The Women’s Committee was formed April 12, 1950, at the request of then-PAFA President John Frederick Lewis Jr. and Director Joseph T. Fraser Jr.
In its first decade, the activities of the Committee were primarily social, with the goal of improving student life and promoting PAFA. The members held dinner parties and served tea at exhibition openings. Small fundraisers raised money for educational trips and student luncheons. The Committee established a Student Aid Fund in 1956.
In the 1960s, the Women’s Committee began to focus primarily on fundraising. In 1962, the Committee hosted its first Annual Student Exhibition Preview Party, an event that is now in its fifth decade. The purpose of the party was twofold: to raise funds for student scholarships and to encourage the sale of student works.
During the past three decades, the Women’s Committee has been instrumental in raising funds for a variety of needs. In the mid 1970’s, the group assisted PAFA in raising the money needed to restore the Historic Landmark Building. In 1984, the Committee held an auction and gala to celebrate the opening of the Peale House on Chestnut Street.
From 1992 to 2011, the Women’s Committee, now renamed the Women’s Board, produced USArtists: American Fine Art Show. An exhibition and sale of American art from fine art galleries across the nation, the annual event was a major fundraiser that also served to introduce PAFA to a wide audience of art enthusiasts and collectors. Changing patterns of art collecting and a recession ended USArtists, but not before it had raised over $1.5 million for PAFA.
In 2005, the group established the annual Women’s Board Travel Scholarship, which instantly became one of PAFA’s most coveted awards. The Women’s Board launched its largest fundraising effort in 2001 with a pledge of $500,000 towards PAFA’s Campus Capital Campaign. The pledge was fulfilled in 2006. Two years later, in 2008, the Women’s Board made its largest annual gift to PAFA, $350,000.
Currently, the Women’s Board focuses on enlarging the fundraising and friend-raising capabilities of the Annual Student Exhibition Preview Party in the spring. The Women’s Board also continues its longtime tradition of hosting the students’ annual holiday luncheon and the parents’ and students’ graduation luncheon.