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Samuel C. Hamilton Biography - Fraternity Helped Nurture Career Aspirations, Promoted Community-Based Opportunities, Assumed Leadership of Kappa Alpha Psi

hartford united development service

19(??)—

International Grand Polemarch, Kappa Alpha Psi, business executive

Samuel C. Hamilton, who became the highest office holder in the historically black fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi in 2003, has also been recognized as a prominent business and community leader. Through his professional and civic affiliations, he helped to implement such programs as small business funding and development, affordable housing, and public health campaigns. As head of one of the "Divine Nine" African-American fraternities and sororities in the United States, which have been recognized for their major role in fostering high standards of black achievement, he has committed himself to increasing the organization's role in community outreach and in promoting individual achievement.

Fraternity Helped Nurture Career Aspirations

Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Hamilton earned a bachelor of arts degree from Clark/Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia. There he became active in the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. This fraternity, originally known as Kappa Alpha Nu, was formed in 1911 at Indiana University, where only ten African-American students were enrolled at that time. Realizing that these students were tremendously isolated and were not receiving necessary support from the school administration, Elder Watson Diggs and Byron Kenneth Armstrong led them in organizing a permanent African-American fraternity. From the start, the fraternity provided a necessary means of establishing social bonds among the university's black students. Kappa Alpha Psi also stressed achievement and service.

By the 1920s Kappa Alpha Psi had opened chapters across the United States. It created its first national community service program, which mentored high school students, in 1922. Business leadership has also been a prominent focus for the organization. Its Kappa Instructional Leadership League, developed in the 1960s by the Los Angeles chapter, aims to help young men develop leadership skills across a wide range of professions. In 1981 the fraternity created the Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation for the purpose of fund raising. The fraternity numbers several prominent alumni, including Dr. David Satcher, the sixteenth surgeon-general of the United States, and Carl Stokes, the first black mayor of Cleveland, Ohio.

Interested in a business career, Hamilton found Kappa Alpha Psi a source of friendship and support that proved instrumental in his successful transition from college to the business world. After graduating from Clark/Atlanta University, he began his career in the Hartford, Connecticut, area, working as a partner in a real estate investment office. He later worked as regional director with the Aetna Life and Casualty Company.

Promoted Community-Based Opportunities

In his current position as executive director and chief executive officer of the Hartford Economic Development Corporation (HEDCO) and the Greater Hartford Business Development Center, Inc., Hamilton has become widely recognized for community-based business initiatives. HEDCO works to promote economic development in Hartford and 57 neighboring cities and towns by collaborating with public and private organizations to create incentives to aid small businesses in the area. According to its Web site, HEDCO and its partner organizations seek to "foster the community relationships crucial to sustained and broad-based economic growth" by providing start-up assistance, funding, and other services to businesses that might otherwise be forced to close or relocate.

Hamilton has also made significant contributions through his activities in volunteer organizations. He helped form the Hartford Neighborhood Development Support Collaborative, which obtained funding from 20 diverse sources to support affordable housing and neighborhood economic renewal. He has served as a board member of Child and Family Services and TLC, a group shelter for teens, and served on the Institute for Internationals Sport's Task Force for the Development of the Institute for the Black Athlete. Hamilton, whose son is an assistant basketball coach at SUNY-Binghamton, is also a member of the expert panel of the Center for Sports Parenting and is an Elder of the First Presbyterian Church.

His work with the United Way, in which he has been active since 1986, has earned Hamilton particular recognition. He has served on the organization's executive committee, strategic planning committee, and Hartford neighborhood support collaborative, and he chaired the allocations committee from 1993 to 1995. Hamilton also chaired the Are You the Missing Piece? campaign, jointly sponsored by the United Way and the American Red Cross, which aimed to increase awareness of the need for Hispanic and African-American bone marrow donors. Hamilton served as chairman of the board of directors of the United Way of the Capital Area [Hartford] from 1998 to 2001. In 2001, the United Way of the Capital Area presented Hamilton with its annual Community Service Award, which, according to the organization's Web site, recognized his "dedication to the spirit of philanthropy and community service."

Assumed Leadership of
Kappa Alpha Psi

Active in Kappa Alpha Psi since his student days, Hamilton held several offices in the organization, including Grand Keeper of Records and Exchequer. He worked throughout his career to promote partnerships between the fraternity and the United Way to benefit community development. He served as Senior Grand Vice Polemarch, the second-highest office of the fraternity, under Grand Polemarch Howard L. Tutman, Jr. When Tutman retired from his post in 2003, Hamilton became Kappa Alpha Psi's thirtieth Grand Polemarch.

As leader of the fraternity, Hamilton has declared his intention to focus on increased outreach and membership, as well as expanded partnerships with businesses and other organizations. He has announced collaborations between the fraternity and public health organizations, including a program in conjunction with the American Cancer Society to promote awareness and treatment of prostate cancer, a disease that disproportionately affects African-American men. He has launched initiatives to prepare for the observation of Kappa Alpha Psi's centennial in 2011, and has promoted the fraternity's Unity '04 Voter Empowerment Campaign, aimed at increasing voter registration and participation in the 2004 national elections. As Hamilton observed in the Grand Polemarch's Message in the Kappa Alpha Psi Journal, "Kappa's participation in Unity '04 will help to ensure that in our local communities every eligible person of color is registered to vote, educated on the issues and provided transportation to the Voting place on Election Day.… Every generation must take part in the electoral process because the outcome will affect each and every one of us; if not now, at some point in the future."

At a Glance …

Born in Knoxville, TN; married; children: one son. Education: Clark/Atlanta University, BA; University of Connecticut, graduate studies; University of Massachusetts, graduate studies; Indiana University, graduate studies.

Career: Real estate investment firm, partner; Aetna Life and Casualty Company, regional director; Hartford Economic Development Corporation, executive director and chief executive officer.

Memberships: United Way of the Capital Area, Hartford, CT, chair, 1998-2001; Kappa Alpha Psi, International Grand Polemarch, 2003–.

Awards: Whitney M. Young, Jr. Service Award, and Boyce Barlow Lifetime Achievement Award, Kappa Alpha Psi; Community Service Award, United Way of the Capital Area, Hartford, CT, 2001.

Addresses: Office—15 Lewis St., Suite 204, Hartford, CT 06103.

In recognition of his service to the fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi presented Hamilton with the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Service Award. Hamilton also received the fraternity's Boyce Barlow Lifetime Achievement Award. Hamilton, who is married and has one son, lives in Manchester, Connecticut.

Sources

Books

Ross, Lawrence C., Jr., The Divine Nine: The History of African American Fraternities and Sororities, Kensington Books, 2000, pp. 45-72.

Periodicals

Kappa Alpha Psi Journal, April, 2004, p. 89.

On-line

Center for Sports Parenting, www.sportsparenting.org (September 13, 2004).

Hartford Economic Development Corporation, www.hedco-ghbdc.com (September 13, 2004).

"2001 Community Service Awards," United Way of the Capital Area, www.uwcact.org (September 13, 2004).

—E. Shostak

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