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The Links, Incorporated
Baton Rouge (LA) Chapter History

Forty-nine years ago a group of ten dynamic ladies, organized by Bessie Holland, V. Jean Butler and Allene Clark Rayford, recognized the opportunities for service inherent in the challenges of a changing society. 


On November 28, 1964, the Baton Rouge Chapter of the Links, Incorporated was chartered and its members were installed by the Fourth National President, Vivian Beamon.  The chapter was sponsored by the New Orleans Chapter. The common goal of the Links is to provide services to enrich the quality of life for others.  The charter members of the chapter were: W. Jean Butler, Lean R. Cooper, Bessie W. Holland, Marjorie D. Lawless, Thelma S. Perkins, Julia B. Purnell, Allene K. Clark Rayford, Jewell T. Thompson, Eva C. Williams and Dorothea J. Yates.  Bessie W. Holland was elected first president of the group.


1964 – 1974

Chapter Presidents
1964-68 | Bessie Holland   1968-72 | Jewell Thompson    1972-74 | Julia Purnell, (7th National President)


  • Beauregard Art Gallery

  • Mid-Winter Community Seminar Series through the Agency for International Development. National Council for International Visitors

  • Project: “Rose Buds” — Youth Achievers, Emerging Corporate

  • Leaders, Community Service Activities and “In Support of Neighborhoods”.

  • A Kaleidoscope of African-American Artist Exhibits and

  • African-American Arts Tours

The Baton Rouge Chapter has also impacted the national organization’s history by sponsoring the National Assembly in 1972 in New Orleans with only ten members.  The first White Rose Banquet was initiated by the Baton Rouge Chapter during that Assembly.

1975 – 1984

Chapter Presidents
1974-78 | Elayne Bryant   1978-82 | Thelma Perkins    1982-86 | Adele Jackson


Julia Brogdon Purnell, charter member and past President of the Baton Rouge Chapter, served as National President of The Links, Incorporated, 1978-1982.

In addition, several members of the chapter served the organization at the area and national levels.  Serving were Julia Brogdon Purnell, Seventh National President, Jewell T. Thompson and Frances Marsh Ellis, National Arts Directors, Thelma S. Perkins, National Public Information Officer, Thelma C. Cobb., National Constitution and Bylaws Committee, Eula Masingale, National Services to Youth Committee. Allene K. Rayford, Links Foundation, Exyie C. Ryder, Area Parliamentarian, National Constitution and Bylaws Committee and Area Services to Youth Director.

1985 – 1994

Chapter Presidents
1986-88 | Allene Rayford   1988-92 | V. Jean Butler    1992-94 | Myrtle David    1994-96 | Eula Masingale 


The Services to Youth Facet formed Link Lads, a mentoring program for 6th – 8th grade boys at Capitol Middle School.  For over seven years, the chapter mentored these students throughout junior high school and sponsored several interactive lectures on topics such as bullying, conflict resolution, and etiquette.

High School Students Luncheon

In an effort to encourage and recognize various students in East Baton Rouge, the Baton Rouge Chapter requested the assistance of guidance counselors throughout the parish to identify and recognized high school students.  The chapter sponsored a luncheon for the students and presented each of them with a savings bond.


In 1989, the Baton Rouge Chapter celebrated 25 years and held a public reception showcasing the rich history and lasting impact of our chapter on the Baton Rouge community.

1995 – 2004

Chapter Presidents
1994-96 | Eula Masingale   1996-98 | Roberta Tyson    1998-02 | Sylvia Winder    2002-06 | Myrtle David 

On November 24, 1996, the Baton Rouge Chapter held the Community Spirit Awards Gala honoring four outstanding community leaders and activists who have worked tirelessly to help the less fortunate, rid neighborhoods of drugs and violence, and maintain safe and clean air.  Honorees included Charlene Brock, Betty Martin, Mary McCaskil, and Betty Clairborne.  Native of New Orleans, LA, R&B and soul singer Aaron Neville performed at the event and was also honored by Mayor Tom Ed McHugh.

2004 – 2018

Chapter Presidents
2002-06 | Myrtle David    2006-10 | Debra Lazare    2010-14 | Brenda Birkett    2014-18 | Yolanda Dixon


Link Debra Lazare, Southern Area Technology Chair
Charlotte Henderson, Southern Area Financial Secretary, National Awards Committee


With an estimated 70% of low income African American youth with low or no swimming ability and more than 47% of Louisiana children ages 2-19 who are overweight or obese, the Baton Rouge Chapter aimed to directly address these concerns and offer a potentially life-saving opportunity to youth.  This effort was accomplished through collaboration with the ExxonMobil YMCA in which the Baton Rouge Chapter donated over $11,000 to fund scholarships for youth to attend The Links Kids Boot Camp.

As a result of the Links Kids Boot Camp over 140 youth participated in swimming lessons, learned the basics of strength and cardiovascular conditioning, and learned about nutrition and healthy lifestyles.


In 2012, the Links pledged $25,000 to the ExxonMobil YMCA sponsoring the Links Kids Zone, a multi-purpose room at the facility.  This effort continues the partnership forged with the ExxonMobil YMCA and our joint goals of helping to serve under privileged youth in the north Baton Rouge community.


The Baton Rouge Chapter of the Links Inc. won the 2009 Golden Apple Award from Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) for our work at Capitol Elementary School. The chapter provided assistance to the families of Capitol Elementary with the following activities during that academic year: Rosebuds, Family Literacy Night, Body Walk, Brotherhood/ Sisterhood, Read Across America and 2008-2009 Spelling Bee. The Capitol Elementary community of students, parents, faculty and staff can vouch that our efforts made a meaningful impact on the children we served.


The Baton Rouge Chapter and La Capitale Chapter of The Links, Incorporated have teamed up with Mayor Kip Holden’s Healthy BR Initiative in an effort to focus attention on solving the problem of childhood obesity.

Obesity Prevention Program

During the 2010—2011 school year, the Baton Rouge Chapter implemented the Southern Area Obesity Prevention Program.  Each month, Rosebud Club members participated in healthy lifestyle educational sessions and activities.

  • Session I—Building Better Bodies

  • Session II —Making Wise Choices

  • Session III—Selecting Nutrient Rich Foods

  • Session IV—Physical Activity

  • Session V—Healthy Meals: Planning, Shopping and Preparation

  • Session VI—Celebrating Your Healthier Family

Rosebud Club

The Rosebud Club is a youth mentoring initiative which aims to address various health, educational, and social needs of young girls.  Beginning in third grade, these girls receive focused support and caring interaction with chapter members on a regular basis.


The LIFE program, implemented by The Baton Rouge Chapter in 2009, is designed to attract and recruit minority high school students, grades 10 and 11, ages 15 -17, interested in pursuing college degrees.

The goal is to create a future job pool of young minority students focused on careers in international business and foreign services.  The objective is to fill a major void in minority representation in the international business arena and Foreign Service appointments.  The program aims to equip, encourage, prepare, and expose students to international career opportunities and provide them with a strong mentor base as well as learning and service activities throughout the year.


The Arts facet partnered with The Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge to support the Debbie Allen production All The Right Moves and allow youth in the Baton Rouge community and girls in our Rosebuds program to attend the performances.

The Arts facet has also:

  • treated 200 students from all three local schools to a day at the theatre by sponsoring their attendance at Debbie Allen plays “Dreams” and “Brothers of the Knight”.

  • partnered with Playmakers, Louisiana’s only professional theatre dedicated to bringing quality live theatrical productions to young audiences. The students enjoy performances each year and are encouraged to audition to perform in the plays and assist in production.

  • collaborated with Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge to provide an educational concert by Jazz musician and Grammy nominee Patti Austin, Carla Cook and Wess Montgomery. Students were given a lesson on music genres with special emphasis on African and Jazz. A lively and interactive concert with hands-on participation kept the students engaged.  Post-performance assessment indicated that greater appreciation for a wider variety of music was achieved.


The Baton Rouge Chapter won The Illumination Award at the 2012 Solaris Awards Program sponsored by Family Road of Greater Baton Rouge.  We won for our Childhood Obesity Project featuring our work with the Rosebuds and the boot camp and Kidzone at the ExxonMobil YMCA. The Illumination Award is presented to a program which has demonstrated excellence in the development and implementation of social services programs for children.

2018 – 2022

Chapter Presidents
2018-22 | Rose J. Hudson    2022- | Cheryl Hall-DeRouen


Link Joyce Jackson, National Chair, The Arts


2021-2022 Southern Area All-Stars Participant 

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