A BIT ABOUT US
Gamma Chapter was chartered on April 28, 1931, as the 3rd chapter in the body of Iota. The small group of members was proud to be a part of the only forum in which Black women would be inspired, stimulated, and supported in their efforts to develop in their respective business vocations.
To unite in a sisterhood qualified business and professional women who will encourage, inspire, nurture, and assist persons engaged in business vocations.
Our Service Initiatives
In keeping with our founder’s vision, chapters and members of Iota Phi Lambda Sorority implement and execute programs and projects throughout the year to further the aims and ideals of the organization.
MEET OUR LEADERSHIP
The Faces of Our Chapter
1st Vice President
2nd Vice President
Journalist + Historian
GAMMA CHAPTER HISTORY
The Chapter's Beginning
Gamma Chapter was chartered on April 28, 1931, as the 3rd chapter in the body of Iota. The small group of members were proud to be a part of the only forum in which Black women would be inspired, stimulated and supported in their efforts to develop in their respective business vocations. The immediate goal of the first members was to recruit young business-oriented women, especially those who were owners and/or operators of small businesses.
The first officers of Gamma were Florence K. Williams (President), Ruth McWilliams (First Vice President), Victoria Robinson (Second Vice President), Fannie Offut (Treasurer), Marguerite Harvey (Corresponding Secretary), E.C. Cuffey (Recording Secretary), and Benetta Conway (Journalist).
Gamma’s membership covers the entire Washington, DC metropolitan area – including sorors who live in northern Virginia, southern Maryland, and the District of Columbia. We pride ourselves on our diverse roster of both young and seasoned sorors, college students as well as developing professionals and retirees.
1940's - 1950's
A few years after WWII, Gamma Chapter assumed responsibility for completing the last two years of a National Scholarship to Howard University for a student from Sierra Leone. After graduating, she became a member of the chapter.
From 1948 to 1951, Gamma Chapter assumed guardianship of a “Brown Baby”. In April 1952, this young girl was brought to America and later adopted by author Pearl Buck, a National Honorary member of Iota.
A banner year for Gamma Chapter was 1954. In March, Gamma hosted the Eastern Regional Conference; in July, Marion H. Jackson, a chapter member, was elected National President of the sorority and served for four years; during that same year, Gamma Chapter accepted an invitation to place a copy of the membership roster (along with the purpose of our organization) in a huge silver Time Capsule atop WTOP, which is now known as WUSA TV 9. In the year 2054, 100 years after being sealed, the capsule will be opened and Gamma information will be among the first items worth remembering.
1960's and Beyond
In the early sixties, the National Body of Iota selected a Gamma Chapter member for her outstanding accomplishments and leadership ability; they bestowed upon her Iota’s highest honor–The Lola M. Parker Award. In 1963, a Gamma Chapter member served as a Uniformed Volunteer at the program site for the famous March For Civil Rights. In 1969, for the third time, Gamma Chapter readied the DC area to host a large Iota National Convention, where three of its members were serving as National Officers.
In the seventies, Gamma Chapter launched several outstanding Business Week programs that honored Business Women from the public media, banks, and real estate. In 1981, Gamma Chapter hosted a successful Eastern Regional Conference. The speaker was Iota’s National Honorary Member, Marion Edelman, chairperson of The Children’s Defense Fund. The 1990s found Gamma Chapter members making a difference in the field as tutors, mentors, and advisors to for or of elementary to senior high school students. These efforts were performed in conjunction with Iota’s Tutorial and Assault On Illiteracy programs.
Gamma Chapter, once again ready to take the lead, hosted the 2003 Eastern Regional Conference … always striving, as empowered business and professional women, to make “a notable difference”. As a new decade begins, Gamma served as host chapter for the 2010 Eastern Regional Conference which was held in Arlington, VA at the Hilton Crystal City Hotel. In April 2016, Gamma Chapter proudly celebrated 85 years of service with the Power of She Awards Gala by honoring seven phenomenal women who have demonstrated leadership, making changes and impacting our local communities every day. Gamma Chapter looks forward to hosting the 87th Eastern Regional Conference in 2022.
LOLA M. PARKER
Our Illustrious Founder
Lola Mercedes Parker, the founder of Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc., was born in Little Rock, Arkansas to Mr. and Mrs. John H. Smith around 1900. After finishing elementary school, she and her family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where she completed high school. In 1919, she became a resident of Chicago, Illinois, where she began her post-secondary education, culminating with graduation from Chicago Business College. In 1922 she married William S. Parker. Two children were born of this union, both of whom preceded their parents in death.
In 1929, while employed as secretary to Rev. L. K. Williams, then president of the National Baptist Convention, she founded Iota Phi Lambda. Its aim: “To encourage young women to enter the Business Field by means of business training”. Lola M. Parker was founder of a premier sorority and its National President from 1929 to 1946 and President-Emeritus until her demise in 1987.
Subsequent to her employment with Dr. Williams, Mrs. Parker held many important positions: Administrative Assistant to Congressman Arthur W. Mitchell; Director of Women’s Activities; Chicago Negro Chamber of Commerce; first Negro Department Manager at R.H. Donnelley Corporation; Secretary –Treasurer, Business and Professional Association’s Credit Union; and Business manager, South Parkway YWCA.
In 1935, as the sorority’s National President, she was instrumental in Iota Phi Lambda Sorority being present when Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune held the historic first meeting of the National Council of Negro Women on December 5, 1935, in Harlem. The sorority was one of three sororities present, along with representation from other national organizations.
She was active in many national and community organizations including member of Olivet Baptist Church; served as National Vice-President to the Women’s Army for National Defense; National Council of Negro Women, co-organizer of the first Chicago Section; Life Member NAACP; People’s Welfare Organization; YWCA; and many national and local organizations engaged in civic endeavors for racial, educational and economic progress.
Lola Mercedes Parker died on March 19, 1987, and was buried in Lincoln Cemetery, 12300 Kedzie Avenue, Blue Island, Illinois.