About NCNW Philadelphia
The mission of the Philadelphia Section of NCNW is to lead, develop, and advocate for women of African descent as they support their families and communities on issues of health, education, and economic empowerment.
2022 – 2024 NCNW Philadelphia Officers
- Rhonda Holloway
- Darnita Clark-Carter
First Vice President
- Brenda Ashanti
Second Vice President
- Aaliyah Holloway
Third Vice President
- Shahirah Brown
- Lisa Jackson
- Gail Montgomery Watson
- Sevena McFadden
- Brenda Kinsler
Nominating Committee Chair
- Rev. Deborah Murgerson
- Tracy Weathers
- Dolores Owens
- Marcella Hand
Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune
Extraordinary educator and political leader Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955) founded NCNW in 1935 as an “organization of organizations” to represent national and international concerns of Black women. NCNW fought for jobs, the right to vote and anti-lynching legislation. It gave Black women the opportunity to realize their goals for social justice and human rights through united, constructive action. The legendary Dr. Dorothy Irene Height led NCNW for decades, securing its legacy of enlightened leadership and influence.
Mary McLeod Bethune, NCNW Founder and 1st National President, Advisor of Minority Affairs to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, said that she could not rest to see the unharnessed power among our women, so she called upon 28 national women leaders who responded to her call. She pointed out that what was needed was not another organization, but one that would bring organizations together. Mary Church Terrell proposed forming a “Council.” Thus, Mrs. Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women as such – “a national organization of national organizations” at the 137th Street Branch, YWCA, New York City, December 5, 1935.
Mrs. Bethune envisioned NCNW functioning as a clearinghouse, facilitating networking and coalition-building, and advocating the use of collective power on issues affecting women, their families and communities. In 1937 in New York, the first community-based section was organized.
Dr. Dorothy Height
Dorothy Height was a civil rights and women’s rights activist focused primarily on improving the circumstances of and opportunities for African-American women.
Born in Virginia in 1912, Dorothy Height was a leader in addressing the rights of both women and African Americans as the president of the National Council of Negro Women. In the 1990s, she drew young people into her cause in the war against drugs, illiteracy and unemployment. The numerous honors bestowed upon her include the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1994) and the Congressional Gold Medal (2004). She died on April 20, 2010, in Washington, D.C.
After working for a time as a social worker, Height joined the staff of the Harlem YWCA in 1937. She had a life-changing encounter not long after starting work there. Height met educator and founder of the National Council of Negro Women Mary McLeod Bethune when Bethune and U.S. first lady Eleanor Roosevelt came to visit her facility. Height soon volunteered with the NCNW and became close to McLeod.
In 1963, Height was one of the organizers of the famed March on Washington. She stood close to Martin Luther King Jr. when he delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Despite her skills as a speaker and a leader, Height was not invited to talk that day.
While she retired from the YWCA in 1977, Height continued to run the NCNW for two more decades. One of her later projects was focused on strengthening the African-American family. In 1986, Height organized the first Black Family Reunion, a celebration of traditions and values which is still held annually.