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Our History

Lola Mercedes Parker was one of the greatest visionaries of her time. She realized that Black women who were discriminated against based on both race and gender needed to not only improve their existing skills but also motivate and inspire other women to achieve the highest level of proficiency in their chosen professions. In 1929, while employed as secretary to Rev. L. K. Williams, then president of the National Baptist Convention, she founded Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Incorporated. Its aim: “To encourage young women to enter the Business Field by means of business training”. Lola M. Parker was its National President from 1929 to 1946 and President-Emeritus until her death in 1987. Ninety-four years later, the organization continues to grow and today there are more than 60 chapters, graduate and undergraduate, across the United States, including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Lola Mercedes Parker

Founder, Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc.

Alpha Chapter, Chicago, IL

The year 2015, encouraged by the ongoing mission, and vision of Lola Mercedes Parker and with a goal towards economic empowerment and economic independence for the Black community, the Lola Mercedes Parker Foundation for Economic Empowerment of Business and Professional Women (LMPF), a charitable arm of Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Incorporated, was founded as a 501- (C)-3 non-profit foundation. The LMPF supports and amplifies the programs, community service efforts and educational projects that uphold the values of the sorority and the communities served.

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Leadership Team

Lola Mercedes Parker Foundation

We believe that the Black Community faces challenges of access to education and opportunities for growth in employment and entrepreneurship.  Therefore, the LMPF aims to bring about positive impacts by promoting economic prosperity across Black Communities, thereby ensuring a thriving community. 

Over the last six years, the LMPF has reached out to over 900 women and youth through symposiums, workshops, and webinars. Our signature event, I3symposium: Inform, Inspire, & Ignite, has reached women and youth across the country. Our Youth Summit and Elevator Pitch Competition successfully promoted youth leadership and entrepreneurship.  

As the Lola Mercedes Parker Foundation for Economic Empowerment of Business and Professional Women looks to the future, we seek to forward our goals of community engagement, entrepreneurship and financial security across the generations.

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