Born in Brooklyn, New York, Valerie Hollingsworth Baker was elected as the International Centennial Grand Basileus of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated in July 2018. Prior to taking office, she held numerous elected and appointed positions in her home chapter, Delta Mu Zeta; served as Atlantic regional director for four years; and served as chairman of the National Executive Board for two terms. She is also the immediate past Zeta Phi Beta international first vice president, overseeing the sorority’s membership functions.
Scholarship is a principle that Hollingsworth Baker holds in high regard, having graduated from York Institute as the class valedictorian at the age of 14 and being accepted into 10 of the nation’s top universities. At the age of 18, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fordham University, where she majored in industrial organizational psychology with a minor in theater and drama. She also received a paralegal degree from the American Institute for Paralegal Studies.
Hollingsworth Baker was the director of the Inforce Systems Division for New York Life Insurance Company in New York City. She was responsible for managing multi-million-dollar projects and programs, training personnel and overseeing new product development as the chief administrator of one of the company’s major subsystems, which she helped to design, build and roll out to more than 5,000 employees.
In addition to being recognized for her service in the International “Who’s Who of Information and Technology” and “Outstanding Women of America” publications and receiving numerous awards from her own organization, Hollingsworth Baker was honored by the United Negro College Fund as a Maya Angelou Women Who Lead Honoree in September 2020.
She currently serves as the vice president of Hancock T&T Block Association and is a member of the NAACP. She has served as volunteer coordinator with the March of Dimes for more than 18 years, as well as the volunteer coordinator for the United Way for more than 10 years. She also volunteers her time with the American Red Cross, UNCF and New York Cares. In addition, she served on the board of directors for the Bedford-Stuyvesant Mental Health Clinic.
As international president, Hollingsworth Baker and the Centennial Chair were responsible for the organization’s weeklong historic Centennial celebration, which took place Jan. 12-18, 2020. She also instituted a $100,000 scholarship, which was awarded to a female high school graduate who is pursuing her bachelor’s degree at Stanford University. The scholarship is named after Arizona Cleaver Stemons Founder Emeritus and is the first scholarship of its kind to be provided by a “Divine Nine” organization to a single student.
Hollingsworth Baker has assembled a list of accomplishments, including:
- Increasing global expansion with chapter charters in the British Virgin Islands, and in Liberia and Ghana in West Africa
- Expanding leadership and volunteer service of members at national, regional and state levels
- Inducting four honorary members: Vivica A. Fox (actress and entrepreneur), Chaka Khan (music icon and entrepreneur), Archbishop Mary L. Palmer (first African American female archbishop in the U.S.), and Dr. Linda L. Singh (retired Major General Adjutant of the Maryland Army National Guard)
- Granting official statehood to the chapters which comprise the Bahamas (previously part of Florida state membership)
- Granting official statehood to the chapters in Massachusetts which were previously part of Tri-State membership
- Leading a major rebrand marketing campaign in 12 major cities across the country, involving highly publicized billboard signs on major highways and digital signage in key subway stations and in the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Jan. 16, 2020, to herald Zeta’s 100-year anniversary
- Initiating the following communication/publication vehicles: ZNN (Zeta Network News) weekly e-newsletter, Membership Matters (online magazine in non-Archon years), and the Annual Report
- Introduced an automated membership database system
- Introducing an automated membership database system
- Boosting the organization’s social media presence by 55%
- Creating e-learning courses for membership intake
- Launching the newly designed and stylized rebranded international website
- Procuring strategic partnerships with Geico, Dell, Google, New Balance Athletics Wear/Jairus Group, St. John Knits International, Inc., Goldman Sachs, Micha’s Voice, and NCNW (Good Health Wins)
- Developing a partnership with Learfield/CLC, a national vendor licensing firm
Leadership / Scholarship
- Awarding the second of five (5) major Founders’ Scholarships in 2021 to a young female high school graduate for $125,000
- Launching the Zeta Professional Leadership Academy
- Launching the first comprehensive online membership database
- Launching the first learning management database
- Launching the first co-branded Zeta sportwear line with New Balance sportswear
- Being the first of the Divine 9 to memorialize its founders in life-like wax figures (unveiling July 2022 in Philadelphia)
- Appointing the first Chapter Charter Feasibility and Sustainability Committee to further Zeta’s expansion efforts
- Holding first Zeta Male Network Symposium
- Launching the first Stork’s Nest app
- Launching the first comprehensive online Membership Intake Process that includes applications, course of study and payment of fees/shipping
- Creating the first and only D9 Step Team that performed at the internationally known Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
- Purchasing the sorority’s second property in Washington, D.C.
- Completed 75% of renovations for Birch Haven