Women's Leadership Project

Prentiss 2BabcockDuring the 20th century, hundreds of people provided leadership to the National Communication Association. Of the eighty twentieth-century journal editors, thirteen were women; of the seventy-eight presidents, eleven were women. The first woman president was Henrietta Prentiss (left) in 1932; Maud May Babcock (right) in 1936 was the second.

In the late 1990s, we became painfully aware that little was known about NCA’s early women leaders. Because they are now deceased, memories of their work are fading all too quickly into the many untold stories of our past. What recorded history of the association we do have resembles that of other mainstream institutions in that it primarily consists of the records of the men who founded and led the organization. The then-surviving women who served as presidents decided to change that situation. What follows in this section is part of that effort.

We agreed to begin with essays collecting what we could find about the women no longer alive, to tell our own stories, and to invite similar narratives from women who have been editors or who were nominated to enter the presidential offices, but were not elected. A piece of this work will appear in a printed publication, although much of it will appear here in what we hope will become a living, growing archive. We solicit readers’ feedback on useful additions or modifications. For now, these narratives offer to expand collective memories.

To send ideas or comments, contact the project coordinator, Anita Taylor.

NCA Women Presidents* 

Henrietta Prentiss, 1932, Hunter College
Maud May Babcock, 1936, University of Utah
Magdalene Kramer, 1947, Columbia University
Elise Hahn, 1958, UCLA
Marie Hochmuth Nichols, 1969, University of Illinois
Jane Blankenship, 1978, University of Massachusetts
Anita Taylor, 1981, George Mason University
Beverly W. Long, 1985, University of North Carolina
Patti Gillespie, 1986, 1987, University of Maryland
Sharon A. Ratliffe, 1995, Golden West College
Judith S. Trent, 1997, University of Cincinnati
Judy Pearson, 2003, North Dakota State University
Isa N. Engleberg, 2004, Prince George's Community College
Martha M. Watson, 2005, University of Nevada-Las Vegas
Betsy Wackernagel Bach, 2009, University of Montana
Dawn O. Braithwaite, 2010, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Lynn H. Turner, 2011, Marquette University
Kathleen J. Turner, 2014, Davidson College
Carole Blair, 2015, University of North Carolina

*University affiliations when president

Candidates for NCA president not elected  

Marcela Oberle, 1973, California State University, Los Angeles
Lucy Keele, 1982, California State University Fullerton
Carolyn Calloway Thomas, 1986, 1996, Indiana University
Judy Pearson, 1989, University of Ohio; renominated in 2001 and elected.
Judith Trent, 1988, University of Cinncinati; renominated in 1993 and elected.
Martha Watson, 1993, University of Maryland; renominated in 2001 and elected. 
Linda Lederman, 1997, Rutgers University
Pamela Cooper, 2005, Northwestern University
Lynda Lee Kaid, 2006, University of Florida
Diana Carlin, 2007, University of Kansas
Sherry Morreale, 2008, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Mary Lee Hummert, 2009, University of Kansas
Deanna Sellnow, 2010, University of Kentucky
Roseann Mandziuk, 2013, Texas State University

NCA Journal Editors 

Gladys Borchers, University of Wisconsin, Speech Teacher/Communication Education, 1961-63
Mary Margaret Roberts, Kansas State College, Speech Teacher/Communication Education, 1973-1975
Ruth Anne Clark, University of Illinois, Communication Education, 1997-1999
Patricia Kearney, California State University-Long Beach, Communication Education, 2006-2008
Melanie Booth-Butterfield, West Virginia University, Communication Education, 2009-2011

Margaret McLaughlin, University of Southern California, Communication Monographs, 1987-1989
Judee Burgoon, University of Arizona, Communication Monographs, 1990-1992
Katherine Miller, Texas A&M University, Communication Monographs, 2011-2013

Mary Bozik, University of Northern Iowa, Communication Teacher, 1989-1992
Joan Gorham, West Virginia University, Communication Teacher, 1992-1995
Joan E. Aitken, University of Missouri-Kansas City, Communication Teacher, 1995-1998
Deanna Sellnow, University of Kentucky, Communication Teacher, 2008-2010
Cheri J. Simonds, Illinois State University, Communication Teacher, 2011-2013
Marian Houser, Texas State University, Communication Teacher, 2014-2016

Sari Thomas, Temple University, Critical Studies in Mass Communication, 1990-1992
Celeste Michelle Condit, University of Georgia, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 2002-2004
Bonnie Dow, University of Georgia, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 2002-2004
Linda Steiner, University of Maryland, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 2005-2007
Katherine Sender, University of Auckland, Critical Studies in Media Communication, 2014-2016

Juliet Dee, University of Delaware, First Amendment Studies/Free Speech Yearbook, 2010-2012

Rona Halualani, San Jose State University, Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 2014-2016

Julia T. Wood, University of North Carolina, Journal of Applied Communication Research, 1994-1996
Joann Keyton, University of Kansas, Journal of Applied Communication Research, 2003-2005
Laura Stafford, University of Kentucky, Journal of Applied Communication Research, 2009-2011
Michele H. Jackson, University of Colorado, Journal of Applied Communication Research, 2012-2014

Marie Hochmuch Nichols, University of Illinois, Quarterly Journal of Speech, 1963-65
Martha M. Watson, University of Maryland, Quarterly Journal of Speech, 1990-1992
Barbara Warnick, University of Washington, Quarterly Journal of Speech, 1996-1998
Karlyn Kohrs Campbell, University of Minnesota, Quarterly Journal of Speech, 2002-2004
Barbara Biesecker, University of Georgia, Quarterly Journal of Speech, 2014-2016
Beverly W. Long, Louisiana State University, Text and Performance Quarterly, 1980-1983
Mary Frances HopKins, Louisiana State University, Text and Performance Quarterly, 1983-1986
Kristin M. Langellier, University of Maine, Text and Performance Quarterly, 1992-1994
Judith Hamera, California State University-Los Angeles, Text and Performance Quarterly, 1998-2000
Heidi Rose, Villanova University, Text and Performance Quarterly, 2010-2012