Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Central
High Powered Women
|Regional conference planners: Frances Huntley-Cooper, co-chair (l-r),
Giselé Casanova, central regional director, THeresa Sanders, general
conference chairwoman and Teresa Brown, co-chair
maintaining the quantity and quality of the 89 chapters — 52 alumnae and 37 undergraduate — and their 3,300 active members. It
would be a lot to do even for a paid staff person.
“I monitor to make sure we know what is going on with the chapters with their programs, with the activities they are supposed to do
to serve the community,” Casanova said. “With the membership intake process, I sign off on the paperwork and make sure the
chapters are following the process to bring in new members. Planning the conference is a big endeavor. We start out a little more
than a year in advance planning the conferences. Also during the fall, we have smaller conferences that we call cluster retreats. I will
start planning those after the regional conference is over. We’ve grouped the region into eight clusters, which are smaller groups.
And we have actually collapsed those eight into four. It helps because I have to travel to all four of them. We do our smaller
workshops in the fall during the month of October. So every weekend, we have one.”
Since it only comes around every 20 years or so, hosting the regional conference allows Madison to make a lasting impression on the
1,400 visitors who will be arriving in town next week.
“It is a big honor to host a regional conference because you actually get to show off your community,” Casanova said. “Generally how
we get to learn about the different areas in the region and the chapters there is to come to the conference. You get to see where these
chapters and other women work and where they live. So we get to show off Madison. We see them coming to the conference every
year and they are Kappa Psi Omega from Madison, but now we are here and we get to see their home and the state. So it is an honor
to be able to do that and be chosen. We have actually grown. When we were here in 1991, the attendance was 800 people. The
attendance right now is 1,400 so we are 600 more than when we were here 20 years ago. It’s an honor to be able to bring the
conference here and show your state, your city, to the members of our organization.”
The AKAs plan on making a lasting impression on Madison as well. Over the course of the week that they are in Madison, the AKAs
could possibly impact the local economy by a half million dollars, no small change.
“We’re going to be bringing money into the local restaurants,” Casanova said. “They will definitely see an increase because of the
money. While we provide certain meals, the members don’t always attend those meals. So they are going to go outside to the
restaurants here in the area. And we, as women, love to shop. You heard it from me. So we definitely will be going to the stores as
well to shop. The hotels love us because we are bringing in all of this business. The Concourse is full. The Hilton is full. And we have
a couple of other hotels that we sold out as well.”
The AKAs consider themselves to be a service and not a social organization, although they do know how to have fun. When they are
here, they plan to be of service in two ways. The first is through support to Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, DAIS.
“One of the projects, which is something that our international president, attorney Carolyn House-Steward, has asked us to address,
is collecting items for a local domestic violence shelter,” Casanova said. “Every chapter is going to come with items that were on
their lists. So we are going to have huge garbage bins and containers that we are going to set up at Monona Terrace. We’re going to
have so much that they are going to have to come and pick it up over several days.”
The second service opportunity for AKA members is helping out at Second Harvest Foodbank.
“We are hands-on in terms of helping,” Casanova emphasized. “It’s nice to write a check and it’s nice to bring a donation, but service
is also about rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty and doing something. It also allows us to experience the community
while we are doing it. So on Thursday, April 26th, from 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m., we will be at Second Harvest Foodbank. We’re actually
going to work in the warehouse. We have about 150 members who have volunteered. We’ll go over there and do whatever they need
us to do.”
And the major conference event that that the public is invited to is the Public Meeting on Friday, April 27, 7 p.m. at Monona Terrace.
The Boys & Girls Club, Group Health Cooperative and Partners in Foster Care will be recognized.
And you’ll be able to recognize the 1,400 members of AKA by their pink and green attire and by their commitment to community.
By Jonathan Gramling
On April 26-29, the African American population of Dane
County will suddenly jump up by 10 percent. And in the
days preceding, a stream of 1,400 pink and green clad
African American women will be swarming to Madison
by plane, train and automobile as the Alpha Kappa Alpha
Central Regional Conference kicks off in Madison, the
first time Madison has hosted the conference since 1991.
The AKAs do not take their regional conferences lightly.
Madison was selected as this year’s site four years ago.
And for over a year, Giselé Casanova, central regional
director, has been making the trek to Madison once per
month from Hammond, Indiana where she is an
associate professor of psychology at Purdue University-
Calumet to plan this year’s conference with a host of
AKAs from around the state and northern Illinois.
Casanova is a busy, highly organized and efficient
leader. As a volunteer, she is responsible for