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Audrey Peeples

Former YWCA executive and women's rights advocate Audrey R. Peeples was born in Chicago on May 22, 1939 to Thelma and John Rone. For nearly thirty years, she has held leadership positions with some of Chicago's - and the country's - preeminent women's organizations.

Raised in Chicago, Peeples earned her B.A. degree in 1961 from the University of Illinois at Champagne. After twelve years working as a trust manager for Continental Bank, she became associate regional director for Girl Scouts USA in 1973. Three years later, she rose to executive director of the Girl Scouts of Chicago, and held the position until September 1987. At that time, she left the Girl Scouts to become CEO of the Young Women's Christian Association.

Under Peeples' leadership, the YWCA made significant inroads into helping improve the lives and rights of women. Peeples spearheaded efforts to end racist practices within the organization as well as to expand the YWCA's childcare initiative. Additionally, she promoted violence and pregnancy prevention for children and young teens, and introduced new cancer education and screening programs for women. Peeples' stewardship also saw the agency's annual budget quadruple, from $3 million to $12 million, enabling the YWCA to extend its offerings. In anticipation of her retirement, Peeples successfully recruited Patricia Ireland, former president of the National Organization for Women, to succeed her in 2001.

Peeples is currently the co-chair of the Alumnae Council of the Chicago Foundation for Women, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Chicago Community Trust. She has served on the Board of the Executive Services Corps, and as vice president of the ACLU of Illinois. She is on the Dean's Advisory Board of the School for New Learning at DePaul University, and is a member and past chair of the Chicago Network, an affiliate of the International Women's Forum. Peeples has also served on the Board of Directors of the United Way of Chicago the Chicago Foundation for Women, Junior Governing Board of the Chicago Symphony, and Girl Scouts of the USA. She is the recipient of the Thomas and Eleanor Wright Award from the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations for her work on the YWCA's Racial Justice Program.

Peeples was married for twenty-nine years to Anthony Peeples, who died in 2001. They have two children, Jennifer and Michael. Peeples lives in Chicago.

Accession Number

A2003.203

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/25/2003

Last Name

Peeples

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow (3/27/2001)

Schools

John B. Drake Elementary School

Wendell Phillips Academy High School

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

Northwestern University

First Name

Audrey

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

PEE03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Arizona

Favorite Quote

Good Grief.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/22/1939

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fish

Short Description

Association chief executive and nonprofit chief executive Audrey Peeples (1939 - ) served as the CEO of the YWCA and the executive director of the Girls Scouts of Chicago.

Employment

Continental Bank

Girl Scouts USA

Girl Scouts of Chicago

YWCA

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Audrey Peeples' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Audrey Peeples lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Audrey Peeples introduces her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Audrey Peeples talks about her maternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Audrey Peeples describes her mother's migration to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Audrey Peeples describes her paternal family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Audrey Peeples describes her father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Audrey Peeples describes her father's experience during The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 when he first moved to Chicago, Illinois' Black Belt

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Audrey Peeples recalls her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Audrey Peeples describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Audrey Peeples describes her childhood activities and interests

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Audrey Peeples talks about her family's religious faith and practice

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Audrey Peeples talks about her parent's disbelief in organized religion

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Audrey Peeples describes her favorite childhood radio shows

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Audrey Peeples talks about attending John B. Drake Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Audrey Peeples remembers her teachers at John B. Drake Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Audrey Peeples describes her experience as a student at Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Audrey Peeples remembers teachers at Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Audrey Peeples remembers teachers at Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Audrey Peeples describes her extracurricular activities at Wendell Phillips Academy High School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Audrey Peeples explains her decision to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Audrey Peeples describes her social experience as an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Audrey Peeples remembers her professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Audrey Peeples talks briefly about the absence of civil rights activity at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in the 1950s, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Audrey Peeples talks briefly about the absence of civil rights activity at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in the 1950s, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Audrey Peeples describes her father's skepticism toward integration

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Audrey Peeples describes being hired at Continental Bank

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Audrey Peeples talks about earning an MBA degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Audrey Peeples career remembers the world's first electronic stock transfer performed at Continental Bank

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Audrey Peeples explains how her marriage and pregnancy affected her career at Continental Bank

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Audrey Peeples describes becoming associate regional director for the Girl Scouts of Metropolitan Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Audrey Peeples remembers becoming executive director at the Girl Scouts of Metropolitan Chicago

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Audrey Peeples describes joining the YWCA in 1987

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Audrey Peeples talks about anti-racist and anti-sexist programming at the YWCA

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Audrey Peeples talks about the significance of the Harriet M. Harris YWCA on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Audrey Peeples describes challenges she faced as CEO of the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Audrey Peeples talks about women recognized at the YWCA Women of Achievement Leader Luncheon

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Audrey Peeples explains the history and mission of the YWCA

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Audrey Peeples talks about the history of the Jane Addams Hull House in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Audrey Peeples talks about the YWCA's collaboration with the Urban Institute

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Audrey Peeples talks about right-winged criticism of the YWCA after having hiring Patricia Ireland as CEO, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Audrey Peeples talks about right-winged criticism of the YWCA after having hiring Patricia Ireland as CEO, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Audrey Peeples talks about surrounding YWCAs in the Chicagoland area and the future of the YWCA

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Audrey Peeples describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Audrey Peeples tells a story about her father's encounter with notorious African American Chicago policeman "Two-Gun Pete"

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Audrey Peeples reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Audrey Peeples describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Audrey Peeples narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

6$9

DATitle
Audrey Peeples explains how her marriage and pregnancy affected her career at Continental Bank
Audrey Peeples describes joining the YWCA in 1987
Transcript
And then I got married and it was like, oh no she's married. She's a woman and she's married and then six months after I got married I got pregnant 'cause I was already thirty-one years old, and it was like, oh no you're gonna have a baby. And so I worked in personal trust and they thought it was an embarrassment for me to be walking around in personal trust pregnant 'cause you had to wear maternity clothes. So, they put me in trust operations, which I hated. I just absolutely hated it, and by that time I had gotten on the national board of the Girl Scouts and the bank let me have the time because I was, it was good for the bank and it was good for publicity and you know. So, I would go to these national board meetings in New York all the time, and when I got pregnant I told them I was gonna take maternity leave and I would come back after my baby was born, because black women go back to work. Well, they had never had a white woman who got pregnant who came back to work, never. And so after my baby was born and I came back nobody took me seriously. I mean, first of all they put me in trust operations division, which was a division where young kids who were training to be supervisors were coming, and I made at the time $10,000 more than anybody they had in the department, but it was sort of like, you know, we're not taking you seriously anymore because you obviously are going to stop working, you know you're gonna be a mother and a wife. So, I went to a board meeting with the Girl Scouts and the lady said, "How do like being back at work?" I said I hate it, I just hate it, and she said, "How would you like to come and work for the Girl Scouts?" and I said--I didn't even ask her what the job was. I said what are you paying? And she said what are you making? And I told her and she said well we could probably match your salary. So, I took the job and I went back and quit. I was shocked at myself. I didn't think I would--I had a incredible encouragement from my husband because the bank was I had ever known, I had been there fourteen years already and it was like oh no what am I going to do, I can't leave the bank and he said sure you can. So, he was an incredible supporter, and so I left, and I think had I not left I never would have achieved the success that I achieved in my life, so I'm glad I left.$And I stayed there until a search firm came and got me for the Y [YWCA] and I stayed there, let me see--oh I forgot that part. When I went over to the Girl Scouts, I found out I was pregnant. I took a month off and I got pregnant with my second child, and the major difference in working for a women's organization and working for a men's organization presented itself because the Girl Scouts were absolutely wonderful. They--I was pregnant and they just said you know this happens, you know, you need any time for the doctor do what you need to do. But, anyway so then I had my baby. So, by the time I became the executive director I had two babies, two children. But, the, the thing was is that when I went to the Girl Scouts I loved my job. I did a real good job there. I loved it. And then the search firm came and said, you know, we've got a job at the Y would you like to interview, and I said no. And the guy was really good. He has a search firm in Chicago, Willie Carrington, Carrington and Carrington, and he said, "Well can we just meet for dinner." I said I don't know--(unclear)--and he said please just come for dinner and when I went for dinner with him I had no idea the Girl Scouts, I mean the YWCA did so many things. So, I said hey I might be interested in this job and it was a lot more money. So, I with a bigger agency, had more staff, you had a broader array of opportunities, so I went for the interview. I went for about five interviews and when I got the job in 1987 and I stayed there until I retired in 2000.