Beverly Morgan-Welch, executive director of the Museum of African American History in Boston and Nantucket, is one of five Smith College alumnae who will receive an award next week recognizing “their extraordinary professional achievements and outstanding service to their communities,” according to the college.
At a free public event during the Northampton college’s annual Rally Day festivities, slated for Feb. 18, Morgan-Welch and four others will receive the Smith College Medal, an award established in 1962 to recognize alumnae “who, in the judgment of the trustees, exemplify in their lives and work the true purpose of a liberal arts education.”
Joining Morgan-Welch as recipients this year are Helen “Penny” Chenery, thoroughbred horse breeder and racer; Naomi Lynn Gerber, physician and scientist; Kathleen Marshall, choreographer and music theater director; and Simran Sethi, environmental journalist.
A member of Smith’s class of 1974 who majored in theater and speech, Morgan-Welch has garnered national recognition for the Museum of African American History, a New England institution featuring collections that include three National Historic Landmarks.
“Attracting scholars and collections to illuminate African American history, she invigorated the museum to present the powerful communities of free black abolitionists who were instrumental in ending slavery, establishing schools and fostering movements for basic freedoms and human rights,” the college wrote in a statement announcing the award.
Morgan-Welch began her career in the corporate sector. In the early 1980s, she helped administer the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company Foundation. Fifteen years later, she managed Raytheon Company’s charitable contributions program for the eastern United States and developed an education program in the Brazilian Amazon.
While Morgan-Welch served as director of development at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Conn., she established the Amistad Foundation, acquiring a collection of 7,000 African American objects of art and artifacts and organizing a national tour for Bishop Desmond Tutu. Among a number of other highlights during her tenure as the museum’s executive director, Morgan-Welch co-chaired the inauguration of Gov. Deval Patrick.
“She has built an institution that reflects her vision of the power of history to enrich lives by raising funds to acquire two historic buildings and producing a unique roster of exhibitions and educational programs,” the college wrote.