Read about the accomplishments of four outstanding African American women who have excelled to the top of their companies and organizations, and ultimately, made significant marks in their fields.
Earlier this week, Black Enterprise reported that Breanna Holbert became the first African American woman to lead the National FFA Organization. She was elected last week by delegates at the 2017 National FFA Convention & Expo in Indianapolis.
The National FFA Organization was founded 89 years ago. Back then it was known as the Future Farmers of America until it changed its name in 1988 to better reflect the diversity of opportunity in agriculture. Its mission is to promote student development through agricultural organizations and education.
Holbert, an agricultural education major at California State University, has expressed both excitement and indebtedness regarding her new role.
“This jacket, this experience of a lifetime, means nothing without the family, friends, advisers, and mentors who have guided me and loved me without question. You are why I am here. I am so blessed,” she wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday.
Last Thursday, Tonya Boyd became the first African American woman in the history of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) to be promoted to deputy chief. The 21-year veteran—who joined the FDNY’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in order to earn extra cash back when she was in college—says she never imagined that she would climb to the top of the ranks.
“I’m so excited and I am so blessed,” the 39-year-old EMS captain told the New York Daily News. “After hearing about the promotion, I couldn’t believe it. I feel like I’ve knocked down a door and opened it for a lot of EMTs just starting on this job,” said Boyd. “African American women will see someone who looks like them as a deputy chief and they will know more is possible—their careers won’t top out at paramedic or even lieutenant.”
Dr. Barbara L. Gaba
Barbara L. Gaba, Ph.D., is the woman and the first African American to be named as the president of Atlantic Cape Community College in New Jersey. After being inaugurated on Oct. 27, Gaba said it was an honor to be appointed as the ninth president of the institution, which was the second community college to be established in the Garden State.
“The board told me that they were looking for the most qualified person,” Gaba said, according to Philly.com. “I love being here, the people are wonderful. There are a lot of challenges in this area because of the changing demographics,” she said, adding that “the demographics of the three campuses are very different.”
After serving more than a decade as an athletics administrator at the University of Georgia, Carla Williams was appointed as the school’s new athletic director. The appointment, which was announced Oct. 22, makes Williams the first African American woman to hold such a position among schools in the Power Five conferences.
“I’m anxious to get started,” Williams told reporters during a news conference in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to The Washington Post. “I got here two days ago, and so there is a lot for me to learn. I do consider myself a lifelong learner, and I’m looking forward to getting here and finding out more from the coaches, from the student-athletes and from all of our stakeholders so we can begin to put together a program that all of you can be proud of, to continue to be proud of.”