Beverly E. Smith (left) the president and CEO of the nation’s largest sorority, Delta Sigma Theta. (Courtesy Photo)

Beverly E. Smith the president and CEO of the nation’s largest sorority, Delta Sigma Theta is in the middle of a seven state cross country tour. Smith has already overseen regional conferences in Hartford, CT and Nashville TN, now she is conducting the business of Delta Sigma Theta in Pasadena, CA before moving on to Dallas, TX; Kansas City, MO; Charlotte, NC and finally Cincinatti, OH.

Following the kick off of the conference and the public meeting where Delta’s honored Gerald Freeny, the first African American President of the Tournament of Roses and longtime civil rights activist, Rev. Dr. James Lawson, Smith along with Farwest Regional Director Lydia Cincore-Templeton discussed with the Sentinel the mission of the Delta Sigma Theta, outlined their Five-Point Program Thrust, the work that the local chapters are doing to make a difference in their communities and the vision that keeps Delta one of the most dynamic and relevant organizations of its kind in the world.

Cincore-Templeton spoke with great pride about the sororities Five-Point Program Thrust and the great work that the sorority is doing this week to assist 22 homeless families.

“We are here to conduct the business of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority,” Cincore-Templeton said. “But we are also here to make a difference in our communities.“

Cincore-Templeton went on to say, “just today we partnered with community based organizations to assist homeless families move out of homeless shelter and into their own home.”

Smith who was initiated into the Sorority through the Epsilon Omicron Chapter at Bowling Green State University in October 1967 has been a dedicated member of the beloved sisterhood for 50 years.

Smith is well aware of the changing dynamics that face African American sororities and fraternities today as well as the challenges that African American communities and people are struggling with on a daily basis.

“Overall our focus is on social action,” Smith said. “We try and make sure that our sorors are informed and aware of the issues that our communities are dealing with.”

In regards to local activism Cincore-Templeton said that “our soror’s do a lot of things individually and collectively to make a difference. We are very involved in education and economic development for our community.”

Delta Sigma Theta hopes to address mental and physical health issues as one of the points of their Five-Point  Program Thrust.

“We must make sure that our members [are] addressing their needs and their families needs,” Cincore-Templeton said. “We can’t help others if we can’t help ourselves.”

Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated is a global brand with over 250,000 members and currently over 1000 chapters located in the United States, England, Japan, Germany, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Jamaica and the Republic of Korea.

With such a diverse range of locations, Delta Sigma Theta’s members too represent a wide-assortment of professions. The women of Delta have a global reach providing mission work in South Africa, supporting hospitals in Kenya and schools in Ghana.

“We are making sure that we take good care of our communities and that starts with taking good care of our members through member development,” Smith said.

One main theme that Smith stressed was that in order for leadership to be effective “we must have a seat at the table.” Delta’s roll in addressing the challenges that face the African American community today require strategic partnership and alliances.

“All of the Divine Nine fraternities and sororities work very closely together,” Smith said. “We are much better together and we have come together to address the issues in which our communities are dealing with.”

Smith also emphasized the importance of members being politically and socially conscious by focusing on voter education and voter registration.

“Our partnerships go beyond that of the Divine Nine, Delta’s have strategic memorandums of understanding with the National Urban League, the NAACP and the March of Dimes as well,” Smith said.

When asked are fraternities and sororities important or relevant in today’s society, Smith responded with an absolute “yes.”

“Times are changing, but the needs and issues are much the same,“ Smith said. “My generation doesn’t speak the same language as millennials. We have to come out of our boxes and find the common ground.”

Mentioning Delta Sigma Theta member, DeEbony Groves who was killed in the Waffle House shooting in April, Smith noted how many of the issues that are happening today were the same “faced 50 years ago.”

“But that means we have to be smarter. We have to find better ways to communicate,” Smith said.  “We have to be at the table we can’t just sit outside and protest, we have to be part of the decision making process whether it is in the boardrooms or on the political scene, we must be involved.”

Smith believes a new approach is necessary for change.

“We can’t use the same strategies of yesterday to address the issues of today.”