National Urban League Celebrates Women of Power
The National Urban League Wire
Published: Tue. Mar 5, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Updated: Thu. Mar 14, 2013 at 11:31 am | Comments: 0

In celebration of Women's History Month, the National Urban League would like to pay tribute to its co-founder Ruth Standish Baldwin and the phenomenal women leaders of the Urban League movement. The following are the last four CEOs to be honored during our Annual Conference with Women of Power Awards for their leadership, vision and commitment.

We would also like to celebrate Alexis Herman, who was recently named Senior Vice Chair of the National Urban League Board of Trustees. She is making history today as the first woman to serve in this role, and made history in 1997 when she became the first African American appointed U.S. Secretary of Labor.

The National Urban League is honored to have such outstanding leadership spearheading the movement.

Ruth Standish Baldwin  l  Alexis Herman  l   Maudine R. Cooper  l  Beverly Mitchell-Brooks  l 
Edith G. White  l Brenda W. McDuffie

Ruth Standish Baldwin, CoFounder NUL

“Let us work not as colored people nor as white people for the narrow benefit of any group alone, but together, as American citizens, for the common good of our common city, our common country.” –- Ruth Standish Baldwin

Ruth Standish Baldwin came from a family of early New England colonists with a history of social activism. Her husband William Baldwin was an active participant in civic commissions and social agencies, and had many ties to the Negro community. She shared his dedication and social awareness, and was active in the National League for the Protection of Colored Women (NLPCW) – an organization formed to help protect Negro women new to Northern cities. The Baldwins were deeply concerned about the poor and disadvantaged, with particular interest in the health and welfare of Negro migrants.

When William Baldwin died in 1905, Ruth Standish Baldwin committed herself to continuing their work. Together, Ruth Standish Baldwin and George Haynes, the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from Columbia University, founded the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes (CUCAN), which was later named the National Urban League.

Alexis Herman, Vice Chair of NUL Board of Trustees

Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman was recently named Senior Vice Chair of the National Urban League Board of Trustees. She is the first woman to serve in this role.

Ms. Herman attended college at Xavier University, and after graduating worked for Catholic Charities and other agencies, advocating for minority women employment. At the age of 29, she was asked to be Director of the Labor Department's Women's Bureau, and was the youngest person to serve in that position.

In 1989, Ms. Herman joined the Democratic National Committee as chief of staff, and later vice chair, and was responsible for organizing the 1992 Democratic National Convention. After President Clinton's election in 1992, Herman was appointed assistant to the president and director of the White House Public Liaison Office. It was during Clinton's second term that she was named U.S. Secretary of Labor, the first African American to be nominated for that position and the fifth woman to be appointed. 

Herman now serves on the boards of several major companies, including The Coca-Cola Company's Human Resources Task Force, and Toyota's Diversity Advisory Board. She is a recipient of more than 20 honorary doctorate degrees from major colleges and Universities, and is an active member of the Gamma Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.


Maudine Cooper, NUL

President and Chief Executive Officer, GREATER WASHINGTON URBAN LEAGUE, INC.

Maudine R. Cooper took the helm of the Greater Washington Urban League as President and CEO in December 1990. Prior to accepting this role, Ms. Cooper served as Chief of Staff in the Executive Office of Mayor Marion Barry, and held several other positions in the DC Government, including being appointed to head the Office of Minority Business Opportunity.

Ms. Cooper serves on several boards and commissions, and has received numerous awards for excellence in her field, including the McDonald’s "Black History Maker of Today" in the Washington, DC area and the “Skirts in Power” award from the DC Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Committee.

She received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration in 1964 and her Juris Doctor in 1971 from Howard University. In May 1991, she received an honorary doctor of law degree from the University of the District of Columbia.

Her diligent efforts have helped thousands of minorities advance in employment, education, and business ownership in the metropolitan area.

Beverly Kerl Mitchell-Brooks

In 1990, Dr. Beverly Mitchell-Brooks became the first woman to head the Dallas Urban League in its 33-year history.

Before working in the non-profit/public sector, Dr. Mitchell-Brooks completed her undergraduate studies in Biology-English at Dillard University, and later received her Master of Science degree in Genetics and doctoral degree in Molecular Biology-Biochemistry from Texas Woman’s University.

Although her background is very scientific, Dr. Mitchell-Brooks has always made serving her community a priority. She has served as Director of the Martin Luther King Center; Executive Director of the Greater Dallas
Community Relations Commission where she implemented the city’s first Race Relations Conference and
developed the first MLK Institute; and Director of Public Affairs for DART where she worked with the
community to bring the first cross town bus route to Oak Cliff.

Under her leadership, the Dallas Urban League has implemented the city’s first Building Bridges of Understanding program and built the League’s first permanent headquarters and state-of-the-arts technology center in the heart of Oak Cliff.

She has received many honors and plays an active role in many community and scholastic organizations, including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. Of her many accomplishments, she’s raised two daughters Teri and Stacy Mitchell who have followed in her footsteps as accomplished business and community leaders. Teri graduated from Georgetown Law School and, after six years with NBC Dateline, now works as a producer for HARPO, in Chicago. Stacy graduated from UCLA Medical School and is a practicing physician in internal medicine in Los Angeles.


Edith White, NUL

Edith G. White is currently President and CEO of the Urban League of Hampton Roads, Inc. In this capacity, she has created programs and formed partnerships that have provided opportunities, resources and economical empowerment for people in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. She has successfully expanded the base of support in this community by enhancing the credibility, stability and visibility of the organization.  
Ms. White is dedicated to building a better community and this passion is demonstrated by her devotion to serve on numerous boards and committees, including the Girl Scout Council of the Colonial Coast Board; United Way Minority Advisory Council; AARP Diversity Committee; Old Dominion University Community Development Corporation Board; Virginia State University Business Advisory Board, as well as many other local agencies.

Prior to assuming the reigns of the Urban League of Hampton Roads, Inc., Ms. White served as Vice-President of Program Operations for the Richmond Red Cross.

She is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications and Master of Science in Journalism. She later graduated from the Commonwealth Management Institute and the Management Excellence Program Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia.

Brenda McDuffie, NUL


Brenda W. McDuffie has been serving as President & CEO of the Buffalo Urban League, Inc., since October 1998. In her position with the Urban League, McDuffie’s energy and talent is dedicated to making real and positive changes in the lives of people in the community. She received her Bachelor of Science in social work from the State University College at Buffalo, and earned a Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Development from the State University of New York at Buffalo’s School of Management. McDuffie began her career as a paralegal aide for Neighborhood Legal Services. She worked for the City of Buffalo Human Resources Department as senior manpower coordinator and later served as director of planning at the Private Industry Council where she became executive director.

McDuffie also served as executive director for the Buffalo and Erie County Private Industry Council, Inc. (PIC). While at the PIC, she served as president of the New York State Association of Employment and Training Professionals (NYATEP), where she was co-chair and member of the steering committee, which produced the recommendations for New York State's future Workforce Development System. McDuffie has received numerous awards and recognition including the Buffalo News Citizen of the Year, NAACP Community Service Award, Business First Forty Under 40, and United Way Volunteer of the Year.


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