From left are Links National Vice President Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, Ph.D,
Sen. Kamala Harris, Links National President Glenda Newell-Harris, M.D., and Links
Western Area Director Roxann Thomas Chargois. (Valerie Goodloe)

The resume of U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris expanded with her induction into The Links, Inc., one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations for women.

During a ceremony in downtown Los Angeles on April 6, Dr. Glenda Newell-Harris, The Links national president, joined with nearly 300 Links from throughout the country to welcome Harris as one of the group’s 15,000+ members.

Visibly emotional about her new membership, Harris said, “This is a true honor.  This is an organization that for decades has been dedicated to Black women and Black professional women and dedicated to service and the service to others.

“When I think of [being] a Link, [I think of] so many amazing women.  I stand on their shoulders and I can’t wait to work in service with you. When we are connected together, we are stronger as individuals, we are stronger as a community and we are stronger as a country.”

Harris noted that under Dr. Harris’ leadership, the organization is tackling a number of pressing concerns such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education, poverty, supporting working families and criminal justice reform.

Members of the Links, L.A. Chapter came out in full to support Sen. Harris. (Cora J. Fossett/ L.A. Sentinel)

“These are such important issues that need to be addressed and need the leadership of the women in this room,” Harris told the audience.  “All of us together are united knowing that we have to speak up and speak out and know that we’re all in it together and none of us are alone.”

Offering similar comments, President Harris stressed the enduring impact of the Links, which was established in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1946 and now boasts 285 chapters located in 41 states, Washington D.C., and the Bahamas. Collectively, the membership has contributed more than 2 million volunteer service hours in the past three years.

“We are no longer the organization that just tutors after school. We are involved in a lot of things,” explained Dr. Harris, who cited the Links’ current campaigns focused on mental health education and awareness, Hepatitis C and HIV education and awareness, Black Lives Matter and eliminating human trafficking.

From left are Melinda Murray, L.A. Chapter; Ayanna Jenkins-Toney, Esq., Peninsula Bay Chapter; Kirsten Hammond, Peninsula Bay Chapter, who were among the nearly 300 Links members in attendance for Sen. Harris’ induction. (Cora J. Fossett/L.A. Sentinel)

“We are getting into the deep water, really getting into the community and really working with a different population now, where everybody doesn’t have all of the benefits and it’s tougher to get jobs and to purchase homes and you just can’t make it on the minimum wage,” said Dr. Harris.

On an international level, the Links adopted several schools in Jamaica where the members donate computers, STEM education, anti-bullying education and health and human services.

“As a physician,” Harris said, “my focus has been on health – healthy memberships, healthy chapters, healthy relationships and healthy financials to improve the quality of life for individuals, families and communities.”