NCNW National Headquarters

The National Council of Negro Women is an “organization of organizations” (comprised of 300 campus and community-based sections and 32 national women’s organizations) that enlightens, inspires and connects more than 2,000,000 women and men.  Its mission is to lead, advocate for, and empower women of African descent, their families and communities. NCNW was founded in 1935 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, an influential educator and activist, and for more than fifty years, the iconic Dr. Dorothy Height was president of NCNW. 


Johnnetta Betsch Cole was elected Chair of NCNW in 2018, ushering in a new era of social activism and continued progress and growth for the organization. Today, NCNW’s programs are grounded on a foundation of critical concerns known as “Four for the Future”. NCNW promotes education with a special focus on science, technology, engineering and math; encourages entrepreneurship, financial literacy and economic stability; educates women about good health and HIV/AIDS; promotes civic engagement and advocates for sound public policy and social justice.


Past Presidents

Mary Mcleod Bethune, Founder & President 1935-1949

Mary Jane McLeod Bethune was an American educator, stateswoman, philanthropist, humanitarian, womanist, and civil rights activist. Bethune founded the National Council for Negro Women in 1935, established the organization's flagship journal Aframerican Women's Journal, and resided as president or leader for myriad African American women's organizations including the National Association for Colored Women and the National Youth Administration's Negro Division. She also was appointed as a national adviser to president Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom she worked with to create the Federal Council on Negro Affairs, also known as the Black Cabinet. She is well known for starting a private school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida; it later continued to develop as Bethune-Cookman University. Bethune was the sole African American woman officially a part of the US delegation that created the United Nations charter, and she held a leadership position for the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. For her lifetime of activism, she was deemed "acknowledged First Lady of Negro America" by Ebony magazine in July 1949 and was known by the Black Press as the "Female Booker T. Washington". She was known as "The First Lady of The Struggle" because of her commitment to gain better lives for African Americans.

Dorothy Boulding Ferebee, 1949-1953

Ferebee was affiliated with Howard University's Medical school, starting in 1927 as an instructor of Obstetrics, and later as the medical director of the Howard University Health Service from 1949-1968, all while maintaining her own private practice.
She was also instrumental in establishing the Southeast Neighborhood House, an adjunct of the whites-only Friendship House medical center, to provide medical care and other community services to African-Americans in Washington, D.C. She served as the first medical director for the Mississippi Health Project, "a seven year program stands as one the most impressive examples of voluntary public health work ever conducted by black physicians in the Jim Crow South, touching thousands of black Mississippians at a time when they had virtually no access to professional medical care".
She served as the tenth International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority from 1939 until 1941. She then served as the second president of the National Council of Negro Women, from 1949 to 1953, succeeding its founder, Mary McLeod Bethune. She also served as the director of health services at Howard University Medical School from 1949 until 1968. From 1969 to 1972, Dr. Ferebee served at the national fourth vice president of Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
She was the first recipient, in 1959, of Simmons College's Alumnae Achievement Award. The college also awards several scholarships in her name each year.

Vivian Carter Mason, 1953-1957

Vivian Carter Mason was a staunch advocate for gender and civil rights as well as an ardent supporter of universal education. She served as an influential president of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) from 1953 to 1957. She is well-known for founding the Women's Council for Interracial Cooperation in communities such as Norfolk and Arlington, Virginia in 1945. Mason also founded the Committee of 100 Women, which allowed for underprivileged children of color in New York City to attend summer camp for free. >>more

Dorothy Irene Height, 1957-2010

Dorothy Irene Height was an American civil rights and women's rights activist. She focused on the issues of African American women, including unemployment, illiteracy, and voter awareness. Height is credited as the first leader in the civil rights movement to recognize inequality for women and African Americans as problems that should be considered as a whole. She was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for forty years. >>more

Barbara Shaw, 2010-2012

Dr. Barbara Shaw has served as a teacher in the Baltimore City Public School System; a producer with Maryland Public Television; and a prison administrator with the State of Maryland, where she retired after 30 years of service. In December 2009, Ms. Shaw was elected Vice Chair of the National Council of Negro Women, Inc.
Ms. Bethune always used her hand to illustrate her point, "with one finger she said, if I tap you, you may not even know that you have been touched.
With two fingers, she declared, you may well know that you have been tapped. But if I bring all of my fingers together and make a fist I can give you a mighty blow." That mighty blow was not a violent one at each other - it was a recognition that we have each other. We joyfully join together recognizing all the way we need each other and can do more as we are together. We can strike a blow at injustice everywhere.
Building on this council idea, you and I empower ourselves. Keeping connected to one another builds our strength and enhances our power. Today NCNW needs you to be connected and you need NCNW to be connected with women around the world. Our families and communities, and indeed, our nation need the talents and gifts we bring.
As we look ahead, will you think deeply of the value of being an active part or supporter of an organization that stands up for women? Will you stand up for yourself by joining hands with others? Whatever else it does, NCNW offers that opportunity.
The world we envision will be better for us all as we make the Bethune dream and tradition our own.

Ingrid Saunders Jones, 2012-2018

Ms. Ingrid Saunders Jones previously served as Senior Vice President of Global Community Connections for The Coca-Cola Company and Chair, The Coca-Cola Foundation (Atlanta, GA). As the leader of Coca-Cola’s philanthropy efforts, Ms. Jones was responsible for the company’s contribution of more than $460 million to support sustainable community initiatives, including the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Catalyst, the Critical Difference for Women program at Ohio State University, the International Costal Clean-up, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the National Council of Negro Women and the World Wildlife Fund, to name a few. The Foundation also funds The Coca-Cola First Generation Scholarship Program for first generation college students. Ms. Jones also serves on the boards of The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation and The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.
Earlier in her career, Ms. Jones worked with the Honorable Maynard Jackson, then Mayor of the City of Atlanta; served as a legislative analyst for the president of the Atlanta City Council; served as the Executive Director of the Detroit Wayne County Child Care Coordinating Council; and taught in the public schools of Detroit and Atlanta.
Ms. Jones is a board member of Clark Atlanta University, Woodruff Arts Center, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, The Ohio State University President’s Council on Women, and the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. She also is a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta, the Society of International Business Fellows, and serves on the board of the national board of directors of Girl Scouts USA.
Recognition of her leadership and contributions include the National Council of Negro Women’s 2011 Uncommon Height Award; 2011 Jackie Robinson Robie Humanitarian Award; the 2010 Distinguished Citizen Award from the Boy Scouts of America; the 2010 Corporate Responsibility Award from ESSENCE Magazine; the 2008 Executive Leadership Council’s Achievement Award; The President’s Award from Morehouse College; The Ohio State University Foundation’s John B. Gerlach Development Award; and the Georgia State University School of Business Hall of Fame — among others.
A native of Detroit, Ms. Jones earned a bachelor’s degree in education at Michigan State University and a master’s degree in education at Eastern Michigan University. Michigan State University honored her with an honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree. She also received honorary degrees from Spelman College and Knoxville College.

Johnnetta Betsch Cole, Ph.D. 2018-Present

During her childhood, Johnnetta Betsch Cole had the privilege and joy of being mentored by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. As a lifetime member of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), she also had the honor of working with Dr. Dorothy Irene Height. Her passion for the work of NCNW is centered in her longstanding engagement in the struggle for social justice, a struggle that must include full equality for African American women. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and she currently serves as a co-chair of the Sorority’s National Arts and Letters Commission. She is also a member of the Links, Inc. Dr. Cole is a Principal Consultant with Cook Ross, Inc., a consulting firm in Silver Spring, Maryland. She is a fellow of the American Anthropological Association and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is currently a Senior Consulting Fellow at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Dr. Cole served as the president of both historically Black colleges for women in the United States--Spelman and Bennett Colleges-- a distinction she alone holds. She also served as Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. She has authored and edited several books and numerous articles for scholarly and general audiences. She has received numerous awards, including a NCNW Uncommon Height Award and 68 honorary degrees. >>more


National Council Negro Women, Inc.

633 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

web www.ncnw.org

email info@ncnw.org

phone 202-737-0120

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