A leader with prestige
Dr. David Marion was elected the 41st Grand Basileus of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity at the 81st grand conclave in New Orleans, Louisiana earlier this year.
“I want my legacy to be known across this country and abroad. I think my job is to inform others on the power of the Omega man. We are so much more than what you see at step shows and parties,” he said.
Marion explained that civil right injustices and human abuse rights are key issues to the fraternity’s platform, and they will be vigilant to topics such as suppression of voter’s rights, health care access, and stand your ground.
“With vast certainty, we will be able to attentively tackle all of these issues because Benjamin Crump, a dignified civil rights attorney, is also the fraternity’s legal representative,” he said.
A leader on the path to Ph.D.Marion began his journey to grand basileus 39 years ago as a student at Mississippi State University. After his second year at MSU, he decided to transfer to Jackson State.
“I just wanted to be around more people who looked like me,” said Marion, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from JSU in 1982.
Furthering his studies, he returned to MSU and completed a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling in 1996. As a member of the Omega Eta Xi chapter, he served as vice basileus in 1998 and basileus in 1999. The same year, Marion earned a Ph.D. in counselor education from MSU. He later became the organization’s first vice state representative for Mississippi in 2000.
A leader with purposeDirectly after his tenure as first vice state representative, Marion was elected as state representative and served from 2002-2005. During that time, he was appointed seventh district historian and then district recommendations chairman.
Composed of four states, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida, the seventh district is the largest in the fraternity. Their chapters, with a vested interest for college-bound high school seniors, contributed more than one million dollars for scholarships. Additionally, members from the seventh district’s chapters also fed more than 1,600 families in Mississippi and Florida.
In 2011, Marion was elected as first vice seventh district representative and in 2014, first vice grand basileus of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
A leader with passionDuring his term as vice grand basileus, Marion created a program called – Brother, You’re on My Mind. The program is a worldwide mental health initiative targeting African-American males in order to reduce the stigma attached to seeking help for the disorder. Marion said he aspires to conscientiously focus on this program during his time in power.
The fraternity has already begun introducing the program to their local chapters and bringing in mental health experts and providing information on facilities that offer assistance.
“We then took that same energy into our community, and set up workshops and programs that provided the same service for the disorder,” he said. “We want to push the Brother You’re on my Mind program across the country and ultimately around the world.”
Mentorship and paternal programs concentrating on relationship improvement between a father and his child is another initiative that will be mandated for all chapters in the fraternity.
“We want all members in our chapters to serve as mentors for our young black boys. We need our Omega men working with other males, teaching them to be responsible, encouraging them to be better fathers, and making sure they are knowledgeable about their rights as a black male.”
The 41st basileus also plans to distillate on historically black colleges and universities and has created a National HBCU Initiative Committee led by the president of Rust College, Dr. Beckley, who is also an Omega man. The committee encompasses all current and past HBCU presidents who are also members of the fraternity.
“We are excited about this initiative because everyone asked has agreed to serve on this committee,” Marion said.
In August, he contributed a total of $30,000 divided among three local HBCUs, Rust College, Jackson State and Tougaloo College.
“We want to encourage alumni to give back, increase enrollment for universities, help with any federal/state budget cuts, and help lead any other initiatives that are significant to the success of our colleges and universities.”
As a student, Marion credits then JSU president Dr. John Peoples and Dr. Bill Cooley, then dean of the College of Business, for teaching him “the power of being responsible, doing the right thing and being a disciplined gentleman.”“I did not interact with Dr. Peoples when I was a student, but I saw him a lot. When he walked across campus towering over us, you could feel his power, strength, his leadership and his ability to be merciful,” he said.
Marion reminisced for a moment and recalled Dr. Cooley being shorter than the president, but said the dean possessed an equally intimidating power and keen amount of wisdom.
“You could sense all of those things when you were around them, so that is what I wanted to be like,” he explained.
Professionally, Marion has invested his time and talents as the owner of Marion Counseling Services, PLLC. His wife Dr. Joyce Marion, a licensed clinical psychologist, is co-owner. Their mental health clinic specializes in providing individual, group, marital, couple or family counseling. They also offer psychiatric and psychological evaluations and employee assistance programs to businesses in Mississippi.
The JSU alum said African Americans, in particular, have a stigma regarding mental illness. However, once diagnosed, they have an even bigger fear of getting help.
“So that leads me to a conclusion. When they come through the door, if I’m on the other side of the desk, I could assist with that stigma by encouraging and comforting them throughout the whole therapeutic process,” he said.
As a leader in dual capacities, Marion explained that he believes his purpose is to be impactful.
“I don’t think God made me to not impact someone, some family or community. I think my job is to make life less difficult for my brothers, my family, and families in my community, my universities, and our HBCUs. I am here to be a friend and to assist others in distress,” he said.
A leader who understands the power of familyIn a touching moment, Marion expressed gratitude for his wife and mother of their three daughters. He also credited her for encouraging him to be the extraordinary leader that he is today.
“People do not emphasize and value the importance of family while on these journeys. Throughout my path to president, my wife was always there to pick me up, keep me focused and give me a hug. Her patience and tolerance have paved the way for me, and I would not be in this position without her infinite support.”