteen years later in 2006, she had created a career 10 dovely | winter 2011

in the music industry, having worked at Columbia House, Virgin Records and Universal Motown on both the distribution and marketing sides of the business. It was at Virgin Records where she saw Janet Jackson’s dedication and commitment to her work first hand, showing her that [near] perfection is possible. Another one of her artists, Gang Starr taught her the importance of being authentic and earning the respect of your peers. While many would be envious of her ability to break into the music industry and hobnob with the rich and famous, the intern program that she created at Virgin Records is what Soror Britton considers her biggest accomplishment. Her

desire to serve others eventually led her to leave the music industry. Monica landed her dream job at her church, St. Paul Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn, New York. She currently serves as the Director of Communications and Special Projects. Soror Britton encourages all sorors to strive for perfection and help take Zeta to the next level. She actually sees it as a simple task -- commit to upholding the ideals of our founders -- stressing the importance of community service. "Every soror should do community service at least once a month. It’s not just about writing a check."

photo courtesy of Rhonda Lawson

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ravery. Courage. Honor. These are the words that describe Soror Rhonda M. Lawson (SP ’93) who is currently stationed in Iraq. While she’s been in Iraq since February, Soror Lawson has also served admirably in Afghanistan, Egypt, and Korea. She hopes to return to her home of Hinsville, Georgia, this spring to help her Chi Pi Zeta sorors “carry the torch of Zeta.” A 17-year veteran, Soror Lawson joined the United States Army as an opportunity to afford the rising costs of college tuition. Since joining the Army, Soror Lawson has become an awardwinning soldier-journalist. She’s penned two novels, contributed to

five anthologies, and her work has appeared in publications including Soldiers Magazine, The Seattle Times, and The Army Times. Soror Lawson describes her deployment to Iraq as very rewarding. She works as the Public Affairs Officer for the 3rd Sustainment Brigade and arranges interviews with the media who want to speak with soldiers in her brigade. She is also an adjunct professor for the University of Maryland University College teaching Human Resource Management.

family. Her Zeta connections and the support of other Greeks stationed in Iraq serve as an incredible morale booster. They have even formed a small National Pan Hellenic Council group that meets once a month to keep each other’s spirits up. Soror Lawson is currently working on her third novel as she prepares to return to United States. For more information on supporting Soror Rhonda M. Lawson’s books, visit her website at www.rmlawson. com. ■

In her spare time, Soror Lawson enjoys spending time with soldiers who are in the blue and white winter 2011 | dovely 11


makes you great and about what you bring to the dance. Do not run from your weaknesses. Examine them so you can improve upon them, but focus on where you are strong. Once you acknowledge your strengths, look around your organization and ask yourself, “In what areas do I see skill gaps?” Are there needs where there currently is no leader at all? Do these areas fit your strengths? Step up and fill the need!

2. Great leaders are great communicators. This fact is nonnegotiable. Acute listening is essential, but the great leader learns to hear what is not being said. In The Little Black Book of Success: Laws of Leadership for Black Women, authors Elaine Meryl Brown, Marsha Haygood, and Rhonda Joy McLean tell us that “by listening effectively, we not only learn what others think, but what they are planning to do.”

Straightforward tips on how you can fill the leadership gaps in your organization and lead your team to greatness. by Gigi Gilliard

Earlier this year, the Huffington Post reported that baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, are delaying retirement in increasing numbers. While this may be the case, boomers born at the earliest end of this demographic will see their 64th birthdays this year and are hurtling towards retirement age. Human resource experts have warned over the last decade that the mass exodus of retiring baby boomers, particularly those who hold senior

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level and executive positions, will create startling leadership gaps in organizations nationwide. Who will fill the shoes of those heading towards retirement? Who will fill the breaches left by incompetent forerunners with under-developed leadership skills, little to no integrity, wretched relationship-building capability and thin experience? Make no mistake — the need for leaders is great, and the need for great leaders is even greater.

Perhaps you are already an accomplished and effective leader. However, for those interested in some basic competencies that can take you to the “next step” in your leadership development, you might find this advice useful.

1. Become intimate with your strengths. You alone are the best expert in telling the rest of world what makes you so divinely unique. You are the best instructor about what

Great leaders need their communication to be open, consistent, and transparent. Let’s face it — in Zeta, we are surrounded by sharp women, whether they are in titled positions or not. Astute women know when we’re being lied to and when we’re being purposely left out of the loop. While it may not be prudent to share everything you know all at once, do not play the juvenile game of “I’m-the-leader-and-I’mnot-sharing-any-info — nah na-nana-nah!” Not only is this is petty and immature, but the women you attempt to lead will sniff it out immediately. You will lose their respect. I guarantee this. This is why it is so important to listen to and communicate with those you lead early and often.

3. Remember that leadership is not a dictatorship. Nor is it “look-at-my-title-ship” or “it’s-all-about-me-ship.” But it’s not enough to just not be a dictator or a title whore — it is incumbent upon a true leader to become a servant. A true leader is willing to arrive first, leave last, and never dream of ever asking anyone else to do something that she herself is not willing to do. Great leadership is about being willing to share the credit when things go excellently and taking all the blame when things go poorly. A true servant need not announce her greatness — it’s clear to see how amazing she is.

4. Leadership is not the same as management. Good managers merely maintain the status quo. They keep things running smoothly, simply maintaining what was and what has always been. They are often too afraid or not creative enough to bring forth ground breaking change. Be moved to dream big, sorors, because people are rarely inspired by status quo! Ask yourself, “Where I can take this organization, this region, this state, this chapter, this committee, this soror?” If you don’t do so already, consider the big picture and think about how you can engage your team and keep them engaged. Does everyone feel enfranchised, heard, and valued? How can I help the organization or my soror shine? A great leader also has succession planning in her mind at all times! Who can you teach every single thing you know? By thinking this way, the question will not be “Who can I appoint to continue

what I’ve done?” The question will be: “Who is the best person I can appoint to do a better job than I’ve done?”

5. A great leader sets a great example at all times. Even if she blows it, a great leader admits her errors, apologizes, and moves on. She sets the example for having poise, professionalism, grace under pressure, and humility in error. One of my favorite scriptures reads, ”Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16). Simply put, remember that we’re always being watched and that hypocrisy will ruin your credibility. Right now in our organization sits a talent pool that could easily give the best led corporations a run for their money. However, some of us need to refine our leadership abilities in one or more areas. I encourage you to consider taking on a leadership roles, or if you are already in leadership, I encourage you to go beyond the capacity in which you now serve — not just in our organization but in your life! ■ Soror Gigi Gilliard is a writer, speaker, and trainer with a background in corporate leadership development. She recently launched her own training and development business and is an active member of Kappa Epsilon Zeta chapter in the Bronx, New York. You can learn more about her at www.gigigilliard.com.

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A Candid Conversation with 20th International Grand Basileus

Jylla Moore Tearte Dr. Tearte sat down with Dovely to discuss her views on leadership and responsibility, modern technology and the sisterhood, & strategies for strengthening organizations during volatile times. by Denise Marie Snow | photography by Justin Scott Parr In a time when African-American women did not have a strong presence in the upper echelons of executive leadership, Dr. Jylla Moore Tearte ("TEEart") managed to climb the corporate ladder at IBM to become Vice President of Global Sales. To this day, she remains the only executive level professional to 14 dovely | winter 2011

serve as International Grand Basileus of Zeta (1992 – 1996). As grand basileus, Dr. Tearte was known for her high level of integrity, professionalism, and effectiveness in handling the sorority’s business.

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Values-Driven Leadership & Responsibility Drawing on her business expertise, Dr. Tearte used a corporate management style for Zeta’s business affairs. A fierce advocate of upholding high moral principles and nurturing lasting relationships, Dr. Tearte explains, “We need to have the type of leadership examples that women will aspire to be like. Leaders have to demonstrate their core values as they walk their talk.” She believes leaders must not be part of the problem. “They must be the solution providers.”

of undergraduates will empower them to assume leadership roles, which is critical to the future of the sorority. Dr. Tearte sees

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According to Dr. Tearte, it is imperative that leaders possess what she believes to be the number one skill -- building effective relationships. During Dr. Tearte’s administration, she pointedly looked beyond the scope of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority to reach out to the larger network of black Greek letter organizations. “When we extend our relationships within and beyond Zeta, we extend who we are and we ascend to a life of more than just Zeta.” A strong proponent for using professional credentialed Zetas to handle sorority business, Dr. Tearte told Dovely, “There is great talent in Zeta, but we are not leveraging each other’s skills or taking advantage of our talent and connections.” Dr. Tearte suggested that chapters nurture and use the talents of sorors by areas of interest where sorors of similar backgrounds can grow and excel together along with getting involved in other professional organizations.

Dr. Tearte cites creativity as another important skill that every leader must hone because “it inspires global thinking.” The

e need to have the type of leadership examples that women will aspire to be like."

a need to create “a facilitated mentoring program where undergraduates and graduates can talk about the organization, write and research history, take pictures, attend conferences and break bread together.” Her vision for the program includes having undergraduate members sit with sorors who know our history and can pass knowledge down to younger members. “This is how our history lives… We have to consciously plan that connection.” She recommends that undergraduate members start learning more history by reaching out to and interviewing the inaugural class of Zeta Doves created by Grand Basileus Underwood at Boulé.

Dedication to Service

Tearte administration’s “worldclass service” initiative was created as a way for Zeta to share the work of Zeta Phi Beta on a global scale. Under Dr. Tearte’s administration, Zeta Phi Beta established a chapter in Seoul, Korea, and participated in the United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. This year, Dr. Tearte was recognized as a 10-year member of the UNCFChicago advisory board. During their Black and White Gala, Food Lion presented Dr. Tearte with a Visionary Leadership Award for chairing the

committee that raised more than $80,000 to send the Livingstone College concert choir to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall. She also worked with an agency in her community to send a truckload of books and household items to a school recently established in Tanzania. Recently, Dr. Tearte joined the Atlanta cheering squad for the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s 60-mile walk to fund research for a cure for breast cancer.

Modern Technology & the Sisterhood Dr. Tearte believes in the power of sorors and chapters using social networking tools and having an online presence. “Sorors have the right to participate in online tools, but members should use them responsibly in a way that upholds our values at all times,” she stated. “The language must be appropriate, including things

Dr. Tearte remains especially committed to engaging in service opportunities. Dr. Tearte is always amazed at how service trumps any internal struggle at all levels of our sisterhood. “Service continues to anchor Zeta irrespective of the rocky waters we sometimes tread.”

She also maintains that developing the leadership skills

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like your status on Facebook, and our voices should always be framed with deference to our belief in finer womanhood.” As for chapter websites, Dr. Tearte believes that “online content must be current and relevant. It’s not enough to simply have a [web] address.”In support of furthering communication between

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sorors, Dr. Tearte established ZetaOnline.org, a networking site where members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority can establish personal and professional connections. Through ZetaOnline, Dr. Tearte has sponsored “Sunday Conversations” with Past Grand Francis and her husband, past NPHC president and Sigma

brother Gil Francis; and with past national president of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Carter Womack and his wife Vicki Hammock. Dr. Tearte believes sorority members need to have conversations that promote growth while remaining true to the sorority’s founding principles. “We have been a ‘don’t ask, don’t

here is great talent in Zeta, but we are not leveraging each other’s skills or taking advantage of our ... connections."

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tell’ sisterhood where often the courageous authenticity of our sorors has been reduced to a quiet storm,” she says. When Dovely asked about her thoughts on RealZetas.com (“RZ”), the Zetas-only web forum established in 2004 that is seen as controversial by some members of the sorority, Dr. Tearte told us, “RealZetas[.com] was ahead of its time and is a voice of the sisterhood. I commend my soror, Amber Pratcher, for having the fortitude to ensure that sorority sisters always have a voice.”

we have with Phi Beta Sigma. “We are not as cordial to Sigmas as we used to be or need to be and it is not what the founders envisioned for us.” Dr. Tearte spoke of her disappointment with how the sorority is neither apart of nor

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Strengthening Organizations During Volatile Times Organizations must undergo constant strategic transformation while living the vision their founders intended. Honesty, fairness, and integrity are especially important when leading an organization through turbulent times. Dr. Tearte said, “More focused communication, adhering to the constitution and bylaws, emphasizing fiduciary accountability and financial responsibility” are good places for organizations to start when examining their value system. She believes it crucial that organizations understand where they are, where they need to go, and how to rebuild and suggests that Zeta is an organization positioned for more major contributions to society if we can harness the power of a united sisterhood. As for the sorority’s constitutionallybound relationship with Sigma, Dr. Tearte believes that we too often ignore or diminish the bond that 20 dovely | winter 2011

accountable to the membership and not the grand basileus. Making the majority of the National Executive Board elected and not appointed is “the most important action we can take to re-institute the … operational independence

ur voices should always be framed with deference to our belief in finer womanhood."

aligned with Sigma’s upcoming 100th anniversary celebrations. “Let’s raise our voices to convene our Boulé in 2014 with the Sigmas in Washington, DC, so that sorors don’t have to make the choice of a trip to Orlando for Boulé or a trip to DC to celebrate Phi Beta Sigma’s centennial. Let’s have the 2014 Boulé with Sigma’s Centennial in Washington, DC!” Dr. Tearte would like to see the past grands organized into a council that would assist the grand basileus in executing service projects and other key duties as assigned. Dr. Tearte believes the position of past grand has become too politicized and hopes this recommendation will further Zeta’s contributions to society. She’d like to see the past grands of Zeta “unify to retire the debt on [its] national headquarters.” She believes this effort would transform our sisterhood and refocus on our core values and traditions.

of the National Executive Board members.” Part of the transformation needed in the sorority lies with the membership itself. Dr. Tearte believes every soror should have a plan on how she wants to operate in the sorority and “recommit to living the founding principles of Zeta,” but she also recognizes there’s more to life than Zeta. Dr. Tearte encourages sorority members to explore other avenues to grow and excel professionally, while supporting their sorors in the process. “Zeta is a very special part of my life, but at the end of the day, my life isn’t only about Zeta. I know who I am and whose I am,” says Dr. Tearte. “If more sorors were to understand this, it would enable them to … not waiver from their moral compass moving forward." ■

Dr. Tearte believes the “singular focus” going into Boulé 2012 should be to start electing state and regional directors so they are

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KEEPING IT REAL Praised by many, misunderstood by others, and hated by a few. What's the real deal behind the controversial RealZetas.com?

Dovely interviewed the site's creator, Amber Pratcher, to get the story behind the website everyone's talking about. Kendall Ridley: Most people don’t know that Real Zetas started out as a Yahoo group. Tell me your inspiration for it. How did it get started? Why did you see a need for it? Amber Pratcher: What I had seen around the time that I created the Real Zetas Yahoo group was that the other organizations had some type of social forum where they could sign-in themselves and only they would have access to it and could talk amongst each other to share information. I was upset about the fact that I could not find a Zeta site that was devoted to just sorors from across the country sharing things. I wasn’t very well-versed on forums, which are different than chat rooms or email listservs. I ended up starting an email listserv on Yahoo. It attracted sorors who were looking for somewhere to interact with other sorors, so I started the Yahoo group — RealZetas@yahoogroups.com. It’s very similar to the currently — I believe it’s still existing — the Finer Woman listserv, but there were some key differences in the Real Zetas Yahoo group: I was very big on sorors being able to express themselves and, you know, not necessarily going overboard or being disrespectful to one another or anything like that but

being able to talk about anything and everything they wanted to talk about without being censored — being able to give their opinions about something, whether it be great, whether it be bad but to be able to have a dialogue amongst each other, like you would in real life. So that’s where the term “Real Zetas” came from. KR: When did you transition to the bulletin board system that you have now? AP: In 2002 is when, I believe, the Yahoo group was started. I may be off a couple of months, but the actual forum, which is a vBulletin forum, I created in September 2004. That’s when it began, and it’s been up and going ever since. KR: Even when it was a Yahoo group, did you still verify sorors’ membership before they were given access? AP: Well, we had a vouching system. So, the sorors I knew who were part of the listserv and that we verified amongst each other through various means, they would be able to vouch and verify somebody who was on the listserv. We did have a few people winter 2011 | dovely 23


who were on the listserv to begin with that — I remember quite vividly, there was one girl who went through the process on the local level, but she never was nationally recognized and she ended up on the listserv. So things like that made it very, very important that when we created the forum that everybody be vouched for and verified properly and that was also one of the reasons why the forum was a better idea — because it was easier to basically check each and every one who was involved in the forum to make sure they were sorors. KR: So what is the biggest misconception that people have about RZ? AP: [laughs] The biggest misconception that people have about RZ is that it’s a place where there are a bunch of unfinancial, inactive Zetas who only talk bad things about other Zetas and are mean and hateful and all of that, which couldn’t really be farther from the truth. Real Zetas is an open forum. It doesn’t have a personality of its own. It does not act on its own. It is a product of everyone who participates on it. And that misconception came from a lot of things, I think. But the main reason why I think that came about is because on Real Zetas, I do not put you out if you have a dissenting view. I do not restrict your access if I don’t care for you or your opinion. The only rule that I really have is that people respect the forum, respect the rules, and not be disrespectful towards one another. If they have a heated discussion or argument, keep it above board.

variety of different discussions going on. Nine times out of ten, it’s not what people think it is. KR: A lot of members on RZ refer to it as a sort of information hub. Is it true that RZ gets more information quicker than the rest of the sorority? And how does that happen? AP: Yes, actually it does. Zeta really is kind of disjointed when it comes to communication right now. A lot of people don’t really know what’s [happening] on regional levels, on the national level, sometimes even the state level. It always comes about that somebody knows what’s going on, and if that somebody is on RZ, then — if they’re gracious enough — they share with us, the Zeta population on RZ, what’s [happening] on the national level, what they heard, what they know to be verified. It’s often good to get out what people hear because then there’s always somebody who’s going to question where it came from, how it came about, and then people will be glad to share with the people who are questioning them: “This is how I got this information. This is how I know it to be true.” That’s how a lot of information gets to RZ. A lot of things that people should know when making informed decisions when going to national, regional, local meetings are posted on RZ, available to anyone who should read it. So, it really is a coming together of sorors from around the country who have information to share with other sorors — embellishment, if you will.

" I would encourage anybody to see the variety of different discussions going on. Nine times out of ten, it’s not what people think it is. " A lot of people come to RZ to vent about things, about Zeta itself, and what happens is people come to the board and they watch what people say and they take it to someone who was being referred to out of context. And that person may hear what someone said about them on the forum and automatically color the whole forum as a mean, disrespectful, unsisterly place. Anyone who is a soror can join RZ, and I would encourage anybody to get on and see the

24 dovely | winter 2011

KR: What is the most memorable story that you’ve heard on RZ about how it’s affected members’ lives in a positive way. AP: Hmm, good question. [pause] I can’t think of one particular story. I do know that RZ has been a place where a lot of sorors have connected, where a lot of sorors have joined together on things. A lot of sorors have gotten to know each other and have become friends.

I know there’s been particular things on RZ that we’ve done that probably wouldn’t be done any other place. For instance, a soror in Ohio wanted to have

for that, I have to pay for the actual server which I’ve had to upgrade many times because of the amount of participation we get, it overloads the server.

" If we’re paying dues — if we’re active and financial ... we deserve to have all the information that is attached to the organization. " sorors donate old dresses to a deserving young girls’ organization that she was familiar with. When the call went out to the forum, many sorors mailed old dresses, prom dresses, bridesmaids dresses, all those kinds of things and assisted this young girls’ organization, and it was all coordinated through RZ. We have sorors who wouldn’t have met otherwise who met on RZ and have gone through hard times, and some sorors on RZ hear about that and they got it together and donate to a soror in need or send a soror in need certain things she’s requesting or needing. That kind of thing happens all the time on RZ. So I can’t pinpoint one thing, but we have had a lot of memorable things [happen] on RZ that have been beyond positive. KR: RZ recently underwent a round of serious upgrades. What upgrades took place and who paid for them? AP: Periodically, usually annually, the interface that I use for RZ comes out with updates and upgrades. Usually these updates and upgrades are because of kinks or bugs that are in the interface. So, for example, last year, probably for about two years straight, when sorors would try to attach photos to their postings, the photos couldn’t be seen. There’s been an upgrade in the system where now that’s not a problem. The interface received a whole different design that’s easier to navigate, in my opinion. It also has different things that people can use, such as now you have the ability to post YouTube videos. Now you have the opportunity to upload pictures in your gallery without getting the dreaded red X. There’s a lot of different things behind the scenes that I was able to correct due to the upgrade. I have to get those upgrades and updates paid for, and every year I have to update the domain name. I have to pay

I put my money up to begin with to create all of it and put it up so that it was stable, but after that it has been kept up with RZ donations. Every year, around September, when the site needs updating and renewal, the sorors from RZ step up and donate their funds to make sure that it’s maintained correctly so it doesn’t crash. KR: Where do you see RZ in a year from now? In five years from now? How do you see it growing and changing? What’s the next incarnation? AP: Many of the different incarnations of what’s going on in new media, period, continue to be added to the site. This year we have blog capabilities and we have article postings that can be made. Those are the types of updates and new things that I hope continue to evolve throughout the year and years. As far as the functionality of what the site is, I’m just looking forward to it expanding as the population grows. The more opinions, the more voices that we hear via the site make it more effective based on the goals I had in mind when I created the site. I think it does its job. For some reason, RZ happens to get mentioned at various regional meetings and national meetings, even, for the reasons I described before — the fact that information gets to it before everyone wants it to get out. But the bottom line is, if we’re paying dues — if we’re active and financial sorors, we deserve to have all the information that is attached to the organization. I firmly believe that and I hope that more people come to an understanding of the positive aspect of RZ. And [I want them] to understand that “real,” the first word in the name “Real Zetas” means it is real. It’s not some bubblegum place where everybody is happy and only complimenting each other and no one is saying a negative word about anything, because sometimes life is negative and therefore sometimes winter 2011 | dovely 25


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things about our organization can be negative, but when we share those parts of who we are, we become whole, we become stronger. And that’s what I look forward to in terms of the site — [members] participating and helping to build our sorority up to the potential that it’s worth.

to be on the grassroots level. Dovely would be that reminder, I would say.

KR: You just mentioned how some of the leadership of the sorority has spoken about RZ critically. What other response do you have for your critics as far as Real Zetas goes?

AP: I am a charter member of Upsilon Kappa Zeta Chapter in Bloomington, Indiana. I helped charter that chapter in 2005 while I was a grad student at Indiana University. I was initiated in 2001 when I attended Ball State University and initiated through Mu Tau Zeta Chapter in Speedway, Indiana.

AP: I would say the only response I have for our critics is they are more than welcome to join and see for themselves what RZ is really about. I would encourage that fully. They know my name, and they know how to contact me. I would love for them to come around and see for themselves. Actions speak louder than words, and RZ has been a proponent for action. If something is incorrect, any soror deserves to be corrected. Any soror deserves to hear the real [story] from the horse’s mouth. If you feel that the value of our sorors is there, then RZ is the proponent of the grassroots. Anyone on the site, I’m sure, would be ecstatic to hear directly from anyone about what they have right and what they have wrong.

KR: Tell me a little bit about your participation in the sorority right now. I know you hold an office in your local chapter. Tell me about what you do on the local level.

I have consistently and constantly been active in Zeta. As of the last 2 or 3 years, I was elected the Indiana state [treasurer]. My position expires in just another week. [Soror Pratcher's term as treasurer ended. She was just elected corresponding secretary at the recent Indiana state conference. –K.R.] I am the scholarship chair of my chapter, and those are the biggest things that I do with Zeta right now. I also run the Indiana state sorors’ email listserv. That’s about it, at least for right now. KR: Well, that’s actually quite a lot. AP: [laughs]

KR: Dovely Magazine is a publication of RealZetas.com. What was the inspiration behind this magazine? AP: RZ is not just a [web] forum now. It’s on Twitter and it’s Facebook as well. Consistently on our Facebook and Twitter [pages], we highlight a lot of the wonderful and phenomenal things that sorors are doing around the country. We have some exciting and magnificent sorors out there, and we don’t really get to hear about what our sorors are doing, what they’re accomplishing, who they are — beyond who we have listed on the national website. So we’ve really taken that niche, that open gap, and tried to fill it. And we want our sorors to know how magnificent we are because sometimes we forget when we are in the trenches with community service, with working, with stepping, with life, with babies, with everything, with schooling. We kind of forget how fantastic our sorority is, and I think that is the basis of what Dovely is. We need for each other and others to be reminded of what Zeta is and what we know Zeta

KR: Before we go, is there anything else you want people to know about RZ, about Dovely Dovely,, or about Zeta in general? AP: I would just say that I’m super excited about Dovely and the publication itself. RZ has really opened my eyes to all of the amazing things that sorors are doing around the country. Being able to have that social networking and being able to chat and share information with a soror from Seoul, Korea, to a soror in Boulder, Colorado, to a soror in New York and the Bronx, it has really been an invaluable embellishment for me. Anyone who is a regular and frequent member who participates a lot on RZ feels the same way. There’s no way you could participate on RZ on a regular basis and not say “wow!” So I’m hoping that Dovely can do justice to our “wow” factor. ■

winter 2011 | dovely 27

Dovely Magazine - Inaugural Issue  

The Inaugural Issue of Dovely Magazine Winter 2011

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