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17th National President
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 288 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 persons 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.
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 thirty years, 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) twenty-five 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 eighty-seven 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 twenty-fifth 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, Inc. 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, Inc. 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.
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, Link 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, Link 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 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. EIlison 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 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. 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.)
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 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 Program 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 By-Laws, 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 Link 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 Link 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.
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, Incorporate, 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 Link Gaye’s opinion.
9th National President
To guide The Links as the group turned forty years old, the historic Nashville Assembly chose the Vice President, Link Regina Jollivette Frazier as the ninth National President. Link Frazier, the daughter of Link 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 Christopher and Rozalynne 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. Link 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 Metropolitian 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 Links toured the building with their families. As an indication of 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 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 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.
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, Link 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, Link 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 forty-four 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 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.
11th National President
The 11th National President, Patricia Russell-McCloud took the helm of leadership for Linkdom 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 Links, Incorporated, Arlington (VA) Chapter, 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 Linkdom, programming. By doing so, the needs of people were met.
12th National President
Barbara Jean Dixon Simpkins was born and educated in the public schools of Pensacola, FL. As a young girl, she accompanied her mother, who was pursuing a master’s degree at Cornell University (NY), to Ithaca 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 l987, 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, Link 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.
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.
14th National President
Gwendolyn B. Lee has over 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 Chairperson (1990-1994), National Recording Secretary (1998-2002), and National Vice President (2002-2006). Additional career highlights of Dr. Lee are listed below;
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.
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.
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 Chapter.
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.
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 Chapter.
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.
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 Chapter’s first Treasurer and Chairman 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.
4th National President
The Fourth National President, Link 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 Link 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.
Link 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 twenty years at Jackson School, Link 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.
Link Beamon was recognized as the role model and inspiration for at least eight Cincinnati school principals. At a testimonial marking her retirement after twenty-five 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, Link 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, Link 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.
Link 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, Link 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. Link 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 Link 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 Link 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 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 Link Polly 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. Link Polly would identify students with college potential, but without obvious financial support, help them make application and then she would arrange for scholarship aid.
Link 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.)
Link 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, Inc. A member of the Lynchburg 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 Lynchburg Chapter’s famous ‘”Keyboard” and the “Steps with Links” projects.
When Link Polly 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 Links Alice Spraggins, former President, Washington, D.C. Chapter, and Susan Davis of President Maloney’s Lynchburg Chapter.
In The Links Souvenir Journal celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the organization, Editor Will Florence Robbins Hudgins had saluted Link 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. Link Hudgins further recalled that during her administration Link 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 Link Maloney was a “first.” As the group’s Co-founders, Links Sarah Strickland Scott and Margaret Roselle Hawkins were uniquely able to guide its early efforts. But Link 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.
2nd National President and Co-Founder Philadelphia (PA) Chapter
Link Margaret Hawkins was born Margaret Josephine Roselle on January 12, 1908, in Philadelphia. She was the youngest of two daughters of David and Anna Roselle. 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 Roselle Hawkins. When Saint Thomas Episcopal Church in Philadelphia was rebuilt after a devastating fire, Link 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. Link 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. Link Margaret Hawkins died on October 4, 1963.
1st National President and Co-Founder Philadelphia (PA) Chapter 1949-1953
Link Sarah Strickland Scott, co-founder and first national president of The Links, Incorporate, 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, Link 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.
Link 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, Link 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, Link 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. Link 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; fifty-eight 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, Link 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 Twenty-third, in Las Vegas, which she attended in a wheelchair. On Monday, July 4, 1988, a few days after the close of the Twenty-sixth 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, Link Regina Frazier, conducted the service which was attended by organizing members, Atkinson, Stratton, Wright, members of the Executive Council, and other Link members from many sections of the country. President Frazier spoke for all Links 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. Link 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.