top of page

A Brief History of ABWHE

Historic Dr. Jacquelin Kane posed in front of several women
Professional headshot of Dr. Kane wearing a red shirt with a pearl necklace

Dr. Jacqueline A. Kane, Founding President

In 1976, Dr. Jacqueline A. Kane became Director of the Resource Center on Women in Higher Education with the New York State Education Department. In this capacity, she became concerned about what could be done to assist affirmative action officers. She was directed to assist in the recruitment and promotion of Black women. In April 1977, Jackie convened a committee of Black women from across NY State to plan a conference for June 5-7, 1977. This committee included women involved in Opportunity Programs, foundations, community-based organizations, as well as faculty, staff and administrators. It was decided the conference theme should be the “elimination of Institutional Policies and Practices that Adversely Affect Black Women’: That conference was attended by approximately 75 participants who recommended that the Center organize a second conference to be held January 23-25, 1978, in Albany with the theme “Black Women in Higher Education.” The participants of this second conference decided that it was time to start an organization.

For the next year and a half, with continuing support from the Resource Center, a group of women met to form what was to become the Association of Black Women in Higher Education and to sponsor a conference to launch the organization. Dr. Patricia Carey introduced the group to the Institute of Afro-American Affairs at New York University which became host for eight of the nine conferences at the University. The first conference was attended by approximately 200 participants. There was enthusiastic support for ABWHE, and a modest membership campaign began. Most of the initial energy was focused on the annual conference and providing an organizational framework. At the end of the first full year, 21 women had joined ABWHE.

Old photograph of women registering people at a table for a conference

Outstanding Presidential Leadership

Outstanding Presidential Leadership

Dr. Jacqueline A. Kane, 1978

Gloria Primm Brown, 1981

Dr. Patricia M. Carey, 1983

Dr. Bernadette W. Penceal, 1985

Dr. Lea E. Williams, 1987

Dr. Lenore Gall, 1989

Delores V. Smalls, 1991

Joann Mitchell, J.D., 1997

Dr. Bettye Glover Miller and Gloria Gay, 2001

Avis Hedrickson, 2003

Gloria Gay, 2005

Dr. Makeba Clay, 2007

Dr. Carol O. Carson-Warner, 2009

Dr. Heather P. Tarleton, 2011

Dr. Valerie Dorsey Allen, 2013

Dr. Michelle Morrow, 2018

Dr. Kimberly Roan, 2022, President


ABWHE National Honorary Board Member

A former national past-president or national board member who continues to work on behalf of the Association at the board level; one who has been identified by her peers to have made outstanding contributions to the Association; and one who continues to promote the values of the Association. Established in 2010 by the ABWHE National Board.

Inaugural Honorary Board Members:

Dr. Jacqueline A. Kane (Inaugural Members)

Delores Smalls (Inaugural Members)

Dr. Valerie Dorsey Allen

Gloria Gay

ABWHE National Honorary Council Members

A prominent educator or media persona whose work supports the ABWHE mission by being well established in the field and by being known for their contributions to the academy. Established in 2017 by the ABWHE National Board.

Inaugural Honorary Council Members:

Dr. Judith Gay (Inaugural Honorary Council Member)

Dr. Valerie Harrison (Inaugural Honorary Council Member)

Dr. Faynese Miller (Inaugural Honorary Council Member)

Today's Legacy

Today, ABWHE has six chapters nationwide. Since its inception, ABWHE has served as a forum for developing strategies to improve the quality of education of Black people, with particular emphasis on encouraging Black youth to take full advantage of educational opportunities. ABWHE is committed to aiding Black women in the academy in fulfilling their own aspirations as well as encouraging black youth to pursue their education.

Our Mission

Our Mission

To promote the intellectual growth and educational development of Black women in higher education; To seek to eliminate racism, sexism, classism, and other social barriers that hinder Black women in higher education from achieving their human potential; To communicate the history, personal and professional achievements and contributions of Black women in higher education in order to help preserve the presence of Blacks in higher education; To provide academic and social mentoring for Black youth in order to insure a future generation of Blacks in higher education, and To utilize our talents, strengths, and expertise to advance a vision of social justice.

Women hugging at a podium
two women surrounding a podium with Sonia Sanchez

Our Strategic Priorities

  1. Energizing the Sisterhood by co-creating a culture of collaboration, communication, and coordinated planning across our chapters.

  2. Investing in our Communities through outreach initiatives, grant writing, and mentorship opportunities for Black youth and professionals.

  3. Empowering Black Women and Youth by providing professional development workshops and personal enrichment webinars to thrive!

Join the ABWHE Sisterhood

bottom of page