International Grand Basileus Deborah Catchings-Smith
Happy New Year!
Thank you for all the incredible work you do to make our sisterhood thrive!  On Dec. 29, 2017, I compiled and released a 16-month report of our accomplishments since I was elected International Grand Basileus. Determining what to include was the hardest task. The report was designed to capture the true essence of what binds us - Sisterhood and Service. Please click here to review the report. We are excited about the tremendous opportunities ahead in 2018 and look with great anticipation to our continued forward progression! 

Mental Health Advocacy: New York City Sisters Thrive Initiative
Sigma Gamma Rho is an official partner of the New York City Sisters Thrive. We
Anders, McCray, Catchings-Smith and Harris
recognize that mental illness has been in the shadows far too long and have answered the clarion call to break down barriers. Last year, we redoubled our mental health education efforts with the introduction of the sorority's PRHOtect Your Mind, a mental health initiative led by International Second Grand Anti-Basileus Kathrina Ruiz. Chirlane McCray, the first lady of New York City, is leading the Sisters Thrive Initiative that is designed to address the stigma associated with mental health and wellness within the African-American community. This historic collaboration with the city of New York includes six black women-led national service organizations including the four Divine Nine Sororities along with Jack and Jill of America and The Links, Inc. McCray hosted a mental health and mental illness strategy session on Dec. 10, 2017. The meeting that brought national mental health professionals, faith leaders and the collaborative partners was priceless.

Within its first year, the Sisters Thrive coalition will train 10,000 African Americans in mental health first aid and help develop a professional mental health pipeline - all part of a growing national movement to address unmet mental health needs in black communities. We were honored to have represented our sisterhood at the news conference and launch on Dec. 11 of the New York City Sisters Thrive Initiative. The following sorors were a part of the event:  Northeastern Region Syntaktes Marica Harris, Second Grand Anti-Basileus Ruiz and National Programs Coordinator Jacqueline Greely. We applaud Soror Camelia Anders, assistant commissioner of the New York City Division of Policy Planning and Measurement, who is serving as the Sigma Gamma Rho liaison and coordinator of this amazing service initiative and collaboration. Thank you Syntaktes Harris, all sorors and chapters in the New York City area that are committed to engaging in this effort to uplift our communities!

National Institutes of Health: All of Us Research Program
Sigma Gamma Rho is proud to partner with the All of Us Research Program, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The premise is to help raise awareness about the program which is an effort to engage one million or more volunteers across the country to build one of the largest, most diverse data sets of its kind for health research. This dynamic opportunity aligns with the sorority's overall health and wellness focus. We applaud Soror Greely, National Programs chair, for leading this initiative.

Precision medicine is a new approach to improving health, treating disease and finding cures. It acknowledges that each person is unique - our habits, our environments and our biology - and that the interaction of these factors greatly impact our health. These unique variables also mean that a medical treatment that works for one person might not work for another. Rather than using a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach, precision medicine aims to deliver the right treatment for the right person at the right time, and keep people healthy longer. Ultimately, precision medicine can produce more accurate diagnoses, earlier detection and better prevention strategies and treatment choices.

Participating in All of Us is an opportunity for us to learn about our health indicators, gain access to our health data and fight disease. We can help ensure that our community is included in the studies that may lead to new understanding, new treatments and improving the health of future generations. We are excited to have this chance to lend our voices as true partners - not patients, not subjects - in the research process. The program will reflect the rich, diversity of America and we are in the forefront of efforts for inclusivity.

Technology Infrastructure Updates
We are continuing to make significant strides with strengthening our technology infrastructure and implementing enhancements to streamline our processes. Today, we launched Golden Service, our innovative member-facing application for members and chapters to record community service hours on mobile devices, tablets and laptops. Our Technology Team, lead by Soror Crystal Rock, Soror Greely along with her committee and our International Corporate Headquarters staff, has been working diligently to achieve this milestone. We thank those who were engaged in the beta testing for providing invaluable feedback. There will be more exciting technology news to share throughout 2018!

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday
We celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Let's be socially engaged in enhancing our community. Let's volunteer. Let's do our part to make our country a better place. 

"The time is always right to do what is right." - Dr. King

International First Grand Anti-Basileus
Rasheeda Liberty
Our fall 2017 T.O.R.C.H. classes set new records for our sisterhood. Our applicant pool increased by 40 percent, which is a direct result of the work that we have done locally, regionally and nationally to make ourselves the premier choice for progressive women. Congratulations to Omicron Gamma Chapter (Georgia State University) and Eta Sigma Chapter (Atlanta) for hosting the largest intake classes of the fall for undergraduates and alumnae respectively. Special shout out to the Notable Northeastern Region for having the largest growth in fall intake. With such a large increase this past fall, we are looking forward to a great spring 2018.

Looking to attract and recruit the best members? Here are some pointers:
  • Seek Established Leaders - Recruit those who are actively leading student organizations, campus activities, community groups or other social initiatives.
  • Charter New Territories - Grow our undergraduate presence at nontraditional schools through the regional undergraduate option. 
  • Ask the Question - Often times, we have qualified women in our circle at work, class, church, hair salons, etc. The invitation to membership is a personal one, so simply invite these women to learn more. 
  • Make Sigma the Only Choice - If a woman states that she is interested in joining a sorority (not necessarily Sigma Gamma Rho), do not count her out. She is essentially saying that she is interested in a sisterhood. Give her the opportunity to consider Sigma Gamma Rho with an open invitation. 
If your chapter plans to be a part of the growth of our sisterhood, submit your calendar as soon as possible. As a reminder, inductions are being held at most of the 2018 Regional Conferences. Every new member brings chapters and individuals closer to qualifying for Boule to Boule Contest rewards and being distinguished for the Centennial Membership Challenges. Let's make spring 2018 record-breaking.

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. has been successful in recruiting some of the finest women in various industries. We have continued to lead the way in many areas promoting change and bringing awareness to our communities. We would like to recognize sorors who are doing what Sigma women do each day, "Show Up and Show Out" in their line of work. 

We will recognize sorors meeting the criteria established during their respective industry month and announce the winner of the "Golden One Recognition" the following month. For the month of February, we are looking for sorors who work in the Arts Industry.

All sorors who are interested should submit a 250-word bio with industry accomplishments and a professional headshot. The soror who is named the "Golden One" will have her picture, bio and other information featured by the sorority. Submit entries to with Golden One Recognition Program in the subject line by Jan. 20.

The Sister-Coaching Program is underway!  Phase II will begin in the spring. This phase will focus on all four pillars of the program including Chapter Growth and Sisterly Relations.

Please congratulate sorors who have been selected to join our inaugural class of coaches in Phase II:
  • Sommer Caldwell - Central Region
  • LaDreka KariKari - Central Region
  • Kiyanna Honeyghan - Northeastern Region
  • Deborah Brown - Southeastern Region
  • Celeste LaVan - Southeastern Region
  • Mechelle Ware - Southwestern Region
Editor-In-Chief of The Aurora Dr. Jacki Stennis Moore
I want to update you about The AURORA. In only what could have seemed to be a tsunami of setbacks, I am so excited to announce that we are back on track and will be issuing not one, not two, but THREE upcoming special editions. 

First up, let me ask you some questions. Did you attend the 2016 Boule, the 2017 Special Boule or miss one or both? Are you looking forward to the 2018, 2020 and Centennial Boules? No matter what your status, the upcoming special edition, "All Things Boule," has you covered. We say farewell for now to our outstanding 23rd International Grand Basileus Bonita M. Herring. We usher in the regime of the fantastic 24th International Grand Basileus D eborah Catchings-Smith along with teases of the upcoming boule and more information about the DTIA (Don't Throw It Away) Centennial Initiative.  This special edition is in its final editing stages and will be released this month. 

Next up will be a 2016 - 2017 Year In Review Spe cial Edition which will include your submissions and events for that sorority year. If you have submitted something to me for the winter/spring 2017 and spring/summer 2017 editions and have received a response from me, I have it and there is no need to contact me. But, if you have submitted submissions and did not receive a response, I do not have your submission. Please forward the original message of what you previously submitted if you still wish for it to be included. I want to make sure all of your wonderful works are shared and enjoyed by all. This special edition will be released in February.

I did say three special editions of The AURORA, didn't I? The release of the third one will be announced at a later date. I believe it will be well worth the wait. Thanks so much for your patience! If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at Also, if you would like to be a member of the team, please contact me for further information. 

The early bird gets the best deal. Register today for the 57th Biennial Boule in Dallas, Texas July 12 - 15! Early registration ends Jan. 12.   Look for all of the details as well payment option plans at .
We will see you in Dallas!

We look forward to seeing our friends at the boule. The Philos will hold workshops, vote on bylaw recommendations and elect new national officers.  They, of course, will dazzle us during the First Lady Pageant.

There will also be a special recognition for Philos who have been members for 25 consecutive years. Please contact Philo Lillian McDonald, chair of the 25-Year Membership Committee, at  or (973) 568-5146  to submit your application.
SEE YOU IN 2020!

Make plans now to join us for the Boule in 2020. We will see you July 9 - 12 in Atlanta!

The U.S. Constitution's 15th Amendment ratified by the states in 1870 - Section 1: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color or previous condition of servitude. The Constitution was then amended three additional times regarding voting - 19th, 24th and 26th Amendments. 

The 19th Amendment granted American women the right to vote. The 24th Amendment prohibited both congress and the states from conditioning the right to vote in federal elections on payment of a poll tax or other types of taxes. The 26th Amendment prohibited the federal government and states from using age as a reason for denying citizens the right to vote. (Ratified July 1,1971 - Previous requirement was that you had to be over 21 years of age to vote.)

We share this information to give you the evolution of our voting rights and why it is so important to exercise your right to vote. Progression has happened and we must not allow disappointments in our local, state or federal elections to allow us to regress. 

Make your voice heard in 2018 and help others to speak as well. Register people, help them update their voting information or assist them in checking their status. Sigma Gamma Rho stands tall and proud in getting out the vote!
January 2018