Lola Mercedes Parker, founder of Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas to Mr. and Mrs. John H. Smith around 1900. After finishing elementary school, she and her family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where she completed high school. In 1919, she became a resident of Chicago, Illinois, where she began her post secondary education, culminating with graduation from Chicago Business College. In 1922 she married William S. Parker. Two children were born of this union, both of whom preceded their parents in death.
In 1929, while employed as secretary to Rev. L. K. Williams, then president of the National Baptist Convention, she founded Iota Phi Lambda. Its aim: “To encourage young women to enter the Business Field by means of business training”. Lola M. Parker was founder of a premier sorority and it’s National President from 1929 to 1946 and President-Emeritus until her demise in 1987.