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Who We Are

National History

The History of The Links, Incorporated The year was 1946. In the wake of World War II, Philadelphia matrons Margaret Roselle Hawkins and Sarah Strickland Scott called together seven friends in hopes of starting a new type of organization, a chain of women’s clubs composed of friends along the Eastern seaboard who would respond to the needs and aspirations of Black women. There were other groups in existence, but the two women envisioned a service-oriented organization that would have a twofold purpose - to promote civic, educational, and cultural concerns and to lead Black women into postwar America. The original nine members were Frances Atkinson, Katie Green, Margaret Hawkins, Marion Minton, Myrtle Manigault, Sarah Scott, Lillian Stanford, Lillian Wall, and Dorothy Wright.

That founding meeting on November 9, 1946, launched what is now The Links, Incorporated, an international women’s service organization. From that modest first meeting of nine women, the organization born in the wake of World War II has expanded and refined its mission and membership. In 1949, The Links became a national organization when 40 members, representing 14 chapters, convened the first national assembly in Philadelphia. The organization has been incorporated since March 29, 1951.

The Links Incorporated has endured social and racial upheavals to emerge with a dynamic membership of nearly 14,000 women of African descent in 282 Chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The members of The Links, Incorporated are physicians, dentists, judges, attorneys, engineers, educators, entrepreneurs, elected officials, non-profit executives, authors, corporate executives and homemakers. They use their collective resources to improve the quality of life for others. Over the years, the organization has lived out its implemented programs with the purpose of fostering cultural appreciation through the arts, developing richer inter-group relations, and helping women who participate understand and embrace their social and civic responsibilities.


  • The Arts Facets: The Arts facet is to increase and expand art activity, and elevate our programs through arts integration and effectively create an arts renaissance within our organization and programmatic efforts.
  • National Trends & Services: The VISION of the National Trends and Services facet is to eliminate disparities by reducing barriers to services through advocacy, education, and service. Our MISSION is to empower our chapters to effectively empower the communities in which we work. Our GOALS include increasing the number of sustainable and measurable programs; increasing collaborative partnerships; and extending our existing initiatives to include communities identified as having the greatest need.
  • International Trends & Services: The mission of the International Trends and Services facet is to expand the global platform for programs designed and developed to service the educational, health and cultural needs of people of African descent throughout the world. All programmatic components of the facet are delivered through measurable and sustainable service delivery methods that reach women and their families.
  • Services to Youth: Today, The Links, Incorporated continues to implement programs that are responsive to the academic, cultural, health, social awareness, career development, and mentoring needs of youth. The Links, Incorporated’s Services to Youth facet is an integrated approach to preparing young people to succeed in the 21st century workforce.
  • Health and Human Services: The mission of the Health and Human Services facet is to promote and facilitate programs that support the maintenance of good health and the elimination of chronic health disparities in communities of color through education, health advocacy, and optimal utilization of health resources.

Chapter History

Chartered January 30, 1993

The Beginning

The love, care, guidance and nurturing of what The Links, Incorporated calls our Chapter Organizer Ella Mae finally paid off.

On a Sunday afternoon in 1988, Dr. Ella Mae Stapleton called together a group of women who gathered in the lounge of All Saints Episcopal Church. The purpose of the gathering was to gauge the interest in forming a service group which would one day be connected to a national service organization whose goals were dedicated to the improvement and development of communities with particular focus on minority issues.

From that meeting, the Detroit Area Service Organization (“D.A.S.O.") was born. In 1989 the name of the organization was changed to the Metropolitan Area Service Organization, (“M.A.S.O") to legitimately capture the entire metropolitan area in the name of the group, as it was the group’s intent to provide services to the entire metropolitan Detroit area.1

The original members to that organization were:

  1. Marjorie Anthony *
  2. Gail Ayala
  3. Kathryn Ayala
  4. Rowena Ayala
  5. Cecile Keith Brown
  6. Ann Juanita Covington
  7. Lillian Covington
  8. Willetta Cutherell*
  9. Margaret Dooley
  10. Bessie Ernst
  11. Barbara Hughes Smith
  12. Valentine Hill
  13. Erma Greene
  14. Marcia Greene
  15. Rosalind Griffin
  16. Pauline Grissom*
  17. Gloria Johnson
  18. Camille Jones
  19. Rachel Keith
  20. Glenna Norton
  21. Valerie Proctor
  22. Diane Reeder
  23. Michele Reid Harris
  24. Shirley Reid
  25. Yvonne Reid
  26. Catherine Routt
  27. Linda Sharp
  28. Deborah Smart
  29. Juanita Smart
  30. Ella Mae Stapleton
  31. Maureen Stapleton
  32. Michael Thompson
  33. Merle Watts
  34. Sorenia Whittington
  35. Karen Williams (Smith)
  36. Barbara Womack*
  37. Roberta Hughes Wright

The primary focus of MASO was to provide service and financial support to the community with particular focus on minority issues. The motto of the organization was “linked by friends who care and share, committed to each other, and to the community, we go forth."



The Chapter was joined by:

Heir ‘o Link Stephanie Crutchfield (Whittington), Heir o’ Link Yasmine Harris, Heir ‘o Link Michelle Johnson Heir ‘o Link Julia Matthews, Gail Parker, Heir ‘o Link Rosemarie Proctor (Nance), Barbara Rosemond

The Chapter was joined by:

Judith Caliman, Heir o’Link Linda Ernst, Pauline Givens, Doris Hood, Heir o’ Link Gilda Keith, Ruth Waugh, Mary Louise Starks Williams

The Chapter was joined by:

Judith Caliman, Ruth Waugh

The Chapter was joined by:

Heir o’ Link Monique Dooley

The Chapter was joined by:

Karen Gibbs, Tina Spencer

The Chapter was joined by:

Nellie LaGarde, Antonia McLemore, Nilda Thomas

The Chapter was joined by:

Schylbea Hopkins, Veronica Murff

the Chapter was joined by:

Suzanne Shank Burks, Lorelei Claiborne, Christine Long Davis, Marsha Lemieux, Gail Parks

The Chapter was joined by:

Denise Mallett, Nancy Quarles, Wendy Shirley, Sandra Taylor

The Chapter was joined by:

Leslie Andrews, Renita Clark, Sylvia Hollowell, Tara Scott, Sylvia Sherrill, Nina Shirley

The Chapter was joined by:

Tonya Collier, Monique Parnell Phifer, Anquenette Jamerison

The Chapter was joined by:

LaNesha DeBardelaben, Lisa Whitmore Davis, Katrina McCree, Chevelle Roman, Marlin Williams, Nutrena Tate

In 26 years of service and 19 years as a Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, the Great Lakes Chapter has donated thousands of service hours and thousands of dollars to charities, including but not limited to:

AARP Toy Drive

Detroit Windsor
Dance Academy

  • Cass Technical High School (CT) Gents
  • Interim House
  • Trinity Episcopal Church Soup Kitchen

Combining many talents and time of its members, the Great Lakes Chapter continues to grow and develop through service in the metropolitan Detroit community. The Chapter continues to expand the friendship that was exhibited by our original founding members and in memory of the Links in the chain who are no longer with us.