The Young Black Women’s Society  was founded in 2005 by Alicia Canady Adamson, Rashonda Ambrose, Nachelle Gordon, India Holmes, and Wachimide Labranche to help professional black women develop themselves first so in turn they can share their learning with the community to help other black women and girls to feel empowered and give them a voice. They wanted to empower emerging women of color to feel valued and prepared to seek leadership the city of Boston. They wanted them to embrace the power of sisterhood and power of serving.

In 2015, YBWS celebrated its tenth anniversary and adopted a new name and expanded vision, the National Black Women’s Society. One thing remains true, this  is a For Us by Us organization where everything NBWS does benefits black women’s advancement and leadership.

Executive Team

Alicia Canady Adamson

Founder Emeritus

Alicia is committed to helping prepare the next generation of leaders with a strong passion to help women and girls walk in their truth. Because of this passion, Alicia founded The Young Black Women’s Society Inc. (YBWS) in 2005. A membership based organization created to provide empowerment, equity and access for young professional women of color in Boston and beyond. She is also the Creator of the Next Generation Women of Color Annual Summit an annual conference for women of color between the ages of 21-40.

By day, Alicia serves as the Senior Director, at a local nonprofit where she oversees the strategic programs and development activities that engage Women, Young Professionals and Key Industry Groups. Prior to joining the nonprofit world, Alicia worked in marketing roles at Reebok International in Global Women’s Apparel Product Division and at Kaplan Test Prep & Admissions. Through her roles as a marketing professional, nonprofit professional and social entrepreneur, Alicia frequently speaks at corporate and nonprofit institutions on topics such as: Personal Branding, Entrepreneurship, Women’s Advancement, Leadership Development and Fundraising.

Alicia has been recognized for her efforts locally with the Distinguished Recent Alumna Award from Simmons College (2013), The Rising Star Award from the Germaine Lawrence Center (2012); an NAACP Image Award from the Boston Chapter of the NAACP (2011) and 40 under 40 award from The Boston Business Journal (2010).

Alicia is an active leader in the community. She currently serves as a member of Mayor Walsh’s Boston Women’s Commission and The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s Women’s Network Advisory Board to support the leadership and advancement of women. Alicia is a proud graduate of Simmons College School of Management, with a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Divinity at Gordon Conwell Seminary. She is writing an inspiring personal and professional development book due next spring. Alicia resides in Boston with her loving husband and two sons.

Charlene Chinn

Vice President of Membership

Charlene has been a member of NBWS for 2 years and has recently stepped into the role of Vice President of Membership. Charlene is a resident of Roslindale, MA. She is a graduate of Springfield College and attained her law degree from Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. Charlene currently works as an HR Coordinator for Wellington Management LLP. Charlene has had a passion for volunteer work, specifically work focused on women empowerment. She enjoys spoken word poetry, working out, and shopping.

Janeen Smith


Janeen Smith joined the National Black Women’s Society in 2010 and currently serves as its President. Currently, Janeen is an MBA candidate at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Most recently, she worked for YWCA Boston as Adult Program Coordinator, managing operations of the LeadBoston program. Previous work experience included two years of AmeriCorps service with the MA Promise Fellowship. In addition to her work with YBWS, Janeen has been active in organizing community V-Day campaigns. A New Jersey native, Janeen moved to Boston following graduation from Smith College in 2006 with a B.A. in Government.

Liz Thomas

Vice President of Marketing Communications

Liz joined NBWS in 2014 when she relocated to Boston for work. A Chicago native, Liz graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. in Business Administration/Marketing and a minor in Spanish. Liz is currently a Category Development Manager for Colgate-Palmolive where she works with CVS to help them grow their Oral Care category. She has also worked for Kimberly-Clark in Dallas, TX and Charlotte, NC. In her spare time Liz enjoys mentoring high school students as they prepare for college and their careers.

Mikayla Thompson

VP of Operations

Mikayla has been a member of NBWS for 7 years. After serving as the clerk, she stepped into the role of Co-Executive Director along with April Watson in 2013. Mikayla received a B.S. in Biotechnology from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In graduate school her thesis research focused on the Innate Immune response to Herpes Simplex Virus-1. She received the Hope Scholarship from the Biomedical Science Careers Program in 2012. Mikayla currently works as Postdoctoral Fellow in Regulatory Affairs at Biogen. In her spare time she serves on the planning committee for the New England Science Symposium and has a passion for mentoring young girls of color who are interested in the STEM fields.

April N. Watson

VP of External Relations

April has been a member of NBWS since 2008. She served as the Treasurer and Vice Chair of Finance before becoming the Co-Executive Director along with Mikayla Thompson. April graduated from Syracuse University Magna Cum Laude and is currently pursuing her MBA at Boston University in the PEMBA Program. April is a Financial Analyst at Goodwin Procter LLP and Life Coach. She is a member of the National Black MBA Association – Boston Chapter and enjoys volunteering in the Massachusetts communities. Some of April’s past professional and community affiliations include the National Association of Black Accountants and Lets Get Ready. In 2009, April received the YMCA Black Achiever Award.

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