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celebrating founders' day 2022

2022 official founders day image_edited.

January 16, 2022 represents 102 years for Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.  In honor of this achievement we must pay homage to our five Founders: Arizona Cleaver Stemmons, Pearl Anna Neal, Mrytle Tyler Faithful, Viola Tyler Goings, and Fannie Pettie Watts, who believed in the need for a new and different type of Greek-lettered organization and acted upon that need. To these women, Zeta was more than an organization, it was a movement, a belief system that reflected, at its core, the desire to provide true Service, to embrace Scholarship, to set a standard for Sisterly Love and to define the noble concept of Finer Womanhood.  Zeta wanted more than to simply develop bonds of companionship amongst college students, but sought first to make inroads in the communities that would most benefit from the services the Sorority would provide.

sigma delta zeta 
furthers the goal of our founders

SDZ C -1
SDZ C -2
SDZ Charter Members
Tee Christian - 1
Tinkhani Ushe White
Lynette Headshot_2020

The Sigma Delta Zeta Chapter was chartered in March 2001 by five audacious women who saw a need in the Henrico County, VA community that would benefit from the dedication of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority through implementing international programs such as Z-Hope (Zetas Helping Other People Excel), youth affiliate members and many others.  Like the first chapter, charterd by our Founders Sigma Delta Zeta Chapter, retains it zest for excellence and espouses the highest ideals connected to our principles: Service, Scholarship, Sisterly Love and Finer Womanhood. The five charter members are: Malissia Anderson, Lynette Banks-Harris (Lightfoot),  Otelia Berryman (Christian),  Vernesha Brown, and Tinkhani Ushe (White).

in her own words

thoughts on the beginnings of sigma delta zeta from a

few of our charter members

Otelia Headshot_2020.jpg


Enthusiastic, passionate and determined are just a few words to describe my feelings on March 18, 2001.  The chartering of Sigma Delta Zeta Chapter was certainly not easy.  We faced obstacles and much negativity but we refused to give up.  

Today almost 21 years later, the sacrifices made to make Sigma Delta Zeta chapter a reality was well worth it.  My vision for the chapter was to attract like-minded women that possessed the desire to serve the community in a variety of ways.  Over the years many diverse, talented and dedicated women have become a part of the Chapter. 

Happy Founders' Day Sorors!

Lynette Headshot_2020.jpg


When we met in December of 2000 and knew that our decision to charter another chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., in Richmond, Virginia, was about to happen in a few months, it was very clear to me that we were headed in the right direction.  I knew that we were bound for new insights and felt that we could make a difference in the Henrico County area, I felt that the charter members were up to the task!  I wanted us to reach more organizations in the community and lend our hand to provide the assistance that was needed.  I felt that we were liked minded Sorors and wanted to make a difference in the way we felt it would as we headed into a new technology direction.  Our chapter theme song became, “This is how we do it!”  And we did it too!


We hosted our first Eastern Regional Conference with just eight Sorors in our newly chartered chapter.  It was a great success!  We achieved recognition and support from the community and the Sorors of the Eastern Region.  We were prepared to make Sigma Delta Zeta Chapter a “premiere” chapter. Which we did!  We were prepared to increase our membership.  Which we did!  We were prepared to always make Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., ALWAYS LOOK FINER! Which we did! Now 20 years later, we’ve had awesome Sorors to come and go and come!


As we continue to provide scholarships, service the community, make sure we always exhibit Sisterhood, we will continue, without a doubt, no questions asked, be the Finer Women of Sigma Delta Zeta Chapter! 


Happy Founders Day Sorors! 

Tinkhani Ushe White.jpg


My line sisters, Malissia Anderson and Vernesha Brown, and I were babies in Zeta when we were offered the opportunity to charter Sigma Delta Zeta Chapter.   I am not sure we knew enough to say we had a clear vision.  What we did know was that our big sisters Lynette Banks-Lightfoot and Otelia Christian had a vision for a chapter that met needs that were at that time not being fully met by having only one chapter in Richmond. 

We recognized the vision for a chapter that was energized to serve and have an impact in a different way than had been done before. We also recognized that, although we chartered the chapter with all good intentions, there were sorors who were hurt by our decision to move in a different direction and hoped we would fail.  This knowledge served as fuel for us.  We were small but mighty and determined.  We hosted an Eastern Regional Conference with fewer than 10 Sorors on the roster.  We were the first BGLO in the Richmond areas to adopt, not one, but two streets.  On a personal note, I grew considerably as a leader and problem solver during those times because our motto was “Can’t be that hard” along with “This is how we do it”. 

Not doing something because we were too small was simply not an option. We simply worked together to figure it out.   As we look toward our 21st anniversary as a chapter and 102nd anniversary as a Sorority, I am grateful and proud of the sorors who have come to serve through Sigma Delta Zeta along the way who have held her down and helped her thrive and do even more than we initially envisioned.  I am grateful that I am able to be back and serve and as long as I am in the Richmond area, there is no other option for me to serve as a Zeta other than through Sigma Delta Zeta. My hope is that we will lead first with Sisterly love to show the world how we do Scholarship, Service, and Finer Womanhood.


Happy Founders Day Sorors!   

what our principles mean to me

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raine harris

  • Scholarship: is the academic capabilities, the academic success, and the ability to overcome academic challenges. 

  • Service: is the ability and passionate  to give back to the community, which supports us as a sorority and never forgetting our roots.

  • Sisterhood:  is the sisterly bond, sisterly love, sisterly respect and being present.

  • Finer womanhood is “how” we carry ourselves with respect, dignity and pride.

Tee Christian.jpg


Lynette Banks Harris.jpg

lynette banks-lightfoot

I am so proud to be a member of this Illustrious Sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.!  If I could choose one word to describe what each of our founding principles mean to me, it would be: 

  • Scholarship: Achievement

  • Service: Assistance

  • Sisterly Love: Loyal and

  • Finer Womanhood: Quality!

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sherry sinkler-crawley

To me the principles means being your best self. When you are your best self, you help others, you never stop leaning, you love your sisters, and you will exemplify what it means to be Finer. 

To me our principles define a lifestyle that I try to live by.

  • Scholarship: I am always open to learning new things.

  • Service: I am willing to contribute ideas, time and resources.

  • Sisterhood: I treat people the way I want to be treated.

  • Finer Womanhood: Being the best person that I can possibly be.  This includes but not limited to mindset, attitude, deeds, being uplifting and caring.

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Micki milhouse

For me, the founding principles means to help uplift others. 

Dr. tomikia legrande

Our four principles of Service, Scholarship, Sisterhood and Finer Womanhood, in my opinion, are action words not just adjectives.  In the spirit of our Founders I try to put these principles to work in my life daily...that's what Zetas do.  We are all about action! 

donna patterson-skinner

The principles our illustrious Sorority were founded on are the key aspects on how I try to live my life. In order to serve others, I have to have a thirst for knowledge so I can assist in the best ways possible. The bonds of sisterhood brings together a diverse group of women all with various strengths that we rely upon to uplift those we serve. This work is done with beauty and grace which exemplifies Finer Womanhood!

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