Philanthropy and Scholarship
Metropolitan Business and Professional Women was founded in 1964 by Ruth Elizabeth Moss Easterling, one of the first women to serve in North Carolina’s State House of Representatives.
Mrs. Easterling was born December 26, 1910 in Gaffney, SC. She graduated in 1929 from Centralized High School, Blacksburg, SC, and in 1932 from Limestone College with a major in English and minors in Math and History. Upon graduation, she worked at Dover Mill Company, Shelby, NC, in the accounting department and then at First Baptist Church, Shelby, NC. She married Claude Bennett Easterling on October 3, 1939. She worked at Camp Shelby in Mississippi during WWII until a divorce in 1946. In January 1947, she came to work for I. D. and Herman Blumenthal at Radiator Specialty Company in Charlotte, NC.
From 1964-1974 she was director of Wild Acres Retreat and continued to serve on the Board. Ruth was elected in 1976 to the North Carolina House of Representatives and served 13 terms (26 years) working mainly on women’s and children’s issues and the state budget. She worked to improve financial rights of women and children upon separation and divorce, worked to improve education, and payment of child care workers and staff/child ratios in homes and centers. North Carolina lost a dedicated leader when Ruth passed on November 1, 2006.
Ruth sponsored the “Smart Start” bill, Governor Jim Hunt’s landmark education initiative for young children. She served four years as Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus of the NC General Assembly, as well as four years as Chair of the Mecklenburg Delegation to the General Assembly. She joined the local Business and Professional Women’s Club in 1948 and rose in the ranks to National President in 1970-1971. She urged Governor Terry Sanford to establish the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women, which he did. Ruth was selected as WBT Radio “Woman of the Year.” She was also a member of the League of Women voters, the Women’s Political Caucus, the Democratic Women’s Club, and other Women’s groups. She also served on Charlotte City Council. She received a Doctorate of Laws from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The Metropolitan Professional Business Women’s Association (MPBW) works to elevate the standards for women in business or professional careers, bring about a spirit of cooperation among business and professional women in the United States, and extend opportunities to business and professional women through education. The mission of MPBW is to achieve equity for all women in the workplace through advocacy, education, and information. This mission is shared by the North Carolina and national Foundation of Business & Professional Women. MPBW contributes to the Charlotte community in several ways. The primary philanthropic activity is to provide scholarships for women pursuing a business or professional career. In honor of the founding member, Ruth Moss Easterling, MPBW established an endowed scholarship at UNC Charlotte in 1989 to be awarded annually to undergraduate students from various programs at the institution.
To learn more visit: UNCC – Scholarship
This school year we are pleased to provide two scholarships in the amount of $1,500.00 each. One of these recipients is Maria Heyliger, originally from the Caribbean, who came to the United States as a teen and later dropped out of high school. She had her daughter a few years later, and after leaning on inspiration from her own mother who served as an educator for over 30 years, Maria went back to school to obtain her GED, Associates in Arts degree, and is now studying to become a middle school teacher in the area of Social Studies. In Maria’s words, “I’ve learned that the most meaningful thing to my life is not valued monetarily but I want to honestly help make the world a better place, replacing ignorance and hate with understanding and appreciation for differences.” We are excited to support Maria on her journey in making a difference.
The second recipient is Enyonam Nyaye. Originally from the village of Kevé in West Africa, Enyonam grew up without support and encouragement to learn, as it was believed that young girls lacked intellectual abilities, and that girls could not succeed on an academic level. It was at this time she decided to prove everyone wrong – as she went on to pay her own way through high school (her parents wouldn’t pay her tuition, but paid for her brother to attend high school) and earned her diploma. Enyonam left her village to attend University in Togo, eventually earning her Associates in Arts degree. In 2003, she was presented with an opportunity to come to the United States, where she later earned an Associates degree in Office System Technology, but she longed for more. She is currently pursuing her degree in the field of Social Work: “My future plan is to have my Master’s Degree in Social Work and work as a clinical social worker to promote children and families welfare.” We know Enyonam is going to knock this goal (and future goals) out of the park!
~ Amanda Saari, MBPW President 2017-2018