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Our Story

Established on November 12, 1922

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. was organized on November 12, 1922, in Indianapolis, Indiana, by seven young educators:Mary Lou Allison Gardner Little, Dorothy Hanley Whiteside, Vivian Irene White Marbury, Nannie Mae Gahn Johnson, Hattie Mae Annette Dulin Redford, Bessie Mae Downey Rhoades Martin, and Cubena McClure. The group became an incorporated national collegiate sorority on December 30, 1929, when a charter was granted to the Alpha chapter at Butler University. Since its inception, the dynamic women of Sigma Gamma Rho have built and sustained a well-known and well-respected reputation for leading positive change to help uplift the community through sisterhood, leadership, and service.

Sigma Gamma Rho has welcomed more than 100,000 collegiate and professional women. The sorority has more than 500 chapters in the United States, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Germany, South Korea, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the United Arab Emirates. The organization also has active affiliate groups devoted to empowering women at different stages in life. The Rhoer Club Affiliates (teenage girls) and Philos Affiliates (friends of the sorority) also assist alumnae chapters with various service efforts and programs.

Sigma Gamma Rho’s commitment to service is expressed in its slogan, “Greater Service, Greater Progress.” The sorority has a proud history of providing positive and proactive community outreach nationally and internationally. The programs, partnerships, and sponsorships represent Sigma Gamma Rho’s commitment to promoting the greater good in education, service, and leadership development.

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Mission

It is the mission of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. to enhance the quality of life for women and their families in the U.S. and globally through community service, civil, and social action. Our goal is to achieve greater progress in the areas of education, health awareness, and leadership development. Our members, affiliates, staff, and community partners work to create and support initiatives that align with our vision.

Vision

We visualize a world in which all women and their families reach their full potential in all aspects of life and are able to create unlimited opportunities for future generations.

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MARY LOU ALLISON GARDNER LITTLE

At the young age of three, Little suffered the tragic loss of both her parents and was then raised by a family friend. She graduated from Shortridge High School in 1915 and received a diploma from the Indianapolis Normal School in 1918 when she began teaching. In 1928, Little moved to Los Angeles with her husband and finished her undergraduate training in UCLA. She taught in the Los Angeles school system until her retirement in 1967. In her honor, the Mary Lou Allison Loving Cup Award is presented at each Boule to the chapter reporting the most successful program.

DOROTHY HANLEY WHITESIDE

Whiteside graduated from Shortridge High School and entered the Indianapolis Normal School in 1922. During her training as a cadet teacher, she met the teachers who became her best friends and fellow founders of the sorority. In 1951, she retired from teaching and later assisted her husband in developing a business. She also started her own millinery business and worked with her church and various organizations. After the death of her husband, she ran their business from 1955-1957; subsequently returning to teaching in 1959 before retiring again in 1970.

VIVIAN IRENE WHITE MARBURY

Marbury attended Shortridge High School and the Indianapolis Normal School. She received a B.S. from Butler University and a Master's from Columbia University in New York City. Her professional career included teaching at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Indianapolis University, Indianapolis State University and serving as Director of Practice Training of teachers from Butler University. She served as Principal of Indianapolis Public School #87 for 39 years. She was an active member and leader in her church and several local organizations.

NANNIE MAE GAHN JOHNSON

Johnson was a product of the Indianapolis Public School System and received both B.S. and M.S. degrees from Butler University. In 1923, she received her first teaching assignment and over the years she was promoted to principal of one of the largest elementary schools in Indianapolis. She was also very involved with many clubs and organizations dedicated to community service and retired in 1966.

HATTIE MAE ANNETTE DULIN REDFORD

Redford graduated from South Bend Central High School cum laude, from Indiana State Teachers College with a B.S., and studied at Western Reserve in Cleveland and Indiana University extension. She taught one year in Terra Haute, and thirty-seven years in Indianapolis, Indiana. She was Grand Epistoleus, Grand Tamiochus, Financial Consultant and received various awards and honors for her sorority service. Plaques are awarded in Redford's name at each Boule for exhibits of chapter achievements.

CUBENA McCLURE

Cubena McClure graduated from Shortridge High School, the Indianapolis City Normal School and attended Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. She won the Gregg Scholarship, which she planned to use to attend Columbia University, unfortunately, illness prevented her from accepting the scholarship. McClure was talented in art and she helped to design the Sorority pin. She died very young on August 24, 1924.

BESSIE MAE DOWNEY RHOADES MARTIN

Martin was the youngest of six children and attended grade school in Indianapolis. She graduated from the Manual training High School and the City Teachers Normal School. Martin taught school for over 25 years. She married twice and was a devoted wife, educator, and engaged founder.

Key Facts

Established: November 12, 1922, at Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana

Membership: 100,000+ members

Division: Five Regions – Central, Northeastern, Southeastern, Southwestern, Western

Service Channel: Over 500 chapters in the U.S., Bahamas, Bermuda, the Virgin Islands, Canada, Germany, Korea and the United Arab Emirates.

Sorority Flower: The Yellow Tea Rose

Sorority Mascot: The Poodle

Sorority Colors: Royal Blue and Gold

From seven young educators, Sigma Gamma Rho has become an international service organization comprised of women from every profession. Sigma Gamma Rho offers its members opportunities to develop their unique talents through leadership training and involvement in sorority activities. Sorority activities provide an atmosphere where friendships and professional contacts are developed which often lead to bonds that last a lifetime.

Sigma women are dedicated to helping each other and their personal success is recognized in The AURORA and through various awards.

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Soror Robin Kelly

US Congresswoman

Soror Robin Kelly is a United States Congresswoman and politician from the state of  Illinois. A Ph.D. graduate in political science from Northern Illinois University, Kelly has served as the U.S. Representative from Illinois’s 2nd congressional district since 2013. She served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 2003 to 2007 and Chief of staff for Illinois State Treasurer from 2007 to 2010.

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Soror Nina Turner

Former Ohio State Senator

Soror Nina Hudson Turner is an American politician, professor and former State Senator from Ohio. She is a motivational speaker, cable news commentator and defining political icon. She was a Cleveland City Councilor from 2006 to 2008 and an Ohio State Senator from 2008 until 2014 as a member of the Democratic Party.

 

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Soror Audrey Jones

Two-Time Emmy Award-Winning Executive Producer of The View.

Soror Audrey Jones is a two-time Emmy Award-winning executive producer of The View on ABC. Her excellent work in the television industry paved the way for her to win a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show in 2003 and nominations for the same award several times.

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Soror Hattie McDaniel

First African American to Win an Oscar

Soror Hattie McDaniel was an American actress, singer, songwriter and comedian. In 1939, she won an Academy Award for the Best Supporting Actress for her role as “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind, making her the first African American to win an (Oscar).

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Soror MC Lyte

Grammy–Nominated American Rapper, DJ, Actress and Entrepreneur

Soror Lana Michelle Moorer (AKA MC Lyte) is a ground-breaking, Grammy–nominated American rapper, DJ, actress and entrepreneur.  One of the very first commercially successful female Hip Hop artists, Moorer has been ranked as one of the 50 Most Influential Hip Hop Artists of All Time by About.com. Not only is she  known for her impressive musical catalogue, MC Lyte is also known as one of the most recognizable voice over artists in the entertainment industry today.

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Soror Tressie McMillan Cottom

Sociologist, Writer, Public Scholar and 2020 MacArthur Fellow.

Soror Dr. Tressie McMillian Cottom is a sociologist, writer and public scholar. She has authored several books including Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy and Thick: And Other Essays. Recognized as an academic expert in inequality and American higher education, Soror McMillan Cottom became a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Genius Grant in 2020 and has been featured frequently in print and television media including The Daily Show and MSNBC.

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Soror Beverly Jenkins

Author

Beverly Jenkins is the recipient of the 2017 Romance Writers of America Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2016 Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for historical romance. She has been nominated for the NAACP Image Award in Literature and was featured in the documentary “Love Between the Covers” and on CBS Sunday Morning.

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Soror April Sinclair

Author

April Sinclair (born April 8, 1954) is an Oakland-based best-selling author known for her books about young black women coming of age. Sinclair was born in Illinois and grew up on Chicago’s South Side, where several books are set. She is best known as the author of the novels Coffee Will Make You Black, I Left My Back Door Open: A Novel, and Ain’t Gonna Be the Same Fool Twice.

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Soror Michele Hoskins

Business Woman

Michele Hoskins is the owner and founder of Michele Foods, Inc. This multi-million dollar company produces Honey Crème Syrup, Butter Pecan Syrup, and Maple Crème Syrup and other fine food products. Her products are sold in 8,000 stores, including the top major retail chains in the United States.

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Soror Kelly Price

Six-time Grammy-Nominated R&B Singer, Songwriter

Soror Kelly Price is a six-time Grammy-nominated American R&B singer, songwriter, and television personality. Best known for her work as a Def Soul Artist, Price has had a solid career working with R & B and Hip legends, and more recently, a judge on BET’s Sunday’s Best. She is also known for her work as a Breast Cancer Awareness activist.

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Soror Martha Reeves

Motown Lead Singer of Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, Former Politician

Soror Martha Reeves is an American lead  singer of the Motown girl group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. Their song “Dancing in the Street” is  often described as a political statement; a sign of America’s mid-60s uprising that was driven by inequality and the fight for civil rights. Reeves also served as an elected councilwoman for the City of Detroit.

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Soror Deshauna Barber

United States Army Reserve Captain, Former Miss USA and Motivational Speaker

Soror DeShauna Barber is a United States Army Reserve Captain, former Miss USA  and a motivational speaker. In 2016, Soror Barber was the first soldier to win the prestigious title of Miss USA. She also represented the USA at Miss Universe 2016 in Manila where she was among the top nine finalists.

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Soror Donna Orender

Former WNBA President

Donna Geils Orender is a sports executive and former collegiate and professional basketball player. She was formerly president of WNBA. Donna, the CEO of Orender Unlimited, is a recognized business leader, trailblazer, game-changer, and executive.

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Soror Hydeia Broadbent

HIV/AIDS Activist and Motivational Speaker

Soror Hydeia Broadbent has dedicated her life speaking out about HIV/AIDS and its prevention. As a child, she appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show to share her story as one of the first generation of children born HIV positive. Since then, she has become one of the most prominent HIV/AIDS activists and motivational speakers who has received many awards and accolades for her efforts, including the “Community Activist Award,” which she received from the Bounce television network in 2019.

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Soror Maritza McClendon

Olympic Athlete and Medalist

Soror Maritza Correia, also known by her married name Maritza McClendon, is the first African American female to win Olympic medals in swimming. A former member of the award winning University of Georgia swim team, Soror McClendon became the first African American to be a member of the U.S. Olympic swimming team in 2004, and was inducted into the Georgia Aquatics Hall of Fame in 2014.

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Soror Carmelita Jeter

Three-Time Olympic Medalist Dubbed “The Fastest Woman Alive”

Soror Carmelita Jeter, once tabbed the “Fastest Woman Alive,” is a retired American sprinter who specialized in the 100 meters. She was the 2011 IAAF World Champion in the 100 m and a three-time Olympic medalist. She also won a second World Championship bronze.