Alexandria, VA – Ms. Lenor Reese is the national president of the Gamma Phi Delta Sorority and a charter member of the Mu Omicron Chapter located in Northern Virginia. In 2021, Gamma Phi Delta celebrates 78 years of positively impacting communities through charitable and educational initiatives. Here, Ms. Reese shares how Gamma Phi Delta works to support Alexandria and the entire Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
Zebra: Ms. Reese, when and how did you join Gamma Phi Delta? As national director, what are your responsibilities?
Mr. Reese: My story began in 1997 when I was recruited by a friend who was attending an NAACP annual event. A member of Gamma Phi Delta was also attending. She was asked to help establish a chapter in Northern Virginia, and I became a charter member of that chapter, known as the Mu Omicron Chapter. From there, the rest is history. I am proud that we now have 46 members in the Northern Virginia chapter and are steadily growing.
As the national president, my responsibilities are to have a global view of the organization, how we operate, and how we can strengthen our foundation to continue our Founders’ legacy. Working with our National Board of Directors, I provide guidance and leadership to the sorority and align our organization with the requirements of an exempt 501-(c)(3) organization.
I also spearhead the process of using technology to conduct our business more efficiently. Together with the board, we are constantly refining and retooling our processes for increased efficiency and cost-effectiveness. This enables us to provide greater service to communities in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.
Zebra: How has Mu Omicron contributed to the Alexandria community? What do you feel is its most successful program?
Mr. Reese: When our chapter was first established, we volunteered with the Carpenter Shelter once a month and chaperoned the children in the designated playroom. We brought donated toys and crafts for the children to play with.
Through one of our members who worked for a federal government agency, we obtained surplus computers to install at the Carpenter’s Shelter. We then provided computer training to shelter residents. Our chapter really enjoyed working with the shelter because our volunteerism brought so much joy to the children and helped the residents improve their lives.
Additionally, we offer scholarships to Northern Virginia’s graduating high school students, returning college students, and working women.
I believe our greatest success is the consistent community service provided by Mu Omicron Chapter and other chapters in this metropolitan area. Our most recent project was on the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday. As our National Day of Service project, chapter members assembled shower kits and purchased food and sanitary items for Doorways to Independence. We had a caravan of eight or ten Gamma Phi Delta cars to deliver the donated items.
We serve our communities with humble gratitude to help make someone else’s life a little easier.
Zebra: What do you enjoy most in your work with Gamma Phi Delta Sorority? What are your goals for 2021?
Mr. Reese: What do I enjoy most? First, I would say the sisterhood. Being a part of the sorority has allowed me to expand my circle of sisters. I love how Gamma Phi Delta Sorority members celebrate each other’s successes and support each other during the hard times. We are honest with each other, and we praise each other for jobs well done.
Second, doing community service with others. It is so important to volunteer. Sometimes we take our blessings for granted, and we need an occasional reminder that we should always offer a helping hand to those in need.
Our primary goal for this year will be to look at ourselves internally to see how we can operate more efficiently and to move Gamma Phi Delta forward by infusing more technology into how we do business and operate as an organization. It is always more comfortable to stick with what we know. This global pandemic has propelled everyone to be more creative and forward-thinking and to face change head-on.
Also, as a member-driven organization, increased membership is always a key goal. We are looking at how to enhance the member experience and reach out to a broader range of business and professional women. We intend to do this by offering more educational opportunities centered around business and professional competencies. We will leverage social media and non-traditional marketing efforts to showcase the many things that Gamma Phi Delta Sorority provides to communities across the country.
Zebra: On a personal note, what are some of your favorite Alexandria establishments?
Mr. Reese: Lena’s Woodfire Pizza & Tap is one of my favorite restaurants. It is literally a 5-minute walk from my house. I usually order one of their delicious pizzas, the giant meatball, or the cannoli. The Yates Family pays attention to the details and has succeeded in making their patrons feel safe during the pandemic.
I also enjoy Joe Theismann’s, before and after the renovation. Their menu has changed, but I love their delicious food and excellent service.
Zebra: Is there anything more you wish to share with people about your sorority?
Mr. Reese: Gamma Phi Delta is unique among Greek organizations. We are not a traditional sorority in that we were founded at Lewis Business College, a school founded and privately owned by Dr. Violet T. Lewis, an African American woman, in Detroit, Michigan. Dr. Lewis established this sorority for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and graduate-level students.
We are focused on inviting all women to explore membership with our wonderful organization. Requirement for membership is a combination of work experience or post-secondary education or training, completion of an accredited certificate, apprenticeship or similar training program, or a two- or four-year college degree.