Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated Regional Conference

Staff Writer
Donaldsonville Chief

The South Central Region of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated hosted the 81st Regional Conference at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel in New Orleans. The South Central Region is comprised of the states of Arkansas, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana. Over 3,400 members attended the four day conference. The Public Luncheon was held on March 22nd. The theme was “Preserving Timeless Service with Jazz and Pizazz”. Alpha Kappa Alpha celebrated the culture and contributions of the wonderful people of New Orleans and Louisiana. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was founded in 1908 is the oldest Greek-letter sorority established by African-American college-educated women.

The Public Luncheon honored eleven citizens for distinguished service to the community and had over 820 guests in attendance. The youngest honoree was Academy Award nominated actress, Quevanzhané Wallis and the eldest was Dr. Norman C. Francis, president of Xavier University, a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and the nation's longest-sitting college president. Louisiana Supreme Court Judge, Chief Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson, the court's first black chief justice and Stephanie Finley, first woman appointed as U.S. Attorney in the State of Louisiana were recognized for judicial service. State Representative and Chairman of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, Patricia Haynes Smith was honored for her work in politics. Cynthia Butler-McIntyre, the National President of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Executive Director of the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music, A. Michele Jean-Pierre were acknowledged for their leadership and service. Twelve-year-old renowned Kid chef Eliana de Las Casas andIsidore Newman School students Princeton Carter and Ashley Adams received accolades for their accomplishments. Gail Womack-Murray is the founder of “Love in Action Outreach", a grassroots and community based organization in eastern New Orleans.

Regional Director, Chelle Luper Wilson, made a surprise announcement that four young ladies (8th Graders) were each the recipients of a $10,000 scholarship from the Chelle Wilson NOLA Scholars Fellowship Program.

Sally-Ann Roberts, co-anchor of WWL-TV Eyewitness Morning News, served as the Mistress of Ceremonies for this very special event. The luncheon began with a welcome from A. Denise Graves, the 2013 Public Luncheon Committee Chairman. The International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Attorney Carolyn House Stewart and Robyn McCormick, Southern Louisiana Cluster Coordinator also welcomed the guests. Greetings were also given by Congressman Cedric Richmond, Mayor Mitchell Landrieu and Sheraé Hunter from the Office of United States Senator Mary Landrieu. The Invocation and Grace was given by Rev. Thomas Bessix of New Gideon Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. The Presentation of Colors was done by Donaldsonville High School JROTC.

Public Luncheon Committee Co-Chairmen, Sasha Steib, Jasmine Paul and Vallarie Woods were also program participants. Ms. Steib introduced the Head Table; Mrs. Paul introduced the Mistress of Ceremonies and Mrs. Woods acknowledged the special guests in attendance. Special guests included judges the Honorable Nannette Jolivette Brown, Honorable Angelique Reed, Honorable Terri Love and Honorable Tracey E. Flemings-Davillier, all members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Additionally, Dr. Walter Kimbrough, President, Dillard University and Mrs. Sybil Morial the wife of the late New Orleans Mayor Dutch Morial and mother of former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial were in present. Musical entertainment throughout the program was provided by the Xavier University Jazz Ensemble. Chelle Luper Wilson, Regional Director and A. Denise Graves, Public Luncheon Committee Chairman delivered the closing remarks.