On May 11, 1978, a group of women from different persuasions were contacted by Mrs. Hazel Williams and invited to attend a meeting at the DeWitt Reformed Church located at 280 Rivington Street on the Lower East Side of New York City.


The charter was signed by national officers Ophelia Dorch, Beatrice Stroud, Mildred Webber, Emma Spruill, Lorraine Warren, Rosa Williams and Hazel Williams. New charter members were:


Edwina Mclaughlin            President

Hazel Williams                   First Vice President

Yvonne Foster                    Second Vice President

Shirley Manigo                  Third Vice President

Marie George                    Treasurer

Cheryl Manigo                   Assistant Treasurer

Carol McLaughlin              Recording Secretary

Ellen Bradley                      Assistant Recording Secretary

Lena Pressley                     Corresponding Secretary

Marie Anders                     Assistant Corresponding Secretary

Ella Hammond                   Financial Secretary

Laura Jacobs                      Assistant Financial Secretary

Elease Evans                      Sergeant at Arms

Linda McLaughlin              Researcher

Alice Fields                         Researcher

Bertha Heckstall                 Chaplain

Patricia Pressley                 Researcher/Business Manager


On this evening we had the distinct pleasure of being introduced to the late Rev. Bertha Nelms Harris, our founder. She explained the by-laws of Key Women of America, Inc., and urged the women to start a branch on the lower east side of Manhattan. Rev. Harris was pleased to have Mrs. Edwina McLaughlin, a well qualified individual, to lead the women on this journey.


Rev. Harris advised the women to know thyself and the community before beginning such a venture. We were advised to start slow and try not to attempt to cover too many projects at one time and above all take time to study what you have done in order to enhance future projects. This was a memorable evening that was cherished by everyone in attendance.


We remained dedicated to the dreams of our late founder, Rev. Bertha Nelms Harris. The work continues with the following leadership:

President                            Ella M. Hammond

First Vice President            Yvonne Foster

Second Vice President      Carol McLaughlin

Secretary                             Joan Griffin

Sergeant at Arms               Lena Pressley  

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