In the fall of 1999, ten general members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in the Cincinnati, Ohio area met to consider forming a chapter which would provide service to the area outside the northern section of the Interstate 275 loop in Cincinnati. These members had been active for many years and had attended Regional Conferences, Leadership Seminars, annual International Meeting and Clusters. They continued to meet throughout the spring of 2000. A second group made up of inactive members was also interested in forming a chapter in the suburban Cincinnati Area.
Their paths crossed, and they began working together as a core group. After many hours of hard work, and a plan in place, they contacted Mrs. Rachel Ashburn-Mallory, Great Lakes Regional Director, and requested a meeting with her for consideration as an Interest Group of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Mrs. Ashburn-Mallory agreed to the meeting.
On a cold Saturday, the first week of January, 2001, Patricia Thomas, Nicole Barton, Chiquita White, Shauna Cooke, Wiona Berry, Tracy Turney-Smith, Kim Saxon and Viveca Fairbanks-Henderson met with Great Lakes Regional Director, Mrs. Rachel Ashburn-Mallory in Columbus, Ohio. Mrs. Kim Saxon was the spokesperson. Her presentation was eloquent and outstanding. Mrs. Rachel questioned the sorors present. She was pleased with their knowledge of Alpha Kappa Alpha and impressed with the fact that they had attended Regional and Leadership Conferences, as well as the annual international meeting, even as General Members. They were given permission immediately to become an Interest Group and had one month to complete Bylaws and recruit additional members.
By the end of February 2001, they had recruited over 30 sorors, completed the Bylaws and became Cultured Pearls Interest Group of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Mrs. Ashburn-Mallory indicated after her first visit in May 2001, that the group was ready to be presented to the Directorate for consideration as a chapter. Mrs. Ashburn-Mallory was pleased that over ten of the sorors attended the Great Lakes Regional Conference in 2001 in Columbus, Ohio. She used the Cultured Pearls’ informational packets as an example of what other interest groups should provide.
The first fundraiser was held jointly with the Kentucky State University Choir. Over $800 was raised. Throughout the summer, the Cultured Pearls conducted service projects consistent with current Alpha Kappa Alpha National programs. This was the first year of participation with Forest Park Night Out.
As the group continued working to recruit members, the chapter vision began to form - “to become a vibrant, sisterly organization committed to service by empowering the communities we serve through education, health, and a focus on the black family”. So many members wanted to participate that a deadline for the Interest Group had to be established.
In November 2001, the Directorate gave approval for the Cultured Pearls to become a chapter. Finally, Mrs. Ashburn-Mallory announced the date for chartering, January 5, 2002. The chartering ceremony and post chartering luncheon celebration planning began.
On January 5, 2002, there were over 200 people in attendance! Mrs. Bernice I. Sumlin, the 19th International President, Mrs. Patricia Petty Wilson, the 23rd Great Lakes Regional Director, Mrs. Janet Barnes, Mrs. Joanne Battle, many VIP’s of the Great Lakes Region as well as members from across the country were among the guests. Mrs. Rachel Ashburn-Mallory officiated the chartering. Several other chapters in the Great Lakes Region shared the day with the newly chartered Phi Psi Omega Chapter.
From inception, Phi Psi Omega has received numerous accolades, and has made many contributions to the communities she serves. At Regional Conferences, the chapter has won awards for Outstanding Interest Group, Outstanding Basileus, Outstanding Newsletter and Outstanding Chapter.
In 2002, the chapter’s signature fundraiser, the Jazz Brunch and Silent Auction was born. The Jazz Brunch events have merited great success, enabling the chapter to contribute nearly $55,000 to such organizations as the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Lincoln Heights HealthCare Connection, Bethany House Services, Sisters Network and IV-CHARIS. There are rooms at the new Lincoln Heights Health Center that bare the name “Phi Psi Omega” because they were completely furnished with medical equipment from the chapter’s contributions.
In addition, Phi Psi Omega contributed $42,000 in scholarships to local high school students during the first seven years. Chapter community service projects also benefitted from the Jazz Brunch proceeds. These community activities have included the following: voter registration, seat belt education, SIDS awareness, breast cancer awareness, child safety, Meals on Wheels, Dress for Success, the IVY Reading AKAdemy (focused on early learning and mastery of basic reading skills), the Young Authors Program (initiated to develop the writing and creativity of elementary school children), Forest Park Night Out, Girl Scouts, Freestore Foodbank, Youth Motivational Learning Center and Adopt-A-Family.
Phi Psi Omega has grown during its brief history from 34 determined, hard-working Sorors to her membership to over 170 in 2019. Phi Psi Omega’s strong presence in the community has been attributed to its leadership through the members who have served as Chapter President: Kim Saxon, Chiquita White, Felicia Miller, Viveca Fairbanks-Henderson, Robin Frazier, Wiona Berry, Tammy Richardson, Pamela Williams Dyle and Latonya Denson in addition to the commitment and hard work of all Phi Psi Omega Members.