Black ExperienceNational

Johnnetta Betsch Cole to Head National Council of Negro Women

The National Council of Negro Women has selected Johnnetta Betsch Cole as its chair and 7th president.

Cole’s appointment took place on the final day of the council’s 58th biennial national convention in D.C., held Nov. 9-11 at the Grand Hyatt Washington.

“At this moment when I have the exceptional honor of beginning my service as the chair of our beloved National Council of Negro Women, I am thinking of a proverb from the Swahili coast of that great continent that is the cradle of humanity: Africa,” Cole said during her acceptance remarks.

“It says, ‘it does no harm to be grateful,'” she said. “My heart is overflowing with gratitude for this honor to serve as the seventh president of this organization that has been a voice of and for Black women since it was founded in 1935 by the amazing and grace-filled Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune and led so brilliantly and soulfully for more than 50 years by the unconquerable Dr. Dorothy Height.”

Ingrid Saunders Jones, who served as NCNW’s chair for more than six years, will continue to serve the organization as the immediate past chair.

Cole served as the president of both historically Black colleges for women in the United States, Atlanta-based Spelman College and Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. She also served as director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and was the first African American to serve as chair of the board of United Way of America.

Cole holds memberships in several diverse organizations, including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and the Links Inc.

She resides on Amelia Island in her home state of Florida.

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