First Female Trustees

Do you know the name of the first woman who sat on the famous soft drink company's board and was Emory's first female trustee?

By Elizabeth Cobb Durel
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When Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans’ first husband died unexpectedly from pneumonia in 1906, she took over his business interests, one of which was partnering with a fledgling company called Coca-Cola. Mr. Whitehead had convinced the Candler family to bottle the drink so more than just drugstore counter customers could enjoy it. Lettie took the reins, earning herself a seat on the Coca-Cola Board in 1934, one of the first women to sit on a major board in the United States. In the photo above she’s sitting with Robert W. Woodruff, a close friend.

Along with her business acumen, Lettie also had a generous streak that ran deep and wide. Much of her philanthropy focused on Emory, and led her to a position as the first female trustee in Emory University history in 1944. It would be 30 years before another woman, Mary Lynn Morgan, joined the Board of Trustees. And, the third woman, Laura Hardman, was elected in 1983.

Learn more about the Lettie Pate Evans foundation.

Learn more about Mary Lynn Morgan.

Read more history from the Center for Women at Emory.