Chapter History

The Links, Incorporated: Who We Are

The Links, Incorporated is one of the oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women of color who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the cultural and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry.  Established in 1946 as the “The Philadelphia Club” by its two founders, Margaret Hawkins and Sarah Scott, the initial group of nine women who comprised the not-for-profit organization, has grown to a membership consisting of more than 15,000 professional women with 285 chapters located in 41 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and England.

The members of The Links, Incorporated are influential decision-makers and thought leaders. The organization has attracted many distinguished women who are individual achievers and have made a difference in their communities and the world. They are business and civic leaders, role models, mentors, activists and volunteers who work toward a common vision by engaging organizations with similar missions to create partnerships designed to strengthen communities and enhance the nation. Links members contribute more than 1 million documented hours of community service annually.  


The Bold City Chapter of the Links, Incorporated: Our History

On May 29, 1993, 22 women participated in the chartering of the 247th chapter of The Links, Incorporated and the 63rd chapter in the Southern Area, known as the Bold City Chapter.  The list of dedicated and committed women are:

Arlinda F. Adams*
Emma Jean Aikens
Cynthia B. Austin 
Azzie Lee Childs*
Francina Adams Dunbar
Beverly McIntosh Fenderson
Josephine E. Hall Fiveash Porter
Anita L. Ford
Pamela Grant 
Marion A. Gregory
Louise R.A. Huey
Ruth L. Waters McKay
Brenda T. Miller
Deloris M. Mitchell
Rita E. Carter Perry
Madeline Scales-Taylor
Barbara M. Shuman
Shelly Holder Thompson
Mary E. Walker
Norma Solomon White
Katherine E. Wilson 
Barbara Witherspoon


Since the chartering of the Bold City Chapter over 25 years ago, nine dynamic women have served as president, each leaving her own unique legacy of leadership and helping to establish the solid foundation upon which the organization continues to thrive.


Bold City Chapter Presidents

Josephine E. Hall Fiveash Porter        1993 - 1995
Madeline Scales-Taylor                         1995 - 1997
Josephine E. Hall Fiveash Porter        1997 - 1999
Katherine E. Wilson                               1999 - 2003
Norma Solomon White                         2003 - 2007 
Ruth L. Waters McKay                          2007 - 2011
Barbara A. Darby                                   2011 – 2015
Pamela Prier                                           2015 – 2019
Wanda Willis                                          2019 - Present

Since 1993, the Chapter has grown from 22 charter members to over 50 active members, each accomplished in their unique fields of endeavor.  With significant growth, the Bold City Chapter proudly continues to make an equally significant impact in the Jacksonville community.  While the chapter is committed to addressing the educational, economic, civic, and cultural needs of African Americans in Jacksonville, it aids anyone in need.


Friendship and Service: Our Purpose

As Past President Josephine E. Hall Fiveash Porter once said, “The greatest joy of being a member of The Links, Incorporated is its noble purpose – serving others.” The Bold City Chapter’s programming initiatives are directed by and in alignment with the five national facets:

  • National Trends and Services
  • The Arts
  • Services to Youth 
  • International Trends and Services
  • Health and Human Services

As the chapter recently celebrated a quarter of a century of impacting change locally and globally through the power of friendship and service, it continues to execute initiatives to address urgent community needs in the five facets.

Whether it was partnering with other community centers of influence to develop programs and educational materials to address the HIV AIDS epidemic under the leadership of the first President, Josephine E. Hall Fiveash Porter, or the joint venture with the Jacksonville Chapter spearheaded during second President Madeline Scales-Taylor’s tenure which brought notable artist, Mildred Thompson, to the Museum of Contemporary Art for a one-woman show, becoming the largest opening ever held at the museum at the time, the chapter established itself as a strong advocate of service. The leadership and support of the Links and the Jacksonville community later prompted Thompson to donate several pieces of her art collection to the historic Ritz Museum.  Past President Katherine E. Wilson’s term focused largely on a Links National Initiative called, “Education Across the Miles.” The chapter had just purchased a school to be built in Africa when she took the reins. She led the charge to help raise $10,000 to support the school and acquire and ship hundreds of books to South Africa, even traveling there with a delegation of Links for a formal dedication of the several new schools that were being built. The Bold City Chapter continued to set a standard of leveraging its strength to impact measurable positive change in the neighborhoods of Jacksonville and around the world.  

Things didn’t slow down during Past President Norma Solomon White’s administration, when the chapter focused on a four-year long leadership and mentoring program held at Highland Middle School called Project P.R.A.I.S.E. The program helped to lay a strong and consistent foundation to prepare the students for the rigorous standards before them during their secondary education. And while the development of the chapter’s website being created during Past President Ruth L. Waters McKay’s term is an accomplishment she is extremely proud of, it is the Childhood Obesity Prevention Initiative and the teamwork that it took to secure tens of thousands of dollars to sponsor laptops for deserving students that really made an impact during her tenure.

More recently, the Past President, Barbara A. Darby themed her administration "Embracing the Call to Serve - Continuing the Legacy of Friendship." The primary focus during the 4-year period was the implementation of an umbrella program entitled “The LINKS Leadership Academy,” held on Saturdays at the North Campus of Florida State College at Jacksonville.  Its purpose was to develop in middle school boys and girls (through to the completion of high school), the attributes necessary to become future local, national and global community leaders. Uniquely, the program was designed to offer the (more than 100) students experiences which encompassed all five facets of The Links, Incorporated. The time, detail and rigor put into executing the umbrella program did not go unnoticed, as it earned the Southern Area's First Place Award for Umbrella Programs and also the First Place Southern Area Award in the Human Services Facet in 2013, and in 2014, the program received the National Third Place Award for its Program Exhibit. 

As impressive as its “not so humble beginning,” the Bold City Chapter continues its track record of successfully establishing partnerships, garnering funding/grants, and executing programs with excellence.  Notably, Immediate Past President Pamela Prier says she is most proud to have led the charge in implementing the chapter’s annual scholarship program awarded to undergraduate and graduate HBCU students who not only exemplify high academic achievements, but also display leadership skills and a passion for serving their community. Continuing the chapter’s renewed commitment to serving our HBCU community, in 2016, the Bold City Chapter also committed to a long-term partnership with Edward Waters College to mentor hundreds of students monthly through the R.I.S.E. Program (Reaching Individuals for Self-Empowerment). As Link Pam and the executive leadership team have observed the needs of the Jacksonville community continue to grow over the years, so has the need to expand the exclusive group of dynamic women who are committed to serve.  Alongside Vice President Ruth L. Waters McKay as Membership Chair, the largest number of new members have been inducted into the Bold City Chapter since 2015.

Collectively, the members have provided tens of thousands of documented volunteer service hours and more than $250,000 in financial support through scholarships, sponsorships, and donations. The following are just some of the service projects/strategic partnerships that have helped the Bold City Chapter become a part of the fabric of Jacksonville’s rich community culture, building its strong legacy of service:

Services to Youth

  • Links Leadership Academy for Middle School Students
  • Links to Academic Success – Highlands Middle School
  • Project P.R.A.I.S.E.
  • School in a Box
  • Bold Beginnings/Bright Future Scholarship Program
  • Charm School and Youth Town Hall Meeting
  • Literary Poster Project
  • Edward Waters College R.I.S.E Mentoring Program (Reaching Individuals for Self-Empowerment)

The Arts

  • Ritz Theater and Museum Memberships/Patrons
  • Support of the Black on Black World Cinema by Film Makers of Color Project
  • Support to ACT-SO, NAACP Arts Program
  • The Sojourner Truth Traveling Art Exhibit
  • Showcase of the Rising Stars
  • Panorama of the Artists
  • Support of the Ritz Chamber Players
  • Support of Morehouse College Glee Club

International Trends and Services

  • Haitian Pillowcase Dress Project
  • Haitian Relief Clothes and Food Drive
  • Funding for construction of a school in South Africa
  • School supplies to Africa
  • Days for Girls Kits (Sulzbacher partnership)

Health and Human Services

  • Family Health Jamboree with Florida Blue
  • Florida Chapters Pilot for Childhood Obesity Prevention Program
  • Childhood Obesity Prevention Project- MaliVai Washington Center
  • Links in Pink
  • Heart Links

National Trends and Services

  • Invitational Day of Service to Benefit Second Harvest Foodbank
  • Take Charge of Your Future Seminar with AARP
  • Support of Clothes Closet for Homeless
  • SIDS Workshops
  • Developed HIV Resource Directories
  • Supported Fundraising for Non-profits
  • Senior Health and Nutrition Project
  • Organ, Tissue and Bone Marrow Donation Awareness Program
  • Sickle Cell Anemia support
  • Breast Cancer Project
  • Inner City Walking Trail Playground Equipment
  • AARP “Take Charge of Your Future” Seminars

The Future

As the Bold City Chapter reflects on the accomplishments of the past and takes a moment to celebrate the great impact that it has made, the members are proud to do their part in leaving a lasting legacy of service and looking forward to the future as they recognize that there is still much more work to be done.