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Pauline Ellison (6th National President)

The 1974 National Assembly meeting in Washington, D.C. elected Pauline Ellison, a resident of Arlington, Virginia, and a charter member of the Arlington (VA) Chapter as the sixth National President. Pauline A. Ellison was born in Iron Gate, Virginia, and graduated from Watson High School in Covington. From the four full college scholarships, which she was offered as valedictorian of her class, she chose to attend Howard University in Washington, D.C. At Howard, Ellison majored in Chemistry and maintained honor grades while beginning her career in government service as Employee Relations Specialist and, later, as personnel placement officer at Freedman’s (now Howard University) Hospital. Ultimately, she was to become the first black woman to be named employee relation’s officer at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as well as the first black woman to serve as director of personnel for a federal agency. While at HUD, Ellison pursued her ongoing interest in the academic development of young people. As a member of Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s Committee on the “Back-To-School Program,” and her official training and supervisory efforts with President Johnson’s Youth Programs, thousands of young people were trained, employed, and brought back into the educational and economic mainstream. During this same period, Ellison was also pursuing her community interest in young people by founding the Northern Virginia Chapter of Jack and Jill and serving on the board of directors of Burgundy Farm Country Day School and the United Way. In addition to her college work at Howard University where she was elected to Beta Kappa Chi National Honorary Scientific Society, Link Ellison attended the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Her agency nominated her to attend the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia, and, after graduation, she was elected to that Institute’s Board of Directors.

Ellison received her M.P.A degree from the American University School of Government and Public Administration in Washington and was elected to Pi Alpha Honorary Society. She has also received honorary degrees from Wilberforce University in Ohio and Livingston College in North Carolina. Ellison’s interest in young people is both national and international. During a two-year residence in Germany she traveled and studied in England, Belgium, Austria, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, and France. While living In Germany and serving as vice president of the Hahn Officers Wives’ Club, she developed and implemented programs for American-German orphans and American Girl Scouts. On frequent subsequent trips abroad, she has revisited these countries as well as Ireland, Portugal, Morocco, Monaco, and the Caribbean areas. Before her election as national president, Link Ellison served The Links in numerous ways at the local and national levels. A charter member, vice president; and later president of the Arlington (VA) Chapter, she was, during her fourth year as Arlington Chapter president, appointed National Director of Services to Youth. In this position, she compiled and distributed a single publication listing the activities of ever chapter in each program facet. As National President, Ellison continued to utilize her many skills and contacts to implement Links programs and maintain the organization’s national visibility. In addition to her official duties, she participated regularly in White House briefings and conferences and served on Congressional and Cabinet-level task forces. She was one of eight civil rights leaders who met regularly with the President and members of his Cabinet during the late 1970s.

In keeping with the rising national visibility of The Links and to better serve its growing membership, Ellison set as one of her priorities the implementation of the decision of the 1974 Assembly to have a national headquarters with a paid staff. As a resident of the Washington, D.C. area, Ellison was able to call upon her varied professional contacts for advice and assistance in planning the actual operation of the headquarters. She was also able to give her personal attention to every aspect of this task—centralizing functions, developing staffing and procedures for centralized systems, and furnishing and equipping the office itself. Before the end of her first term, Ellison was able to report completion of steps in this task as outlined by the transition committee chaired by  Dorothy Harrison of Chicago. By the end of her second term, the national headquarters was fully operational. During her administration, Ellison also continued her support of national and community service programs by assuring that The Links, Incorporated was represented in major national service-related programs such as the NAACP, the National Urban League, Opportunities Industrialization, Inc., and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. A particularly significant accomplishment during her presidency was the fulfillment of The Links pledge to contribute half a million dollars to the United Negro College Fund. EIlison has been honored by many national civic and service organizations for her achievements. For four consecutive years of her presidency, she was listed in Ebony Magazine as one of America’s 100 most influential Blacks and she has been listed in Who’s Who Among Black Americans in six successive editions.

Throughout her administration, Ellison emphasized the importance of the strength of the family unit. She received untiring help, support, and encouragement from her husband, Dr. Oscar Ellison, Jr.; and, her children, Oscar III, then a student at Harvard University; Paula Michelle, a student at Duke University at the time; and Karla, who was a student at the Madeira School. She stressed family involvement in all Links program planning and activities. During the years after their mother’s service as National President both Ellison daughters became members of the Arlington Chapter. After completing her term as National President Ellison served for four years as a member of the Executive Council. She also served as a member of the National Personnel Committee for eight years and assisted in the organization, staffing, and implementation of personnel policies and procedures for the national headquarters. Throughout her term of office and continuing subsequently, Ellison took an active, leadership role in her own chapter, Arlington. She has been a member of the chapter’s International Trends and Services Committee, and the Services To Youth Committee. For six years she has served as chairperson of the chapter’s annual fundraising event, “The Monte Carlo.” This benefit effort raises thousands of dollars every year to carry out the chapter’s commitments to deserving students and for other program endeavors. On the national level, Ellison works as a consultant for the Federal Government in a broad spectrum of training in the organization, administration and management of super-grade employees. Among the agencies she has served are the Departments of Navy, Agriculture, Commerce, and Labor; the Women’s Bureau; NASA; and the District of Columbia. Her volunteer efforts have earned wide recognition for her as a tireless worker and community leader. President Ellison served as a delegate for six years, and sometimes president of the Inter-Service Club Council–an organization of thirty-two recognized service organizations in Arlington County (Virginia). Those organizations include the Salvation Army, Lions, Kiwanis, Optimist Club, The Links, Incorporated and others. In recognition of her services, Ellison was named Arlington’s “Woman of the Year, 1986.” The Arlington County Commissioners appointed Link Ellison to the Board of Directors of Arlington Community Television. She served as Director and vice president for four years. Concurrently, she served as community advisor to the Northern Virginia Junior League and assisted the county as a member of the Classification and Pay Committee, responsible for advising the county in a comprehensive study and revision of its total classification and pay system for all employees. She also serves as community advisor to the Board of Directors of Arlington Hospital, and as secretary of the Women’s Committee of the Washington performing Arts Society. Ellison also served terms on two other County Commissions–the Equal Employment Opportunity and the Civil Service Commissions.

She was subsequently designated as chair of the Civil Service Commission. In addition to her volunteer services, Ellison was the first black woman to become a member of the Board of Directors of Central Fidelity Banks, Inc. Central Fidelity is ranked by U.S. Banker as seventh among the nation’s largest banking companies on overall performance. Ellison serves on Central Fidelity’s Public Policy Committee. Since she has been a Board member, the Corporation has committed one million dollars to support the education of minority students. President Ellison has said that she envisions Links members as a human resource bank for the Nation–a source for leaders who will serve their communities and combine their talents and assets to influence decision and policy makers of this country. Her own family–cherished mother, devoted husband, children and grandchildren–is the embryo of her concern for Black families, particularly those matriarchal families which seem to have to bear such heavy burdens in our society. Her challenge to The Links is that a major program for The Links, Incorporated, by the year 2000 should be the establishment and ongoing functioning of a “Black Family Institute.” This Institute should be a separate and permanent research center which would formulate goals and develop programs which attack “mega-problems”, and would “furnish government, civic organizations, and Links programs the most recent expert knowledge on the black family.” (Ellison: Twenty-fifth Assembly Minutes, p. 66.)

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