top of page

A Brief History of Iota Phi Lambda

Women Encouraging Women

Early 1929, Mrs. Lola M. Parker of Chicago, Illinois, was stimulated by the need for and the great vision of an organization that would offset the results of the Great Depression.  Mrs. Parker, who served as national vice-president to the Women's Army for National Defense, an active member of the NAACP, YMCA and was founder and the first secretary to the Chicago Chapter of the National Council of Negro Women and many national and local organizations engaged in civic endeavors for racial, educational and economic progress, saw many African-Americans who were left without employment.  In particular, African-American women who were working at comparatively new skills in white-collar jobs in the business field were doubly penalized by race and sex.  


Mrs. Parker called together six visionary and prestigious women for the purpose of organizing a business sorority. 

Mrs. Parker believed that through such a sorority the status of business women could be elevated; they could be encouraged to seek higher formal training which would result in greater prestige to women in business and to women who chose business as a career. Thus, Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc. and Alpha Chapter were born.

Founding Members

Joining together with Ethel T. Edwards, Mildred G. Hardin, Harriet M. Robinson, Ophelia Harrison, Burdette Trigg and Marjorie Tyndall, Lola M. Parker founded Iota Phi Lambda Sorority on June 1, 1929 to carry out these objectives.

As the organization grew, Ms. Parker soon began to realize her dream of an organization that would encourage, nurture and promote the ideals of higher education, increased business acumen and a standard of professionalism for Black Women.

Since its inception, Iota has embraced other professions; however, the main focus remains on the field of business. There are 63 chapters with membership numbering more than 1,000 in 85 cities, Washington DC and the US Virgin Islands.

bottom of page