She’s Made History As The First Black Woman To Lead University of Pennsylvania’s Women’s Center


July 20, 2021

She’s blazing a trail!

Sherisse Laud-Hammond is making history as the first Black woman to lead the University of Pennsylvania’s Women’s Center, 6 ABC Philadelphia news reports.

Laud-Hammond has served as director of the Penn Women’s Center for more than two years now. She is the first Black woman to hold the title since the center’s inception in 1973, more than 40 years ago. The Penn Women’s Center is one of the oldest in the nation and has consistently been on the frontline of women’s rights issues. 


“I’m the first but that’s because of many firsts before me. I think of Sadie T. Alexander, who was the first woman to graduate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School,” Laud-Hammond said.

During the pandemic, Laud-Hammond kept the center running virtually, utilizing Zoom to facilitate psychological, financial and legal workshops for students, staff and the community at large. The center held cooking workshops, meditation webinars and offered resources for new and expectant mothers from breastfeeding workshops to childcare tips. 

One of Laud-Hammond’s biggest focus during the pandemic has been the gender wage gap, an old issue exacerbated by nationwide unemployment which has disproportionately impacted women. The organization also had the opportunity to shine a light on the racial reckoning happening across the country in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. Laud-Hammond takes her work seriously and looks at the center as a safe haven for everyone.


“With inclusivity means intersectionality, and so whomever comes to our doors, this is a brave space for them, where their identity is never questioned,” she said. 

The center is expected to undergo major renovations soon to attract more people with their mission. Laud-Hammond looks forward to continuing her work in the future and enrolling even more community members. 

Congratulations Sherisse!


Photo Courtesy of 6 ABC Philadelphia News

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