Founding
 
 
 
 


Founding

History of The Links, Incorported
Los Angeles Chapter

Marjorie McPherson gathered a group of friends together, and in the middle of tea announced plans for the formation of a Los Angeles chapter of the Links, Inc. She spoke at length about the advantages of membership, and invited her guests to become the charter members. The year was 1950.

The women who met in February to discuss the invitation reconvened the following September for installation. Vada Sommerville was elected president. Within a few years the new chapter hosted a Western Area meeting, the National Assembly, and received many awards for outstanding service to the community.

The charter members of the Los Angeles Links, Inc. were Hilda Allen, Rheba Butler, Irene Morris, Cornelia Bradford, Sydnetta Smith, Marjorie McPherson, Josephine Smith, Rosemary Holloman, Birdie Lee Bright, Ursula Murrell, Della Williams, Gwendolyn Simmons, Alice Harvey, Miriam Matthews, Hortense Graham, Willa Bee Johnson and Dr. Vada Somerville

Los Angeles Links Today

Currently there are 55 active members and 10 Alumna Members of which two are founding members (Josephine B. Smith and Gwendolyn Simmons). Chapter membership today is comprised of outstanding women dedicated to the rich tradition of Friendship and Commitment to Community Service. The Los Angeles Chapter is also proud of second generation-Link Legacy members who are daughters of Links continuing the tradition.

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Community Service

Since its inception in 1950, the Los Angeles Chapter of the Links, inc. has demonstrated ongoing commitment to service in the Los Angeles Community at large. In response to an ever-changing society, The Los Angeles chapter has embraced the need for "service" through its Annual Debutant Ball. Proceeds from the gala event have provided in excess of $1,000,000 to support community organizations over the 60-year history of the chapter providing child care services, AIDS research, sickle cell youth camp scholarships, battered women's shelters, tutorial programs, scholarships, art projects and performances, NAACP, Urban League, United Negro College Fund (UNCF), community improvement projects and more.

Los Angeles Links are proud of their work building literacy through contributions to local elementary school libraries. The chapter has adopted public schools for its literacy efforts and the Los Angeles Job Corps to institute annual career workshops to support social skill development and human relations for modern times.

Each year chapter members contribute over 5,000 hours of volunteer service to the community.

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Milestone Chapter Activities

Since 1954, the Los Angeles Chapter has provided experienced leadership to the city and throughout Los Angeles county through support of a variety of public facilities and services through the four facets:
     
THE ARTS FACET
 
1983
L.A. Links donate a bronze sculpture of Mary McLeod Bethune by Richmond Barthe and a contemporary wire sculpture by Maren Hassinger to California African American Museum
 
1991
Faith Ringgold: A 25 Year Survey - L.A. Links host a gala reception, book signing, and first showing of the Ringgold Exhibit on the West Coast at the Museum of African American Art with an attendance of over 3,000 guests during the month-long exhibit
 
1992

L.A. Links celebrate “A Day in the Life of L.A.” - An Umbrella Project salute to community organizations and a L.A. youth art exhibit - L.A. City Department of Cultural Affairs and Councilwoman Rita Walters co-sponsor with guest speaker Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Fine Arts Luncheon featuring African-American artists, Betye Saar, Leslie Saar, Elsabeth Ainafu, Nanette Carter, Elizabeth Catlette, Lakeeta E. Howard, Enrica Marshall, and Phyllis Thompson - artwork courtesy of Alitash Kebede Gallery - held at The Bistro Garden at Coldwater with over 350 guests

 
2002
Fine Arts Supper featuring local artists held at the Regency West Events Center
 
2003
Theater Party: West Coast premier at Gascon Theater in Culver City
 
2004

Cultural Awareness Theater Party – “Intimate Apparel”

Fine Arts Reception honoring Phoebe Beasley - M. Hanks Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

 
2005
Richard Wyatt honored at Arts Luncheon and exhibition. Slide presentation moderated by Mr. Wyatt - Park Hyatt Hotel, Century City, CA
 
2006
L.A. Link members host Cotillionettes at California African American Museum luncheon with presentation by Dr. Terrance Roberts, one of the “Little Rock Nine”
 
2008
L.A. Links present “Opera Night” at the Hollywood Bowl – “Carmen”
 
2009
L.A. Links present “Opera Night” at the Hollywood Bowl – “Porgy and Bess”
 
2010
Los Angeles Chapter of Links, Inc. 60th Anniversary Celebration - A year of rededication to serving our community through friendship and service.
 
THE INTERNATIONAL TRENDS AND SERVICES FACET
 
1985

Mayor Tom Bradley proclaims "L.A. Chapter of Links Day" with a salute to the United Nations International Year of the Woman held in Nairobi, Kenya

L.A. Chapter salutes the United Nations Decade for Women with an International Luncheon held at the California Afro-American Museum. Senator Diane Watson was guest speaker.

 
2003
“Your Life as a Movie” Public Speaking and Global Exposure Workshop
 
2004
Public Speaking and World Cultures Workshop
 
2005
“Global Getdown” - L.A. Links host cotillionettes, L.A. Job Corps Members, and Union Rescue Mission clients at the Lula Washington Dance Studio as they discover and experience the effects of dance as a vehicle for global communication in today’s world
 
2006
“Global Getdown” 06 - L.A. Links host cotillionettes, Link members, and guests at the Lula Washington Dance Studio to experience global communication through observing and learning the dances of Africa, Brazil, and the Caribbean
 
2007

L.A. Links support Project Africa Global (PAG) by donating monies and supplies and assembling care packages for this organization of doctors, nurses, and lay persons who provide education and medical and humanitarian services to vulnerable populations in the USA and Africa

“Global Getdown” 07 - L.A. Links host cotillionettes, families, and guests at the Lula Washington Dance Studio as they experience the culture of Latin American countries through observing and learning regional dances

 
2008
“Global Getdown” 08 - L.A. Links host cotillionettes, families, and guests at the Lula Washington Dance Studio as they explore and experience the incredible worldwide impact of hip-hop on the movies of India - “Bollywood” style
 
2009

“An Art Affair” - L.A. Links host an African art collection viewing for cotillionettes, families, and guests

“Global Getdown” 09 – L.A. Links host an intercultural workshop for cotillionettes, Crenshaw High School students, and guests as they learn the significance, values, similarities, and differences of world cultures through the medium of the dances of Brazil. This project was also a fundraising activity which raised enough money to purchase 200 Mamaa Kits for African families.

 
THE NATIONAL TRENDS AND SERVICES FACET
 
1980-1986
L.A. Links “Pride Award” Program’s Cultural Awareness Week activity held at six targeted elementary schools in the Los Angeles community
 
1986
L.A. Chapter, in conjunction with the University of Southern California, sponsors a symposium on "The Aging Black Woman"
 
1987
L.A. Links African American Books in the Classroom Project focuses on the building and maintaining of libraries in six elementary schools. The L.A. Job Corps Program was added as a recipient in the Fall of 2002 to support “at-risk” teens.
 
1988-2009

L.A. Links Trends and Services Facet’s mandatory cotillionette community service hours and projects have resulted in thousands of volunteer hours donated to the Los Angeles community

L.A. Links participate in National Trends Annual Walk-a-Thon -Carson, CA

 
2002

Los Angeles Links 50th Anniversary Celebration documents an excess of $40,000 in scholarship donations

L.A. Links participate in 5th Annual National Links Walk-a-Thon, “Walk for Health 2002”- percentage of proceeds collected by Southern California Cluster benefit “Beginnings for Black Babies”

 
2003
Hillcrest Elementary School – L.A. Links sponsor hands-on community service project emphasizing careers and workplace etiquette for older elementary school students and L.A. Job Corps participants
 
2004
“Links Day” in Los Angeles - City of Los Angeles honors L.A. chapter for contributing more than 5,000 volunteer hours and over one million dollars in revenue (from the annual Cotillion) to nationwide service and self-help programs
 
2005
Healthy Hearts community outreach workshop
 
2006
Art in the Classroom Project – L.A. Links sponsor literacy project - reading of children’s book, “Aunt Flossie’s Hat” by author, Link Elizabeth Howard, to over 100 students at Wilder Preparatory and Marcus Garvey Schools
 
2007-2008
Project Africa Global (PAG) – L.A. Links provide funds, supplies, volunteer hours to assemble care packages for U.S. and African populations.
 
2009
L.A. Links sponsor cotillionette workshops to develop awareness in the areas of the arts, international trends, legal savvy, health, financial management, and higher education.
 
THE SERVICES TO YOUTH FACET
 
1998
Annual Teen Health Conference – greater Los Angeles Links Chapters, connecting and Heir-o-Links, community youth, and health professionals participate in educational conference (at least 150 participants)
 
1953 to
present
Los Angeles Links Cotillion provides a young women’s leadership and training institute during the cotillion season, culminating in an awards event and debutante ball held annually in November
 
2002

Cultural Awareness Theater party – L.A. Links host 2002 debutantes at play, “Hills Above the Hood”

24 debutantes participate in the Cotillion, ''Golden Friendships...50 years of giving'' at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel

 
2003

22 debutantes participate in 52nd Cotillion, “I Will Be There For You,” at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel

Each year all debs contribute a minimum of 75 hours to community service agencies

Over the years, the L.A. Links have developed, sponsored, and hosted workshops featuring: self-esteem, entrepreneurship, yoga and meditation, college preparation, CPR training, life skills and personal development, and etiquette (these are offered every year with modifications/additions)

 
2004
23 debutantes participate in 53rd Annual Cotillion, “Flying Without Wings,” at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel after donating a minimum of 75 volunteer hours each and completing several months of training/development workshops
 
2005
20 debutantes participate in the 54th Annual Cotillion, “Believer” at the Beverly Hilton Hotel with 570 guests in attendance after completing several months of life skills training and personal development workshops and a minimum of 75 hours of community service each
 
2006
28 debutantes participate in the 55th Annual Cotillion, “Everyday” (Theme from Madea’s Family Reunion) at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel with 750 guests in attendance. This year saw the addition of Women’s Health/Skincare, Legal Savvy, and Creative Writing/Public Speaking workshops to the debutante workshop schedule
 
2007
26 debutantes participate in the 56th Annual Cotillion, “Beautiful Flower” at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel with 650 guests in attendance
 
2008

19 debutantes participate in the 57th Annual Cotillion, “A Joyful Celebration” at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel with 610 guests in attendance

New workshops featured – “One’s Self Within and Out” Weekend Retreat, Nutrition and Fitness, Financial Stability and Future Strategic Planning featuring panel of professional women

Her/She Foster Services Annual Reception/Tea and Ball - sponsored and supported by L.A. Links’ contribution of kick-off tea, monetary donations, professional leadership/training workshops that culminate in a Cinderella Ball attended by over 300 guests

 
2009

18 debutantes participate in the 58th Annual Cotillion, “Dare To Dream” at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel with 570 guests in attendance

This year saw the addition of “Hip Hop R’ Size” dance/exercise workshops at Curves health club to the debutante workshop/seminar schedule

L.A. Links Civic Breakfast – L.A. Links host Western Area Director Link Barbara Ruffin-Boston on November 21, 2009. The L.A. Links invite the thirteen L.A. Metropolitan Area Chapters, community leaders, and elected officials to discuss leveraging our resources to better serve those in the greatest need within our community. The Western Area Director, at the close of the discussions, charges the L.A. Link Chapter to develop a youth-focused program that will include a new partnership with Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and the thirteen Metropolitan Area Link Chapters. Link Ruffin-Boston challenges us to complete her charge between L.A. Chapter’s 60th Anniversary in 2010 and the 100th Anniversary of Kappa Alpha Psi in 2011, before our 2011 Western Area Conference.

 
2010
Annual Teen Health Conference - L.A. Chapter (in partnership with Palos Verdes Links Chapter and Charles R. Drew Medical Society) joins The Auxiliary to the Charles R. Drew Medical Society in sponsoring The Annual Teen Health Conference, providing information to teens and adults on topics such as depression, healthy lifestyles, HIV/AIDS and other STIs, diabetes, nutrition, exercise, and relationships.
 

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Recognition and Awards

CHAPTER AWARDS AND RECOGNITION (Local, Area, National)
 
1983
NAACP Image Award for L.A. Chapter’s Services to Youth Facet
 
1985
Local Award – “Los Angeles Chapter of Links Day” proclaimed by Mayor Tom Bradley – National Trends Facet
 
1986

Local Award – L.A. City International Year of the Woman – International Trends Facet

 
1987
Western Area Award for L.A. Links Pride Awards - National Trends and Services Facet
 
1992

National Award for L.A. Links Charitable Donations of more than $800,000 in Cotillion proceeds from its inception until 1992 – Services to Youth Facet

L.A. City “A Day In the Life of L.A. – The Arts Facet

 
1998

Western Area Recognition for Poster Arts Participation in “Project Walking Fete” – Health Education/Poster Arts Program at Annual Teen Health Conference - Services to Youth Facet

 
2004
L.A. Community Service Recognition - National Trends and Services Facet
 
2008
National Award – 3rd Place Services to Youth/Foster Care Prize for L.A. Chapter’s collaboration with and support of Her/She Foster Youth Services Networking Tea/Reception and Cinderella Ball
 
THE LINKS, INC., LOS ANGELES CHAPTER MEMEBERS: AREA/NATIONAL OFFICERS OR COMMITTEE CHAIRS
 
Josephine Smith – National Secretary
 
Barbara Tillmon – 1986-88 National Nominating Committee Member
 
Jacqueline Ryan – National Nominating Committee Member, Western Area Fine Arts Chair
 
Ursula Murrell – Area Director 1956–1960
 
Deborah Beavers-Watford – National Nominating Committee Member/Western Area 2005-2007, Western Area Nominating Committee Chair 2007-2009, Western Area Chair Strategic Planning Committee 2009-20011, Member National Strategic Planning Committee 2009-2011
 
LOS ANGELES LINKS CHAPTER SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS
 
Cotillionette Scholarships - since 1990 during the culminating activity, L.A. Links debutantes receive scholarships in the areas of academic achievement, community service hours, entrepreneurship, and essay writing.
 
L.A. Chapter has provided an excess of $1,000,000 to support community organizations during its sixty-year history. Grants to community organizations are presented annually following the November debutante ball. Awards include an NAACP Life Membership with continuing contributions to the NAACP Education Fund, support to USC, UCLA, Loyola Marymount University the United Negro College Fund, and qualifying community agencies. Donations to Jenesse Center, Southeast Symphony, Her/She Foundation, the United Negro College Fund, the Debbie Allen Dance Academy, and the Lula Washington Dance Theatre are some of the 15 to 25 annual recipients.
 
Los Angeles Links Chapter UCLA Minority Student Endowment Fund of $50,000 was established in 2000 in celebration of the chapter’s 50th Anniversary and in honor of our founders. A book grant is provided to an African-American female UCLA student annually.
 

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