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Robin Wilson

Robin Wilson is an interior designer acclaimed for creating eco-friendly designs for homes and commercial spaces. Wilson was born September 26, 1969 in Austin, Texas. She is a fourth-generation member of a Texas real-estate family beginning with her great-grandfather who owned several rental properties. As a child she was “pan-allergic” and diagnosed with asthma. To accommodate her allergies, her parents made changes to their lifestyle including switching to organic foods and replacing carpet in the house with hardwood and tile. These steps later influenced her desire to work with eco-friendly materials. In 1987, Wilson graduated from S.F. Austin High School and received her B.A. degree in history and economics from the University of Texas at Austin. In addition, she worked through college as a runway model and her first internship was with the Lower Colorado River Authority focused on energy efficiency.

In 1991, Wilson moved to Boston to work for Mercer Management Consulting in the energy division. In 1993, she changed careers and joined Isaacson Miller as an executive recruiter and a year later was hired at Houghton Mifflin Company as a national recruiter. By 1996, she joined Heidrick & Struggles in their Boston office, and a year later was transferred to their New York office to work for the lead partner in the financial services area, where she worked on CEO and Board level projects. In 1999, the privately-held company conducted an IPO and Wilson received a windfall. She used the money to purchase an apartment, become an entrepreneur and enroll in New York University to earn her M.S. degree in real estate finance. Before receiving her degree, Wilson founded the WSG Consulting firm and began her entrepreneurial role as a project manager for clients in New York – earning the moniker “the busy homeowner’s best friend.” In 2006, she rebranded the firm to the eponymous Robin Wilson Home and the business grew exponentially after being profiled on television and in magazines. Robin Wilson Home is distinguished for its focus on eco-friendly lifestyle, with a combination of design and healthy living. It has expanded to include an online retail store, The Nest Store which sells to consumers. She is the first woman to license her name to eco-friendly kitchen cabinetry, sold by over 500 kitchen dealers nationwide.

Wilson has designed showhouse projects including the Esquire “Ultimate Bachelor Apartment” terrace (2007), the Good Housekeeping “Greenest House in New York” LEED-certified Harlem brownstone (2008) and since 2004, she has worked on renovation projects in the Harlem office of former President Bill Clinton. In 2008, she was selected to become part of a “green dream team” who worked on the private residence of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. In 2010, she completed her first book, Kennedy Green House which details the project.

Robin Wilson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 26, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.005

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

4/26/2010

Last Name

Wilson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Occupation
Schools

Pease Elementary School

O. Henry Middle School

Austin High School

University of Texas at Austin

New York University

St. Martin's Lutheran School

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Archival Photo 2
Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Robin

Birth City, State, Country

Austin

HM ID

WIL50

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Youth, Teens, Business, Adults

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $3,000-$5,000

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Texas

Favorite Vacation Destination

Australia

Favorite Quote

What Would You Attempt To Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

9/26/1969

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Calamari

Short Description

Interior designer Robin Wilson (1969 - ) was the founder of Robin Wilson Home, the author of, "Kennedy Green House," and a noted designer of eco-friendly residences.

Employment

Robin Wilson Home

Heidrick & Struggles

Houghton Mifflin Co.

Isaacson Miller

Mercer Management Consulting

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:9070,189:11140,241:12310,281:12760,287:14470,318:15820,335:16450,344:17170,353:18250,367:19690,391:21850,425:22300,431:31396,498:35608,578:36232,587:38104,643:43642,729:44110,736:44734,746:48166,804:49180,822:50116,832:50662,841:52144,878:58540,896:59044,906:59548,915:60052,928:60484,937:61060,946:61996,959:62572,970:63220,980:63724,1000:66962,1017:67742,1092:81548,1372:81938,1378:83810,1422:84512,1432:90151,1443:91156,1459:93501,1530:94841,1563:95176,1569:100469,1693:101474,1714:101742,1719:103216,1747:104556,1773:109400,1804:114496,1910:115679,1934:118070,1943:120215,1991:120540,1997:120930,2006:121970,2027:122230,2032:122490,2039:122750,2044:124505,2099:125545,2148:128200,2161$0,0:240,4:560,9:880,14:2720,47:4000,71:5600,107:6800,169:9200,214:12720,275:13200,282:16510,293:20443,383:20857,390:24928,479:25342,486:27067,530:35268,680:35856,688:36444,697:41064,785:41400,790:41736,795:42072,800:46104,881:46608,891:48708,917:49044,922:49968,953:51144,969:51564,975:55764,1055:56184,1068:56772,1076:64555,1129:64855,1134:67780,1202:70705,1271:72805,1328:73330,1337:73705,1344:78294,1391:79446,1413:85062,1508:85494,1515:85926,1523:86286,1529:86718,1537:92838,1692:93270,1701:96942,1774:97374,1781:98022,1791:106064,1879:115904,2053:121234,2143:123284,2181:123694,2187:134269,2332:134664,2338:135217,2346:136244,2363:137271,2380:137982,2396:138614,2406:139641,2420:142169,2486:142564,2492:145961,2560:146672,2574:147304,2583:150227,2691:150701,2702:161450,2865
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robin Wilson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robin Wilson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robin Wilson describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robin Wilson describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robin Wilson remembers her paternal great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robin Wilson talks about her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robin Wilson describes her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Robin Wilson talks about her maternal great-grandmother's abduction by the Ku Klux Klan

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Robin Wilson talks about the diversity of skin color within her family

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Robin Wilson talks about her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Robin Wilson describes the community of Angleton, Texas

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Robin Wilson talks about her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robin Wilson describes her maternal uncles' careers

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robin Wilson talks about her father's upbringing

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robin Wilson describes her father's career

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robin Wilson talks about her paternal uncle's struggles after World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robin Wilson describes her parents' relationship

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robin Wilson describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robin Wilson talks about her parents' perspective on education

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robin Wilson remembers her mother's career

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Robin Wilson talks about her father's mentor

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Robin Wilson talks about her parents' financial struggles

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robin Wilson describes her childhood allergies

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robin Wilson talks about her elementary school experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robin Wilson recalls her early struggles with her disability

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robin Wilson remembers her early understanding of race

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robin Wilson describes the culture of her youth

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robin Wilson recalls her early of experiences religion

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Robin Wilson remembers her early influences

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Robin Wilson remembers the gifted program at Pease Elementary School in Austin, Texas

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Robin Wilson recalls her aspiration to become a writer

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robin Wilson describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robin Wilson talks about the alumni of Stephen F. Austin High School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robin Wilson recalls her experiences as a fashion model

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robin Wilson remembers her position at the Lower Colorado River Authority

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robin Wilson talks about dating at University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robin Wilson remembers her first black history class

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Robin Wilson talks about her career as a designer

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Robin Wilson remembers helping her maternal grandfather paint fences

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Robin Wilson describes her mentor at the University of Texas at Austin

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Robin Wilson remembers her summer internship at a consulting firm

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robin Wilson describes her family's relationship with Barbara Jordan

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robin Wilson talks about the female role models in Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robin Wilson talks about politics in Texas

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robin Wilson remembers her brother's death, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robin Wilson describes her involvement with the layoffs at AT&T Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robin Wilson remembers her brother's death, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robin Wilson describes her career as an executive recruiter

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Robin Wilson remembers recruiting African American executives

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Robin Wilson recalls her transition to the real estate industry

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Robin Wilson remembers the growth of her real estate business

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Robin Wilson remembers rebranding her firm as Robin Wilson Home

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robin Wilson talks about her home rehabilitation projects

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robin Wilson remembers her interview with Oprah Winfrey

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robin Wilson recalls lessons from her business coach

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robin Wilson talks about ecofriendly home design

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robin Wilson talks about the prevalence of toxic materials in homes

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robin Wilson describes the need for ecofriendly home education

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Robin Wilson talks about her book, 'Kennedy Green House'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Robin Wilson recalls lessons from her family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Robin Wilson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Robin Wilson reflects upon her legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

1$9

DATitle
Robin Wilson describes her childhood allergies
Robin Wilson recalls her transition to the real estate industry
Transcript
From what I've read you were hyper-allergenic as a--or you were, you were allergic (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Pan--$$Pan-allergic.$$They call it pan-allergic, yep.$$Okay.$$I was--who knows why I, you know my dad [Rubin Wilson] had hay fever. My mom [JoAnn Scott Wilson] had other allergies and I think they all came into me and became a dominant force. But I literally, I was in the hospital for a great amount of my early months of life. I was allergic to milk. I was allergic to almost anything, dust, pollen, as they say, wheezing and sneezing outside wheezing and sneezing inside. And when you're a baby and all you're doing is screaming and, you know, crying, nobody knows. As I got older I--it was dairy. Now people think I'm saying I'm lactose intolerant. No, it's--I was literally allergic. If you gave me a piece of cheese, I would have an anaphylactic reaction. If you gave me a glass of milk I would puff up, couldn't breathe, you know, like literally having to go to the hospital and ice cream, same thing.$$Right.$$So--$$So--$$It was, it was a very bland diet.$$That cuts out a lot of things in people--$$That's right.$$--people are used to consuming.$$That's right, that's right.$$Then you're allergic to wheat too right (unclear)?$$I was, I was not really allergic to wheat but I couldn't have a lot of bread, who knows why. So it was all these things that--So I had a diet--by the way, a wonderful doctor who wasn't the type that said, "Pump her full of medicine." He was like, "Let's eliminate everything from the diet. Let's start with oatmeal. Okay, once she get--we know she can have oatmeal. Now we'll try green beans. Okay, now she can have greens beans, we'll try the next thing," and so literally we learned or my parents, my mother and dad learned through multiple test and, you know, I would have, let's say a hamburger and if it was too greasy, I would have a reaction, it's just all sorts of things and who knows, and often you grow out of these things. Today kids stay away from them. Back then it was give you a little a little bit, build your tolerance up. Give you a little bit, build your tolerance up.$But they went public in '99 [1999] and I got a windfall. And it was a choice of do I wanna keep the money with the firm [Heidrick and Struggles International Inc.] and keep gaining shares? Or do I wanna take the money and do what I wanna do? And I literally said I can do search every day, some elements I like. But being on the phone smiling and dialing for the right candidate wasn't fulfilling to me. I like real estate. I would read the real estate pages like it was a sports section for a guy. It was like "What's the price? Oh, what are the comparables?" You know. And I ended up getting enrolled at NYU [New York University, New York, New York] while I was still working there at night, and I started getting my master's in real estate finance from NYU at night. And when they went public, I was like, "Give me my money." And I got a lot--like six figures and I bought an apartment. This--So, the next year 9/11 [September 11, 2001] happened or two years later 9/11 happened. I had this money saved now. I bought apartments, flipped them, bought another apartment and started building a nest egg and at the same time was doing project management on the side. So I managed my own project when we did renovations at places. When you think about New York [New York], there are so many old places here. And when you have a buyer who can walk in and its turnkey. That's unusual in New York. Typically you have to renovate. Hasn't been touched since 1970 or 1950. And I was doing these places where I would make it perfect so you could just walk in and buy it. And so I made a lot of money.$$What make it perfect? You--what do you mean?$$It might mean refinishing the floors. Taking those old appliances out that are energy inefficient. Putting in energy efficient appliances. Sometimes old claw foot tubs that are just, you know, sides or the paint's peeling. Putting in another new tub or refinishing that old tub. Taking out the old Flush-o-matics toilets and putting in a new toilet. And making it pretty, you know, so that the lights. There might not be any lights in the living room. So putting in recess lights or, you know, putting in phone lines that aren't--they're hidden behind the baseboards. So you have like--a modern house you have the switch. You have the thing but you don't have wires running everywhere. The wires are in the wall. And just making it aesthetically pretty. But if you walk into many old apartments, you'll see the wires running along the baseboard or along the molding and you've painted over it fifty thousand times. It just doesn't look pretty anymore.$$Right, right.$$So that's what I do.$$I know lots of people in cities all over the country, Detroit [Michigan], San Francisco [California] and Chicago [Illinois] are--start rehabbing$$Yeah.$$--buildings around--in the '80s [1980s].$$Yes.

Theresa Fambro Hooks

Theresa Fambro Hooks was an award winning columnist and photographer for The Chicago Defender. Born May 5, 1935 in Chicago, Illinois, Hooks graduated from Parker (now Robeson) High School in 1953 and went on to attend the University of Illinois, Roosevelt University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in their Fashion Design Department.

Joining The Chicago Daily Defender in 1961, Hooks served as woman’s editor and society columnist and published articles in the daily pages about social and community events, food and fashions. She also wrote an advice column as “Arletta Claire” and a column called “Social Whirl,” later renamed “TeeSee’s Town.” In “TeeSee’s Town,” Hooks covered the “good news” in the community including art, theatre, culture and the movement of Chicago’s business, corporate, community and social leaders. Her other professional positions included manager of community/public affairs for Philco-Ford’s Chicago Residential Manpower Center and special assistant to the president of Olive Harvey College for public information. As president of Theresa Fambro Hooks and Associates, she provided public relations, communications and marketing services for ETA Creative Arts Foundation, National Newspaper Publishers Association, the Abraham Lincoln Center, The Woodlawn Organization, among others.

Hooks was active with the Girl Scouts, various YWCAs, the Westside Association of Community Action (WACA), Midwest Sickle Cell Association, West Chesterfield Garden Club, and Adoption Information Services. She was national president of the National Association of Media Women and received the Phenomenal Woman Award at V-103’s Expo for Today’s Black Woman, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Black Public Relations Society, the Russ Ewing Legacy Award of Excellence, Outstanding Journalist from the Chicago Association of Black Journalists, and The Fashion Connection Award. Hooks was a member of Christ United Methodist Church.

Hooks was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 16, 2009.

Hooks passed away on January 31, 2016.

Accession Number

A2009.145

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/16/2009

Last Name

Hooks

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Fambro

Occupation
Schools

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Paul Robeson High School

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign

St. Anselm's School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Theresa

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

HOO06

Favorite Season

Spring

Sponsor

Herb and Sheran Wilkins Media Makers

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Have A Blessed Day.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

5/5/1935

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Tuna

Death Date

1/31/2016

Short Description

Newspaper columnist Theresa Fambro Hooks (1935 - 2016 ) was a longtime society journalist at the Chicago Defender where she maintained a popular column, 'Teesee's Town.'

Employment

Chicago Defender

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
0,0:1768,39:2244,47:2992,60:5570,126:7600,192:10190,297:10540,303:17960,559:32446,656:38036,733:43610,811:49760,903:50210,913:59436,1039:59874,1046:66079,1189:71900,1245:72500,1253:72900,1258:80344,1332:87436,1397:88652,1420:93468,1491:95016,1515:96994,1549:97510,1557:105938,1695:108518,1732:108862,1737:120169,1833:120666,1842:122654,1901:124642,1947:130227,2026:136998,2099:144598,2206:145358,2219:145890,2227:146270,2333:148322,2360:149082,2426:149386,2431:150526,2452:154670,2471$0,0:1632,32:4012,103:17110,338:19180,376:22240,429:25212,443:25652,449:26708,462:27412,471:28204,482:29436,504:35156,600:37444,667:37972,675:46466,756:47834,780:48442,791:48898,798:53838,896:54142,901:60780,973:61715,986:62735,1000:64775,1042:69195,1140:71405,1192:84795,1371:85111,1376:85664,1384:86770,1402:87244,1410:88429,1438:88745,1443:89298,1452:94078,1500:96894,1583:97246,1588:98038,1600:100326,1696:110821,1849:111177,1854:119405,1978:120080,1993:120380,1998:122555,2059:123830,2080:125555,2127:126380,2144:141703,2359:142011,2364:142319,2369:144167,2404:144706,2412:145399,2425:146400,2442:146708,2447:147093,2454:148325,2473:148864,2486:149172,2491:171346,2793:171994,2804:172642,2828:176026,2932:176890,2965:177898,2980:182476,3024:182788,3029:184582,3085:185362,3094:189262,3232:194030,3289:194430,3294:197550,3399:201390,3472:204350,3536:212621,3608:213917,3627:215375,3645:215780,3651:216914,3668:217481,3677:219506,3710:231282,3870:233258,3907:233882,3915:234402,3921:237717,3947:241618,4038:242033,4049:244274,4092:244606,4097:245519,4110:246183,4120:250555,4136:258220,4208:269150,4382
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Theresa Fambro Hooks' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Theresa Fambro Hooks lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Theresa Fambro Hooks describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Theresa Fambro Hooks talks about her mother's early experiences in Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Theresa Fambro Hooks talks about the origin of her father's name

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Theresa Fambro Hooks recalls her paternal grandparents' home in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Theresa Fambro Hooks remembers her father's career

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Theresa Fambro Hooks describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Theresa Fambro Hooks talks about her parents' organizational activities

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Theresa Fambro Hooks talks about her early education

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Theresa Fambro Hooks remembers the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Theresa Fambro Hooks remembers segregation on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Theresa Fambro Hooks describes her mother's civic involvement

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Theresa Fambro Hooks talks about the Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Theresa Fambro Hooks describes her interest in photography

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Theresa Fambro Hooks lists the social clubs she covered for the Chicago Defender

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Theresa Fambro Hooks talks about black-owned publications in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Theresa Fambro Hooks remembers covering President Barack Obama's inauguration

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Theresa Fambro Hooks describes her coverage of social events in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Theresa Fambro Hooks describes her coverage of social events in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Theresa Fambro Hooks talks about reporting on cultural events in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Theresa Fambro Hooks talks about her public relations firm

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Theresa Fambro Hooks describes the challenges she faced as a society columnist, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Theresa Fambro Hooks describes the challenges she faced as a society columnist, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Theresa Fambro Hooks talks about gossip columns

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Theresa Fambro Hooks talks about her authority at the Chicago Defender

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Theresa Fambro Hooks talks about her hiatuses from the Chicago Defender

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Theresa Fambro Hooks describes her writing style

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Theresa Fambro Hooks describes the process of writing her column

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Theresa Fambro Hooks remembers the election of Mayor Harold Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Theresa Fambro Hooks reflects upon her career at the Chicago Defender

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Theresa Fambro Hooks talks about her family and friends

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Theresa Fambro Hooks describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Theresa Fambro Hooks remembers the death of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Theresa Fambro Hooks narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Theresa Fambro Hooks narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

5$9

DATitle
Theresa Fambro Hooks remembers covering President Barack Obama's inauguration
Theresa Fambro Hooks remembers the death of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Transcript
Is there any particular event that you enjoyed covering the most? I mean--$$Um-hm.$$--most of 'em are annual events, right? Most of 'em are annual (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yes, yes. Well, I always enjoyed going to the Snakes [Royal Coterie of Snakes] and the 40 Club [Original 40 Club]; those were the two top ones. And Mr. Sengstacke was--John Sengstacke [John H. Sengstacke] was a member of both, and he always would invite me, or make sure that I got an invitation to cover it for the Defender [Chicago Defender], and I always looked forward to that.$$Okay. What made that event more exciting?$$Well there was the, it was the caliber of the members; they were all the professional men, the doctors and the lawyers and judges, and you know, it was just the caliber of men that--they were all very professional men. And the--of course their ladies were all gorgeously dressed and wore the latest of fashions, and so that would--that always made it fun to watch them and to see what they were wearing.$$Okay.$$And I didn't--I wasn't taking pictures then, so we always had--like Tony Rhoden or somebody would be taking pictures for them, and we would run them in the paper the next week--usually the next week.$$Okay. When you look back on your career, is there any (cough)--or what would--excuse me--what would be the biggest events that you covered?$$Well, the biggest event is the most recent event, and that was the inauguration of [HistoryMaker] President Barack Obama. I didn't cover it for the Defender, I went on my own, but I went to several of the parties and took pictures. They--but we had a photographer that took pictures for the Defender that ran in the paper, but that was the biggest thing; that was very exciting for me. I had decided early on when it looked like--that he was gonna win, that I was gonna be there. I say I've got--there's no way in the world that I cannot be there. So I looked forward to that from the summer, I had made up my mind that I was going. I had gone--I was in Washington [D.C.] for an anniversary party with some friends, and that's when they were talking about, "He's gonna win." I said, "Well if he's gonna win, I'm gonna be there." So that was the biggest thing I covered, but it really--I didn't cover it for the Defender. I covered it for my, for myself. But that was the biggest thing that I've done--I've been involved in in my life. I do believe I will treasure that moment forever (laughter).$The most memorable moment in my life at the Chicago Defender was the night that Dr.--was the afternoon that Dr. King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] was assassinated. I was down in the, in the new- in the composing room. At that time, we were in the basement of the 2400 South Michigan [Avenue]. And I was down there. It was a Thursday, and the paper came out that Friday. And I was down there overseeing the women's pages. And I heard someone from upstairs hollering, saying, "Dr. King has been shot, Dr. King has been shot." And I ran up the steps and the teletype machines were just going. They were just ding, ding, dinging. And I said, "What is, what is going on?" And they said, "Dr. King has been shot." So immediately, I mean the people were just--phone calls were coming into the Defender, you know, "Is it true? Dr. King's been shot?" And we were saying yes. So we knew that our night ahead of us was gonna be long and tirome--tiring. So we decided, the newsroom, Sam Washington, Dave Potter and I think Betty Washington and I, we decided we better go get something to eat because we were gonna be there for quite a while. So we went down to the--there was a restaurant on 22nd Street/Cermak Road, called Batt's [Chicago, Illinois], and we went down there to eat. And I guess it was about, at that time it was about four o'clock, and we were sitting there, not saying much of anything. And the waitress came over and said, "He's dead." And, of course, we all just dropped, you know, our hearts just dropped. So the owners of Batt's [Nathan Batt] came over to the table. He knew us, and knew who we were. And he came over, and he said, "It's on me." And we were, you know, getting ready to pay. We're trying to get out of there and get ready to pay. And he said, "It's on me. You don't have to pay." So we came back to the Defender. And we started giving out assignments, who was gonna do what and cover--I was gonna try to get, call people and get some reaction on the phone, and somebody else was gonna go in the library and pull out photographs. Somebody else was gonna pull out some of his, his quotations and we were gonna have to just almost redo the front part of the paper all over again. And we started, and we went on and, and people who had gone home for the day, like Audrey Weaver and Lloyd General, they came back, I mean without--it amazed me because this was the first time I had ever seen a newsroom really at work and had come together. And people just start coming in, you know, without anybody calling them; they just knew that they needed to be there. And they all came in, and we sat there, and we worked. We cried, we worked, we cried. Eventually, John Sengstacke [John H. Sengstacke] who had been in Detroit [Michigan] called and said, you know, "What's going on?" And, "How's the city?" And we're saying it's, you know; it's upheaval. You know, there're fires all over the place. So he said, "I'll be right there." So, he jumped on a plane and came home, and he said when he was in the air, and they were circling Midway [Chicago Midway International Airport, Chicago, Illinois], he could see the fires down on the ground. And it just bothered him so much 'cause he loved Chicago [Illinois] so much. And he came back to the Defender, and we worked again. And Tom Picou [Thomas Maurice Sengstacke Picou], who was our managing editor at that time, he was there. He came in. And we all sat around, and we finally put the paper together. And then we sat there, and then we cried. We just all cried. We tried to--we had done what we could. We knew we had put a paper together that we could be proud of, that Dr. King could be proud of if he could see it. We had done the best we could. And the king was dead and all we could say was, "Long live the king." And we had done a job that nobody thought--nobody ever reckoned that we would have to do. But we did a good job, and we were very proud of ourselves. And it was the moment that I will never--I never will forget at the Chicago Defender; how we all came together and produced, without anybody hollering at anybody, anybody getting angry with anybody, anybody upset with anybody else. We were all, we just were there, we were there for Dr. King. And we had done a job, and the king was dead. And long live the king.$$Thank you very much.

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

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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.