Meet Upsilon Theta Zeta Chapter
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, Upsilon Theta Zeta Chapter was chartered on April 23, 2005 at the Great Lakes Regional Conference held in Lexington, Ky.
With the willingness to serve and a strong love for the community, eight phenomenal women were instrumental in the foundation and growth of Upsilon Theta Zeta, which is based in Redford, Mich. With their combined collegiate skills, knowledge and professional experience, they set out to establish a graduate chapter that would fully embody the principles of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.
UTZ’s commitment and dedication to improve the communities we serve would be our driving force for establishing a unique and one-of-a-kind community, action-oriented chapter within the city and outskirts of Redford. Today, Upsilon Theta Zeta Chapter is the current home for over 25 women from various educational backgrounds who each bring a wealth of knowledge, resources and experiences that have made the chapter a force to be reckoned with!
UTZ has a strong and committed roster of members with chapter officers being: Soror Kenyatta Hawthorne (President), Soror Briana Jordan (First Anti-Basileus), Soror Phina Ross (Phylacter), Soror Lorraine Havard, (Grammateus), Soror Charmain Jones (Corresponding Grammateus), Soror Doresea Lewis (Tamias), Soror Danielle Harvey (Tamias-Grammateus), Soror Dayries Donald (Epistoleus), Soror Denne Lawton (Historian), Soror Christal Eason (Chaplin), and Julia Woodall. UTZ has also transitioned many of its members into state, elected and appointed leadership roles.
Pushing toward excellence and seeking ways to further impact and serve the community, UTZ has partnered with Focus Hope, a non-profit organization aimed at improving the lives of underrepresented minorities. Understanding the needs of its most vulnerable population, UTZ worked with Meals on Wheels to assist with providing warm delivered meals to seniors. Recognizing the need to reduce hunger, in 2005, UTZ partnered with the Salvation Army to fight against hunger and food insecurity. UTZ continued to establish a visual presence within the Redford community by linking with local municipalities for Adopt-A-Highway, a countywide beautification project.
Upsilon Theta Zeta has also been assisting young people since our inception. In 2008, we partnered with the Children’s Methodist Home, a residential foster care, by donating toiletries, school supplies, self-care items and participating in the annual Trunk or Treat event held for the children. On Jan. 16, 2020, UTZ hosted the Blue and White Takeover with our Sister Chapter, Beta Omicron Zeta, bringing in our Centennial. Through our incredible partnerships and fundraising efforts, UTZ was able to award five scholarships.
Years of establishing love throughout the community, UTZ affectionately became known for the soul-warming outreach and hands of service it extends within the community. Under current President Kenyatta Hawthorne, UTZ was named the “Love Chapter.”
UTZ has a notable reputation for not only bringing the community together but hosting unique functions that not only support important causes but strengthens the love within the Blue and White Family. In 2017, UTZ hosted the first Blue Blizzard event to raise money for scholarship recipients. The Blue Blizzard is an evening of fun and dancing that is well anticipated each year and well attended by Zetas and Sigmas from all over the greater surrounding Redford and Detroit area.
In 2019, and leading into the Centennial year, UTZ also lead the charge on a litany of unique events to bring awareness and support to many of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated’s local and national initiatives. These events would include Squatz and Smoothies for American Cancer Society, Hustle for Hearts for American Heart Association, Kicking Boxing for Babies for March of Dimes/Prematurity Awareness Program, CarZ and CruiZin for our Finer Womanhood event, and Caroling with Seniors for our elderly program.
UTZ was proud to be one of the first area chapters to tackle the issue of domestic violence by hosting an event in partnership with Principles of Faith Fellowship Hall in Detroit, Mich. in 2019. Then UTZ hosted one of the first socially-distant events resulting from the restrictions due to COVID-19. In June of 2020, we held the Tour de Blue, a first-time bike ride tour of Detroit where over 45 Zetas, Sigmas and members of the community came out for the first time after quarantine restrictions were lifted.
Our love and vigor for the community is hard to match. Under the leadership of our first president, Soror Nicole Taylor, UTZ wasted no time establishing a strong presence within the Redford community. UTZ understood that the future and legacy of our commitment would be sustained by developing a relationship with the youth within the Redford community. Therefore, in 2005, UTZ established its first youth auxiliaries, who, with our guidance, developed unique initiatives such as the Mother and Daughter Tea. It has become an empowering event for women of all ages. Zeta Phi Beta Sorority also offers an auxiliary for non-degreed women. UTZ started an Amicae chapter in 2013.
In 2007, UTZ earned a second place for Z-HOPE (the national Zetas Helping Others People Excel initiative) from the Michigan State Organization. In 2013, UTZ was honored by the city of Redford for participation in the annual Memorial Day parade honoring our fallen veterans.
Upsilon Theta Zeta Chapter has tripled in size in our 15 years of existence. Soror Alethea Robbins became the first UTZ member in 2007, two years after our chartering. The chapter continued to expand and, in 2008, welcomed new members Sorors LaTrelle McNairy, Ortheia D. Ward, Shealon Simpson, Lisa Watkins and Gincenta Rush.
It did not take long for our commitment, dedication and love to be noticed. In 2010, UTZ elected its second president, Soror Dequanda Carson. Growing in love, UTZ also added Sorors Sheila Williams, Robin Hunter and Briana Jordan to its membership roster. Excited about the new hope and commitment that UTZ brought to the community, the word soon spread, and Nakesha Johnson and Dr. Doresea Lewis became sorors in 2011.
In 2013, UTZ would continue to see our membership increase and was happy to welcome Sorors Deborah James, Felicia Smith and Dayries Donald. That same year, our first member, Althea Robbins, was elected the third president for UTZ. Many members of UTZ would answer the call to serve. In 2015, Soror Briana Jordan stepped into the leadership rank and became the fourth president for UTZ.
During this year, UTZ would host its first Founder’s Day Celebration. The chapter would continue to see a commitment to community and expanded its membership to include Sorors LaShonda Whitfield, Charmain Jones and Adrienne Bee. The following year, in 2016, would see additional growth with new members, Sorors Julia Woodall and Dell Parks. In 2017, Soror Shayla Tinsley would lead UTZ as its fifth president.
In 2019, and leading into the Centennial year, UTZ hit the ground running. First, UTZ would add three additional new members (Sorors Denne Lawton, Veronica Lewis and Christal Eason) and over four sorors would reclaim to the UTZ family.
In 2012, UTZ hosted its first State Meeting under the leadership of past State Director and current Regional Director, Elner Taylor.
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.