New President is First Lawyer to Lead the 102-Year-Old Organization
St. Louis, MO (BlackNews.com) — Carolyn House Stewart of Tampa, Florida was installed as the 28th International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
The swearing-in ceremony was marked by a compelling mix of pageantry, pomp and ritual and was witnessed by an overflow crowd of members.
It marked the climax of the Sorority’s weeklong conference that took place July 9-16 at St. Louis’ Convention Center.
In ascending to the international presidency, Attorney Stewart becomes the first lawyer to head the organization.
She also makes history as the first president to serve a full term in the Sorority’s second centennial. Alpha Kappa Alpha celebrated its first century in 2008.
Mrs. Stewart will serve a four-year term from 2010-2014. During that time, she will guide policy, develop programs and set the leadership tone for Alpha Kappa Alpha’s 250,000 members in 975 chapters worldwide.
Mrs. Stewart will continue Alpha Kappa Alpha’s 102-year-old commitment to service. Driven by the theme, “Global Leadership Through Timeless Service,” the Stewart administration will address issues related to social justice and human rights, health, global poverty, economic security, education, environmental stewardship and maintaining a viable sisterhood.
Stewart is passionately committed to young people and under the signature program “Emerging Young Leaders” Alpha Kappa Alpha will work to enrich the lives of 20,000 young girls in grades 6th, 7th and 8th. Components of the program include leadership development, civic engagement, educational enrichment and character building
The new international president also plans to fortify Alpha Kappa Alpha’s commitment to cultivating leaders through a program titled, “Internal Leadership Training for External Service.”
Acutely aware of the importance of promoting health and wellness, the new administration will promote asthma awareness and treatment options through a partnership with several advocacy organizations.
Mrs. Stewart also plans to evaluate the AKAdemies in South Africa by dispatching a team on a fact-finding mission to the country. The outcome of the assessment will determine next-step action for the schools, which were founded in the 1990s in a partnership between AKA and the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help (IFESH).
She says the program will appeal to all members and will draw from the sorority’s full spectrum of strengths to engage the full membership in service with the major emphasis being on addressing issues that impact women and girls.”
As a lawyer, civic leader and respected leader, Mrs. Stewart brings a rich and impressive professional background to the role of international president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
After graduating from the University of South Florida in 1972 with a BA in history and social science education, she entered the University of South Carolina Law Center and earned her Juris Doctor degree. She was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1978. She was subsequently admitted to practice before the U.S. District Courts for the Middle and Southern District of Florida; the U.S. C the U.S. Court of Appeals, for the 11th and 5th Circuit; and the United States Supreme Court.
Since 1997 Mrs. Stewart has been a shareholder in the law firm of Macfarlane Ferguson & McMullen, one of Florida’s oldest law firms. She handles cases in the firm’s civil litigation, casualty and labor law sections. Her broad-based legal experience also includes the defense of personal injury, products liability, premises liability, and cases in the area of employment law (Title VII and Sexual Harassment). She also represents governmental entities and individuals in eminent domain matters.
During her 32-year legal career, she has also served as an associate litigation counsel to a Fortune 500 Company and staff counsel to a major insurance company and government lawyer.
As testimony to her dedication to the profession, she has served as a workshop leader for Trial Advocacy Programs and as a lecturer on a variety of topics. She is a member of the Hillsborough County Bar Association, National Bar Association, American Bar Association, George Edgecomb Bar Association and the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter of the National Bar Association. Stewart is a member of the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.
Her commitment to her profession is matched only by her devotion to Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
Attorney Stewart’s ascension to Alpha Kappa Alpha’s chief leadership position caps a 38-year record of commitment and service to Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority that began when she was initiated at the University of South Florida in 1972.
In 1980, her steady climb to the top leadership position began when she joined Gamma Theta Omega, AKA’s graduate chapter in Tampa. There she exhibited her leadership as a committee member and as chapter president.
In 1998 she was appointed the International Program Chairman under the administration of former president Norma Solomon White. In that capacity, she galvanized the membership around White’s programmatic vision, which was inspired by the theme “Blazing New Trails – The Alpha Kappa Alpha Way.” Under Mrs. Stewart’s leadership, the Sorority obtained $100,000 in grants from the U S Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to promote “Buckle-Up”-vehicle passenger safety and seat belt use in the African American community. The Sorority rallied around this cause and was so successful in promoting traffic safety awareness that Alpha Kappa Alpha was credited with saving lives.
After successfully leading the program committee, Mrs. Stewart was encouraged to serve as a national officer. She ran and was elected International Secretary in 2002. In 2006, during the Sorority’s convention in Detroit, she was elected Vice President, thereby positioning her to automatically become president.
The passion that has marked Mrs. Stewart’s rise has earned her numerous awards including the 2006 Florida Commission on the Status of Women “Achievement Award.” The National Bar Association Presidential Award and the Francisco Rodriguez Award from the George Edgecomb Bar Association.
Stewart has also received awards for her dedication and outstanding service to Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority including the Margaret Davis Bowen Outstanding Alumni Award for the South Atlantic Region that was named after the Sorority’s ninth president. She also was honored as Outstanding Member of the Year from her chapter. In February 2009, as part of a Black History Celebration, she was honored by members of the military from MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa who applauded her for leadership and for being a role model.
In addition to her years of service to Alpha Kappa Alpha, Stewart is active in a variety of other organizations whose missions mirror her resolve to better the community. She was a life member of the Greater Tampa Urban League and is a current life member of the National Council of Negro Women and the NAACP. She is also a founding board member of the Tampa Organization of Black Affairs.
As Stewart prepares to serve the Sorority, the nation and the world in her leadership role, she says the overarching goal is to continue Alpha Kappa Alpha’s 102-year legacy of serving all mankind by “building on the vision of AKA’s founders and the leaders who served before me.” “Fulfilling the service imperative will be our legacy.”
Founded in 1908, by African American women. The Sorority is heralded as the oldest and largest of its kind and is hailed as “America’s premiere Greek-lettered organization founded by Black women.” Its membership includes high-profile women from all walks of life and from all disciplines including astronaut and physician Dr. Mae Jemison, poet Maya Angelou, actress Phylicia Rashad, entertainer Gladys Knight, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, entrepreneur Suzanne de Passe, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and political leaders Congressmen Eddie Bernice Johnson, Sheila Jackson Lee and Eva Clayton.
For more information about Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, log on to www.aka1908.com