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Barbara Rodgers

Television news anchor Barbara Rodgers was born on September 27, 1946 in Knoxville, Tennessee to Anna Connor, a homemaker, and Jackson Rodgers, a minister. In 1968, she received her B.S. degree in business education from Knoxville College. She attended graduate school at SUNY Buffalo in 1976 for creative writing, and also completed graduate coursework at the University of Chicago in 1986.

The Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, New York hired Rodgers in 1968 as a computer programmer, one of only a few African American female computer programmers at the time. Rodgers later became a public affairs researcher for Kodak, before becoming an instructor and department head of the business skills department of the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center in 1971. In 1972, Rodgers joined WOKR-TV in Rochester, New York where she became the station’s first female news reporter and first African American news anchor. Rodgers joined KPIX-TV, a CBS affiliate in San Francisco, California in 1979 as a reporter, later becoming a co-anchor on the weekend and noon Eyewitness News broadcasts. She helped to create and host Bay Sunday in 1989, an award-winning public affairs program. She co-founded the Bay Area Black Journalists Association (BABJA), the Bay Area chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, in 1982. In 1985, Rodgers was selected for the William Benton Fellowship in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Chicago, the first African American woman to become a Benton Fellow. Rodgers was chosen in 1993 as one of five journalists to participate in the South Africa Journalists Exchange, a collaboration between the National Association of Black Journalists, the Freedom Forum and South Africa. She earned an Emmy for her hour-long documentary, “South Africa After Apartheid.” Rodgers retired from KPIX in 2008. In 2010, she joined Comcast as a regular host on Comcast Newsmakers, and in 2011 became host of the “Bronze Report” cable show. Rodgers co-founded Friends of Faith, Inc., an organization that helps provide information and financial support to low income and underinsured individuals undergoing breast cancer treatment.

Rodgers received numerous honors and awards for her work. She won seven Emmy Awards and the Governors’ Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. In 1992, she was selected by the San Francisco League of Women Voters as a “Woman Who Could Be President.” Between 1981 and 2007, she won five “Excellence in Journalism Awards” from the National Association of Black Journalists, and was awarded the Madam C.J. Walker Pioneer Award from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in 2004. Rodgers received the Frederick D. Patterson Outstanding Individual Award from the United Negro College Fund in 2008, and was recognized twice by American Women in Radio and Television, Inc. for her outstanding work in broadcasting.

Barbara Rodgers was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 15, 2015.

Accession Number

A2015.007

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/15/2015

Last Name

Rodgers

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Schools

University of Chicago

Austin-East Magnet High School

Knoxville College

Lyons View School

First Name

Barbara

Birth City, State, Country

Knoxville

HM ID

ROD05

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Never Let Anyone Define Your Reality.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

9/27/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/San Francisco

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken, Mom's Chicken And Dumplings.

Short Description

Television news anchor Barbara Rodgers (1946 - ) was an anchor for KPIX-TV in San Francisco, California for thirty years, and co-founded the Bay Area Black Journalist Association.

Employment

The Bronze Report

Comcast Newsmakers

KPIX-TV/CBS 5 San Francisco

WOKR-TV

Educational Opportunity Center at SUNY Brockport

Eastman Kodak Company

Favorite Color

Yellow

Gwendolyn Smith Iloani

Investment Executive Gwendolyn Smith Iloani was born in Jamaica. Iloani came to the United States with her family at the age of six. Her family moved to Brooklyn, New York. Iloani received her B.A. degree in sociology from Colgate University and her M.B.A. from the University of Hartford.

Iloani worked in a variety of insurance and financial firms before founding her own investment company. Iloani began her career as a math analyst at New York Life in the late 1970s and then moved to Connecticut Mutual as a management trainee. In 1980, Iloani moved to Aetna, Inc. where she worked for fifteen years. Iloani worked in the investment department as an investment analyst and ultimately rose to the level of a managing director at a very rapid pace. In 1994, she persuaded senior executives at Aetna to invest $2.5 million in Smith Whiley, the Hartford, Connecticut investment firm she founded and owns. After two years, Iloani bought out Aetna’s interest and Smith Whiley is now owned by Iloani. Iloani is the chairwoman, president and CEO of Smith Whiley & Company, a private equity firm that specializes in providing mezzanine debt and private equity for management buyouts, recapitalizations, acquisitions and growth capital. Smith Whiley is among the largest black-owned private equity firm, and has managed in excess of $600 million. Iloani directs the firm’s investment advisory and asset management business, and the investment and portfolio management activities.

In 2000, Iloani's younger sister Jaleith died of leukemia at age thirty-six and left her three children to Iloani, who now makes time for all the demands of motherhood. In addition, Iloani has a long history of civic involvement with a wide variety of organizations and has received numerous community service and business leadership awards. Iloani is a board member of the NAACP Special Contributions Fund and The Crisis magazine. She was named one of the “75 Most Powerful Blacks on Wall Street” and one of the “50 Most Powerful Black Women in Business” by Black Enterprise Magazine. Iloani is a Trustee of the University of Connecticut Foundation and after serving nine years on the Board of Trustees for Colgate University, she is currently an Emeritus Trustee.

Gwendolyn Smith Iloani was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 29, 2010.

Accession Number

A2010.009

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/29/2010

Last Name

Iloani

Maker Category
Middle Name

Smith

Schools

Colgate University

University Of Hartford

International High School At Prospect Heights

P.S. 182

P.S. 299, Thomas Warren Field School

Speakers Bureau

Organizations

First Name

Gwendolyn

HM ID

SMI22

Favorite Season

Fall

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cruises

Favorite Quote

The Only Helping Hand You Have Is The One At The End Of Your Arm.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Connecticut

Birth Date

11/19/1955

Speakers Bureau Region City

Hartford

Country

Jamaica

Favorite Food

Goat (Curried)

Short Description

Investment executive Gwendolyn Smith Iloani (1955 - ) was the founder, chairwoman, president and CEO of Smith Whiley and Company, the nation's fourth-largest black-owned private equity firm.

Employment

Smith Whiley and Company

Aetna, Inc.

Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co.

New York Life Insurance Co.

Favorite Color

Green

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gwendolyn Smith Iloani's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about her family's migration to New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani remembers the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani remembers her parents' occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about her early awareness of divisions in the African American community

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gwendolyn Smith Ilonai recalls her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her early career aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani remembers her family's entrepreneurialism

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her experiences at Prospect Heights High School in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani recalls her decision to attend Colgate University in Hamilton, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her academic experiences at Colgate University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani recalls working for the Aetna Life and Casualty Company

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her start as an investment analyst

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani recalls the Aetna Life and Casualty Company's investment in BET

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes the early business model of BET

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about black business ownership

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani remembers her marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about the challenges of her marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani recalls the founding of her investment firm

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes the origins of Smith Whiley and Company's name

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about her investment strategy

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her investment clients and specialty

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about her business partners

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about her success at Smith Whiley and Company

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes the challenges of entrepreneurship

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani talks about her nephews

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her charitable board memberships

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani reflects upon her concerns for the University of Connecticut and Colgate University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani recalls her interest in establishing an office in South Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani reflects upon her life, legacy and how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Gwendolyn Smith Iloani narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Gwendolyn Smith Iloani remembers her family's entrepreneurialism
Gwendolyn Smith Iloani recalls the Aetna Life and Casualty Company's investment in BET
Transcript
Sometimes, you know, they had individuals, you know, positioned as role models in those, you know, for different things. I just wondered that--it should be--to go into business in those days it seems like there would be somebody--$$But I didn't know what business meant. I just knew I couldn't be a doctor. So I knew I had--it had to be business but I had no clue as to what that would entail.$$Okay. Were any of your relatives entrepreneurs?$$No.$$That's interesting that I think, you know, a lot of pe- people see Jamaicans and, and people from Barbados as- as entrepreneurs?$$As entrepreneurs. Now my dad [Woodrow Smith], you know, he--we started out with my house, and then he bought like five, six other houses. So you can say that he had an entrepreneurial spirit--$$Yes he did (laughter).$$--and a lot of my relatives did the same thing. But when you think of a true entrepreneur who is running a company and employing people, they didn't go that route, but they knew how to build wealth. And just about every aunt and uncle did that, own multiple homes and in my--in our case, when you have eight children that--that we became the demolition crew (laughter). So we would go in, get the houses ready, when people would move out we would go--like I became a, a excellent painter by the time I was in tenth grade [at Prospect Heights High School, Brooklyn, New York]. I loved to paint and my father taught me to paint. I didn't love to paint before he taught--but I could paint houses, do ceilings, walls, fixtures.$$So you didn't have all free time to ride your bike, you, you did have to do some--$$Well as I got older we began to take on responsibilities like that. So my job was painting. So I would paint the stoops, like in Brooklyn [New York], you know, everybody has a stoop. I'd go paint the stoop, paint all the, the, the metal fencing and then go into houses that we owned when people moved out or if we had little projects to do. He wouldn't hire painters, he'd have the kids, so it was me and my--one of my brothers we'd go in and do painting.$$Okay, now I have neglected to ask you the names of all your brothers and sister, so and, and where you fall in the order so, so?$$My oldest brother is, is Wendell [Wendell Smith] and he's about five years older than me. Then I have another brother Ivanhoe [Ivanhoe Smith], who you met, and he's about--almost two years older than me, and then I--then it's me. Then I have a sister named Princess. She's actually named that--her name is Princess Grace [Princess Smith Sally], she's named after Princess Grace [Grace Kelly], and I have an aunt whose name is Princess Grace, and she's about three years younger than me. And then I have twin brothers--a brother and a sister, and they are four years younger than me. And then I have a sister, Jaleith [Jaleith Smith]--well the twins are Patrick [Patrick Smith] and Yvonne [Yvonne Smith], then I have a sister Jaleith who is se- seven years younger, and then I have the baby brother, his name is Arthur, Whiley Arthur Smith [Arthur Smith] and he's ten years younger than me. So I'm the third oldest child and the oldest girl.$$Okay, okay.$Do you remember where you left off, you wanna pick up from there?$$I think I was talking about--oh you're ready (laughter) okay.$$Yeah, we're rolling, yeah.$$So I worked doing analysis in the utility group for about three years and then I wanted to learn a different sector. So I requested to be moved into the banking group where I would be investing in banks, insurance companies. I was doing solvent risk analysis, basically looking at different countries and investing in, in, in these countries. And I did that for about three years. And then I moved over to run the media group. I became a managing director and I was investing in radio, TV, cable companies, any kind of entertainment companies on behalf of Aetna [Aetna Life and Casualty Company; Aetna, Inc., Hartford, Connecticut]. And I made a very good investment in BET [Black Entertainment Television] at the time. We were their first institutional investor (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So this is--this is what 19?$$Nineteen eighty-eight [1988], '89 [1989]. I invested in BET in '88 [1988] and invested fifteen million [dollars] of Aetna's money--I think it was ten million of Aetna's money in BET, and ended up owning a part of BET--so Aetna owned a part of BET. And then two years later, the company went public.$$Now how did BET, for instance, convince you to invest in them?$$What happened was, I was at a cable show in Dallas [Texas] and I met Bob Johnson [Robert L. Johnson]. He was checking into the hotel, we were staying at the ho- the same hotel and we started to talk. And he said that he had been to every bank and every venture firm and private equity firm in the D.C. [Washington, D.C.], Virginia, and Maryland markets trying to get this money. He needed the money to purchase a satellite--a transponder which is on a satellite and--which would transmit signals through cable headends and ultimately through either fiber optic or coaxial cable down the street into your home so when you turn on your TV you'd get a picture, you'd get the BET show. And the transponder that he had had reached the end of its useful life and he wondered whether or not I would consider such of a transaction. I said I don't know what a transponder is, I don't understand the risk involved in launching a satellite. What happens if you launch it and it goes off course, it's a lot of money.

Julia Purnell

The 16th International President of Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) Sorority, Inc. (1962 – 1966) Julia Brogdon Purnell was born on March 19, 1916 in Belton, South Carolina. Purnell and her two sisters, Sadie Brogdon Blackwell and the late Christine Brogdon Gilchrist (both AKA Sorority members), were born to the Reverend and Mrs. Richard E. Brogdon Purnell. Under Purnell’s leadership, the AKA Sorority, Inc. opened its first National Program Office in Washington, D.C. Purnell’s administration also secured a $4 million contract to operate the first federal Job Corps Center for women.

Purnell completed her B.A. degree with honors with a major in psychology and a minor in education at Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina and went on to receive her M.A. degree in educational psychology from Atlanta University in 1942. Afterwards, she pursued advanced work at several other universities and earned her specialist teaching certificate in reading from Colorado State College of Education. Since then, Purnell has been the recipient of eight honorary degrees.

Purnell’s lifelong service to the AKA Sorority began with her initiation into the Beta Zeta Omega Chapter in Orangeburg, South Carolina. She fulfilled many leadership roles in her home chapter, including Chapter President, Vice President, Parliamentarian, advisor to the Undergraduate chapter and Recording Secretary. She also served as the South Eastern Regional Director.

Purnell was elected as the 16th International President of the Sorority in 1962 at the Sorority’s national convention in Detroit, Michigan, succeeding Marjorie H. Parker in office. One of her first challenges as president was the implementation of the recommended changes outlined by the Sorority’s Study Commission Report. The result was the creation of new manuals and handbooks that continue to influence the Sorority’s structure and operation. Other highlights of Purnell’s term included obtaining a multi-million dollar contract for the establishment of a Residential Job Corps Center for Women in Cleveland, Ohio. She played a significant role in the effort for civil rights as a participant at the invitation of President Kennedy in the “White House Conference of Three Hundred Women,” and in 1964, she mustered national support for the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Under Purnell’s leadership, a program office was set-up in Washington, D.C.; the second chapter of the Sorority was established outside of the United States in Nassau, Bahamas, and in 1965, she convened the first Undergraduate Leadership School held in Zion, Illinois.

Purnell is a well-respected professor, having spent more than two decades at Southern University in Baton Rouge before her retirement in 1986.

Purnell has long been dedicated to community service and launched, with her late sister Christine, a Service Center at Bethel A.M.E. Church. As a member of the AKA Sorority and the Links, Inc., she holds the distinction of being the only African American female to have been president of both organizations. She is also a life member of the National Council of Negro Women and the NAACP. She has further served her community through the Baton Rouge YWCA, Women in Politics, the League of Women Voters, The Blundon Home for Orphans, the local Girl Scouts’ Executive Board and the Steering Committee of the Status of Women in Louisiana.

Purnell is the widow of Clifton A. Purnell, Sr., long-time athletic director at Capitol Senior High School in Baton Rouge, she has one son, Clifton, Jr. and two grandchildren. She continues to live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where she has been honored by several local and national organizations including the Women’s Greater Council of Baton Rouge.

Purnell was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on March 28, 2008 as part of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Centennial Boulé 2008 celebration. Segments of these interviews were used in a DVD entitled A.K.A. Sorority: A Legacy of Supreme Service.

Accession Number

A2008.066

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/28/2008

Last Name

Purnell

Maker Category
Schools

Howard High School

Allen University

University of Michigan

Clark Atlanta University

Waverly Elementary School

First Name

Julia

Birth City, State, Country

Belton

HM ID

PUR03

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Alpha Kappa Alpha

State

South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Louisiana

Birth Date

3/19/1916

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baton Rouge

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fish

Death Date

10/21/2013

Short Description

Association chief executive and education professor Julia Purnell (1916 - 2013 ) was the sixteen president of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Purnell was also the president of The Links, Inc., and served as a Southern University professor for two decades.

Employment

Southern University

Morris College

Colored Normal, Industrial, Agricultural and Mechanical College of South Carolina

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Black

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Julia Purnell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Julia Purnell recalls becoming the supreme basileus of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Julia Purnell talks about her leadership of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Julia Purnell talks about her leadership of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Julia Purnell describes the legacy of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Julia Purnell describes the legacy of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Julia Purnell lists her favorites

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Julia Purnell describes her mother's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Julia Purnell describes her mother

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Julia Purnell describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Julia Purnell talks about her father's education

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Julia Purnell describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Julia Purnell lists her sisters

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Julia Purnell describes her home life

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Julia Purnell describes racial discrimination in South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Julia Purnell remembers her early education

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Julia Purnell remembers her elementary school education

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Julia Purnell describes lessons from her father

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Julia Purnell remembers Howard High School in Georgetown, South Carolina, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Julia Purnell remembers Howard High School in Georgetown, South Carolina, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Julia Purnell describes Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Julia Purnell remembers early forms of entertainment

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Julia Purnell recalls experiencing color discrimination in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Julia Purnell talks about color discrimination within the black community

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Julia Purnell remembers pledging Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Julia Purnell remembers Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Julia Purnell remembers W.E.B. Du Bois

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Julia Purnell talks about her Ph.D. dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Julia Purnell recalls the start of her career at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Julia Purnell reflects upon her teaching career

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Julia Purnell remembers her experiences in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Julia Purnell describes her presidency of The Links, Incorporated

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Julia Purnell talks about her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Julia Purnell describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Julia Purnell reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Julia Purnell talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Julia Purnell narrates her photographs