Theta Zeta Omega Chapter History
In 1964, a group of 14 interested graduate members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. came together to see about expanding the sorority to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. These 14 women, henceforth known as The "Organizers" invited the South Eastern Regional Director at that time, Reva Allman, to attend a luncheon being held at the Officers’ Club at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. The Organizers sought guidance as how to form a graduate chapter. The charter members were Fannie W. Brown, Norma Caples*, Nadine Cleggett, Barbara Cooke, Adrian Croutch, Mary K. Dubra, Gwendolyn Dunn, Sara Dunn, Norma Graham*, Louise Harris, Doris Hawthorne, Vivian Scott, Gwendolyn Spates, and Mamie Stokes. The chartering process began on April 7, 1964. On May 15, 1965 at the Buena Vista Hotel in Biloxi, Mississippi, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Theta Zeta Omega chapter was chartered.
There was a cocktail hour following the chartering and the husbands of the charter members joined the group. An introductory tea was held in the Buena Vista Hotel Sun Room from 4pm to 6pm. The International President at that time, Julia Purnell, served as the guest speaker. Theta Zeta Omega is proud of its significant position in the history books of Alpha Kappa Alpha. At the 2008 International Conference, under the administration of former International President, Barbara A. McKinzie, Theta Zeta Omega received the ESP-Centennial Program Achievement Award for Excellence in Implementing the Economic Growth of the Black Family Platform for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Habitat for Humanity Project.
Theta Zeta Omega is the only chapter in the South Eastern Region to have two "Sorority Member of the Day" recipients. Stephanie Barnes Taylor was the first to receive the designation from Juanita Sims Doty, the 23rd South Eastern Regional Director. Barbara Thomas was the second member to be bestowed this honor. In 2008 at the 76th South Eastern Regional Conference (SERC), Theresa Haynes was awarded the Donnyss Cotton Rucker Clasped Hands Award for the greatest percentage increase in membership due to undergraduate transfers. At the 77th SERC, Theresa Haynes was awarded the Esther Rigsby Membership Chairman Award and Carolyn Hall Jones was awarded the Juanita Sims Doty Entrepreneur Award. In 2011, Stephanie Barnes Taylor was awarded the President of the Year Award in the SERC. In 2014 at the 66th International Convention held in Charlotte, North Carolina, Stephanie Barnes Taylor was elected as the South Eastern Regional Representative to the International Nominating Committee. In 2015, the 2014 Administration, under the leadership of Schermonique Taylor, President and Theresa Haynes, Vice-President, was awarded the Childhood Hunger Achievement Award and the Seasonal Wraps Achievement Award at the 83rd SERC in Memphis. Also at the 83rd SERC, Bridgette Parks was awarded the Esther Rigsby Membership Chairman Award.
Since the inception of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Theta Zeta Omega Chapter members have worked faithfully to prepare a legacy for the future by blazing new trails and reaching new heights through the implementation of new programs that center on significant issues in families, communities, government halls, and world assembly chambers. Focused on upholding the vision set by the sorority’s founders to cultivate and encourage high scholastic and ethical standards, promote unity and friendship among college women, and develop programs that help cultivate women, Theta Zeta Omega has been a beacon of light on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Theta Zeta Omega Chapter is Exemplifying Excellence Through Sustainable Service.
First Chapter President: Barbara J. Cooke
Geography Today Hancock, Harrison, & Jackson County
Membership (as of June 2017)
Charter Members: Fannie W. Brown, Norma Caples*, Nadine Cleggett, Barbara Cooke, Adrian Croutch, Mary K. Dubra, Gwendolyn Dunn, Sara Dunn, Norma Graham*, Louise Harris, Doris Hawthorne, Vivian Scott, Gwendolyn Spates, and Mamie Stokes.
* Still active in the chapter