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Expanding Our Reach with Mid-Hudson Valley National Pan-Hellenic Council

The National Pan-Hellenic Council is a collaborative organization of nine historically African-American, international Greek-letter fraternities and sororities known as the “Divine Nine.”

Pan-Hellenic Council has rich history

Editor’s note: The following is the last column in a series about “The Divine Nine,” the collective nickname of the nine predominantly African-American sororities and fraternities. The National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) is a collaborative organization of nine historically African American, international Greek lettered fraternities and sororities. The nine NPHC organizations are collectively referred to as the “Divine Nine.” The NPHC was formed as a permanent organization on May 10, 1930 on the campus of Howard University, in Washington, D.C. The local chapter of the NPHC received its charter Oct. 20, 2012.

The following is an interview with the former chapter president, Eugene L. Aiken.


Why did you seek the office of president of the local chapter of the NPHC?

I sought the presidency of the mid-Hudson Valley NPHC because of the spirit of cooperation and commitment demonstrated by all of the member organizations. At the time of my election, I had celebrated

40 years as an active member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. I have held several positions of leadership in the fraternity on the local, district, regional and national levels. This experience has enabled me to lead and help move the local chapter forward.


What has been the most rewarding experiences as president?

The chapter supports our communities here in the mid-Hudson Valley. We have participated in the drive to clean the streets of Newburgh, supported educational and community activities in Poughkeepsie, helped to provide gowns for young women at Glenn Hines for their gala. This past June, the NPHC provided a $500 book award to a graduating African-American young man from the Newburgh Free Academy. The member organizations of the NPHC are participating in efforts to get community members registered to vote.


Would you talk a little about prominent members of each organization?

I will submit two for each organization – one locally and one nationally known:

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. » John F. Murphy III, Esq. — Lawyer, owner SamRon & Associates; professor at Dutchess Community College. » Thurgood Marshall (July 2, 1908-Jan. 24, 1993) argued Brown v. Board of Education, a decision that desegregated public schools, and was the first African-American Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. » Lorna Woodside, former head of nursing at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla. » Mae Jemison, physician and NASA astronaut. She was the first African-American woman to travel in space.

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. » Rendesia Scott, director of Business Advising, State University of New York at New Paltz. » MC Lyte (born Lana Michelle Moorer) is the first solo female rapper to release a full album.

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. » Leonard Davis Jr., former chemist for IBM and science teacher at Poughkeepsie Middle School. » Daniel “Chappie” James Jr. (Feb. 11, 1920-Feb. 25, 1978) first African-American four star general.

Delta Sigma Theta » Linda M. Mann, former administrator (Poughkeepsie City School District); negotiator, School Administrators Association, New York state. » Barbara Jordan (Feb. 21, 1936-Jan. 17, 1996) was the first Southern African-American female elected to the United States House of Representatives.

Phi Beta Sigma » Jimmie Powell, former Research and Development engineer for IBM. » George Washington Carver (1860s, born in slavery,-Jan. 5 1943), was a botanist and inventor.

Iota Phi Theta » Dr. Bobby Gearing, pediatrician in Hyde Park. » T.C. Carson, star of sitcom, “Living Single.”

Zeta Phi Beta » Penny Lewis, former Trustee of Dutchess Community College and former member of the Poughkeepsie City Council. » Zora Neale Hurston (Jan. 7, 1891-Jan. 28, 1960), novelist, folklorist anthropologist and a leader of the Harlem Renaissance

Omega Psi Phi» Joseph Davis, former employee of IBM; supervisor, Town of Poughkeepsie; trustee and adjunct faculty member, Dutchess Community College. » Langston Hughes (Feb. 1, 1902-May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright and a leader of the Harlem Renaissance.


Is there anything else you would like to discuss about your experience as the leader of the NPHC?

I would just add that I am married to Edweana A. Aiken, an active soror of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. We’ve been married for 37 years. We have two adult children, Eugene L. Aiken III of Riverdale, and Amanda L. Aiken of New Orleans. Edweana and I live in Hopewell Junction. I was employed by IBM for more than 20 years in various assignments. I am also an academy trained part-time Deputy Sheriff with the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office Tactical Division for the past 32 years and hold the rank of sergeant.


Prepared by Wesley J. Lee, an adjunct professor of History and Government at Dutchess Community College, is a youth advocate. He has been a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. since 1966. Contact him at 845-264-2236.

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Brother J. Richard Smith

J. Richard Smith is the Treasurer of Beyond the Dream Foundation, which is a 501(C)(3) tax exempt foundation established by the Poughkeepsie Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi. Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. was founded in 1911, at Indiana University in Bloomington IN. The Poughkeepsie Alumni Chapter was chartered in May of 1968. J. Richard Smith became a member of the chapter in 1971; and has served the chapter in many capacities.

He was born and reared in Brundidge, AL; and attended Alabama A & M University in Huntsville, Al. While there, he was initiated into the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity in April of 1968. After graduating in 1970 with a BS Degree in Accounting, he relocated to Poughkeepsie, NY and started a professional career with the IRS.

1. How many positions have you held since you joined the chapter?

As a member of the Poughkeepsie Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, I held the following positions, Treasurer, Vice President, President; and I served on the Board of Director for many years.

In addition to treasurer and serving on the Board of Directors, I have also served as the Vice President and President of the Foundation.

2. Which position did you like the most?

Because of my background in the field of Accounting, I enjoy the Treasurer position.

3. Please discuss the chapter's community activities that you have worked to implement, their successes; and how personally rewarding they were.

The foundation and the fraternity are continually serving and trying to improve the quality of life in Hudson Valley. Each Thanksgiving, the foundation, along with local churches and super markets, provide over 200 disadvantaged families with a turkey and other foods to complete a dinner. During the Christmas season, the foundation and brothers of the fraternity partner with members of the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority to provide a Christmas Party and gifts for underprivileged Children. We provide meals, at Beulah Baptist Church and The Hillcrest House, for the homeless. We award scholarships annually to high school graduates in the Hudson Valley. These actives are heartfelt and satisfying. I can immediately see the comfort brought to someone; and the difference we have made in their lives.

4. Which projects would you like to see the chapter implement in the future; and how would you help to develop and implement them?

Currently, we have a membership of approximately 25 men who are serving as volunteers. These men also have jobs and families; so that they only have a limited amount of time to volunteer. We must grow our membership to be able to take on new projects, i.e., mentoring program for young men, and increase the scholarship program.

5. Is there anything else that you would like to discuss?

My wife, Dorothy, and I have been married for 50 years. We have two children – Brian who is a Brand Director for an International Company, and Jessica who is a Tax Accountant for one of the US Major Accounting Firms. Both my wife and I are retired.

In 2009, I retired from the U S Department of Treasury with over 38 years of employment with the Internal Revenue Service. I was a Territory Manager with eight direct reporting managers, and an employee base of 100 plus covering New York City and the Mid- Hudson Valley.

Currently, I sit of the Board of Directors of Realizing The Change another 501(c) (3) Charitable Foundation, where I serve a the Treasurer.

I current own JRS Accounting and Tax Services, located in Poughkeepsie New York, with a nationwide client base.

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