Alma J. Powell
Chair, America's Promise Alliance
Alma J. Powell sits on the boards of several educational, cultural, charitable and civic organizations, including her role as chair of the Board of Directors for America’s Promise Alliance. With more than 400 national partners, the Alliance is currently leading a ten-year campaign, Grad Nation, mobilizing America to end the dropout crisis.
Mrs. Powell was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010 to be a member of the President’s Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. She resigned from her position at the end of 2012.
She also chairs the advisory board for Civic Change, Inc. and serves on the YouthBuild USA Advisory Board. From 1989 to 2000, she served as the chairman of the National Council of the Best Friends Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of young girls. Mrs. Powell serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors’ Committee of Community & Friends for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Mrs. Powell is the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Emerson College, an Honorary Doctor of Humanities from Shenandoah University and the Civic Change Award from the Pew Partnership for Civic Change. She has also been honored by Washingtonian magazine as Washingtonian of the Year and is the recipient of the Leadership Award from the Women’s Center in Virginia.
In addition to her many service-minded activities, Mrs. Powell has added “author” to her list of credits. In 2003, her two children’s books, My Little Wagon and America’s Promise, were launched with great success.
Mrs. Powell was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. She graduated from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and went on to study speech pathology and audiology at Emerson College in Boston. She worked as the staff audiologist for the Boston Guild for the Hard of Hearing.
Alma and Colin Powell were married in 1962. Mrs. Powell spent the next 33 years raising a family and accompanying her husband on his various military assignments in the United States and overseas. While her husband was stationed at the Pentagon, she served as the Army liaison to the National Red Cross as part of a team of volunteer consultants from the military services. During Gen. Powell’s tenure as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, she was the Advisor to the Red Cross of the Military District of Washington. Most recently, during her husband’s tenure as the 65th Secretary of State, Mrs. Powell served as the honorary president of the Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide. She also sat on the advisory board of the Hospitality and Information Service and was an honorary member of the Department of State Fine Arts Committee.