Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole has been appointed chair and seventh president of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) during the end of the council’s 58th Biennial National Convention in Washington, D.C.
“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,” said Dr. Cole during her acceptance remarks. “It says, it does no harm to be grateful. 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 lead so brilliantly and soulfully for more than 50 years by the unconquerable Dr. Dorothy Height.”
Growing up, Cole and her sister had the honor of being mentored by Bethune as she was a good friend of their great grandfather. Bethune taught Cole and her sister about the importance of education and offering assistance to others.
Cole has been in several leadership positions prior to her appointment, including serving as the president of both Spelman College and Bennett College. In addition, she was director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and was the first African-American to be chair of the board of United Way of America.