From the very beginning, Gwen was destined to be a champion for women and girls. She began to break down barriers for women as early as 1964, when she entered the male-dominated military. She continued to break barriers when she became one of the first African American female police officers in 1973 — and eventually became the first woman promoted to Sergeant and, ultimately, Commander.
During her tenure on the Pittsburgh Police force, she witnessed the struggles of young women and girls who came to the attention of law enforcement, and she was determined to do something that would help girls have a better quality of life — not just for themselves, but for their children and future generations to come. Her dream was to start an agency that would give girls the gender-responsive programs and services they so desperately needed. Her vision and dream came true in 2002 when the Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth and Families funded the creation of Gwen’s Girls. Gwen’s Girls began direct service to the community in May 2002 under the fiduciary auspices of the Hill House Association. We incorporated and obtained our own 501c3 status in September 2003. In June 2005, we became a United Way Agency.
We have accomplished much in our few short years, but we realize there is much more to be done. We remain steadfast in carrying out the vision of Gwen’s Girls. Although our beloved founder is no longer with us, her spirit lives on in the lives of our girls and their families. She has touched many by her compassion and dedication to making the world a better place — her spirit shall remain forever in our hearts!
Gwendolyn J. Elliott
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