Houston will turn a sea of pink and green as more than 20,000 women are expected to converge on the George R. Brown Convention Center for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.’s 68th Boule (biennial conference) July 6-12.
The convention is expected to pump millions into the Houston economy. The last Boule took place in 2016 in Atlanta, where the city felt an economic impact of nearly $60 million. AKA International President Dorothy Buckhanan Wilson expects Houston to match that.
“We’re expecting 19,200 registered attendees in Houston, and that doesn’t include the vendor community and other suppliers,” she said. “You’re talking about one of the largest events of its kind worldwide.
“In Atlanta, the economic impact was based on hotel usage, shopping locally, transportation, restaurants and more,” she said. “When you add all those things together, we expect that our impact in Houston will be as equally as impressive. We’re also investing over a million dollars of our member dues [not sponsorship dollars] into service projects to deliver and lead sustainable projects in and around the Houston area.”
The Houston region is special to the 110-year-old organization. Members turned out in droves to help during Hurricane Harvey, putting in countless volunteer hours cleaning up, manning food pantries and attending to those in need. Two AKA past national presidents – Dr. Mattelia B. Grays and Faye Bryant – live in Houston and the city boasts 14 graduate chapters and six undergraduate chapters. Buckhanan Wilson attended her first AKA national convention here 40 years ago.
“I’m very excited about the Boule coming to Houston because the thousands of members in the Houston area have worked very hard to make sure every detail related to this Boule was not only thought about, but executed,” Buckhanan Wilson said.
“They also wanted to make sure this event not only had an economic impact on the city of Houston but that would have an impact on the people that we serve in our community.”
Buckhanan Wilson has made “Launching New Dimensions of Service” the theme of her administration. Through their “29 Moments of Service” leading up to the 2018 Boule, AKA has provided back packs to school children filled with nonperishable food and personal grooming items, assisted with school uniforms and clothing, shelter and fed families, planted a community garden, built two Habitat for Humanity homes, and an initiative that’s particularly near to Buchanan’s heart, donated and raised awareness of HBCUs.
“We have raised a lot of money for HBCUs through our ThinkHBCU initiative but more importantly, we put a big spotlight on those schools that have produced so many of our nations treasures, particularly in Texas,” Buckhanan Wilson added.
The THINKHBCU Expo is open to the public and will highlight Black colleges as well as give students an opportunity to prepare, apply and gain insight into HBCUS. It takes place Saturday, July 7, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the convention center.
During the convention, members will not only engage in acts of service, but they’ll attend workshops, leadership development activities and of course, bond with their sisters. Dr. Glenda Baskin Glover will be installed as the 30thinternational president at the conclusion of the conference.
With its 76,000 active members, Buckhanan Wilson says Alpha Kappa Alpha is poised to continue its mission worldwide, and she’s grateful Houston will feel the impact of what the sorority was founded on.
“For us, our experience becomes real after we graduate college because then that volunteer piece is what we do all day every day because that’s what allows us to carry forth our mission of service to all mankind,” she said.
See Notable AKAs who pledged in College