Eleanor Pickrel Petersen

Eleanor Pickrel Petersen, 1941

B.A., Denison University


Citation awarded on Saturday, June 3, 1972

For the past seven years, Eleanor Pickrel Petersen has been executive director of the Leadership Resources Program (LRP) in Chicago. An independent agency, it is supported by foundations and corporations that bring together black and white executives for the purpose of strengthening leadership and combating institutional racism. Her work with LRP has brought her to Illinois’ Governor Richard B. Ogilvie’s attention and last January, he named her to an 3-year post on the state’s Fair Employment Practices Commission. She has also been the organizer of LRP’s Forum, an interracial group of under-40 business and professional men, and of its female counterpart, Focus, who meet to advance cooperative business and social relationships. She was one of the original organizers and still a director of Urban Ventures (1967), a not-for-profit corporation that has invested $150,000 in inner-city businesses. In the 1950s she was the organizer and first chairwoman of the Kenwood-Hyde Park community in Chicago. She was a founder of the Hyde Park Federal Savings & Loan Association created in 1959 to help finance efforts to retain the integrated residential character of the community. She has also founded organizations to bring cultural opportunities to children in lower income families and to develop a group of fifteen small shops for craftsman and artists located in Hyde Park.