BCN Women History Month Spotlight: Dr. Sadie Alexander, nation's first Black economist

BCN Women History Month Spotlight: Dr. Sadie Alexander, nation's first Black economist

The Sadie Collective leads efforts to bring Black women into the field of economics and quantitative sciences

BCN Staff — March 3, 2021 — The New York Federal Reserve this month is spotlighting the accomplishment of Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander, the first African American to earn her doctoral degree in economics in 1921 from the University of Pennsylvania.

The honor comes after the Sadie Collective recently sponsored the Third Annual Sadie T.M. Alexander Conference for Economics and Related Fields (SACE). That event was held place virtually on Feb. 19-20 during Black History Month.

Founded in 2018 by Anna Opoku-Agyeman and Fanta Traore and led by a team of Black women, undergraduates and recent graduates, the Sadie Collective aims to bring together Black women at different stages in their academic and/or professional careers in the quantitative sciences to share resources, network, and advocate for broader visibility in the field. The 501 (c) 3 organization also strives to create safe spaces where Black women in these fields can obtain the resources they need to thrive.

Named to honor the legacy of Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, the goal of the SACE conference was started three years ago to inspire Black women to enter the discipline and improve economics and related fields by building the pipeline and pathway for Black women’s careers in economics through carefully curated programming, organizers said.

“Black women are drastically underrepresented in economics programs and other quantitatively demanding fields, and as this year has acutely demonstrated, we need their voices in corporate and public policy spaces,” said Opoku-Agyeman, CEO and co-founder of The Sadie Collective. “SACE brings together incredible programming and opportunities to ensure that Black women have a seat at the table and are able to push for the kind of meaningful change needed to create a society that works for all.”

In the 100th year since Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander’s historic accomplishment, SACE commemorated her memory through the theme “An Ode to Legacy.” Besides being an economist, Alexander is also well known for being the first president of Delta Sigma Theta Inc. sorority, as well as a civil rights lawyer alongside her husband, Raymond Price. She was the first Black woman to graduate from Penn Law School in 1927, and the first Black woman to pass the bar in Pennsylvania and practice law in the state.

The New York Fed is now honoring Dr. Sadie T.M. Alexander, America’s first Black economist, in its centennial year of her doctoral degree by launching the Economist Spotlight Series.

During the recent virtual conference in February, several leading Black women in economics, business, technology, and policy were invited to speak, including Dean Erika James, the first Black woman recently name dean of prestigious Wharton Business School. Also, economist, Dr. Dambisa Moyo, and Dr. Rediet Abebe, founder of BlackinAI, were among the plethora of speakers that addressed Black Lives Matter, Data Bias and AI Fairness, and the impact of COVID-19 on Black women.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, an economist and former Federal Reserve chair under former Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump, was the keynote speaker at the 2020 SACE conference. Yellen is also the first woman to lead the U.S. Treasury Department under President Joe Biden.

“Over the past couple years, SACE and The Sadie Collective have grown to be a place where Black women can feel empowered and excited to pursue careers in quantitative fields and continue to break down barriers,” said Traore, co-founder and COO of The Sadie Collective.

To learn more about our programming, please the Sadie Collective website and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @SadieCollective. Click here to view a video tribute to Ms. Alexander at this year’s SACE conference. That video is also posted on the home page.


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