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Barbara Kairson,  Ph. D.

Founding Chapter President

Several years ago, I was blessed to have the opportunity to travel to South Africa with a group of 50 women educators from the United States.  The purpose of the trip was to explore challenges facing South African women who were pursuing higher education. As I met with women at several universities, I quickly realized that many of the obstacles faced by South African women were the same as those experienced by women in this country.  The lack of affordable and safe childcare, the escalating cost of higher education, pay equity and the absence of equal employment opportunities were a few of the barriers facing women in South Africa and here at home as well. I had many conversations while there but one has remained with me since that time.  It was an exchange I had with a beautiful black woman who stated that she was extremely impressed by the African American women in our delegation because when we came into a room, we TOOK UP OUR SPACE.   I asked what she meant by that and she said that when we entered a room we did so with confidence and the certainty that we belonged there…and because of that others knew we belonged there as well.  You can imagine, therefore, how pleasantly surprised I was to read the comments of the 2020 Miss Universe, a beautiful, black, South African woman who said that it is now incumbent upon us to prepare young girls to become Leaders of tomorrow and to TAKE UP THEIR SPACE.  


Now, as the New York Coalition of One Hundred Black Women celebrates its 50th anniversary, I can think of no greater mission than for us to advocate for Black women and their families by working in coalition with like-minded individuals and organizations to achieve our mutual goals and to prepare tomorrow’s leaders for the challenges that lay ahead.  I am proud to serve as President during this important time and pledge that with your support, we will continue to Take Up Our Space!  

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