That’s Shirley Wilcox pictured in the visual timeline of Neighborhood House’s history at our office on Weller Street.
Shirley Wilcox became the first Black president of Neighborhood House’s Board of Directors in 1954. On this International Women’s Day, we wanted to take a moment to recognize her contributions to Neighborhood House and the Seattle area community.
Ms. Wilcox was born in New Orleans on December 22, 1920 and came to Seattle in 1948. Her first association with Neighborhood House was as a volunteer. She was the Assistant Leader of the Senior Girl Scout Troup. (Fun fact: we used to work closely with the Girl Scouts back then!) In 1949 she joined the Board and served as its President from 1954 to 1957.
Ms. Wilcox’s tenure included many successes and innovations that moved the agency into its next chapter — she oversaw the creation of new programs, secured a new executive director during a leadership transition, and helped the agency incorporate as an independent social service provider.
Additionally it was during her time as Board President, and with the help of a fellow board member from the Seattle Housing Authority, Neighborhood House committed to partnering with housing authorities by moving its offices to Yesler Terrace in 1956.
This was the beginning of a relationship between human services and a housing authority that was unique it its time, has expanded over the past decades, and continues today.
As we commemorate a milestone anniversary at the agency, we also want to wish Ms. Wilcox a happy (belated) 100th birthday!