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Alpha Alpha Iota Omega History

Photo of original interest group members

                                                                                                 Alpha Alpha Iota Omega Chapter of Maricopa County, Arizona was chartered on                                                                                             December 2, 2018 by thirty-four women of excellence. Our journey began on                                                                                                      October 12, 2015 at a breakfast gathering.  Soror Jayne Price posed the question,                                                                                   “Why is there only one Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. chapter in Phoenix?” to                                                                                               Sorors Wylene Bridgman, Dorothy Finnie and Marika McCoy Burton. This                                                                                                        question catapulted a small group into action.  A search began to find other Alpha                                                                                        Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. general and inactive members who would be interested                                                                                  in establishing another chapter in the Phoenix, Arizona area.  The chapter’s                                                                                                       induction into Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. started as Desert Pearls of                                                                                                       the West Valley Interest Group of the Far Western Region.  Chartering members include Sorors Debra Barnes, Cynthia Lacy Bass, Wylene Bridgeman, Dana Brooks, Kathyrn Brown, Katia Brown, Marika McCoy Burton, Lisa Cagnolatti, Deanna Castle, Avis Davis-Brown, Tolisha Eason, Dorothy Finnie, Marchelle Franklin, Felicia Ganther, Chandra Gaskin, LaKiesha Gibson, Jenita Harris, Patricia Harris, Christina Hill, Carolyn Holliday Hickman, Kimberly Hunley, Bernita McClinton, Lisa McCray-Cannon, A. Michele Morgan, Rosalind Pettigrew, Jayne Price, Tracy Ezell Rencher, Iris Simpkins, Stephanie Small, Yolanda Smith, Ginger Spencer, Tina Swanson, Errin Simpkins Travers, and Tina Young.

Twelve general members attended the first interest meeting on January 12, 2016. Nine remained and became the group’s pioneers: Sorors Debra Barnes, Cynthia Bass, Katia Brown, Wylene Bridgeman, Dorothy Finnie, Marchelle Franklin, Jenita Harris, Jayne Price, and Iris Simpkins. Throughout 2016 and 2017, the group embraced Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Program Targets and increased in membership. On Friday, October 13, 2017, Desert Pearls of the West Valley was approved to become an official Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Interest Group.  With the support, encouragement, and guidance of our past Regional Director Barbara Trotter, we moved forward in faith and perseverance. Our Regional Director, Carol R. Dixon served as an advocate on our behalf by sharing our vision with past International President Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson. The group continued its efforts to become a chapter under the new administration of Dr. Glenda Glover, International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  Desert Pearls of the West Valley embraced program initiatives under Exemplifying Excellence through Sustainable Service by participating in the International Day of Prayer, Breast Cancer Awareness presentations and the HBCU Fair.

On September 18, 2018, Desert Pearls of the West Valley was approved to become a graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Alpha Alpha Iota Omega Chapter embodies a group of dynamic women. We have One Golden Soror, five Life members, and a host of Silver Star members.  Our legacies include two sets of mother/daughter members and a set of biological sisters: Wylene Bridgman and Marchelle Franklin; Dr. Iris Simpkins and Errin Simpkins Travers; and sisters, Jayne Price and Marika McCoy Burton. Additionally, two sets of members who were initiated in the same undergraduate chapters and more than forty percent of our membership earned undergraduate degrees from
Historically Black Colleges and Universities.


Through tireless leadership and unwavering devotion of Wylene Bridgeman, Alpha Alpha Iota Omega Chapter is honored to become the first graduate chapter chartered under Dr. Glenda Glover and the first four-letter graduate chapter in the Fabulous Far Western Region under Carol R. Dixon, Regional Director.   

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