Make us your home page

Thousands of Delta Sigma Theta sisters meet in Tampa

Paulette Walker

Paulette Walker

TAMPA — She may be the president of the largest African-American public service sorority in the nation, but Paulette Walker doesn't decide where the organization's Southern region holds its conference.

So the retired University of South Florida administrator and lifelong educator was ecstatic when Delta Sigma Theta announced that it would gather in Tampa, Walker's adopted hometown.

"We send out bids to cities to see who can meet our needs, and Tampa was able to meet those needs," Walker said. "I was extremely happy."

The group meets every two years.

Representatives of the sorority and Hillsborough County's tourism agency, Visit Tampa Bay, say that about 5,000 Deltas plan to attend the gathering that starts today at the Tampa Convention Center.

Sherri Brown, a national sales manager at Visit Tampa Bay, said she has heard of Deltas who plan to visit from as far away as Maryland and California, far outside the usual reaches of the sorority's Southern region, which is made up of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and the Bahamas. She attributes part of the enthusiasm to Walker, elected Delta president last July.

"She's a great motivator," Brown said. "That's why people like her, because she's so charismatic and always has a great attitude, and she always speaks so highly of Tampa."

Walker, who lives in Valrico, joined Delta Sigma Theta as a sophomore at Michigan State University in 1966. A native of Detroit, she said she was drawn to the Deltas' dedication to community service and civil rights.

"Once I came on campus, I was able to see all the work they were doing on campus and in the greater East Lansing community," Walker said. "I decided that was what I wanted to do and the group I wanted to do it with."

After graduating from Michigan State, she went to the University of Michigan to earn a master's degree in guidance and counseling and a doctorate in education. She worked as a middle and high school teacher, counselor and administrator before moving to USF, where she served as director of undergraduate programs and internship in the College of Education. She dedicated much of her career to improving inner-city schools and coauthored We Can Have Better Urban Schools.

Through it all, she remained an active Delta member, serving in a number of roles before becoming Southern regional director, vice president and eventually president of the group that claims more than 200,000 members.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who has known Walker for nearly 20 years, said he thought it was a "natural" fit when she was named president. "She loves her sorority, she loves her sorors, and she's committed to their values and their causes," he said.

Walker says her new job requires her to work closely with other organizations in addition to leading her own. "My title is really president and CEO … "

The Deltas began as an association of 22 students at Howard University on Jan. 13, 1913. Their first public activity was the Women's Suffrage March in Washington, D.C., two months later. Delta Sigma Theta and the communities it serves have changed drastically since then, and Walker says that one of her more important roles is determining the direction and goals of the organization.

"We're in our 101st year. Now that we've had our big centennial year, what are we going to do to set the mark for our second 100 years?" Walker asked.

Victoria Jacobsen can be reached at or (813) 661-2442.


Delta Sigma Theta

The Southern Regional Conference will be held today through Sunday at the Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St. These events are open to the public:


Community Impact Day: From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. members will lead a financial planning workshop and empowerment hour for pregnant women and mothers living at the Alpha House of Tampa. A school supply drive for the Bahamas Ministry of Social Services will be held at the same time.

Reflections: The Deltas will hold a meeting to thank local partners starting at 7:30 p.m.


Delta Regional Educational Fund 5K Walk for Life: Begins at 6:30 a.m. at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park. Registration is $25, and proceeds benefit the Alpha House, Bahamas Ministry of Social Services, Computer Mentors Group and Whispering Oaks.


Ecumenical prayer service: Begins at 9 a.m. at the convention center.

Thousands of Delta Sigma Theta sisters meet in Tampa 06/25/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 11:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  2. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  3. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  4. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  5. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county


    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.