Meet Upsilon Psi Zeta Chapter
Thirteen women chartered Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Upsilon Psi Zeta Chapter of Oak Park, Mich., known as UPZ, on Nov. 11, 2006. The chartering ceremony was conducted in Detroit by then Regional Director Daisy Davis and State Director Valeriah Holmon, along with past State Director Mary Lester.
The charter members include: Sorors Cherise Caldwell, Erin Coleman, Yolanda Dowe, April Groggins, Kimberly Hall, Jackie Jackson, Monique Ligons, La-Tia Peete, Scheherezade Redmond, Evonne Williams, Kimberly Williams-Anderson, Esq., Monica Wallingford and Robyn Wyatt.
UPZ has been cutting-edge from the start as it was the first chapter in the state of Michigan to charter a graduate chapter where all the members were under the age of 40. With that youthful spirit, the chapter took to social media to promote Zeta and chapter activities.
The chapter initiated its first group of women into the organization in May 2009. They were Sorors Dena Rodgers, Regina Gadsden, Denise Bradley, Racquel Roney and Shyvonne Mosely. Since chartering, Upsilon Psi Zeta has had seven intake classes, bringing a total of 38 women into the world of Zeta.
Upsilon Psi Zeta sought to be vital assets to their beloved organization and to encourage one another as trailblazers by setting standards to never expect or accept anything less than what their five illustrious founders envisioned.
We have been cutting-edge from the start as ours is the first chapter in the state of Michigan to charter a graduate chapter where all the members were under the age of 40. With that youthful spirit, UPZ took to social media to promote Zeta and chapter activities.
UPZ initiated our first group of women into the organization in May 2009: Sorors Dena Rodgers, Regina Gadsden, Denise Bradley, Racquel Roney and Shyvonne Mosely. Since chartering, Upsilon Psi Zeta has had seven intake classes, initiating 38 women into the world of Zeta.
Affectionately known as “Those Oak Park Zetas,” UPZ has a knack for always wanting to go higher, and “reaching UPwardZ.” UPZ became the first chapter in the state of Michigan to create and launch a “Black Male Empowerment Calendar.” It was a 12-month calendar designed to showcase the professional men of “The Divine Nine.” The proceeds from the fundraiser provided a scholarship for graduating male seniors in the metropolitan Detroit area.
UPZ is proud of our strong record of support for 24th International Grand Basileus Mary Breaux Wright in her successful bid for International President. It was the first chapter to sponsor a “Meet the Candidate” fundraiser.
Upsilon Psi Zeta stages annual themed parties with a purpose. Its signature event, “Denim and White,” raises funds for scholarships. Honoring the constitutional bond with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., UPZ also joins forces each year with its fraternity brothers to host “Hats and Heelz,” a day party to raise money for its scholarship fund.
UPZ introduced another signature event to the community: an annual HATtitude scholarship luncheon where not only was the principle of Finer Womanhood is showcased through white hats and royal blue dresses worn by Sorors, but the community had the opportunity to showcase their finer side as well. An historical moment for UPZ took place on Saturday, May 18, 2013, when the keynote speaker for the scholarship luncheon was Lt. Colonel Alexander Jefferson, one of the 32nd Tuskegee Airmen from the 332nd Fighter Group.
Under the Elder Care initiative, UPZ has cherished an eight-year partnership with Presbyterian Village Manor, a senior living facility. Each month, sorors and seniors fellowship through arts and crafts, a variety of fun activities and useful workshops. The annual senior breakfast and end-of-year barbeque is a delight for the seniors as well as the chapter sorors.
On Founders’ Day, Jan. 16, 2015, at the direction of the 20th International Grand Basileus Jylla Tearte, chapter member Soror Papillon Spinks (past Regional Epistoleus) and her committee members conducted, “The Interview of a Lifetime.” The interview was of now Triumphant Soror Frances E. Faithful, daughter of Founder Myrtle Tyler Faithful and niece of Founder Viola Tyler Goings. The interview was held under lock and key until the Centennial celebration in 2020.
The principle of Finer Womanhood inspired UPZ’s 2016 event, Destination: Finer Womanhood – The Experience. The purpose of the expo was to provide a “Finer Experience” for sorors, Amicae and Archonettes. The goal was to uplift, empower and motivate. Soror Frances Faithful was in attendance, along with the 24th International Grand Basileus Mary Breaux Wright and then Great Lakes Regional Director Michelle Porter-Norman.
On Jan. 16, 2010, UPZ inducted our first group of young ladies into the Archonette Club, the teen auxiliary. Today UPZ provides mentor and service opportunities for all youth groups through our Amicette, Pearlettes and Archonette Clubs.
Continuing to expand our reach, the Zeta Amicae of Oak Park was chartered on Feb.19, 2011. This group of women believed in reaching and rendering invaluable services to Upsilon Psi Zeta and respective communities.
State, Regional & National Recognition
Upsilon Psi Zeta has a legacy of service that is evident through our dedication to Z-HOPE (Zetas Helping Others Excel), the national service program of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. We earned the first place Z-HOPE Award in the graduate 50-plus members category at the 81st Annual Great Lakes Regional Conference on April 25, 2015.
During the 82nd Annual Great Lakes Regional Conference on April 16, 2016, UPZ received the first place Z-HOPE Award. Our Amicae also won first place in the 5–25 members category and our then undergraduate chapter, Tau Delta, won third place. At the 2016 National Boule in Orlando, Fla., Tau Delta and the Amicae of Oak Park were presented the National third place Z-HOPE Award.
The Amicae were unstoppable the following year. On April 21, 2017, the Amicae of Oak Park were recognized at the 83rd Annual Great Lakes Regional Conference for being top in Amicae fundraising. On the same date, they were recognized for hosting the most Z-HOPE projects. This was an excellent conference for the Amicae of Oak Park as their very own Amica, Thelma Brown, was named 2017 Zeta Amicae of the Year. On April 22, 2017, the Amicae of Oak Park earned the first place Z-HOPE Award at the 83rd Annual Great Lakes Regional Conference in the 5–25 category.
The accolades continued in April 2018, when UPZ won third place at the 84th Annual Great Lakes Regional Conference in the graduate 26–50 members category.
UPZ has also held numerous baby showers for the Stork’s Nest initiative to support single mothers who do not have access to adequate necessities for their babies.
In the years leading to Centennial, there were milestones events UPZ could not miss. Recognizing history was being made, our charter members Kimberly Anderson, Esq. and Erin Ruth Coleman, along with seven other chapter members attended the dedication ceremony of the Tyler Sisters’ Memorial in Springfield, Ohio on April 6, 2018 that celebrated the Triumphant Tyler sisters during the 84th Annual Great Lakes Regional Conference.
Upsilon Psi Zeta has had the privilege of hosting two Michigan State Leadership Conferences; the most recent was the 52nd annual conference in September 2019.
As we ushered in the Centennial, we had a roster of 50 members for the 2019-2020 sororal year. The chapter officers were: Tiera Bankston, Basileus; Erin Coleman, First Anti-Basileus; Aisha Lewis, Second Anti-Basileus; Jevita Anthony, Third Anti-Basileus; Michelle Hylton-Facey, Tamias; Janeah Allen-Williams, Tamias Grammateus; Chani Wilder, Phylacter; Letitia Clora, Grammateus; Nakia Young, Corresponding Grammateus; Britain T. Washington, Epistoleus and Historian; Jennifer Allen-Comer, LeCherrio; and Kimberly Anderson, Esq., Honorary Chair of the Executive Board. The appointed positions are: Sheena Burgess, Pearlette Advisor; Theodora Chambers, Z-HOPE Coordinator; Regina Gadsden, Scholarship Chair and Archonette Advisor; Lisa Grant and Ka'Niquia Williams, NPHC Representatives; and Nicole Taylor, Amicae Advisor.
Zeta Leaders & Trailblazers
UPZ members take the role of expanding our Zeta knowledge seriously. Sorors Nicole Brown, Erin Coleman, Papillon Spinks and Ortheia Ward are ZOL certified. Zeta Organizational Leadership is the Sorority’s training program. We also have had officers at various levels of leadership: Papillon Spinks as past Regional Epistoleus and Nicole Taylor as Michigan State Organization Legacy Coordinator.
Our legacies and their familial connections are: Sorors Janeah Allen-Williams (sister), Jennifer Allen-Comer (sister), Jevita Anthony (aunt and two cousins), Brianna Brown (cousin), Angela Burgess (sister), Sheena Burgess (sister), Ramona Calhoun (cousins), Jamie Hendrix (sister), Nicole Taylor (daughter and cousin), and Ortheia Ward (cousin).
Note: This is part of the Michigan State Organization’s online series "The MSO Great History Countdown! Our Centennial Journey to State Meeting" to leave a lasting gift to the state in honor of Zeta’s 100th anniversary. Histories from every graduate and undergraduate chapter in Michigan is being published in the month of September 2020 in the days leading up to the centennial state meeting. The project was approved under State Director Lynese Thomas’ administration, and overseen by MSO Epistoleus Earlene McMichael in partnership with MSO Historian Trudy Hale and Great Lakes Region Historian Norma Dartis.