When Mrs. Grace Sevier moved from the East, she was asked by National President Florence Holmes to organize clubs in the area west of Chicago. Mrs. Sevier located a lifelong friend, Mrs. Pauline Yarbrough, and together they began organizing in 1960. By 1963 Los Angeles and San Diego had been chartered, Mrs. Sevier was elected Second National Vice President and Mrs. Yarbrough was appointed Western District Governor. By January 2, 1965 when the first Western District Conference was convened in Los Angeles there were Young Adult and Junior Clubs in Los Angeles and San Diego; Senior Clubs in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, East Bay and Alaska and Junior Clubs in the East Bay and Vallejo.
At the Winter National Executive Committee meeting held February 26-28, 1965 in Brooklyn, New York plans were made for the Thirtieth Annual Convention to be held August 31-September 5, 1965 in Los Angeles, first. The Association would celebrate “Thirty Years of Progress”.
Mrs. Yarbrough served until February 1967 at which time Mrs. Gertrude Williams of the East Bay Area Club was elected Governor. She and Ms. Charlotte Lewis organized the San Francisco Club which was chartered in 1970. Mrs. Josephine Wilson of San Diego and Ms. Henrietta Williams of Los Angles each served two terms, during which more clubs were chartered. In 1975 Frankie Jacobs was elected Governor. During her administration, the District was incorporated in the State of California as “The Far West Business & Professional Women, Inc.”. The FWB&PW, Inc. applied for and received a $5,000 mini-grant from ACTION to publish a pictorial Volunteer Directory, with the goal of increasing the utilization of Black business and professional women as volunteers in their local communities. Widely distributed to clubs, libraries and government agencies, this 1977 Directory listed 11 Clubs – East Bay, Hollywood, Inglewood, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Ontario Inland, Reno-Sparks, Sn Diego, San Francisco, San Gabriel Valley and Sonoma County – and 229 members. In 1977 Frankie was elected National Second Vice President and in 1983 she became the first National President elected from the West.
Ms. Lucy Cummins of San Diego, Jane Moon of Reno-Sparks, Audrey Patterson Tyler of San Diego and Dorothy Harrison of San Francisco were elected between 1977 and 1989, following the pattern of alternating the Governors between the North and the South. In 1978 women in Fresno applied for a charter. Ms. Harrison served on the first National Vocal Arts Contest committee and a contestant from the San Francisco Club became the first Vocal Arts Contest winner. The 1987 Directory includes a Greater Seattle Club. New clubs listed in the 1989 Western District Directory include Embarcadero West and Oceanside/Carlsbad. Mrs. Blanch Goodwill of Lemon Grove served as Governor from 1989-91, followed by Mrs. Barbara Belford of the East Bay Club, Dorothy Boswell of Los Angeles Club and Cleopatra Vaughns of the East Bay Club, who was elected National President in 2000 – the third National President from California.
Immediate Past District Governor Susie Scott of Las Vegas Club (1999-2003) left the area to join her warrior daughter overseas. District By-laws call for Governors to be elected in odd-numbered years. Our current Governor, Sandra Johnson of East Bay Club was elected in 2003 and re-elected in 2005.
WESTERN DISTRICT GOVERNORS
1963 – 1967 Pauline Yarbrough
1967 – 1971 Gertrude Williams
1971 – 1973 Josephine Wilson
1973 – 1975 Henrietta Williams
1975 – 1977 Frankie Jacobs Gillette
1977 – 1979 Lucy Cummings
1979 – 1982 Jane Moon
1982 – 1983 Audrey Patterson Tyler
1983 – 1989 Dorothy J. Harrison
1989 – 1991 Blanche Goodwill
1991 – 1995 Barbara A. Belford
1995 – 1997 Dorothye H. Boswell
1997 – 1999 Cleopatra Vaughns
1999 – 2003 Susie A. Scott
2003 – 2007 Sandra Johnson
2007 – 2011 Cheryl Moore
2011 – 2017 Cassie Cook
2017 - Present Marvell Phillips