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Rice, Constance Williams (1945- )

Rice also sought to provide a space and forum for black women professionals across the city to organize. In 1984, she founded 101 Black Women to provide a region-wide network for black women who often felt isolated in predominately white workplaces and in the city of Seattle.  The organization, which would eventually have more than 200 members, fostered professional networks for black women where they could forge friendships in Seattle and find job opportunities.  Unlike similar organizations in other cities which limited their membership to professional women, 101 Black Women included individuals of varied income levels, newcomers, longtime Seattle residents, young and old, married and unmarried, professionals, and homemakers.

Rice and her husband gained notoriety throughout the city in the 1980s as staunch political, business, and education advocates.  When her husband ran successfully for mayor in 1989, she closed her business to work with him full-time as a volunteer on his campaign.  That same year Washington Governor Booth Gardner appointed her a trustee of The Evergreen State College in Olympia.

In 1992, Rice was appointed Vice Chancellor for Seattle Community College, and the following year, the King County Association of Realtors recognized her as Seattle’s First Citizen. In 2000, she helped found the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa. She also helped establish the Strategic Education Center which builds, funds, and operates schools in Swaziland and provides educational and health resources for adolescents to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.

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