31decAll DayNew Year’s Eve
All Day (Friday)
Vice President of the United States of America
Kamala D. Harris is the Vice President of the United States of America. She was elected Vice President after a lifetime of public service, having been elected District Attorney of San Francisco, California Attorney General, and United States Senator.
Vice President Harris was born in Oakland, California to parents who emigrated from India and Jamaica. She graduated from Howard University and the University of California, Hastings College of Law.
Vice President Harris and her sister, Maya Harris, were primarily raised and inspired by their mother, Shyamala Gopalan. Gopalan, a breast cancer scientist and pioneer in her own right, received her doctorate the same year Vice President Harris was born.
Her parents were activists, instilling Vice President Harris with a strong sense of justice. They brought her to civil rights demonstrations and introduced role models—ranging from Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to civil rights leader Constance Baker Motley—whose work motivated her to become a prosecutor.
Growing up, Vice President Harris was surrounded by a diverse community and extended family. In 2014, she married Douglas Emhoff. They have a large blended family that includes their children, Ella and Cole.
Throughout her career, the Vice President has been guided by the words she spoke the first time she stood up in court: Kamala Harris, for the people.
In 1990, Vice President Harris joined the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office where she specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases. She then served as a managing attorney in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and later was chief of the Division on Children and Families for the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office.
She was elected District Attorney of San Francisco in 2003. In that role, Vice President Harris created a ground-breaking program to provide first-time drug offenders with the opportunity to earn a high school degree and find employment. The program was designated as a national model of innovation for law enforcement by the United States Department of Justice.
In 2010, Vice President Harris was elected California’s Attorney General and oversaw the largest state justice department in the United States. She established the state’s first Bureau of Children’s Justice and instituted several first-of-their-kind reforms that ensured greater transparency and accountability in the criminal justice system.
As Attorney General, Vice President Harris won a $20 billion settlement for Californians whose homes had been foreclosed on, as well as a $1.1 billion settlement for students and veterans who were taken advantage of by a for-profit education company. She defended the Affordable Care Act in court, enforced environmental law, and was a national leader in the movement for marriage equality.
In 2017, Vice President Harris was sworn into the United States Senate. In her first speech, she spoke out on behalf of immigrants and refugees who were then under attack. As a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, she fought for better protections for DREAMers and called for better oversight of substandard conditions at immigrant detention facilities.
On the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, she worked with members of both parties to keep the American people safe from foreign threats and crafted bipartisan legislation to assist in securing American elections. She visited Iraq, Jordan, and Afghanistan to meet with servicemembers and assess the situation on the ground. She also served on the Senate Judiciary Committee. During her tenure on the committee, she participated in hearings for two Supreme Court nominees.
As Senator, Vice President Harris championed legislation to reform cash bail, combat hunger, provide rent relief, improve maternal health care, and address the climate crisis as a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Her bipartisan anti-lynching bill passed the Senate in 2018. Her legislation to preserve Historically Black Colleges and Universities was signed into law, as was her effort to infuse much-needed capital into low-income communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On August 11, 2020, Vice President Harris accepted President Joe Biden’s invitation to become his running mate and help unite the nation. She is the first woman, the first Black American, and the first South Asian American to be elected Vice President, as was the case with other offices she has held. She is, however, determined not to be the last.
Deputy Sergeant at Arms, United States House of Representatives
Kim E. Campbell, a native of the District of Columbia, was appointed as Deputy Sergeant at Arms for the Office of the Sergeant at Arms in the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2021. As Deputy, Campbell oversees the policies, procedures, and management of the divisions of the Sergeant at Arms.
Campbell is a career law enforcement professional with more than 25 years of experience with the United States Secret Service (USSS). Campbell began her career as a Criminal Investigator assigned to the Washington, D.C. Field Office. In her role at the Secret Service she oversaw criminal investigations, presidential protections, science and technology, and special projects.
Throughout her career, Campbell has risen through the ranks and held numerous management positions within the USSS to include the Assistant Special Agent in Charge in the Office of Technical and Mission Support and the Inspection Divisions; Assistant Inspector, Headquarters/Inspection Division; Special Agent, Criminal Investigative Division; and Special Agent, Intelligence Division. From 1999 thru 2003, during her time as a Special Agent, Campbell served on the Presidential Protection Division assigned to President William J. Clinton and First Lady Hillary R. Clinton and President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush.
Campbell was appointed Special Agent in Charge of the Liaison Division within the Office of Government and Public Affairs in 2014 where she secured all diplomatic and official passports. Campbell led the transformation of the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act for the USSS, markedly improving response, compliance, case management, and oversight for information resources.
In 2015, Campbell was detailed as Special Advisor to the Department of Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary for the Office of Operations, Security, and Preparedness where she developed comprehensive recommendations for transforming the Veteran Affairs’ $1 billion Uniformed Police Program. Campbell collaborated with the USSS and the Netherlands Forensic Institute and brokered an international agreement to enhance forensic investigative capabilities. This effort was formally recognized by DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and the Ambassador of the Netherlands. Campbell was a key player in a three-agency consortium assigned to spearhead the redesign of the $5 Federal Reserve Note.
Following her distinguished career with USSS, Campbell was recruited to be the Assistant Sergeant at Arms for the Office of the Sergeant at Arms where she provided assistance, guidance, and recommendations on sensitive and/or confidential issues relating to the Sergeant at Arms. On January 6th Campbell was an instrumental player in securing Members of Congress and staff. Campbell was personally recognized for her professionalism and dedication to ensuring the safety and security of Members and staff. Campbell was appointed as Deputy Sergeant at Arms in July 2021 and has supported high security events such as the State of the Union Address, where she escorted the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. As Deputy, Campbell serves as an advisor to the Capitol Police Board, House Emergency Management Team, and Joint Congressional Continuity Board.
Campbell was educated at the Johns Hopkins University (MS), and the University of Florida (BS). Campbell has received numerous awards for her superior and outstanding performance including the George Washington University Public Leadership Award (2015) and the Department of Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary’s Personal Coin and Certificate Award (2015). Campbell is a member of the African American Federal Executives Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Association of Former Agents of the USSS, as well as a member of the Northern Virginia Chapter of Jack and Jill of America.
National Legislative Affairs and Public Issues Committee
Abina, a native of Historic Selma, AL, grew up at the feet of several civil and voting rights foot soldiers and giants, where she developed a passion for fighting against social injustice. She is the co-Founder of Salute Selma, Inc., a non-profit organization designed to take the lessons learned through the lenses of the Civil Rights Movement and apply these solutions to everyday business practices. Annually, Salute Selma, Inc. hosts three major events that commemorates Bloody Sunday, the Selma to Montgomery March, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Through her activism and non-profit Salute Selma, Inc., Abina has had the privilege to work and march with people like Congressman John Lewis, Past Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George Bush, President Joe Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris. In addition, Abina has executive produced with Viacom Networks the critically acclaimed documentary Sheroes of Selma in which she shared the stories of her life growing up with women such as Amelia Boynton Robinson, Diane Nash, Jean Jackson, Annie Cooper, Annie Pearl Avery, Marie Foster, and many other unsung sheroes; additionally she executive produced We Remember and Long Ride to Selma, which are docu-concerts that featured President Barack Obama, Congressman John Lewis, and other grassroots foot soldiers along with Grammy Award-winning artists Kirk Franklin, Ledisi, Bill Withers, Estelle, Bebe Winans, Dougie Fresh, and DJ D-Nice. Since education and social reforms have always been an abiding passion, she is committed to serving and advocating for civil and human rights issues, voting rights, women’s rights, economic empowerment, and criminal justice reform. She is also the founder of ABMC, LLC, which is a full-service social impact consulting and strategy firm. She holds a BA in English and Philosophy from Spelman College, a Masters in Public Administration from Troy University, and a Juris Doctor from Vermont Law School. She is a member of the Selma (AL) Chapter of The Links Incorporated, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and numerous other civic and social organizations.
Sergeant at Arms, United States House of Representatives
The Honorable William J. Walker was sworn in as Sergeant at Arms of the House of Representatives on April 26, 2021. He is the thirty-eighth person to hold this post since the House of Representatives first met in New York City in 1789. Prior to this, Major General Walker was the 23rd Commanding General of the District of Columbia Army and Air Force National Guard.
As an elected officer of the House of Representatives, the Sergeant at Arms is the chief law enforcement and protocol officer of the House of Representatives and is responsible for maintaining order in the House side of the United States Capitol complex. The Sergeant at Arms reviews and implements all issues relating to the safety and security of Members of Congress and the Capitol complex. The Sergeant at Arms also coordinates extensively with the U.S. Capitol Police and various intelligence agencies to assess threats against Members of Congress and the Capitol complex.
Duties include overseeing the House floor and galleries, the House Appointments Desk, the House garages and parking lots, as well as administering all staff identification badges.
The following divisions comprise the Office of the Sergeant at Arms:
“Grandmother of Juneteenth”, Social Impact Leader
Opal Lee was born October 7, 1926 in Marshall, Texas. Her mother moved to Fort Worth when she was ten years old. She attended Cooper Street Elementary School and graduated from Historic I.M. Terrell High School in 1943 at the age of 16.
Education & Career:
She didn’t go straight to college after graduation which was a grave disappointment to her mother, but did eventually get there after getting married, having four children and getting divorced. She earned her Bachelors of Arts degree in 1953 from Wiley College (now Wiley University) and returned to Fort Worth to teach at Amanda McCoy Elementary School for 15 years where she was regarded as one of the best educators in her field. At night she worked at Convair (now Lockheed Martin) to support her children. She later obtained her Master’s degree in Counseling and Guidance from North Texas State University and served as Home/School Counselor for Fort Worth Independent School District until her retirement in 1977.
Retirement & Community Activism:
Retiring gave Mrs. Lee the time and opportunity to become even more involved in the community. She was one of the founding members of Citizens Concerned with Human Dignity (CCHD) which was formed to assist the economically disadvantage in finding housing in Fort Worth. She volunteered at Habitat for Humanity, and served as a member of the board. She now serves on Habitat’s Land Acquisition Board.
With Lenora Rolla as its inspiration, Mrs. Lee helped establish the Tarrant County Black Historical & Genealogical Society dedicated to the preservation of the history of the Fort Worth Black populace. She served on the Historic & Cultural Landmarks Commission, AIDS Outreach committee, Evans Avenue Business Association, Good Samaritans, and Riverside Neighborhood Advisory Council.
She has served as Precinct Chair for District 8 for over 30 years, a member of Grandmother’s Club, and Ethel Ransom Humanitarian & Cultural Club. She is an active member in her church, Baker Chapel AME where she serves as a Missionary, church school teacher, assistant teacher and Deaconess.
On June 17, 2021, President Biden passed a bill making Juneteenth a National holiday. Ms. Opal stood alongside the president during this historic occasion and received the pen in which he used to sign off on the law.
Founder, ABA Consulting
Adjoa B. Asamoah is a seasoned executive, award-winning impact strategist, international influencer, and leading authority on racial equity, with expertise in organizational and leadership development, leveraging cultural intelligence and behavioral psychology to create meaningful systems change. She was tapped by the Biden-Harris campaign to serve as the National Advisor for Black Engagement, and has served as a trusted advisor to numerous federal, state, and local officials. She is highly sought after to develop diverse coalitions, and liaise between political entities, corporations, and civil rights organizations. As a foremost thought leader and policy architect, she has spearheaded legislative victories to legally establish the nation’s first Office on African American Affairs, and to introduce and pass the historic anti-hair discrimination CROWN Act. Ultimately, Adjoa is the go-to change agent to mobilize leaders and communities for thoughtful, collective social and political action.
Adjoa chairs the Democratic National Committee’s African American Leadership Council, and has worked on several bi-partisan initiatives–including training women across the political ideological spectrum at American University’s Women & Politics Institute. Her cultural capital and influential global network have resulted in her being tapped by media companies like BET and SiriusXM to serve as a guest host, and her work can be viewed on radio, tv, and in print. She was a teaching assistant at Temple University, and served as an adjunct professor at Rowan University. As faculty, she has taught courses in both Psychology and African American Studies departments.
She has provided subject matter expertise as an appointee to numerous national commissions, committees, boards, think tanks, and advisory councils for notable organizations, including NAACP, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, and The National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Incorporated. She has been appointed by multiple DC superintendents to the federally-mandated State Title I Committee of Practitioners, and she has been elected as chair for four consecutive years. DC’s mayor appointed Adjoa to be her senior policy advisor managing the equity portfolio, and to the Commission on African American Affairs—serving as the highest-ranking elected member.
She earned undergraduate degrees in Psychology and African American Studies, and a master’s degree in Educational Psychology from Temple University; a post-master’s certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis from St. Joseph’s University; and she holds multiple licenses, including one as a behavior specialist. Adjoa was an international student at the University of Ghana and is an alumna of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University. She completed the UPENN Equity Institute for Doctoral Students at the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education, and is a doctoral candidate in Leadership (Administration and Policy) at The George Washington University.
CEO, EVP Beauty & Personal Care, Unilever North America
Esi Eggleston Bracey is a transformational business executive with nearly 30 years of experience in general management, brand building, and marketing leadership. She has a track record of success in creating, accelerating and turning around business results across branded product categories, sectors and geographies through marketing and operational excellence.
Esi currently leads the $5B Beauty & Personal Care portfolio for Unilever North America which includes responsibility for the Hair, Skin Cleansing, Skin Care and Deodorant businesses with iconic brands like Dove, TRESemmé, Suave, Vaseline, Degree, Axe, and Shea Moisture as well as newer brands like Schmidt’s Naturals and Love Beauty and Planet. She has brought fresh thinking to these businesses and championed high impact purpose driven efforts like Dove’s founding of the CROWN (Creating and Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Coalition to help foster beauty inclusivity and to eradicate hair discrimination through support of the CROWN Act legislation. She is leading these brands and her team powerfully through the COVID pandemic, unlocking unprecedented growth (record H1 performance) and market place impact including (but not limited to) noteworthy programs Dove Courage is Beautiful, America wil not be Beautiful, Fathers Taken programs.
Prior to joining Unilever, Esi spent more than 15 years as a leader in the dynamic global cosmetics industry. She held the position of President of Coty’s Global Consumer Beauty Division and Senior Vice President of Procter & Gamble’s Global Cosmetics leading a portfolio of flagship international make-up brands including COVERGIRL, Max Factor, Sally Hansen, Rimmel London, Bourjois, and more.
An energetic and dynamic leader known for creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, she is consistently recognized for her ability to guide organizations through brand-building excellence, agility and operational discipline in light of competitive pressure and a rapidly-evolving marketplace. She is well known for her disruptive work on COVERGIRL partnering with unconventional beauty talent (Queen Latifah, Pink, Ellen, Janelle Monae) before their prime, breakthrough new product innovation, and unexpected pop-culture tie-ins partnerships (sports, movies, female empowerment) that fostered record brand love, equity, and sales growth.
She has been recognized with numerous awards including Ad Color Legend Award, BE Powerful Women in Business, Ebony Power 100, BET Butterfly Award, Cosmetics Executive Women Achievers Awards, Advertising Age Women to Watch, Women Wear Daily Marketer of the Year, and many more.
A native of Chicago, Illinois, Esi graduated from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire with a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering Sciences. Esi is married with two children (15-year-old daughter, Anura, and 11-year-old son Benoit). She currently lives with her family in New York City.
Founder and CEO, JOY Collective
Kelli is an Emmy Award-winning creative visionary and entrepreneurial business leader with over 30 years of leadership experience in brand-building. Kelli is founder and CEO of JOY Collective, a Black and woman-owned marketing and creative agency committed to delivering purpose-driven work that positive impacts our community. Kelli is also Founder of The SonRise Project, a safe space for parents of children who struggle will mental wellness and addiction issues. She hosts a weekly Sunday morning call for parents nationwide to find solace and help.
Kelli’s expertise in strategic insights, market research, marketing, advertising, communications, special events, public affairs, and advertising sales has translated to exceptional results for powerhouse brands including Procter & Gamble (P&aG), BET Networks (Viacom) and Dell. In addition to driving volume, share, and ratings increases for P&aG and BET, respectively, Kelli has created multiple award-winning creative campaigns, including image campaigns, new branding and visual identification systems to drive specific viewership goals. During her tenure as head of marketing, communications, creative services, and events for BET Networks, Kelli led all event-related elements of all of the biggest tentpole events in the country, including the BET Awards, Celebration of Gospel, Hip Hop Awards, BET Honors, and more. She also created BET’s Emmy Award-winning HIV/AIDS program “Rap-It-Up” and the BET Foundation, a 501(c)3 focused on health-related issues in the African American community. Kelli and her teams have received hundreds of awards, including Emmy, Telly, Promax, BDA, NAMIC, CTAM, CTPAA and NAACP Image Awards for her work.
JOY was named the 6th fastest growing agency of 2019 by Adweek, and recently won the 2019 SABRE Award for the Best Campaign for Dove/The CROWN Act. Their client list includes Dove, WW (formerly Weight Watchers), Tory Burch, Unilever, AARP, Coca Cola, Williams-Sonoma, among others.
Kelli served as the head of Global Consumer Branding and Advertising for DELL’s Consumer Products division, head of Marketing and Communications for BET Networks, and as a Brand Manager at P&G. Kelli is also Founder of The SonRise Project, a safe space for parents of children who struggle will mental wellness and addiction issues.
Kelli is from Cleveland Ohio (an unwavering Browns fan!) and is a proud graduate of Howard University. She is actively involved in several professional and civic organizations, including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, and is a generous, mother, wife and friend. She tries to give more than she receives – always with a JOYful heart and positive, passionate spirit.
Transformational Leader Bringing Vision, Sparking Innovation & Delivering Value
As CEO of AARP, Jo Ann Jenkins leads the world’s largest non-profit, nonpartisan membership organization, harnessing the power and passion of almost 2,300 staff members, 60,000 volunteers and numerous strategic partners. Since joining the organization in 2010 and heading it since 2014, she has transformed AARP into a leader in social change, dedicated to empowering people to choose how they live and age. A fearless champion for innovation and impact, Jenkins is often lauded for her ability to create business opportunity and competitive differentiation. She has been described as a visionary and global thought leader, a catalyst for breakthrough results, accelerating progress and contribution while fostering positive relationships.
While AARP has long been recognized for its services, information and advocacy on behalf of people age 50 and over, Jenkins led efforts to redefine AARP’s vision, challenge outdated beliefs and spark new insights that allow people to adapt to the new realities of aging – with relevant solutions to everyday issues such as health, financial resilience, digital and social connectivity, work opportunities and personal fulfillment. Under her leadership, AARP has been recognized as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies. Her best-selling book, Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age, has become a signature rallying cry for revolutionizing society’s views on aging by driving a new social consciousness and sparking innovative solutions for all generations. She also established a new strategic direction and operating structure for AARP Foundation, focusing on change in four critical areas – hunger, income, housing, and isolation. She created Drive to End Hunger, a multi-year, nationwide campaign which has donated tens of millions of meals and provides support to over 100 anti-hunger organizations across the country.
Jo Ann began her career with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, moving on to progressively more responsible leadership positions in the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Agriculture before serving as Chief Operating Officer of the Library of Congress where, among other things, she led eleven National Book Festivals.
Jo Ann Jenkins holds a variety of board and advisory positions including AARP Board of Directors; General Mills Board of Directors, The Wall Street Journal CEO Council, Kennedy Center National Symphony Orchestra Board of Directors, Stanford School of Medicine Board of Fellows, AVNET Board of Directors; World Economic Forum Stewardship Board for the Education, Gender, and Work System Initiative; World Economic Forum, Board of Governors for the Health Systems Initiative; Vice-Chair, International Oversight Board, National Academy of Medicine’s “Healthy Longevity” initiative. In 2019, she received the Baldridge Leadership Award, and was named by Fortune as “One of the World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. She has been recognized with BlackDctor.org “Top Blacks in Healthcare” award (2019); Diversity & Flexibility Alliance Luminary Award (2019); WNET New York Public Media 2018 “Woman of Vision” Award; Washington Business Journal’s “Women Who Mean Business” award (2018); Black Enterprise Magazine “Most Powerful Women in Business” (2017); Actor’s Fund Medal of Honor (2017); International Association of Gerontology and Geriatrics 2017 Presidential Award; Foreign Policy Global Thinker (2017); Power 100 – Washington’s Most Influential People, Washington Life Magazine (2015-2017); “Non-Profit Influencer of the Year” (2015); “Non-Profit Times’ Power and Influence Top 50” (2013-2019); Peace Corps Director’s Award (2014) and Malcolm Baldrige Fellow (2013).
After earning her Bachelor of Science degree from Spring Hill College in Mobile, AL, she graduated from the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program. Jenkins also holds an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from both Spring Hill College and Washington College.
Founder and CEO, National CARES Mentoring Movement
Susan L. Taylor, best-selling author of four books, and editor of eight others, is a fourth-generation entrepreneur, who grew up in Harlem working in her father’s clothing store. At 24, she founded her own cosmetics company, which led to the beauty editor’s position at Essence, the publication she would go on to shape into a world-renown brand with more than 8 million readers. It was that enterprising spirit wedded to a deep love for her community that led to the founding of the National CARES Mentoring Movement in 2005 as Essence CARES. With local affiliates in 58 cities, National CARES has recruited, trained and deployed more than 150,000 mentors to schools and youth-support and mentoring organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters, as well as to its own culturally rooted, academic- and social-transformational initiatives. A community-mobilization movement, National CARES is the only organization dedicated to providing mentoring, healing and wellness services on a national scale for Black children.
Ms. Taylor is a recipient of more than a dozen honorary doctorates and hundreds of awards, including the Phoenix Award, which is the highest honor given by Congressional Black Caucus. A lifelong activist who has worked to ensure people across the globe, from South Africa to those who struggled in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Susan Taylor says that securing our vulnerable children is her highest calling and the big business of our nation and Black America today.
National President of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated
On August 23, 2020, Kornisha McGill Brown was elected as the 27th National President of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated at the 44th National Convention. Prior to being elected as National President, Kornisha served as the 2017-2019 Regional Director of the Southeastern Region. Kornisha also served as the 2015-2017 Southeastern Regional Secretary, Regional Nominating Committee member for 2 terms, and as Regional Chair of Rules and Regulations. Kornisha was recognized as “Chapter President of the Year” by the Southeastern Region at the 29th Biennial Mothers’ Regional Conference. She has been a member of the Columbus, GA (5-Star) Chapter for 13 years where she served as Chapter President, Chapter Vice-President, and much more.
Kornisha McGill Brown is a native of Thomaston, GA and currently resides with her family in Columbus, GA. She is a graduate of Spelman College where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. She received a Masters of Education Degree in Social Science Education from the University of Georgia. As an educator, servant leader, small business managing partner, and philanthropist, Kornisha has spent the majority of her professional and personal life supporting and advocating for the youth in the community. Kornisha is a member of The Links, Incorporated-Columbus, GA Chapter, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Board of Directors of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley, Auxiliary to the Columbus Fort Benning Medical Society, Brookstone School Parent Association Executive Board, Emanuel Preparatory School Board, and the Women’s Giving Circle for the Boys and Girls Club of the Chattahoochee Valley.
Kornisha is married to Dr. Darius K. Brown, Sr., and they are the very proud parents of two children- Jordan Janay Brown and Darius Brown, Jr. She and her family are active members of New Birth Outreach Church in Columbus, GA.
President, National Council of 100 Black Women
Dynamic, highly respected, public servant and community leader. All these words and more describe Virginia W. Harris. She retired from the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners in July 2006, as County Auditor after 20 years of service. Other professional positions included Accounting Director & Financial Management Analyst, Gwinnett County, Audit Manager, State of Georgia, Comptroller, Governor’s Office – Women’s Services, State of Louisiana, Accountant, Sears Roebuck and Company, South Eastern Regional Office and Accountant with Arthur Young and Company.
Virginia W. Harris was re-elected President of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. for a second term at the 19th Biennial Conference, October 12, 2019 in Atlanta, GA. Having served as a member of the Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter for 29 years, President Harris has consistently demonstrated her leadership abilities through successfully serving at both the national and local chapter levels. For the past 17 years she has served as National President, First Vice President of Programs, Vice President of Finance and Fund Development, National Treasurer and chaired several national committees. At the chapter level, President Harris held the offices of President, Vice President of Programs, Treasurer, and Assistant Treasurer. She was chair of the Public Policy, Nominations and Scholarship Committees. She is also a member of her chapter’s Presidents Advisory Board, an advisory group consisting of past chapter presidents created to provide ongoing guidance to the chapter.
Virginia served on the Board of Directors for the following organizations: Past President, Albany State University Foundation Board of Trustee; Past Chair, Georgia DOL-Statewide Youth Motivation Task Force Program; Vice President of the Gwinnett-Rockdale-Newton Community Service Board, National Forum for Black Public Administrators (NFBPA), Gwinnett Chapter, American Red Cross Advisory Board, Southern Education Foundation, Board Member, member of Women Ministry Council, and the Ladies Usher Board at The Historical Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Virginia is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., The Links Inc., The Continental Societies Inc. and Top Ladies of Distinction, Inc. Virginia regularly participates in the National Urban League’s BEEP-Program, lecturing at Historical Black Colleges and Universities. Her stellar work and staunch commitment have earned her numerous national, regional, state and local awards.
Educationally, President Harris holds a Masters of Public Administration degree, Bachelor of Business Administration degree, a Certified Internal Auditor and Certified Government Financial Manager. She is also a graduate of Georgia’s Regional Leadership Institute, Leadership Atlanta, Leadership Gwinnett and Graduate of Harvard Non-Profit Leadership Program.
Virginia resides in Metropolitan Atlanta; She is the widow of Keith Harris, a native Atlanta, has two adult children, Mark and Veketa, three grandsons; Joshua, Andrew and Ethan, and two granddaughters, Hannah and Ava. Virginia enjoys traveling, reading, tennis and is learning to play golf.
Chair and President, National Council of Negro Women.
Johnnetta Betsch Cole, is an accomplished educator and museum professional; noted speaker and author on issues of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion; and a committed advocate for social justice. She currently serves as the National Chair and Seventh President of the National Council of Negro Women, an advocacy organization with more than 2 million members, working in the interest of women’s rights and civil rights.
Dr. Cole rose to national prominence as the first African American woman President of Spelman College and, later, as President of Bennett College, making her the only person to serve as president of both historically Black colleges for women in the United States. Over the course of her career, she has held teaching and administrative positions in anthropology, women’s studies, and African American studies at several major universities.
After retiring from academia, Dr. Cole served as the Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art for eight years. Upon her retirement from the Smithsonian she received the title of Director Emerita. Following her years at the Smithsonian, Dr. Cole was a Principle Consultant with Cook Ross, a management consulting firm, where she co-led a Chief Diversity Officer Leadership Forum and worked with various companies to create more inclusive and equitable workplaces. As a Senior Consulting Fellow at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, she worked on initiatives on diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion in art museums and higher education.
Dr. Cole has a long history of community service. She was the first African American to serve as the Chair of the Board of United Way of America. Recently she was on the board of Martha’s Table, a nonprofit that supports children, families and communities in Washington, D. C. through quality education, healthy food and community support. She has also held leadership roles in a number of professional organizations, including the Association of Art Museums Directors where she served as the president and she co-led the American Alliance Museum’s Working Group on diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion.
Dr. Cole has served on the corporate boards of Home Depot, Merck, and Nation’s Bank South. And she was the first woman appointed to the board of Coca-Cola Enterprises. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the American Anthropological Association, and a member of the Association of Black Anthropologists. She is a member of the, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., The Links, Inc., and a Life Member of NAACP.
Johnnetta Betsch Cole has authored, co-authored and edited several books and numerous articles for scholarly and general audiences. She is the recipient of numerous awards and has received 69 honorary degrees.
She began her higher education in an early entrance program at Fisk University, and completed her undergraduate studies at Oberlin College. She earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in anthropology with a specialization in African Studies from Northwestern University. Throughout her career, Dr. Cole has addressed issues concerning Africa and the diaspora. In her published work, speeches, and community service, she often speaks to issues of racial, gender, and other systems of inequality.
Dr. Cole is married to James D. Staton, Jr. She is the mother of three sons and one stepson. She has three grandchildren and is a mentor to many young women and men.
International Grand Basileus, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
Rasheeda S. Liberty was elected the 25th International Grand Basileus of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., during the 58th Biennial Boule on July 31, 2020. In her new role, Mrs. Liberty, a 26- year member of the renowned sorority, will lead the organization as it celebrates its 100th year in 2022. Mrs. Liberty will provide leadership to over 100,000 sorority members and serve as chairman of the board of directors, composed of 38 national and regional officers who manage the sorority’s 500 chapters in the United States and in several countries.
Mrs. Liberty joined the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority in 1994 at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A proven and dedicated mentor, she has spearheaded the growth of Sigma Gamma Rho in the Southeastern Region since 2016, serving in several leadership roles, including international first vice-president, Southeastern Region director and as international editor-in-chief. Mrs. Liberty is lauded by her sorority for her stewardship of the organization’s mission of enhancing the quality of life for women and their families in the U.S. and globally.
Rasheeda S. Liberty also serves as a regional finance director for Amazon. She is a recognized corporate leader with over 28 years of experience in delivering results for Fortune 100 companies. She is a member of numerous organizations including Top Ladies of Distinction, NAACP, Finance Executive Networking Group (FENG), and Jack & Jill of America.
President, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Valerie is a Diamond Life Member who has shown her dedication to Zeta since her induction in 1982, and has held numerous positions on the local, state, regional, and national levels of the organization, including the Atlantic Regional Director, Chairman of the National Executive Board and National Director of Strategic Planning. She was a member of the originating Zeta Organizational Leadership committee.
Scholarship is a principle that Valerie holds in high regard having graduated from York Institute as the class valedictorian at the age of fourteen, and being accepted into ten of the nation’s top universities. At the age of eighteen, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fordham University where she majored in child psychology with a minor in theater and drama.
The Brooklyn, New York native is the Director of the Inforce Systems Division for New York Life Insurance Company in New York City, responsible for managing multi-million-dollar projects and programs, training personnel, and overseeing new product development as the chief administrator of one the company’s major subsystems. She has been recognized in the International “Who’s Who of Information and Technology” and “Outstanding Women of America” publications.
Valerie is an active member of Delta Mu Zeta chapter in Harlem, and resides in Brooklyn with her soul mate and best friend Douglas Baker. These words shared by her mentor Founder Fannie Pettie Watts are a daily driving force for Valerie – “Be the best you can be, do the best that you can, give the best of yourself, and you will go far.” She hopes Founder Watts is looking down on her with a smile from above, because she is proud of her accomplishments.
National President and CEO, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Evans Smith is the 2017-2021 National President CEO for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., one of the nation’s largest minority female-owned and operated public service non-profits. In this role she has restructured the corporate board and headquarters operation, initiated the documentation of all business operations, added new revenue streams and increased membership. She also served as the organization’s elected National First Vice President, National Secretary and was previously employed as Delta Sigma Theta’s Executive Director leading their headquarters business function.
Smith retired from the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) as the Assistant Commissioner and Georgia State Director for Adult Education and GED Testing in 2018. In this role she provided adult education training programs for an average of 69,000 Georgia citizens annually with a staff of over 1200 educators and support staff at 450 sites across the state. She was also responsible for the administration of all Georgia GED testing and supported local literacy action groups throughout Georgia. In addition, Smith served as 2015-17 Chair of the National Association of State Directors’ of Adult Education and has testified before the U.S. Senate HELP Committee representing the issues faced by adults with literacy challenges.
As an entrepreneur, Smith is also senior vice-president of The HR Group Inc., a management consulting firm she has co-owned with her husband, Stephen, for 30 years. As a corporate manager, Smith spent 18 years in leadership positions with AT&T (Southern Bell) implementing innovative business processes during her tenure. Her skill sets include demonstrated expertise in organizational effectiveness, business operations redesign and restructure and strategic planning. During that time, she also served as a member of the 1994 AT&T Malcolm Baldrige Award winning team in the area of human resources. Prior to her corporate work, Smith spent several years as university administrator in varied capacities. She is a prolific motivational speaker in the areas of leadership and change management.
Smith is currently a member of the Board of Directors for the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and the Delta Research and Education Foundation (DREF). She also serves on the Bowling Green State University (Ohio) Student Affairs Leadership Council. A long-term community volunteer, Smith served eight years as the Chair of the Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration and on varied community boards including the Atlanta Area Council-Boy Scouts of America, the Cobb County United Way and Girls, Incorporated. She has been a Co-Chair for Leadership Cobb, as well as served on the Board of Directors for Chattahoochee Technical College and the Alumni Board of Directors for Bowling Green State University (Ohio) where she chaired its Strategic Planning committee.
A recipient of numerous honors and awards, Smith was named 2020 Georgia Outstanding Individual by Georgia General Assembly and the LEAD360 business organization’s Executive of the Year for 2020-21. She also is a recipient of the UNCF Maya Angelou Women Who Lead award. Her alma mater, Bowling Green State University, named her to the 2018 Class of the Academy of Distinguished Alumni and she was honored by the St. Louis Urban League/Urban League Guild with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2017. Smith was also recognized in 2017 as an Outstanding Georgia Citizen by the Office of the Secretary of State and is the recipient of a U.S. Congressional Certificate of Special Recognition. Recognized by the NW Georgia YWCA as a Woman of Achievement, she has been listed in both Who’s Who Among African Americans and Who’s Who in the Southeast. In 2006, she was named a “History Maker” by The HistoryMakers (thehistorymakers.com), a national African American historical registry which is housed in United States Library of Congress. Smith is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Mortar Board and Golden Torch Honor Societies. She has also received numerous keys and proclamations from cities/states across the country.
Beverly and her husband, Stephen, have been married for forty-nine years. The Smiths have two married children: son Brian (Rashan Ali) Smith, daughter Stacy (Dr. Jason) Frazier, and five grandchildren.
International President, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Dr. Glenda Glover, Ph.D, JD, CPA, of Nashville, Tennessee is the International President and CEO of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the oldest Greek-letter organization established by African-American college women. Dr. Glover will lead the prestigious 110 year old organization of nearly 300,000 members and 1026 chapters located all over the world, from 2018 – 2022.
Dr. Glover is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. As the daughter of a civil rights activist and from a family immersed in the Movement, she determined early that education and equal justice were important for all people of color. Her educational development began as a student at Tennessee State University where she earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics with honors. She earned her Master of Business Administration Degree in Accounting at Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia and her Doctor of Philosophy in Economics and Business Degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Dr. Glover earned her Juris Doctor Degree from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. She is a certified public accountant, a licensed attorney, and one of a handful of African-American women to hold the Ph.D.-CPA-J.D. combination in the United States.
Professionally, Dr. Glover serves as President of Tennessee State University, her beloved alma mater, and is the institution’s eighth and first woman president. She has amassed over 25 years of success in the academic and business arenas. Since assuming the leadership helm at TSU in 2013, the University has attained increases in academic program offerings, corporate and community partnerships, as well as alumni giving. While Dean of the College of Business at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi from 1994 to 2012, Dr. Glover led the College of Business through the accreditation process and spearheaded the implementation of the nation’s first Ph.D. program in Business at a HBCU. From 1990 to 1994, Dr. Glover served as the Chairperson of the Department of Accounting and as an Assistant Professor at the Howard University School of Business. She has also served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of an engineering firm, a tax manager at a major public utility company, and an accountant with a Big-Four CPA firm.
Dr. Glover was initiated into the Alpha Psi Chapter at Tennessee State University in November 1971. A committed Life Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha with over four decades of leadership and service, Dr. Glover has served in several capacities, including International Vice-President, International Treasurer, and Treasurer to the Educational Advancement Foundation (EAF). She also has served as President, Vice-President, and Treasurer of Beta Delta Omega Chapter in Jackson, Mississippi, and as President and Vice-President of Alpha Psi Chapter as an undergraduate student.
Most recently, Dr. Glover was the 2018 recipient of the HBCU President of the Year award from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. She was also the recipient of the 2019 Female President of the Year Award from HBCU Digest. Under her leadership, for the last three years, the sorority has raised, annually, in excess of $1 million per day to benefit HBCUs.
Dr. Glover’s extensive experience in Executive Management and Finance has led to her success as a member of several professional, civic, and non-profit organizations. She also is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, and she is among that elite cadre of women to serve on corporate boards of publicly-traded companies. Among the boards on which Dr. Glover has served are Pinnacle Financial Partners, First Guaranty Bancshares, The Lenox Group, and Citigroup-Student Loan Corporation. She regularly served as Chair of the Audit Committee or Financial Expert to the Board. Dr. Glover also served as Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Jackson (Mississippi) Airport Authority.
Dr. Glover possesses a vast amount of experience as a fundraiser, leading numerous successful multi-million dollar efforts at Tennessee State University, Jackson State University, Howard University, as well as local and national political campaigns. She has several decades of active membership and involvement in many civic and community organizations. Dr. Glover also has authored more than 100 articles and papers, and she is regarded as one of the nation’s foremost experts on corporate governance.
She is married to Charles Glover, and they have two adult children, Attorney Candace Glover and Dr. Charles Glover II.
D-FL, 10th District
Congresswoman Val Demings represents Florida’s 10th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Rep. Demings is a lifelong public servant who broke numerous glass ceilings in her rise through the Orlando Police Department and her election to Congress.
Today, she works on the House Judiciary, Homeland Security, and Intelligence Committees. In 2020, she broke another glass ceiling and continued her career as a guardian of the law when she became one of the first women and one of the first Black Americans to prosecute a presidential impeachment before the U.S. Senate.
Rep. Demings shared a two-room home in Jacksonville, Florida with her six older siblings. Her parents, Elouise, a maid, and James, a janitor, instilled in their children a deep respect for hard work, decency, and responsibility.
Rep. Demings got her first job at age 14. She worked, saved, and with the sacrifice and hard work of her parents became the first in her family to graduate from college. Her chosen field of study was guided by her parents’ lessons and the police procedurals she had watched on T.V. as a child, which had instilled in her a fundamental sense of right and wrong. With her parents proudly at her side, she received a B.S. in Criminology from Florida State University, then went on to receive a Master’s in Public Administration.
Rep. Demings began her career in Jacksonville as a social worker, working to protect foster children. Then, in the early 1980s, Rep. Demings was inspired to move to Orlando to join the police force. Despite institutional resistance to the idea of women in law enforcement, she determinedly pushed forward, graduating from the police academy as class president, receiving the Board of Trustees’ Award for Overall Excellence, and earning the reputation of a smart, tenacious, no-nonsense cop.
During her distinguished 27-year career with the Orlando Police Department (OPD), she served in virtually every department, including serving as Commander of the Special Operations. In this role, she was responsible for some of Orlando’s highest profile tasks, including special events and dignitary protection.
In 2007, Val Demings made history when she was appointed to serve as Orlando’s first female Chief of Police.
When Chief Demings took office, she launched into a relentless campaign to reduce violent crime and build new connections with the community. Through the work of Chief Demings and her dedicated officers, OPD reduced violent crime by more than 40 percent.
By making the Orlando community a partner of the department, Chief Demings made the concept of “protect and serve” a tangible presence in Orlando’s most dangerous neighborhoods. She launched innovative programs like Operation Positive Direction, a mentoring program that empowers at-risk students through tutoring, community service, and positive incentives. She also launched Operation Free Palms, a project focusing on rejuvenating Orlando’s most crime-ridden housing complex, the Palms Apartments. By focusing on unorthodox strategies like access to childcare, building playgrounds, a GED program, and job skills training, OPD created an alternative to crime and improved the quality of life in Orlando’s most distressed community.
Rep. Demings is married to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, is a proud mother to three sons, and proud grandmother to five.
Rep. Demings holds an honorary doctorate of laws from Bethune-Cookman University, as well as honorary doctorates from Florida Technical College and City College Fort Lauderdale.
Rep. Demings is an active member of St. Mark A.M.E., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Orlando (FL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, NAACP Silver Life Member, Florida Bar Citizens Advisory Committee, Florida Police Chiefs, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, National Congress of Black Women, and numerous other affiliations.
Rep. Demings enjoys spending her very limited free time riding her Harley-Davidson Road King Classic motorcycle. She has completed the O.U.C. half marathon as well as the Walt Disney marathon.
Rep. Demings sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (Subcommittee on Intelligence Modernization and Readiness; Subcommittee on Defense Intelligence and Warfighter Support), the House Judiciary Committee (Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security; Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law), and the House Committee on Homeland Security (Subcommittee on Transportation and Maritime Security).
She is Chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery.
Demings is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Women’s Caucus, and New Democratic Caucus. She is a member of the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery Review Board and the Elections Security Taskforce. Besides serving as a Subcommittee Vice-Chair, Congresswoman Demings’ leadership positions include serving as Assistant and Regional Whip for the House Democratic Caucus, Co-Chair of Candidate Recruitment for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Vice Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.
D-OH, 3rd District
Congresswoman Joyce Beatty is a native Ohioan with a strong history of connecting people, policy and politics to make a difference. Since 2013, Beatty has proudly represented Ohio’s Third Congressional District.
Beatty serves on the exclusive House Committee on Financial Services and is a member of two Subcommittees: Housing and Insurance and Oversight and Investigations. The Financial Services Committee oversees the entire financial services industry, including the nation’s banking, securities, insurance, and housing industries, as well as the work of the Federal Reserve, the United States Department of the Treasury and the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
Prior to her service in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congresswoman Beatty was Senior Vice President of Outreach and Engagement at The Ohio State University and a member in the Ohio House of Representatives for five terms. During her tenure in the Ohio House, she rose to become the first female Democratic House Leader in Ohio’s history and was instrumental in spearheading and enacting legislation to require financial literacy in Ohio’s public school curriculum, to expand STEM education, and to secure funds to help under- and uninsured women access breast and cervical cancer treatment.
In 2014, Congresswoman Beatty’s efforts proved pivotal in securing nearly $4 million in federal funds to address Columbus’ infant mortality rate, which is one of the highest in the country. In the same year, she also brought then-Department of House and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan to the Third Congressional District to announce a $225 million project to revitalize the Near East Side, led by nearly $30 million in federal funds.
A longtime advocate and champion to end human trafficking, during the 114th Congress, Congresswoman Beatty’s bipartisan legislation to combat child sex trafficking unanimously passed the House of Representatives in 2015 and was signed into law as part of a larger measure, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, by President Obama. That same year, Congresswoman Beatty introduced legislation that made the tax deduction for out-of-pocket expenses paid by elementary and secondary teachers for supplies and expenses permanent. Her bill, the Reimburse Educators who Pay for Academic Year (REPAY) Supplies Act of 2015, was later included in the bipartisan tax package, the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act of 2015, and was signed into law on December 18, 2015.
In 2015, Beatty also introduced the Housing Financial Literacy Act of 2015 to improve first-time homebuyers’ financial knowledge by providing a discount on Federal Housing Administration (FHA) backed mortgage insurance premiums upon successful completion of a HUD certified housing counseling course.
Recently, she introduced the Free Credit Score Act, legislation to require consumer reporting agencies to include a credit score when providing consumers with a free annual credit report. In addition, Beatty authored the Jumpstart Housing Opportunities Utilizing Small Enterprises (HOUSE) Act, or Jumpstart HOUSE Act, which would reauthorize the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) for eight years and require state business development agencies to set aside the lesser of $2.5 million or 10 percent of unobligated SSBCI funds for small businesses to purchase, rehabilitate, or operate affordable housing units. She also played a major role, alongside other federal and local officials, in helping the City of Columbus win the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Smart City Challenge, a nationwide competition powered by a pledge of up to $40 million in federal funds to transform one mid-size city’s transportation network and make it safer, easier to use and more reliable.
Congresswoman Beatty is a committed and vocal supporter of the Congressional Black Caucus, concussion awareness and education legislation, and the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI), which seeks to increase the participation of women and minorities in all facets of the financial marketplace.
A sought after public speaker and the recipient of numerous awards, she was previously named one of Ebony Magazine’s 150 most powerful African-Americans in the United States.
Congresswoman Beatty is active in The Links, Incorporated, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Columbus Urban League, The American Heart Association—where she previously served on the board—and numerous other organizations.
Beatty received her Bachelor of Arts from Central State University, her Master of Science from Wright State University, and completed all requirements but her dissertation for a doctorate at the University of Cincinnati. In addition, she has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Ohio Dominican University and Central State University.
Congresswoman Beatty is married to attorney Otto Beatty, Jr. and a proud grandmother of two toddlers who lovingly call her “Grammy.”
D-FL, 24th District
Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson proudly represents Florida’s 24th Congressional District. It is one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse districts in the nation and includes parts of northwest Miami-Dade and southern Broward counties.
Recognizing her record of service and productivity, in 2010 voters overwhelmingly elected her to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a former educator, elementary school principal, community leader, school board member, state legislator, and founder of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, Congresswoman Wilson earned a reputation as a “Voice for the Voiceless.” Her tenure in Congress, now in its fourth term, also has been marked by her signature spirit of unrelenting advocacy on behalf of the less fortunate.
The Florida lawmaker has continued her mission to improve the quality of life for her constituency by creating jobs with dignity, improving education, stopping home foreclosures, safeguarding Medicare and Social Security, and strengthening ties with Haiti and the Caribbean.
As the Ranking Democrat on the Education and Workforce Protections Subcommittee in the 114th Congress, Congresswoman Wilson introduced the American Jobs Act of 2013, an innovative bill that promotes full employment and boosts workforce development opportunities; the Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights, which would provide vital relief to overburdened student loan borrowers; and the Youth Corp Act of 2013, which reconnects youth with education, the workforce and their communities. She has also sponsored legislation to reduce homeowners’ insurance premiums, protect foster children, and defend Haitian women against gender-based violence. In addition, the lawmaker, whose mantra is “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs,” hosted one of the state’s largest job fairs, which connected thousands of Floridians to more than 100 local and national employers.
Congresswoman Wilson is the founder of the Florida Ports Caucus, a bipartisan coalition formed to help pass the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. After being stalled for 12 years, the GOP-led Congress in a bipartisan vote passed the bill in 2014. As a result, her district was awarded billions of dollars in capital funding for major projects like the Port Miami Tunnel, which created thousands of jobs. It also highlighted the lawmaker’s ability to successfully work across party lines.
Congresswoman Wilson has consistently secured resources for various projects in her district, including a $1 million grant in 2014 to help reduce crime in Miami-Dade County’s highest crime area, the Northside District. The Department of Justice grant will bolster the Miami-Dade Police Department’s ability to combat crime and violence and make the area a safer place to live, work, and raise families. During her tenure, the district has received $3.1 billion in grants, contracts, and other assistance. In May 2015, Congresswoman Wilson was appointed to the advisory council of President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” Alliance, a public acknowledgement of the life-changing results for boys and young men of color that she has achieved through the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project. President Obama often cites this program, which she created nearly a quarter century ago, as an example of the kinds of projects that his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative is designed to emulate and support. Congresswoman Wilson also is founder and chair of the Congressional Black Caucus’s “My Brother’s Keeper” Task Force.
Congresswoman Wilson understands Congress’ role as a global leader in human and civil rights and has led its efforts to fight for the safe return of the 219 Nigerian schoolgirls still missing since their June 2014 abduction by Boko Haram and to aid in the defeat of the terrorist group. In addition to participating in two fact-finding missions to Nigeria and passing two resolutions, she has been a leading voice in a daily, international Twitter campaign to #BringBackOurGirls. The Florida lawmaker also created “Wear Something Red Wednesdays,” a weekly photo opportunity and press event with congressional leaders and lawmakers. The initiative helps to ensure the girls are not forgotten by maintaining media attention and pressure on U.S. and Nigerian officials to honor their pledge to do all they can to rescue them. A leading political newspaper has dubbed her relentless attention to this human rights crisis “Frederica Wilson’s War.”
The Florida lawmaker has worked tirelessly to recognize Americans who have made significant contributions to our nation. She ushered through legislation in record time to memorialize a new Federal Bureau of Investigation building in honor of Special Agents Benjamin P. Grogan and Jerry L. Dove, who were killed in what is considered the “bloodiest shootout” in FBI history. Most recently, she passed legislation to rename a Miami post office in honor of Father Richard Marquess-Barry, a pillar of the community and one of South Florida’s most influential and unifying faith-based leaders.
After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Fisk University and a Master of Science degree in elementary education from the University of Miami, Congresswoman Wilson worked as a teacher and assistant educational coordinator for the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Head Start program. She quickly rose to become principal of Skyway Elementary School, which was recognized as one of the best schools in America in President George H. W. Bush’s “America 2000” plan to upgrade national education standards.
In addition to raising academic standards and expectations, Congresswoman Wilson taught her students the power of advocacy. Their target was a compost plant built across the street from Skyway that emitted odors that posed a major health and environmental hazard and distracted the children from their studies. She and her students mobilized their community and lobbied government and school board officials until they achieved their goal. The compost plant closed its doors just short of two years after its opening.
The experience highlighted the need for stronger local leadership and led Congresswoman Wilson to successfully campaign for a seat on the Miami-Dade County School Board in 1992. Her first legislative achievement was the establishment of the 500 Role Models of Excellence Project as a district-sanctioned program. The innovative mentoring program was inspired by the extraordinary impact of positive male influence on the attitudes and performance of the boys at Skyway Elementary during her tenure as principal. Now known as the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, the program has flourished and earned much-deserved national acclaim.
The 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project has awarded millions of dollars in college scholarships to help hundreds of young men achieve their dream of earning a college degree or post-secondary certification. In 1997, President Bill Clinton honored the program, which today serves more than 8,000 students each year, with the Teaching Example for the Nation Award at the Summit for America’s Future.
She won seats in the Florida House of Representatives in 1998 and the state Senate in 2002, where her peers elected her Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore and Minority Whip. The Florida lawmaker was considered the “Conscience of the Senate” based on her drive to improve life for low-income families and individuals.
As a state legislator, she worked with Governor Jeb Bush to remove the Confederate flag from the State Capitol and passed a bill mandating HIV/AIDS testing for prisoners upon their release and linking them to care in the counties where they relocated. She also passed a bill that made rape in prison a felony crime. Other legislative achievements and priorities included relocating women in Florida prisons to facilities that would enable them to be closer to their children while serving out their sentences; opposing high-stakes testing; pushing for a ban of the term “illegal alien” in state public records; and partnering with Governor Charlie Crist to restore voting rights for ex-felons.
Born in Miami, Congresswoman Wilson learned the value of public service and community activism from her parents. The late Beulah Finley Smith and the late Thirlee Smith, Sr., were small business owners and civil rights activists. Her brother, the late Thirlee Smith, Jr., was the first full-time African American reporter at the Miami Herald and a long-time educator for Miami-Dade County Public Schools, who was responsible for implementing African-American history into the district’s curriculum.
Congresswoman Wilson is widowed and the proud mother of three children: Nicole, LaKesha, and Paul – and has five beautiful grandchildren.
D-TX, 18th District
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee is an influential and forceful voice in Washington. She is serving her fourteenth term as a member of the United States House of Representatives. She represents the 18th Congressional District of Texas, centered in Houston, which is the energy capital of the world. Considered by many as the “Voice of Reason”, she is dedicated to upholding the Constitutional rights of all people.
She sits on three Congressional Committees — a senior member of the House Committees on the Judiciary and Homeland Security and appointed by the leadership as a Member of the crucial Budget Committee.
In the previous Congress, she authored, introduced and saw passage of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Additionally, she introduced several bills including the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant Reauthorization and Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act, H.R. 71, the Federal Prison Bureau Nonviolent Offender Relief Act of 2015, and H.R. 4660, an Amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2015 affirming the authority of the Attorney General to reduce prison overcrowding by developing and implementing lawful policies relating to requests for executive clemency from deserving petitioners.
She is the past Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee for Maritime and Border Security wherein she co-authored HR 1417, a bipartisan bill which has been touted as the best vehicle for accomplishing comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congresswoman Jackson Lee is also the past Chairwoman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection which under her leadership she passed the Transportation Security Act of 2007 which increased the funding for America’s transportation security. As Chairwoman, Congresswoman Jackson Lee supported enhanced technology, better intelligence, increased airplane cargo inspections, increased security for railroads, and implementation of the 9/11 Commission report.
She was named by ‘Congressional Quarterly’ as one of the 50 most effective Members of Congress and the ‘U.S. News and World Report’ named her as one of the 10 most influential legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives. Also, the Center for Effective Lawmaking, a joint initiative between the University of Virginia and Vanderbilt University, named her the 2nd most effective Democrat in Congress during the 114th Congress, the 15th most effective Democrat in Congress during the 115th Congress, and the most effective Democrat in the Texas delegation during the 115th Congress. She is a founder, member, and co-chair of the Congressional Children’s Caucus and authored and introduced H.R. 83, the Bullying Prevention and Intervention Act of 2013. She is past chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Energy Braintrust, co-chair of the Justice Reform Task Force, and a leadership appointed member of the International Helsinki Commission. She serves as Chief Deputy Whip for the Democratic Caucus, past Chairperson of the Texas Congressional Democratic Delegation for the 113th Congress, and past Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Board.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee earned a B.A. in Political Science from Yale University with honors in the first graduating class including females, followed by a J.D. from the University of Virginia Law School. She is married to Dr. Elwyn Lee who is also a Yale Graduate and an Administrator at the University of Houston. She has two children Jason Lee a graduate of Harvard University and Erica Lee a graduate of Duke University who is also a Member of the Harris County School Board in Houston, Texas. She is also the proud grandmother of two grandkids (twins), granddaughter Ellison Bennett Carter and grandson Roy Lee Carter, III.
D-TX, 30th District
Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson is serving her 15th term representing the 30th Congressional District of Texas. Congresswoman Johnson is the first African-American and woman to chair the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and is the Dean of the Texas Congressional delegation in addition to serving as Dean of the Texas, New Mexico and Arizona Democratic Congressional Delegation. Congresswoman Johnson is the highest-ranking Texan on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the first nurse to be elected to the U.S. Congress.
Congresswoman Johnson began her career as the first female African-American Chief Psychiatric Nurse at the V.A. Hospital in Dallas. In 1972, she became the first nurse ever elected to the Texas State House and achieved that that same distinction upon her election to the Texas Senate in 1986. From 2011 to 2018, she served as the Science, Space and Technology Committee’s first African-American and first female Ranking Member.
Congresswoman Johnson has a reputation as a stateswoman who works with both parties to get things done – a reputation earned during her more than 40 years in public office. Congresswoman Johnson is widely recognized as one of the most effective legislators in Congress, credited with authoring and co-authoring more than 177 bills that were passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by the president. She has a long-standing reputation for providing excellent constituent services to the people who elected her. She is the founder of the Diversity & Innovation Caucus, the founder and co-chair of the Congressional Homelessness Caucus, co-chair of the Congressional Lupus Caucus, and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus of Bosnia. Congresswoman Johnson had the honor to serve as Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus during the 107th Congress. Her acclaimed initiative, A World of Women for World Peace, has gained national and international recognition.
Congresswoman Johnson is the proud mother of her son, Kirk, and of her three grandsons, Kirk Jr., David, and James.
D-MA, 7th District
Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is an advocate, a policy-maker, an activist, and a survivor. On November 6, 2018, Congresswoman Pressley was elected to represent Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, making her the first woman of color to be elected to Congress from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Massachusetts 7th is the most diverse and most unequal district in the state, requiring a representative whose experiences are reflective of the people.
Like many in her district, Congresswoman Pressley has endured numerous hardships throughout her life, and it is because of those experiences that she remains a dedicated activist who’s devoted to creating robust and informed policies that speak to the intersectionality of her district’s lived experiences. She believes that the people closest to the pain should be closest to the power and that a diversity of voices in the political process is essential to making policies that benefit more Americans.
Born in Cincinnati and raised in Chicago, Congresswoman Pressley is the only child of a single mother and a father who was in and out of the criminal justice system – creating an unstable household and forcing her to mature at a rapid rate. While her father ultimately overcame his addiction and went on to become a published author, Congresswoman Pressley was primarily raised by her mother Sandra Pressley, a tenants’ rights organizer who instilled in her the value of civic engagement. Thanks to her mother’s dedication to activism, Congresswoman Pressley has always been acutely aware of the role that government can play in lifting up families and communities.
Congresswoman Pressley attended the Francis W. Parker School, a private school in Chicago where her activism and commitment to public service took hold. A devoted student, Congresswoman Pressley was supported by her teachers, faculty, and peers and was elected class president every year from 7th grade through senior year of high school. She was also elected student government president, was a competitive debater through her school’s chapter of Junior State of America, was the commencement speaker for her graduating class, and was named “most likely to be mayor of Chicago.”
Congresswoman Pressley moved to Boston, MA in 1992 to attend Boston University, however, after a couple of years of enrollment, she withdrew from the University to help support her mother. She remained an activist in the community, working as a senior aide to Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II, volunteering for Senator John Kerry’s reelection campaign, and working for Senator Kerry for 13 years in a variety of roles, including constituency director and political director. Senator Kerry described Congresswoman Pressley as a “force” who “believed in public service.”
In 2009, she launched a historic at-large campaign for Boston City Council and won, becoming the first woman of color elected to the Council in its 100-year history. On the Council, Congresswoman Pressley worked in partnership with residents, advocates, and other elected officials to combat the inequities and disparities facing the community. In her eight-year tenure on the Council, she:
In 2016, Congresswoman Pressley was named one of The New York Times 14 Young Democrats to Watch. In 2014, the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce named her as one of their Ten Outstanding Young Leaders, and the Victim Rights Law Center presented her with their Leadership Award. In 2015, she earned the EMILY’s List Rising Star Award and was named one of Boston Magazine’s 50 Most Powerful People. She is also an Aspen-Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership, Class of 2012.
Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, Ph.D. is a 1986 alumna of Fayetteville State University (FSU), and the 17th national president of The Links, Incorporated. Leonard was tabbed for the post at the organization’s 41st National Assembly in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Links is an international, not-for-profit corporation, established in 1946. The membership consists more than 16,000 professional women of color in 292 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and the United Kingdom. It is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other people of African ancestry.
Leonard, a Fayetteville native and graduate of Reid Ross High School, has a broad background in public health. She has expertise in minority health and behavioral health programs, policies, and related legislation; with subject matter expertise in minority health, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, cardiovascular disease, health disparities, health care reform, tribal issues, re-entry and criminal justice issues, international behavioral health, co-occurring mental health and trauma, and women’s and adolescent services. She has more than 30 years of applied health, minority health, and behavioral medicine research, evaluation, and technical assistance and training experience specializing in health promotion and disease prevention.
Leonard earned a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Psychology from Howard University and a Master of Science Degree from North Carolina Central University. Her education also includes completing a National Institutes of Minority Health pre-doctoral fellowship at George Washington University Medical School, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences examining chronic disease and family systems, a National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute post-doctoral fellowship at the Howard University Cancer Center, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics studying cardiovascular and cancer epidemiology, and completing the Graduate Summer Program in Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. She is the recipient of the 2005 National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) Alumni of the Year Award for Fayetteville State University where she received her undergraduate degree in psychology.
Leonard is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and joined the organization through the Delta Alpha Chapter at FSU. She is a member of 15th Street Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. and is an Elder in the Church. She is married to Stephen V. Leonard and they are the proud parents of two sons – Victor and Alexander.
15th National President
Margot James Copeland, Director of Philanthropy and Civic Engagement
Executive Vice President KeyCorp Member and Executive Council KeyCorp.
Margot James Copeland is Executive Vice President and Director of Philanthropy and Civic Engagement at KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based multiline financial services companies. In her role, she also serves as Chair & CEO of the KeyBank Foundation, guiding the company’s strategic philanthropic investments, in education, neighborhood prosperity, workforce development and community service. Under Copeland’s leadership, KeyBank Foundation was named to The Civic 50 four consecutive times in 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017 as one of America’s fifty most community-minded companies, by Points of Light Foundation, and in 2014 and 2017 ranked #1 among the financial services sector. Formerly, Copeland served as Chief Diversity Officer at Key and under her leadership Key was consistently ranked as a Top 50 or Most Noteworthy Company for Diversity by DiversityInc.
Recognizing that business and community prosperity go hand in hand, Copeland leads Key’s commitment to transforming and sustaining communities. She currently serves as trustee of Kent State University, (chairing the Academic Excellence and Student Success Committee), the Cleveland Clinic, Say Yes to Education NY, NY, the Thomas White Foundation and the Kenneth Scott Foundation. Link Copeland is the 15th national president of The Links, Incorporated, and also a member of the Executive Leadership Council.
Copeland was a delegate to the White House Conference on America’s Future. In addition to her experience leading the Greater Cleveland Roundtable and Leadership Cleveland, Link Copeland’s public service is marked by her appointment to Vice Chairperson of the Cleveland Bicentennial Commission and subsequently the Cleveland Millennium Commission by former Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White, whose second term Inaugural Committee she chaired. She also served on the Transition Committee for current Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson.
Among her many distinguished awards and honors are:
American Banker Magazine, Community Impact Award
Alumni of the Year, Hampton University, 2013
Esteemed Alumni, The Ohio State University/100 Years of African American Achievement
Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Cuyahoga Community College
“25 Influential Black Women in Business,” The Network Journal
“Top Influential Women in Corporate America,” Savoy Magazine
“100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America,” Savoy Magazine
“Top Executives in Diversity”, Black Enterprise Magazine
Academy of Game Changers, Spelman College
Torchbearer Award, United Negro College Fund
Humanitarian Award, The Diversity Center
“One of the Most Powerful and Influential Women in Ohio,” Diversity First
Woman of Influence – Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio
“100 Most Powerful Women in Cleveland,” New Cleveland Woman Magazine
“Cleveland Woman of Influence”, Crain’s Cleveland Business
“Master Innovator,” Smart Business Network Magazine
YWCA Career Woman of Achievement Award
Black Professional of the Year – Black Professionals Association Charitable Foundation
W.O. Walker Excellence in Community Service Award, Call and Post newspaper
Community Service Award, SCLC
Diversity and Inclusion Award, Murtis Taylor Human Services System
Singular Sensation Award, Ohio Cancer Research Associates
The National Council of Negro Women, Cleveland Section, Community Service Award
Coalition of 100 Black Women, Community Service Award
Business Person of the Year, National Black MBA, Cleveland Chapter
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Community Service Award
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Community Service Award
Copeland holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Hampton University, where she has received the distinguished 2013 Alumnus of the Year Award, and a Master of Arts degree, Educational Development, College of Education, at The Ohio State University, where she was recognized as an esteemed Alumnus. A native Virginian, she resides in Cleveland, Ohio and is the mother of three adult children, Reverend Kimberley S. Copeland, Dr. Garrison E. Copeland and Michael Patterson Taylor Copeland. She holds memberships in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., The Girlfriends, Inc., and formerly Jack and Jill of America, Inc.
Houston (TX) Chapter
One of the main reasons people choose to give back to their community is to show gratitude for the opportunities that have brought them where they are. I always look for ways to help others have access to the same opportunities I did. Sometimes the best way to thank those who have helped you is pay it forward by helping someone else. Research shows that people receive a boost in happiness when they spend money on others instead of themselves. It is believed the reason for this feel good surge is tied to people’s natural desire for meaning and significance. When you give you make a lasting impact on someone’s life – an accomplishment that carries more weight than any personal purchase. Let’s pay it forward my Sisters!
Dorothy Bell Wright is a native of Philadelphia. She attended the School of Accounts and Finance of the University of Pennsylvania, and served as an accountant, auditor, and equal employment counselor for the Internal Revenue Service, and as a bank director and corporate secretary.
In addition to awards and commendations in her profession and recognition for her unparalleled contributions to The Links, Wright served as first national president of Jack and Jill. She received service awards for her contribution to the support of the Chapel of the Four Chaplains of Philadelphia from 1952 to 1955, and was cited by the National Council of Negro Women for her community service. Wright was the Philadelphia (PA) Chapter’s first treasurer and chair of its Constitution Committee, positions that she also held for the First Assembly in 1949. She served at two different times as president of the Philadelphia Chapter, 1963-66 and 1974-75. As a hobby, Wright indulged a love for historical research. Not only has she presented the history of the early days of The Links in Philadelphia and served as an organizing member of The Links’ national committee on archives and history, but she has also completed a valuable research study titled “Black Business in Philadelphia Prior to the Civil War.”
Her interest in Black-operated businesses probably reflects the contributions made in this field by her famous family. Until his retirement, her husband, Emmanuel Crogman Wright, was president of the historic Philadelphia banking institution founded by his father, Major R. R. Wright, Sr., an ex-slave and financial genius. Wright has one daughter and one granddaughter.
Myrtle C. Manigault Stratton was a native of Philadelphia although at the time of the organization she was living across the river in Camden, New Jersey, and she continued her residence in that locality. Stratton attended High School for Girls in Philadelphia and Glassboro State Teachers College where she majored in elementary education. She did post-graduate study at Temple University, Vassar, and the University of Pennsylvania. Stratton was a member of the Hostesses, the Sunday Niters, Friends of Fellowship, the Mothers Study Club, Book and Theater, Bidders, and Jack and Jill.
She is a communicant of St. Augustine P.E. Church in Camden. Stratton has one daughter, Meryle Anne (Billie) Manigault, M.D., who practices in Germany. Stratton served as the first national corresponding secretary and as president of the Philadelphia (PA) Chapter.
Frances Vashon Atkinson was born in St. Louis and began her education there. Later she attended schools in Cleveland. Like co-founders Hawkins and Scott, Atkinson, she was a member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. Married to Dr. Nolan N. Atkinson, staff associate at Bryn Mawr Hospital and NAACP leader, she listed her “hobby or interest” as “my family and my home.” Atkinson is the mother of two children, Carolyn A. Thomas, vice president of a consulting firm, and Nolan, Jr., an attorney. She was a member of Jack and Jill, the Mothers’ Study Club, Matinee Ensemble, and the Bryn Mawr School and Home Group. She also served on the board of trustees of Westchester State College. Atkinson wrote the words to The Links song, originated the Coronation Carnival, and was the fourth president of the Philadelphia (PA) Chapter.
16th National President
Glenda F. Newell-Harris, M.D, is a board-certified physician in internal medicine and a media spokesperson whose opinions on new advances in medicine and controversial medical issues have made her a valued medical expert. Dr. Newell-Harris has exemplified her exceptional talent to engage audiences in discourses about tough and complicated medical and health topics. Her audiences have included faith-based and professional organizations as well as local, regional and national medical organizations. Having served as a local health commissioner as well as president and secretary of local and regional medical societies, she is a much sought after speaker for youth groups and non -profit organizations that mentor pre-med and medical students. Dr. Newell-Harris has served as a medical consultant in various healthcare settings inclusive of ambulatory teaching clinics, private practice and physician foundation clinical practice.
In June 2014, she was promoted to be the Western Regional Medical Director for Corizon Health Incorporated, where she provides clinical and medical leadership to a team of physicians and other medical staff, while maintaining quality care and cost-effective accountability. Dr. Newell-Harris has received acclaimed recognition for her work as the healthcare educational consultant for a major international philanthropic organization. She has traveled abroad to Africa where she has assessed methods of supporting the delivery of safe and effective health care to women.
Dr. Newell-Harris is a native of North Carolina and a graduate of Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, where she was the first African-American student. She received her medical degree from the University of Cincinnati of School of Medicine and her bachelor of science in biology from Tufts University. In 2005, Dr. Newell-Harris received certification in Physician Leadership in Managing Ambulatory Care from the Harvard School of Public Health.
Dr. Newell-Harris’ diversified experience practicing medicine in the public and private sector for the past 28 years has given her the inspiration and the vision to co-found her own healthcare consulting business, Newell-Harris & Spriggs Consulting. She believes that health literacy, self-empowerment and initiative are required to create a culture of wellness within your work and home environment. One aspect of her company focuses on teaching the tools that will result in effective communication, savvy navigation and appropriate advocacy.
Dr. Newell-Harris’ experiences as an advocate and navigator for her friends and family over the years have affirmed for her the necessity for consumers of health care to acquire these skills.
She served as national president of The Links, Incorporated and The Links Foundation, Incorporated and is the immediate past chair of the board of directors of Imani Community Church. Dr. Newell-Harris added author to her accomplishments having just released her first book entitled, Focus On YOUR BEST HEALTH, which is a smart guide to practical solutions for medical problems faced by healthcare consumers.
Dr. Newell-Harris is the recipient of the National Medical Association’s highest honor, the Scroll of Merit, as well as numerous awards and honors from many organizations including Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated, Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Bay Area Black United Fund, John Hale Medical Society, and Cinnamongirl, Inc. She is a life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. And, she is a mother of four children and is married to Robert L. Harris, Esquire.
“Take charge of your health” is her motto. She believes that it is up to you to attain the highest quality of health care and the best outcomes for you and your family.
14th National President
Gwendolyn B. Lee has more than 38 years experience in secondary education. She retired in December 2007 from Thornton Township High School, District 205, where she served as the Associate Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction and Professional Development and as the director for Special Education and the District Coordinator for Small Learning Communities. She was named Principal of the Year for the State of Illinois in 1998 and Administrator of the Year in 2003. She received the Dare to Be Great Award in 2006 from the Illinois Women Administrators Organization. Dr. Lee currently serves as a Leadership Coach for New Leaders for New Schools.
Dr. Lee has a 4o plus year record of active participation in The Links, Incorporated. She is a charter member of the South Suburban Chicago (IL) Chapter located in the Central Area. In 1994, Dr. Lee was appointed as director of National Trends and Services and served in that capacity until 1998. She has held four national offices; national member-at-large (1986-1990), National Nominating Committee chair (1990-1994), national recording secretary (1998-2002), and national vice president (2002-2006). Additional career highlights of Dr. Lee are listed below;
13th National President
Gladys Gary Vaughn was the 13th national president of The Links, Incorporated. She is a member of the Potomac (VA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and was its organizer and chartering president. An 18-year member, prior to her historical election to the presidency by acclamation in July 2002, she has served as chair of the Grants-In-Aid Committee, director of the Services to Youth Program facet, chair of the Membership and national vice president. Among her many contributions to the organization, she has been instrumental in securing more than $2 million in funding for innovative programs leading to the improvement of the life options for children of African descent.
In her professional life, she was employed as national program leader for Human Sciences Research by the Families, 4-H and Nutrition Unit in the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. (CREES), of the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC. In this capacity, she provides program leadership, expert advice, and technical assistance to citizens, members of the civic, corporate and academic communities. Federal agency officials and members of Congress on a variety of family and consumer issues. During he more than 30-year career in home economics/family and consumer sciences, she earned a reputation for excellence in program design and development, grantsmanship and administration. Further, she has secured more than $10 million in grants for visionary programs involving the professional community in cutting-edge issues such as adolescent pregnancy prevention, family planning, promotion of physical activity among African American youth, school-age child care, and recruitment and retention of minority youth in undergraduate and graduate programs.
She is a graduate of Florida A&M University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics in 1964; Iowa State University, Earning a Masters of Science in Clothing and Textiles in 1968; and University of Maryland-College Park, earning a Doctor of Philosophy in Home Economics Education and Administration in 1974.
In her personal life, she is the widow of Dr. Joseph B. Vaughn, Jr., their 34-year marriage ending with his death in September 2000. She continues to reside in their home in Cabin John, Maryland. She is a member of Metropolitan AME Church in Washington, D.C., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the National Coalition of Black Development in Home Economics, and the Black Women’s Agenda. During her life’s journey, she has traveled to 50 states and 26 foreign countries.
12th National President
Barbara Jean Dixon Simpkins was born and educated in the public schools of Pensacola, Florida. As a young girl, she accompanied her mother, who was pursuing a master’s degree at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and attended the Cascadilla College Preparatory School at Cornell. She graduated from Washington High School in Pensacola and enrolled at Fisk University at age 15. Barbara received a bachelor’s degree from Florida A & M; a master’s degree from Temple University; and a Ed. D. from Nova Southeastern University in educational leadership as an accelerated student.
Barbara Simpkins held many responsible positions. She began her career as a music teacher and vocal music educator in Pensacola, at Washington High, where she was “Teacher of the Year” – she wrote the school song and the “pep” song. She authored many projects and initiatives and was the recipient of the U.S. Secretary of Education Exemplary Initiative Award.
Her contributions to The Links, Incorporated was most outstanding. She was the organizer and the first president of the Prince George County (MD) Chapter in 1979; she was the Eastern Area secretary in 1987, and served as the Eastern Area director in 1991-1995. She was appointed national vice president in 1995. In her service as the national membership chair, chapter establishment chair, she co-authored The Links’ signature program, “Links to Success: Children Achieving Excellence.” As area director, Barbara went with a delegation to South Africa to break ground for the Links/IFESH Schools built by The Links, Incorporated. She returned to South Africa as the national president to solidify the construction of the schools and sponsored the South African Chapter of The Links, Incorporated.
In 1999, Dr. Simpkins was selected by Ebony Magazine as one of the country’s most influential Black Americans.
Barbara Simpkins was a grandmother and proud mother of two sons – Monti Lemans Simpkins and Lubara Dixon Simpkins. She was a writer, gourmet cook, and gardener. She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Phi Delta Kappa Education Fraternity, the Potomac Chapter of Girl Friends, Inc. and a member of Ft. Washington Baptist Church. She enjoyed traveling and entertaining friends.
Simpkins died December 10, 2009 at her home in Fort Washington, Maryland.
11th National President
The 11th national president, Patricia Russell-McCloud took the helm of leadership for The Links, Incorporated in 1994 with the anticipation of definitive outcomes for the organization’s 21st century readiness. Her vision, education, employment, experiences, training and proven track record of accomplishment set the stage for success.
A Hoosier by birth, Patricia Russell-McCloud, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana where she attended Shortridge High School. Her undergraduate studies were at Kentucky State College, Frankfort, Kentucky, after which she attended an intensive study program, sponsored by the Council for Legal Educational Program, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, and matriculated for her Jurist Doctorate degree at Howard University School of Law, Washington, D.C. Throughout her education, she was captured by the opportunity and challenge of learning. Each course endeavor afforded new knowledge, growth and understanding.
Since the early age of eight, this national president was at the nation’s podiums as a gifted child prodigy, speaking to large audiences in an oratorical, persuasive and motivational style. Many awards and recognitions were presented to her, including the Elk’s Oratorical Scholarship for her exceptional ability, talent and skill in the art of public speaking.
As a professional, for a ten-year period, she worked as an attorney for the Federal Communications Commission, Broadcast Bureau, Washington, D. C., where she became chief of the Complaints Branch. In so doing, she was the first African American female to hold the position.
In 1976, the Arlington (VA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated accepted her into membership, which served as a fulfillment to her heartfelt commitment to empowering individuals who may otherwise be denied. From the year of her induction into The Links, Incorporated, she has served on the Executive Council of the organization, ranging from the National Nominating Committee to the national president.
In 1983, in her home church, she exchanged wedding vows with Rev. Dr. E. Earl McCloud, Jr., and moved to San Antonio, Texas where her husband was serving in the United States Army. Her husband, Bishop E. Earl McCloud, Jr., is now the 127th elected and consecrated Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Presiding Bishop of the 14th Episcopal District of the AME Church, Liberia, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Togo / Benin. As a member of her local chapter, Russell-McCloud was highly responsive to program endeavors for the benefit of the community which was being served. In the same year, she formed her now internationally recognized company, Russell-McCloud & Associates, as a professional orator and trainer. Her professional caption is appropriate, for she is, “a visual speaking experience.” After consistent development and expansion, Russell-McCloud’s analytical ability to substantively address issues, including achieving excellence, hot topics in education, leadership, women’s issues, workplace diversity and inclusion, implicit bias and change, among others, has made her a speaker of choice. Her client base includes Fortune 500 and l00 companies, government, labor unions, military, colleges and universities, school districts and religious organizations. She has traveled across America, South America, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, Australia, Asia, South Africa and West Africa.
During her lifetime, she has received sterling awards of achievement, including, her speech, “If Not You, Who? If Not Now, When?” recorded in the Congressional Record of the United States (H366l), May l4, 1980; awarded more than 300 keys to American cities; participant in the Friendship Force, a good will tour of Mexico during the Carter Administration; participant in the American-Jewish Committee sponsorship of ten American women of national acclaim on a human relations trip to Israel; featured in the Black Enterprise Magazine as being one of the Top Five Business Motivators in America; ESSENCE Magazine, EBONY Magazine, and Atlanta Good Life. Her best- selling books are entitled: My Journal: Myself, Inside Out, Letay Publishing, and A is for Attitude: An Alphabet for Living, Harper Collins, paperback edition. The National Speakers Association (NSA) selected McCloud as the cover story for the 2007 July-August issue.
As a wife, committed church woman, especially to the Women’s Missionary Society and the young people of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; entrepreneur; life member of the NAACP; life member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; member, International Women’s Forum (IWF) and civic volunteer; she resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband. She is an active member of the Dogwood City (GA) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. She has a highly successful scholarship initiative at her Alma Mater, Kentucky State University for African American Women scholars in STEM related careers. As well, she has mentored 145 professionals who have taken their place on the global stage in their chosen fields of endeavor. Her loyalty to achieving, often against the odds, is, in a word, unforgettable.
Russell-McCloud led a dynamic, visionary, capable, dedicated team of Links who focused their time, talent, ability and expertise on the timely theme, “Linkages…Toward the Possible.” Each member of the Executive Council, whether elected or appointed, concentrated her efforts on creating seamless organizational leadership that positively responded to the heart of The Links, Incorporated programming. By doing so, the needs of people were met.
10th National President
The 10th national president of The Links, Incorporated, Marion Elizabeth Schultz Sutherland who described herself as a “professional volunteer,” was unanimously elected at the 1990 Assembly. Her father, The Reverend Clyde Mitchell Schultz, died when she was only eight years of age, but she was embraced and shepherded by caring relatives in Springfield, Illinois. As a member of the Schultz family, she is four generations removed from Schultztown, Kentucky. Her Aunt, Jessie Mae Schultz Finley, taught her to play the piano when she was very young and her uncle, James Samuel Schultz, a merchant mariner during World War II, sponsored her matriculation at Howard University after she finished high school. Sutherland married Raymond Merriwether, a fellow student at Howard University, and interrupted her studies to become the mother of a baby girl, Chrystal.
After her husband’s graduation in Civil Engineering, their search for a hometown which would offer opportunities for African Americans brought the young family to Seattle, Washington. They quickly became involved in the community. Her husband became a successful developer of apartment houses and nursing homes in the greater Seattle area, and Link Sutherland became a Nursing Home Administrator. Together, they published and edited a community newspaper, the Pacific Leader. As a state-licensed administrator, Link Sutherland spent many hours overseeing the homes but was still busy as a housewife and mother. Reflecting back, however, she recalled that although she was involved in entrepreneurial activities, her real love was rendering service to those around her. She served as president of the Seattle Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated, on the Board of Managers of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, as chairman of the United Negro College Fund’s Lou Rawl’s Parade of Stars Telethons, as president and chairman of the Board of the Seattle First Baptist Church, and as Chairman of the University of Washington’s Educational Opportunity Program. Dr. Samuel E. Kelly, former Vice-President at the University, said of her, “As an early founder of the Friends of the Educational Opportunity Program at the University of Washington, Marion contributed innumerable hours toward the development of a scholarship fund which ultimately produced over $500,000 during the time in which she served on the Board. Moreover, she was exceedingly generous in a monetary way, further demonstrating her support of programs for the disadvantaged.”
Having been surrounded by a large musical family and a host of talented friends early in life, Sutherland combines her music with her love for young people, and has used her talents to direct youth choirs in local churches. When the family returned to Seattle after a short period in Pullman, Washington where her husband earned a degree in Architecture, Sutherland organized a youth choir around her own children, Chrystal and Clyde. During her years as editor of The Pacific Leader, she and her husband sponsored a group of high school girls, “The Leaderettes,” who were active in promoting good citizenship and wholesome entertainment for their peers. Even now, she says, a familiar face will sometimes greet her in various cities and a young woman will remind Link Sutherland of how she, as a Leaderette, had profited from those experiences.
After Sutherland and her first husband were divorced, she married Colonel Earl Sutherland (ret.) a Metallurgical Engineer and a fellow member of the Board of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society. Mr. Sutherland attended every Links National Assembly and Western Area Conference since 1971 as well as many other Area Conferences. Feeling the need to broaden her education “just for the joy of it,” Link Sutherland earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech and Sociology from Portland State University and took graduate studies at Seattle Pacific University, majoring in Christian Ministries. President Sutherland is a member of the Board of the Seattle Foundation and has served as a trustee of the Seattle Opera Association. With a keen awareness of the need for the African-American community to develop an appreciation and involvement in the more traditionally classical art forms, she was a leader in developing an African-American awareness program for the Seattle Opera. Working closely with internationally known opera director, Glynn Ross, and world-famous artists, she spearheaded the efforts of the Seattle Opera’s Community Involvement Committee to develop a series of programs, which were presented, in local schools and churches by operatic stars. These programs were well received by the public and gave aspiring young African American youth the opportunity to meet role models who encouraged them to develop their talents and skills in this field of artistic endeavor.
Sutherland found time during the years to maintain active involvement with her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta; with the Astra Parliamentary Law Unit and the Seattle Urban League. Much of her life and activities center around her church. She served as President and Chairman of the Board of the Seattle First Baptist Church Corporation; member of the Board of Managers of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society and president of the women of her church. She supports three Christian Children’s Fund children. In addition, to her music, she lists writing and contract bridge as her hobbies. She is a Life Master of the American Contract Bridge League and American Bridge Association, and is a published author. Since 1971, President Sutherland has increasingly devoted her time and efforts to various leadership roles with The Links. Before being elected as the organization’s first national president from the Western Area in its 44 year history, she served as national vice president, area program coordinator, Western Area director, Western Area vice director, area chairman of National and International Trends and Services, and president of the Seattle (WA) Chapter. Sutherland sees the vista of today’s environment as bringing new challenges for the volunteer committed to improving the quality of life for all humanity. “The present status of life in our inner cities, with its high unemployment and less than ideal opportunities, demands that we bring together our best minds and talents to resolve these problems with new strategies and tactics. This is our real challenge,” said Marion Sutherland as she chose for her theme, “Cherishing the Past-Cultivating the Present-Creating the Future.” In recognition of her services as a “consummate volunteer” who had dedicated her life to giving service to mankind, The Honorable Norman B. Rice, Mayor of Seattle, proclaimed November 4, 1990, as Marion Schultz Sutherland Day.
A loving mom, friend, leader, and volunteer, Sutherland passed on June 24, 2015.
9th National President
To guide The Links as the group turned forty years old, the historic Nashville Assembly chose the national vice president, Regina Jollivette Frazier as the ninth national president. Frazier, the daughter of Fran Chambers, is the first Heir-o-Link to fill this position. President Frazier’s meteor-like career in the Links began with her induction into the Greater Miami (FL) Chapter in 1970. She became journalist of her chapter the same year and was elected chapter secretary in 1974. Six years after her induction she was elected to the Executive Council as Member-at-Large. In rapid succession she became Southern Area director and then national vice president. Sixteen years after joining the organization she was elected national president.
Soon after graduating from Howard University, Frazier married. Her husband, Ronald Eugene Frazier, is an Architect and Urban Planner whose independent firm is one of the best known in this field. The Fraziers have three children Ronald II, is a business major at Howard University and Robert Christophe and Rozalynn Suzanne attend schools in Miami. President Frazier is a lifelong resident of Miami, Florida. She attended elementary and secondary schools in Miami and is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she earned the Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy. She is a registered pharmacist and consultant pharmacist in Florida and in D.C. After graduation from Howard she was employed in Washington for a few years, first as a pharmacist in the largest drug store chain in the East, and later as the chief pharmacist with the National Association of Retired Teachers and the American Association of Retired Persons Drug Service. Returning to Miami, she served for a few months as a volunteer coordinator in the Economic Opportunity Program, Inc., of the city. She joined the staff of the University of Miami Hospitals and Clinics in 1970 as senior pharmacist and in 1973 became director of pharmacy for the university hospitals and clinics. She continues in that position.
In 1983, Frazier received the Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Miami. President Frazier has also served as a Preceptor at the College of Pharmacy of the University of Florida, and as a Clinical Field Instructor at the Florida A. and M. University College of Pharmacy in Tallahassee, Florida. Frazier is national parliamentarian for the Association of Black Hospital Pharmacists. She holds membership in four other pharmacy-related groups — American Society of Hospital Pharmacists, National Pharmaceutical Association, the Pharmacy Advisory Committee, Shared Purchasing Program—the Hospital Consortium, Inc., and the Florida Pharmaceutical Association. She serves on the advisory Committee of the Florida/Georgia Cancer Information Service and is a member of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of South Florida, Inc. and the Miami Forum. Other community services include the Board of Trustees of the Greater Miami United Way, Council of Presidents, American Association of University Women, the League of Women Voters, the board of directors of The Girl Scout Council of Tropical Florida, executive board of the New World School of the Arts, Board of Directors of the National Coalition on Black Voter Participation, Inc., and the Orange Bowl Committee. She is a Life Member of YWCA of Greater Miami and Dade County, Inc. and a member of the Board of Directors.
In 1973, she served as a member of the Planning Committee of the Florida Governor’s Conference on Libraries and Public Information Services, and from 1977 to 1988 served on the Metropolitan Dade County Zoning Appeals Board. From 1982 to 1988 she was board chairman. Among other groups in which she holds membership and/or office are the Carats, Inc., Zonta International, Leadership Miami, Just Us, Jack and Jill of America and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. President Frazier has received many honors recognizing her civic and community services in varied ways. She was cited as one of Ebony magazine’s One Hundred Most Influential Black Americans from 1987 to 1990, and in 1988, as one of Dollars and Sense Magazine’s selection of America’s Top 100 Black Business and Professional Women. A few other honors earned by this brilliant young woman are the Sarah A. Blocker Meritorious Community Service Award from Florida Memorial College; Alpha Phi Alpha, Beta Lambda Chapter’s Distinguished Community Service Award; salute to Leadership Award, from the Agricultural Investment Fund, Inc.; Trail Blazer Award of the Women’s Committee of 100; Women in Communication, Community Headliner Award; the Bronze Medallion of The National Conference of Christians and Jews; and the Leadership Award of the Antidefamation League.
In the summer of 1986, very early in her term of office, President Frazier scheduled open house at The Links national headquarters for the Auxiliaries of each of three major conventions meeting in Washington that summer. The Alphabettes, Quetts and Archousai, many of whom were also members of The Links, toured the building with their families. As an indication of The Links continuing support of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), President Frazier served on the UNCF board of directors throughout her term. President Frazier led The Links to make the historic pledge of one million dollars to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDEF). The Miami Assembly voted a Grants-in-Aid of at least $100,000 every other year up to a million dollars. President Frazier served as an honorary chair of the 1989 LDEF Equal Justice Dinner in New York City. President Frazier represented the organization in the NAACP Silent March on Washington. She joined the Black Women’s Agenda Symposium of National Presidents in Atlanta, Georgia, convened (by Past National President Dolly Adams) to develop strategies to support the 1990 Civil Rights Restoration legislation. She participated in the AAUW Council of Presidents and met with the president of the National Council of Women of the United States to explore joint project development. She was one of fifty influential leaders attending the legislative briefing co-sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus and the Democratic National Committee Black Caucus/Bethune-DuBois Fund, and was a guest at a reception in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. President Frazier’s administration was characterized by bold, new and visionary challenges for The Links to grow and change. She made significant changes in the traditional Assembly program format and pushed the international character of the group. Two Links chapters were established outside continental U.S.A.
In 1990, President Frazier and National Program Coordinator Anne Pruitt journeyed to Zambia at the invitation of President Kenneth Kaunda to confer with groups of women in these countries about program efforts with which Links might cooperate. In one of the profiles prepared by the Greater Miami (FL) Chapter for a nomination, her chapter listed President Frazier’s special talents as, among others, “leadership and organizational skills” and “public skills.” In the four years of her term, President Frazier’s dynamic, visionary and creative actions more than validated her chapter’s insightful citations.
8th National President
Dolly Desselle Adams, eighth national president of The Links, Incorporated, was born in Marksville, Louisiana. She grew up in New Orleans and graduated from Xavier Preparatory High School there. Adams holds the Bachelor of Arts degree, Magna Cum Laude from Southern University in Baton Rouge and the Masters of Arts degree from the University of Michigan. She earned the Ed.D. from Baylor University in Waco, Texas and has continued post-doctoral study at Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and the University of Washington in Seattle. Her academic areas, Administration and Supervision of Educational Institutions, helped establish the foundation of her life as an educator civic leader churchwoman, wife and mother.
In her professional life, she has been a teacher and/or an administrator at each level of schooling from pre-school Head Start through professional school. She has held faculty positions at eight different colleges and universities including the Neuro-Psychiatric Institute of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; Wilberforce University, Wilberforce, Ohio; Albany Georgia State College; Paul Quinn College Waco, Texas; Howard University School of Law; Washington, D.C.; and the Interdenominational Theological Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia.
While teaching at Wilberforce University, Adams met and married John Hurst Adams, then a faculty member at nearby Payne Theological Seminary. Mr. Adams is a Bishop of the A.M.E. Church and is the founder and chairman emeritus of the Congress of National Black Churches, Inc. As the wife of the Bishop, Adams is the missionary supervisor of hundreds of groups of women in the Episcopal District to which the Bishop is assigned. Through the years, as the couple moved from the Tenth District, Texas to the Second, Mid-Atlantic States and the District of Columbia, and to the sixth, Georgia, the two have formed a trained, spiritually-oriented working team which has made an indelible imprint on American life wherever they have lived. To the care of family, church responsibility and full-time employment, Adams added community service and organizational involvement.
Her community volunteer services seem rooted in her concerns for children and young people–service as a member of the board of Children’s Protective Services, and the Family Counseling and Children’s Services of McLennan County, Texas; Waco (Texas) Neighborhood Youth Center; Secretary of the National Sickle Cell Disease Research Foundation of Los Angeles; Seattle Planned Parenthood and Friends of the Children’s Defense Fund Committee are some of her affiliations.
She has served as newsletter editor for Church Women United; as consultant and Speaker for The World Federation of Methodist Women; and as a member of the board of directors, UNCF. For six years, she chaired the UNCF Telethon in Waco; for two years, she was telethon chair in Washington, and was UNCF Volunteer of the Year in 1978. She affiliated with the Washington Women’s Forum, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and American Association of University Women. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and Phi Delta Kappa and Alpha Kappa Mu Honor Societies.
She was cited by Ebony magazine as one of the most influential Black Americans from 1982-86; was elected by Dollars and Sense Magazine as one of America’s top Business and Professional Women of 1986. Her outstanding participation in civic life continued as she was elected president of the Black Women’s Agenda in 1988. She is a member of the Advisory Boards of WHMM-TV in Washington, D.C. and the African-American Institute in New York City.
Adams was inducted into the Seattle (WA) Chapter and affiliated with the Angel City (LA) Chapter. When she moved to Waco, Texas where there was no chapter, she helped establish the Waco (TX) Chapter. She was the Western Area’s director of International Trends and Services and became national director of this program facet under President Purnell. During this period of service, she established the relationship between The Links and Africare, which resulted in the furnishing of The Links’ room at the Africare House in Washington, D.C, and in the digging of numerous water wells all over the African continent.
While living in the Eastern Area, she joined the Arlington (VA) Chapter. On this rich background of service and experience, she was elected to the national presidency of The Links, Incorporated.
In her role as president, she presented the final payment on the pledge of one million dollars to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the largest contribution to UNCF by any Black organization. In 1985, she led the largest delegation attending the end of the Women’s Decade in Nairobi Kenya–a group of over 140 internationally known African Americans. Adams secured funding for and organized Black Women’s Consultation–a coalition of the fifteen largest groups of African-American women in America. It met four times–Consultation I, II, III, and IV. However, in the annals of The Links, Incorporated this president shines as the one who led the group in the purchasing, renovation, furnishing and equipping of the national headquarters at 1200 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. in Washington and establishment of The Links Foundation, Incorporated. Through her boundless energy and her skillful leadership, the members rallied to pay for the building in full, and to fund an endowment to protect its future.
President Adams and her husband Bishop John Adams, are the parents of three successful and talented daughters: Gaye Adams-Massey, Esquire, Dr. Jann H. Adams and Madelyn R. Adams. They are the proud grandparents of eight grandchildren, six boys and two girls.
In 1984, daughter Gaye in introducing her mother said:
“Throughout her career as educator, administrator, community activist, missionary supervisor and mother extraordinaire, Dr. Adams has always committed herself to doing and being her best. She brings to any task given her the traits which characterize her and account for her success. Among her traits are creativity, faith, intelligence, concern, determination, thoughtfulness, self-confidence self-direction, generosity, patience, vibrancy and style”. (Minutes, 1984 Assembly pp. 4,5) Thousands of Links share Gaye’s opinion.
7th National President
In 1978, the 21st National Assembly, meeting in Chicago, installed Julia Brogdon Purnell as the seventh national president of the organization. Purnell was born in Belton, South Carolina, one of three daughters of the Reverend and Mrs. Richard E. Brogdon. Her sister, Sadie Brogdon Blackwell, is also a member of The Links. Purnell completed her undergraduate work at Allen University where she majored in psychology, minored in education, and graduated with honors. She received her Master of Arts degree in educational psychology in 1942 from Atlanta University, did further graduate work at the University of Michigan, and earned a specialist certificate in the teaching of reading from Colorado State College of Education. Purnell has also studied at Louisiana State University, Syracuse University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana. Among her many civic activities, Purnell is a life member of the National Council of Negro Women and the NAACP. She was also a member of the Baton Rouge YWCA, Women in Politics, the League of Women Voters, and the Blundon Home for Orphans, the local Girl Scouts’ Executive Board, and the Steering Committee on the Status of Women in Louisiana.
When she retired in 1984 as professor of education at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Purnell’s distinguished career included teaching positions at Avery Institute in Charleston, South Carolina State College in Orangeburg, and Morris College in Sumter, South Carolina. She has received citations from her Alma Mater for distinguished service and from her church for outstanding church leadership. Purnell has been awarded eight honorary degrees and is a member of three academic honor, societies, Beta Kappa Chi, Alpha Delta Mu, and Psi Chi. The professional organizations to which she belongs include the International Reading Association, the American Association of University Professors, the National Association of College Women, the National Reading Association, and the Louisiana Reading Association. Among her many religious affiliations are membership in the Bethel A.M.E. Church of Baton Rouge and its Missionary Society, Stewardess Board, and Laymen’s Organization. She has also served as chairman of the Bethel A.M.E. Building Fund, and as the church organist, and works in the church credit union.
Purnell brought to the presidency of The Links the experiences she gained as president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Among many achievements in that office which honed her already highly developed skills as an administrator, she established a Washington office for Alpha Kappa Alpha program services and directed the development of a successful proposal to fund the organization of the Cleveland Job Corps for women. Calling upon these experiences during her first term as The Links national president, Purnell directed moving the national headquarters into larger, more suitable accommodations. Moreover, she coordinated the changes involved in continuing the shift from voluntary leadership to the current partnership of voluntary elected leaders supported by an expanded professional staff funded by the organization. Working closely with the National Programs committee, and particularly with Hazelle Boulware of Lynchburg, VA the national director of Services to Youth, Purnell secured for The Links, a grant of $101,205 from the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Program (LEAA) of the U.S. Department of Justice. With five other organizations, The Links worked with the juvenile justice project of the National Board of the YWCA. This project was developed as part of the continuing effort of The Links, and other organizations of concerned women, to respond to the need for prevention and treatment of delinquency among female juveniles. During Purnell’s term, updated Orientation Manuals for chapter presidents, area directors, chapter programs, personnel, as well as the Manual of Procedures were completed. The Constitution and Bylaws, and rituals were circulated in their revised formats, and a membership directory–the most comprehensive and detailed ever published by The Links, or any similar group–was completed and distributed to each Links member. Guidelines for conducting National Assemblies, for selecting Honorary Members, and for identifying recipients of national awards have also been standardized.
Purnell’s husband Clifton A. Purnell, long-time athletic director at Capitol Senior High School in Baton Rouge, proceeded her in death. She had one son, Clifton, Jr., and two grandchildren. Purnell’s hobbies were reading, traveling, and music. She also enjoys playing her organ and working with her block club. After the death of her husband, Purnell was joined in Baton Rouge by her sister Christine Brogdon Gilchrist, a Psychologist who retired from teaching in Detroit. The two women launched Christine’s idea for a Service Center at Bethel A.M.E. Church. Open on Saturdays, the Center serves hot meals, has a food pantry, a clothing center and offers counseling services for people of all ages. After the untimely death of Gilchrist in 1990, the Center was renamed “The Scott-Gilchrist Quality of Life Center” and Purnell became the Director. Each week, she took her turn cooking for the approximately 250 people who come. In a March 1991, a feature article in the Louisiana Woman, the writer (Judy Pennington) noted that the Center was in essence “a microcosm of Purnell’s lifelong work, manifested in a small community that helps the larger (community) make sense of itself.”
Purnell died at the age of 97 on Monday, October 21. 2013. Her vibrant and unfaltering dedication to friendship and service was adored members around the country.
6th National President
The 1974 National Assembly meeting in Washington, D.C. elected Pauline Ellison, a resident of Arlington, Virginia, and a charter member of the Arlington (VA) Chapter as the sixth national president. Pauline A. Ellison was born in Iron Gate, Virginia, and graduated from Watson High School in Covington. From the four full college scholarships, which she was offered as valedictorian of her class, she chose to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. At Howard, Ellison majored in Chemistry and maintained honor grades while beginning her career in government service as Employee Relations Specialist and, later, as personnel placement officer at Freedman’s (now Howard University) Hospital. Ultimately, she was to become the first Black woman to be named employee relation’s officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as the first Black woman to serve as director of personnel for a federal agency. While at HUD, Ellison pursued her ongoing interest in the academic development of young people. As a member of Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s Committee on the “Back-To-School Program,” and her official training and supervisory efforts with President Johnson’s Youth Programs, thousands of young people were trained, employed, and brought back into the educational and economic mainstream. During this same period, Ellison was also pursuing her community interest in young people by founding the Northern Virginia Chapter of Jack and Jill and serving on the board of directors of Burgundy Farm Country Day School and the United Way. In addition to her college work at Howard University where she was elected to Beta Kappa Chi National Honorary Scientific Society, Ellison attended the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Her agency nominated her to attend the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia, and, after graduation, she was elected to that Institute’s board of directors.
Ellison received her M.P.A degree from the American University School of Government and Public Administration in Washington and was elected to Pi Alpha Honorary Society. She has also received honorary degrees from Wilberforce University in Ohio and Livingston College in North Carolina. Ellison’s interest in young people is both national and international. During a two-year residence in Germany she traveled and studied in England, Belgium, Austria, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, and France. While living In Germany and serving as vice president of the Hahn Officers Wives’ Club, she developed and implemented programs for American-German orphans and American Girl Scouts. On frequent subsequent trips abroad, she has revisited these countries as well as Ireland, Portugal, Morocco, Monaco, and the Caribbean areas. Before her election as national president, Ellison served The Links in numerous ways at the local and national levels. A charter member, vice president; and later president of the Arlington (VA) Chapter, she was, during her fourth year as Arlington (VA) Chapter president, appointed national director of Services to Youth. In this position, she compiled and distributed a single publication listing the activities of ever chapter in each program facet. As national president, Ellison continued to utilize her many skills and contacts to implement Links programs and maintain the organization’s national visibility. In addition to her official duties, she participated regularly in White House briefings and conferences and served on Congressional and Cabinet-level task forces. She was one of eight civil rights leaders who met regularly with the President and members of his Cabinet during the late 1970s.
In keeping with the rising national visibility of The Links and to better serve its growing membership, Ellison set as one of her priorities the implementation of the decision of the 1974 Assembly to have a national headquarters with a paid staff. As a resident of the Washington, D.C. area, Ellison was able to call upon her varied professional contacts for advice and assistance in planning the actual operation of the headquarters. She was also able to give her personal attention to every aspect of this task — centralizing functions, developing staffing and procedures for centralized systems, and furnishing and equipping the office itself. Before the end of her first term, Ellison was able to report completion of steps in this task as outlined by the transition committee chaired by Dorothy Harrison of Chicago. By the end of her second term, the national headquarters was fully operational. During her administration, Ellison also continued her support of national and community service programs by assuring that The Links, Incorporated was represented in major national service-related programs such as the NAACP, the National Urban League, Opportunities Industrialization, Inc., and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. A particularly significant accomplishment during her presidency was the fulfillment of The Links pledge to contribute half a million dollars to the United Negro College Fund. Ellison has been honored by many national civic and service organizations for her achievements. For four consecutive years of her presidency, she was listed in Ebony magazine as one of America’s 100 most influential Blacks and she has been listed in Who’s Who Among Black Americans in six successive editions.
Throughout her administration, Ellison emphasized the importance of the strength of the family unit. She received untiring help, support, and encouragement from her husband, Dr. Oscar Ellison, Jr.; and, her children, Oscar III, then a student at Harvard University; Paula Michelle, a student at Duke University at the time; and Karla, who was a student at the Madeira School. She stressed family involvement in all Links program planning and activities. During the years after their mother’s service as national president both Ellison daughters became members of the Arlington (VA) Chapter. After completing her term as National President Ellison served for four years as a member of the Executive Council. She also served as a member of the National Personnel Committee for eight years and assisted in the organization, staffing, and implementation of personnel policies and procedures for the national headquarters. Throughout her term of office and continuing subsequently, Ellison took an active, leadership role in her own chapter, Arlington (VA). She has been a member of the chapter’s International Trends and Services committee, and the Services To Youth committee. For six years she has served as chairperson of the chapter’s annual fundraising event, “The Monte Carlo.” This benefit effort raises thousands of dollars every year to carry out the chapter’s commitments to deserving students and for other program endeavors. On the national level, Ellison works as a consultant for the Federal Government in a broad spectrum of training in the organization, administration and management of super-grade employees. Among the agencies she has served are the Departments of Navy, Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor; the Women’s Bureau; NASA; and the District of Columbia. Her volunteer efforts have earned wide recognition for her as a tireless worker and community leader. President Ellison served as a delegate for six years, and sometimes president of the Inter-Service Club Council–an organization of thirty-two recognized service organizations in Arlington County (Virginia). Those organizations include the Salvation Army, Lions, Kiwanis, Optimist Club, The Links, Incorporated and others. In recognition of her services, Ellison was named Arlington’s “Woman of the Year, 1986.” The Arlington County Commissioners appointed Link Ellison to the Board of Directors of Arlington Community Television. She served as Director and vice president for four years. Concurrently, she served as community advisor to the Northern Virginia Junior League and assisted the county as a member of the Classification and Pay Committee, responsible for advising the county in a comprehensive study and revision of its total classification and pay system for all employees. She also serves as community advisor to the Board of Directors of Arlington Hospital, and as secretary of the Women’s Committee of the Washington performing Arts Society. Ellison also served terms on two other County Commissions–the Equal Employment Opportunity and the Civil Service Commissions.
She was subsequently designated as chair of the Civil Service Commission. In addition to her volunteer services, Ellison was the first Black woman to become a member of the Board of Directors of Central Fidelity Banks, Inc. Central Fidelity is ranked by U.S. Banker as seventh among the nation’s largest banking companies on overall performance. Ellison serves on Central Fidelity’s Public Policy Committee. Since she has been a Board member, the Corporation has committed one million dollars to support the education of minority students. President Ellison has said that she envisions Links members as a human resource bank for the nation – a source for leaders who will serve their communities and combine their talents and assets to influence decision and policy makers of this country. Her own family–cherished mother, devoted husband, children and grandchildren–is the embryo of her concern for Black families, particularly those matriarchal families which seem to have to bear such heavy burdens in our society. Her challenge to The Links is that a major program for The Links, Incorporated, by the year 2000 should be the establishment and ongoing functioning of a “Black Family Institute.” This Institute should be a separate and permanent research center which would formulate goals and develop programs which attack “mega-problems”, and would “furnish government, civic organizations, and Links programs the most recent expert knowledge on the Black family.” (Ellison: Twenty-fifth Assembly Minutes, p. 66.)
5th National President
In 1970, the 17th National Assembly, meeting in Cincinnati, elected Helen Gray Edmonds of Durham, North Carolina, as the fifth national president. Edmonds was born in Lawrenceville, Virginia and attended public school there. She earned a B.A. degree with a major in history from Morgan State College in Baltimore, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Ohio State University. She was the first Black woman to receive a Ph.D. in history at Ohio State University. After short periods of teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary and College, and at Saint Paul’s College in Lawrenceville, she joined the faculty of North Carolina Central University. Here, for more than 30years, until her retirement in 1977, she served successively as professor of history; chairman of the history department, dean of the Graduate School and University Distinguished Professor. Dr. Edmonds was the first Black woman to become Dean of a Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in the United States.
Dr. Edmond’s academic specialties were United States History since 1865; European Diplomacy since 1870; and International Relations. In her professional life, her continuing independent study and research have attracted support from some of the most respected foundations and institutions in this country. She has received grants from the General Education Board-Rockefeller Foundation; the Carnegie Fund; the Ford Foundation Fund for the Advancement of Education; Southern Fellowship Fund; the National Foundation for the Humanities; the Moten Center for Independent Studies and the Radcliffe College-Bunting Institute, among others. A 1954 Ford Foundation grant for post-doctoral study and research in modem European history enabled her to study at the University of Heidelberg, West Germany. The following year she was appointed by the U.S. Department of State as Leader-Specialist in the International Education Exchange to Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and France. She has been awarded nine honorary degrees and innumerable honors. Among numerous awards is The O. Max Gardner Award from the North Carolina Consolidated System of Higher Education given in 1975 for the “greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race”; the William Hugh McEniry Award from the North Carolina Association of Colleges and Universities “in recognition of principles of dedication and commitment to the education and advancement of the state.” A unique tribute was the establishment in 1977 of the “Helen G. Edmonds Graduate Colloquium of History” at North Carolina Central University, by the (then) 25 Ph.D. holders in History and Social Sciences, her former students who had completed their work in the undergraduate and graduate departments at North Carolina Central University. The annual conference affords young scholars opportunity to present and critique their ongoing research. Edmonds served as a visiting professor or visiting scholar at eight different colleges and universities. For six successive summers, 1968–1974, she traveled to Oregon to serve at Portland State University. In 1982, as second research scholar for the Rochester University and New York area colleges and universities, she followed the famous historian, Henry Steele Commager. Other institutions include her alma-mater, Ohio State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Harvard University, Radcliffe College and Western Michigan University.
Edmonds had lectured one or more times at 87 different American colleges and universities in nine institutions in Sweden, Germany and Liberia. In 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Edmonds as his personal representative to the dedication of the new capital building in Monrovia, Liberia. She spoke to the assembled delegations. While in Liberia, she lectured at the Universities of Monrovia and Liberia, and five other educational and/or community groups. Edmonds served as Alternate-Delegate to the 1970 General Assembly of the United Nations. During this session, which celebrated the 25th year of the founding of the United Nations, she chaired the U.S. Delegation to the Assembly’s Third Committee, Human Rights. She received recognition of appreciation for these services from President Richard Nixon, President Nixon also cited her services on the National Advisory Council of the Peace Corps and the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Armed Services. Edmonds attended the International Women’s Year Conference in Mexico City in July 1975 as a representative from The Links, Incorporated. As a guest of the Israeli Government Helen Edmonds participated in the 1971 conference on the “Changing Needs in the Education of Women in the Second Development Decade” held at Mount Carmel International Center in Haifa, Israel.
Edmonds was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, the National Council of Negro Women and the National Council of Women of the U.S.A., Inc. For four years, Edmonds gave dynamic and electrifying leadership to The Links, directing and urging the group toward wider horizons in national and international goals for service. Before her election as national president, she developed and delineated the National and International Trends and Services program facet. She was national director of this program area from 1962 to 1967 and again from 1969 to 1970, before the national and international facets were separated. Biennially, The Links, Incorporated gives an award for outstanding international volunteerism. Edmonds who drafted this original component and engaged the organization in its undertaking was the first individual so recognized, and in her honor, the award is named the Helen G. Edmonds International Trends and Services Award. During her term as national president, the chapter establishment program was structured and national Grants-in-Aid became an integral part of The Links’ operation. Through her leadership, one of the most significant movements in the organization’s history was begun the – targeting of these Grants-in-Aid to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). With a near-perfect record of meeting chapter obligations, the Grants-in-Aid for the first biennium exceeded $132,000.00 and ultimately exceeded $1,000,000.00. Edmonds practiced her own philosophy that mass communications were the strongest basis for organizational understanding. To further this understanding, she developed the Assembly workbook distributed in advance to each Assembly delegate and the complete national roster.
To assist the national president, the Executive Council, and the National Assembly, she also organized the National Advisory Council, composed of all past officers and the organizing members of the Philadelphia (PA) Chapter who cared to participate. As its first major task, Edmonds asked the Advisory Council to explore and evaluate the feasibility of a national headquarters for the organization. On the basis of the Advisory Council’s study and recommendations, the concept and trial structure for the headquarters was approved by the 1974 Washington Assembly. As a professional historian, Edmonds never lets the group forget its obligation to its own heritage. She urged the creation of organizational archives and the preservation of chapter materials and emphasized the importance of complete records and reports. More than any other person, it was Edmonds who established the organization’s program and structure to make the dedication to human service the identifying characteristic of The Links.
In 1986, Edmonds was named a Distinguished Woman of North Carolina. Three years later the North Carolina Central University social science and history building was renamed in her honor. Dr. Helen Grey Edmonds died in Durham, North Carolina on May 9, 1995.
4th National President
The fourth national president, Vivian J. Beamon, was the first from the Central Area. She was a charter member of the Cincinnati (OH) Chapter and before her election as president in 1962, had served as Central Area director and national vice president.
The theme, “Dynamic Dimensions,” used at the 1964 Assembly over which Beamon presided, might very well characterize her administration. Enthusiastic, gracious, charming are a few of the adjectives used to describe this effective leader who did so much to expand the program horizons of The Links. Her messages, letters, and speeches are evidence of an elegance of expression, which was a rare natural gift.
Beamon was born in Paris, Kentucky, and grew up in that state. She graduated from Kentucky College and Industrial Institute in Frankfort, and earned a bachelors degree from the University of Cincinnati. She holds a masters degree from New York University. She consummated her post-graduate study at the Universities of Chicago and Michigan and at Columbia University.
As a Rosenwald fellow at New York University, Link Beamon pursued her life-long interest in developing positive educational programs for inner-city children. She entered the Cincinnati school system in 1931 as a teacher at Douglass School and soon moved to Jackson School as assistant principal, becoming its principal a short time later. After 20years at Jackson School, Beamon helped open Hayes School in an area where most of the students were considered “culturally deprived.” Under her leadership, Hayes School received many foreign visitors and ex-change teachers and was the site of a number of experimental and innovative programs.
Beamon was recognized as the role model and inspiration for at least eight Cincinnati school principals. At a testimonial marking her retirement after 25 years of service to the Cincinnati public schools, the superintendent cited her distinguished record and praised her ability to recognize, develop, and inspire leadership skill and ability. Following her retirement from the public schools, Beamon joined the faculty of the University of Cincinnati as an instructor in teacher training programs.
A member of the Delta Kappa Gamma professional sorority for women in education and of Kappa Delta Pi scholastic honor society, Beamon served at various times as workshop consultant at Syracuse University, North Carolina College at Durham, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Beamon was a dedicated community worker, serving on many boards including the Child Guidance Home, the Children’s Theater, the Community Chest of Greater Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Urban League. She was the first woman president of the Cincinnati Urban League and carried this responsibility with distinction for three one-year terms.
At the time she served as national president of The Links, Beamon was the widow of Dr. Reginald E. Beamon, a dentist who was also an activist. Dr. Beamon was the first Black candidate to run on the charter ticket as a candidate for the Cincinnati City Council. Beamon herself served as the second president of the Women’s Auxiliary of the National Dental Association.
On January 11, 1970, the Cincinnati Enquirer saluted Vivian Beamon as one of that City’s ten most outstanding women. She died in 1975 and is buried in Cincinnati.
3rd National President
In 1957, The Links elected Pauline Weeden Maloney of Lynchburg, Virginia as the third national president. Margaret Pauline Fletcher Weeden Maloney, always called “Polly,” was born and grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, the daughter of William and Eliza Fletcher. She attended elementary school in Annapolis and Washington, D.C. and received her high school diploma in 1922 from Morgan Academy (now Morgan State University) in Baltimore, Maryland. She earned her B.A. degree from Howard University and the M.A. from Columbia University in New York.
Her professional career was education. Her consuming avocation was friendship – especially friendship with young people, and with members of The Links. She began as a Speech and English teacher in Winston-Salem, North Carolina but after her marriage, moved with her new husband, Dr. Henry P. Weeden, to Lynchburg, Virginia. In Lynchburg, Dr. Weeden opened his dental office and Maloney served successively as teacher, guidance counselor and administrative principal at the city’s Dunbar High School. During almost forty years of service, she touched the lives of countless students whom she inspired to aim for higher goals. Many young people were guided toward successes in college and in professions, which they might not have tried without her encouragement. Maloney would identify students with college potential, but without obvious financial support, help them make application and then she would arrange for scholarship aid.
Maloney came to be considered “Lynchburg’s first lady of education” and seemed never to recognize the meaning of the word “retirement.” After her years at Dunbar High she served on the Lynchburg Public Schools as Inter-Administrator and consultant for Lyn-Cay Headstart; and on many other boards including Mental Health, the Red Cross, the United Way, Polio Committee, YWCA, Lynchburg Community Action Group, Friends of the Public Library, the City Restoration Committee, Fine Arts Center, Bethune Child Care Center, Meals-On-Wheels, and the NAACP.
She maintained a relationship, begun as an undergraduate at Howard University, with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and served as Director of the Eastern region– a subdivision that embraced chapters in nine states.
She was an active member of Jackson Street United Methodist Church and was elected corresponding secretary for the Washington Conference of the Methodist Church. In her state, Virginia, she served on the Central Planning District Commission and the Virginia Cultural Laureate Center. Three governors were counted among her friends and she received civic appointments from two of them. Her life was a series of firsts–she was the first Black woman appointed to the Lynchburg School Board in 1971; she was the first Black elected president-of the Southern Regional School Boards Association in 1974; and she became the first woman rector of the Board of Visitors at Norfolk State University in 1976. She served several terms as president of the Southern Regional Association of School Boards. (This region included eleven states and Puerto-Rico.)
Maloney received more than a hundred honors and awards from national, regional, state and local organizations. Saint Paul’s College, Lawrenceville, Virginia, awarded her the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. A special place in her life and affections was reserved for The Links, Incorporated. A member of the Lynchburg (VA) Chapter from its beginnings, she worked untiringly with the chapter in its outstandingly creative and effective programs–particularly the programs for young people. A teenage recreation program called ‘Teen-Age Soul Cellar”; transportation to the public library for disadvantaged children; a testing program to identify academically talented children for support and guidance; and art scholarships were some of the projects she helped develop into the Lynchburg (VA) Chapter’s famous ‘”Keyboard” and the “Steps with Links” projects.
When Maloney was elected in 1957, her aim was to develop for The Links, a national program in which every chapter would be involved and would serve needs no other organization was addressing. The decision to focus on identification and support of talented youth led to one of the most exciting and productive efforts in organizational history. She put in place the structure for the continuing pattern of active program involvement in which every member of every Links chapter participates in some relevant community project coordinated by the stated goals of the national organization. Subsequent actions have modified and expanded. The Links programs, but by the end of her presidency in 1962, the organization had been set on its present course of action. President Pauline Maloney was a great American woman.
She died on June 22,1987 and was funeralized in Lynchburg, Virginia, her Links home since 1950. She was buried near her childhood home in Annapolis, Maryland. Memorial services were conducted by President Frazier, and the November issue of President Frazier’s newsletter was devoted to her.
In further tribute to President Maloney, a memorial display was placed in The Links headquarters during the November 1987 meetings of the national committees and The Links Foundation. Some materials for the display were made available through the kindness of Alice Spraggins, former president of the Washington (DC) Chapter, and Susan Davis of President Maloney’s Lynchburg (VA) Chapter.
In The Links Souvenir Journal celebrating the 25th anniversary of the organization, editor Will Florence Robbins Hudgins had saluted Maloney for her “excellent leadership, which had brought the group to the climax of its first decade.” Under her wise and dynamic leadership, “Educating for Democracy” was adopted as the theme for the national program and the pledge to search for talented and/or gifted youth was implemented as an extension of the organization’s Services for Youth project. Hudgins further recalled that during her administration Maloney had widened the scope of the organization’s concerns to include the international scene by directing attention to the problems of the emerging African nations.
Although she was the third Link to serve as national president, in a true sense Maloney was a “first.” As the group’s co-founders, Sarah Strickland Scott and Margaret Rosell Hawkins were uniquely able to guide its early efforts. But =Maloney had the challenge of receiving their concept and reinterpreting it for new groups, in new places, and at new times. She was the bridge that carried The Links from youth to maturity.
1st National President and Co-Founder Philadelphia (PA) Chapter 1949-1953
Sarah Strickland Scott, co-founder and first national president of The Links, Incorporated, was born in Philadelphia. The daughter of Dr. George G. and Minnie L. Strickland, she was also the sister and widow of physicians. Link Scott attended elementary and secondary schools and college in her home city. After majoring in English at the University of Pennsylvania, she began her career as a teacher in the Philadelphia high schools. Link Scott did graduate study in the field of guidance and received her master’s degree from Columbia University. For many years she was a guidance counselor at the Howard High School in Wilmington, Delaware. In her profession as well as in her avocational activities, Scott projected a deep and abiding concern for the well being of young people who needed some direction in their life choices. Many of her activities were youth or family-oriented. She was active in “Jack and Jill’ and served a term as national president of that organization. She was married to Dr. Horace C. Scott and was the mother of one daughter, Marjorie Ann Scott Upshur, who pre-deceased her. She had two grandchildren, Robert Scott, and Lisa Upshur.
Scott’s daughter was the first Black student to attend the Friends Select School in Philadelphia. While her granddaughter, Lisa, was a student at this school, Scott served on the school’s Executive Council. Always sensitive to the need for intercultural and social changes in the lifestyles of her community and her people, she was an active member of the Fellowship Commission in Philadelphia. During the first year of the Philadelphia chapter’s existence, Scott served as vice president and continued to hold this office through 1949 when the nationalization meeting was held. At this meeting, she was elected the first national president and continued in that office until 1953. Scott composed the organization’s pledge, a promise to support the organization, which members make. Later it was she who arranged and presided over the first Assemblies and meetings of the Executive Council. Under her leadership the group was incorporated; 58 chapters were established; Area divisions were reorganized; and The Links became recognized as the “fastest-growing, most interesting group of Black women in the country.” (Pittsburgh Courier, June 1953). After her term as national president, Scott served for a time as national director of the “Service for Youth” program facet. For three decades she attended Assemblies and Area Conferences regularly and gave valuable advice and encouragement when officers and leaders faced difficult problems. Even when her health failed and she was confined to a nursing home she would call officers and members to talk about Links. Her last Assembly was the 23rd, in Las Vegas, which she attended in a wheelchair. On Monday, July 4, 1988, a few days after the close of the 26th National Assembly, co-founder Scott died at age 87. Memorial Services were held on Friday, July 15, at the Port of History Museum in Philadelphia.
The national president, Regina Frazier, conducted the service which was attended by organizing members, Atkinson, Stratton, Wright, members of the Executive Council, and other Links members from many sections of the country. President Frazier spoke for all members when she pointed out that the organization was fortunate to have known co-founder Scott during the decades of its growth; to have served with her; and to have been touched by examples of the character, integrity, and steadfastness of purpose, which characterized her personal life. Scott, through the years, had continually admonished Link members to love each other and to work for the “common causes in American life—with emphasis upon the needs of Black American.” After the ceremony, Philadelphia area Links were hostesses for a beautiful friendship reunion.
2nd National President and Co-Founder Philadelphia (PA) Chapter
Margaret Hawkins was born Margaret Josephine Rosell on January 12, 1908, in Philadelphia. She was the youngest of two daughters of David and Anna Rosell. While attending the Philadelphia High School for Girls, her innate artistic talent was discovered and she entered the special program in the field of art.
However, she is probably best remembered at Girls’ High for leading her black classmates in a determined effort to attend the annual and, at that time, all-white senior prom. Rather than yield to the pressure for an integrated prom, school officers canceled the affair. This co-founder and second national president of The Links was graduated from Girls’ High in January 1927 and entered Philadelphia Normal School the following month. In June of that year, the Philadelphia Board of Education awarded her a four-year scholarship to the Women’s School of Design, later known as the Moore Institute of Art.
After graduating in 1931, she was appointed to teach art in the Camden, New Jersey schools. There she soon became one of the city’s demonstration teachers in art techniques. On May 13, 1933, she married Frederick C. Hawkins. She was the mother of two sons, Frederick, Jr., and Bruce Rosell Hawkins. When Saint Thomas Episcopal Church in Philadelphia was rebuilt after a devastating fire, Hawkins painted twelve pictures depicting the Stations of the Cross, which were hung in the church as a permanent memorial to her parents.
This talented, creative woman not only served as the first president of the founding chapter, but she designed the Links bracelet. She was a member of the Eastern Arts Association, the National Arts Association, and the New Jersey Teachers Association. She was active in “Jack and Jill,” the Mother’s Study Club, the Sunday Niters, and the Dealers. Hawkins was elected second national president of The Links at the fifth Assembly in Buffalo in 1953. It was during her term in the national office that the now-famous Links-NAACP life membership program was begun. Seeds of national programs were carefully nurtured during her tenure, and because of the rapid increase in the number of chapters, certain areas were reorganized. Margaret Hawkins died on October 4, 1963.
Marion Minton was also born in Philadelphia and attended the University of Pennsylvania. She was active in the League of Women Voters, Jack and Jill, the Mainline Charity League, the Discarders, the Wayne Fellowship Guild and the Cho Club. She attended St. Coleman’s Roman Catholic Church. Minton was the wife of Dr. Russell F. Minton, an eminent radiologist who, for a number of years, was superintendent of Mercy Douglass Hospital in Philadelphia. Marion Minton died in 1979.
Katie Murphy Greene, the daughter of Sidney and Belle Glascow Murphy, was born in Eugaula, Alabama. At a young age, she moved to Washington, D.C. where she attended Miner Normal School and Howard University. For a short time, she taught kindergarten in Washington. After her marriage to Dr. Harry J. Greene in 1929, she moved to Philadelphia where she resumed her career as a dedicated kindergarten teacher and soon earned her B.A. degree from Temple University.
She was a life member of the NAACP, supporting her husband in his long service as president of the Philadelphia NAACP. She was also a member of the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company, Heritage House, and the Fellowship Commission. From 1949 to 1950, she served as Basileus of the Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and was for many years a trustee of her church, the A.M. E. Union Church. Greene was the third president of the Philadelphia Chapter.
She also served as The Links’ first national public relations officer and was chairperson of the Eastern Area Conference help in Philadelphia in 1964. Stylish, scintillating, and hardworking, Katie Greene was awarded a gold bracelet at the 1969 Assembly for her unmatched record of attendance at every assembly for twenty years. She died in 1973.
Lillian C. Stanford was born in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, and graduated from West Virginia State College. The wife of Dr. Stephen Stanford, she lived in Morristown, New Jersey. The Stanfords were members of the A.U. M.P. Methodist Church. Stanford was active with the Visiting Nurses Association and the Montgomery Hospital Association. In the early days of the organization, she worked very hard with the Vigilance Committee. At The Links 1949 Assembly, she was chosen as national historian.
Lillian Hudson Wall, wife of Dr. Lonnie C. Wall, was a native of Waynesborough, Georgia. She attended Haines School, Tuskegee Institute, and Hampton Institute. In Philadelphia, she attended Reeves Memorial Church and was active in the Hostess Club and the Sponsors Club. A woman who was known for making hospitality a hobby, Wall was cited by Ebony magazine in 1950 as a “hostess of the year.” It was she who opened her home for the first meeting of the group members who were invited to form the new club on November 9, 1946. Although it cannot be measured, undoubtedly the charm and grace of the setting had a positive effect on the participants. Wall also gave the young organization an even more tangible gift. She who suggested the name “Links.” At their January 1947 meeting, the group accepted this name as best expressing the spirit and purpose of the new club–“linking friends for service.” Wall died on September 12, 1975.