For the fourth consecutive year Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity’s international leadership attended the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors’ (AFA) Annual Meeting (conference). The AFA provides exceptional experiences, a vibrant community, and essential resources for the success of fraternity and sorority advisors. The vision of AFA is to be the catalytic force in aligning the fraternity/sorority experience with the changing dynamics and enduring principles of higher education.
This year, Phi Beta Sigma was represented by a 14-member delegation of General Board officers. Attending the conference, held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, in Atlanta, GA, were Hon. Micheal E. Cristal, International President, Jean B. Lamothe, First Vice President, Frederick Bell, Second Vice President, T.J. Lewis, Director of Collegiate Affairs, Steve E. Ballard, Deputy Executive Director, Hon. Daryl A. Anderson, Chief of Staff, Rafael Matos, Director of Sigma Leadership Academy, Devon Henry, Eastern Regional Director, Daryl A. Parks, Great Lakes Regional Director, Edwin K. Miles, Gulf Coast Regional Director, Eston Williams, Southeastern Regional Director, Roy Edmonds, Southern Regional Director, Joshua A. Busby, Southwestern Regional Director, and Mark A. Armstrong, Western Regional Director. Also attending was Brother Terrence Parker, Gulf Coast Director of Collegiate Affairs.
In keeping with the fraternity’s current theme “A Brotherhood of Conscious Men Actively Serving Our Communities, Brothers Anderson and Matos coordinated Team Sigma’s participation in the 4-day conference, making their engagement intentional in every aspect.
AFA is committed to professional development, academic and applied research that examines the entire spectrum of the fraternity/sorority experience and the advising profession, and collaborations within and between the higher education and inter-fraternal communities. This year’s conference featured a well-rounded schedule of Education Blocks (tracks), Business Meetings, Awards Events and one-on-one dialogues between fraternity/sorority leaders and campus professional and officials. These dialogues were named Fireside Chats.
Wednesday, November 29th served as the travel/arrival day for most of the delegation. Similar to the structure of Phi Beta Sigma, the AFA is segmented into five regions, with each region hosting a Regional Meeting just prior to the Annual Meeting Welcome Reception. Brothers Anderson, Matos and Ballard attended their respective regional meetings, as well as the reception.
The Team gathered on Thursday morning to prepare for the day’s full schedule. After securing their registration material, the delegation attended the AFA Opening General Session. Following the session, Phi Beta Sigma was the only organization with a stationed location for its various meeting needs. Brothers Anderson and Matos conducted a session for the delegation entitled “Getting the Most Out of Our Conference. The leaders also sponsored a Think Tank , where Sigma attendees representing their universities and The Sigma Professional Advisors Council (SPAC) held conversation about the current state of affairs of the fraternity/sorority industry and its impact on Sigma’s college relations.
NPHC presented a First Time Advisors Forum, while team members chose to attend workshops from a list of 44 different topics. The sessions were presented under eight tracks: Administrator, Advisor, Collaborator, Educator, Innovator, Leader, Researcher and Values Aligner.
A special feature of the AFA conference was the 2-part Fireside Chat Meet & Greet and the Fireside Chat. Campus-based professionals were stationed at tables while organization-based professionals and leaders sought out institutional representatives with whom they wanted to meet. Phi Beta Sigma’s regional directors made introductions and scheduled meetings with official campus representatives to discuss Sigma chapters.
The evening activity allowed the Sigma Delegation the chance to fraternize, fellowship and enjoy one of downtown Atlanta’s fine dining establishments.
Early Friday morning, Bro. Anderson called the delegation together for breakfast and presented the agenda for the day. The team reviewed the education workshop options and chose to attend those topics that best appealed to their specific fraternal obligation.
The NPHC Update was attended by the leadership boards of all of the Divine Nine, as well as professionals and conference attendees who hold membership in one of the affiliate organizations. At the close of the meeting, everyone moved to the AFA and AFA Foundation Recognition Luncheon. Congratulations to Sigma Brother Sean Guinyard, MSA Coordinator for The Office of Outreach University of North Texas, who received 1st Place in the Order of Omega’s Case Study Competition in Crisis Intervention.
Fireside Chats were held on Thursday evening, where campus professional and international organizations representatives reinforced their collaborative efforts on a variety of issues through brief, 20-minute meetings. These meetings provided regional leaders with the opportunity to discuss a chapter’s progress with their respective campus official.
NPHC Reception closed out the evening with Brother Ballard, representing Phi Beta Sigma, making a special presentation to Jennifer M. Jones, member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. On December 31st, Soror Jones will be ending 10 years of service as National President of the NPHC.
On Saturday, December 2nd, the Sigma Delegation made quite the impression at the AFA Business Meeting donning their “Scholarly But Cool” cardigan sweaters. The Sigma leadership was fully engaged in the many critical issues on the meeting’s agenda.
After the adjourning of the AFA Business Meeting, Team Sigma lunched at Gus’ Famous Chicken, located one block from the conference site. The delegation then returned for a conference review and wrap up.
Brother Anderson and Matos conducted a review of the conference’s take-aways, which included Action Items from The Sigma Professional Advisors Council’s Think Tank and the recently held Regional Directors’ Retreat. First Vice President Lamothe presented the 2018 Retention Program, and International President Cristal presented the closing charge with a recap of the five key areas regional leaders should give focus.