Ida H. Early is Secretary to the Board of Trustees of Washington University in St. Louis, responsible for all matters pertaining to the University’s Board of Trustees and its 12 standing committees. She also coordinates the 45-year-old Women’s Society of Washington University, a 600-member volunteer organization committed to education and leadership, and she is responsible for the University’s Commencement exercises. She has been at Washington University since 1982, holding various other roles and responsibilities.
Ida is strongly committed to voluntarism. She was the first African American to be elected President of the Junior League of St. Louis in 1996, and she served on the Association of Junior Leagues International board of directors 1993-1995. She credits her Junior League membership with being her gateway to community service. She is or has been a member of the board of directors for Care and Counseling, Childhaven, the Churchill School, Dance St. Louis (where she was president of The Troupe volunteer association), Eden Seminary, Emmaus Homes, Epworth Children’s Home, Fair St. Louis, Girls’ Inc., the Greater St. Louis United Nations Association, Interfaith Housing Help, the Magic House, the Mercantile Library, the Scholarship Foundation, the Spirit of St. Louis Philanthropic Fund, the St. Louis County Library Foundation, the St. Louis Zoo Friends Association, the United Way of Greater St. Louis, the Washington University Campus YM/YWCA, the Webster Groves Community Arts Foundation, Webster Groves School District Key Communicators Committee, and the City of Webster Groves Public Safety Board.
In 1996, she was selected by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch to be the sole local member of the 4-person Peirce Report interview team which spoke with hundreds of citizens to evaluate the St. Louis Region’s problems and needs. She served on the follow-up Peirce Report Work Group, and participated in St. Louis 2004’s Infrastructure Action Team, Voluntarism Task Force, and Gateway Parks and Trails Task Force. In 1998, Governor Mel Carnahan appointed her to a three-year term on the Missouri Community Service Commission.
Additionally, she has been a member of the Regional Arts Commission Review Panel, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Outreach Committee, and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Volunteer Association.
She co-chaired the 2012Forest Park Forever Hiram Leffingwell Luncheon, which raised more than $400,000 for Park maintenance and capital improvements. She co-chaired the 2011 St. Louis Public Library Foundation “Text in the City” fundraiser, and she serves on St. Louis Community College’s “Falling in Love in Four Courses” scholarship fundraiser.
A member of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Webster Groves, she is active as a member of the Altar Guild, an Usher, a Chalice Bearer and Lector, she chairs the Planned Giving Committee, and was a member of the Missions Committee, the Vestry, and she was Senior Warden. In the diocese, she served on the Committee to Elect a Bishop Coadjutor for the Diocese of Missouri, she was a delegate to Metro III, a member of the Episcopal City Mission Advisory Council, a board member for the Episcopal School for Ministry, President of the Standing Committee, and a missioner to the Diocese of Lui in South Sudan.
Previous awards include the 2001 Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis “Difference Makers Award” and the 1998 National Council of Negro Women, Bertha Black Rhoda Section, “Distinguished Service Award.” She is a 1995 alumna of Leadership St. Louis.
Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Ida earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1974 and attended Cornell University for graduate school. She and her husband, Gerald, live in Webster Groves. Their two adult daughters, one son-in-law, and two grandsons are their pride and joy.