10 Women Who Built Savannah

The groundbreaking Savannah women who were leaders in our community and beyond.

President and Founder of SCAD Paula Wallace – an influential woman in her own right – is celebrating Georgia Day by celebrating women. Her Savannah Women of Vision investiture honors 10 notable women who went above and beyond societal norms to shape the history of The Hostess City. The official celebration will take place Friday, February 12 at SCAD's Arnold Hall, but we wanted to give y'all a preview of the very important ladies being honored.

1. Mary Musgrove Matthews Bosomworth​

Mary Musgrove

Mary Musgrove Matthews Bosomworth was the arbiter of peace in the new Georgia colony. She was a pivitol interpreter, negotiator and cultural liaison between the English colonists and the local Native Americans. Can you imagine the wars this woman might have averted?! In fact, General James Oglethorpe and Chief Tomochichi were only able to communicate through Mary Musgrove's multilingual prowess and amazing diplomacy.

2. Abigail Minis

Known as "The Mother of Savannah's Jewish Community," Abigail Minis was among the first 40 Jewish settlers to arrive in Savannah. She became a founding member of Mickve Israel, the U.S.'s third oldest Jewish congregation. This strong Jewish mother was also a staunch supporter of the American Revolution, supplying the defenders of Savannah with money, food, ammunition and uniforms. 

3. Mother Mathilda Beasley

Georgia's first African American nun, Mother Matilda Beasley, once ran a secret, illegal school to educate black children during the mid-1800s. She went on the donate her considerable estate to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church here in Savannah to establish the St. Francis Home for Colored Orphans, which she operated for the rest of her life. 

4. Juliette Gordon Low

Juliette Gordon Low

The well-known founder of the Girls Scouts, Savannahian Juliette Gordon Low was an advocate for women's rights and education. What started with only 18 registrants in 1912, the Girl Scounts now includes approximately 3 million members in 92 countries. 

5. Frances Wong

A lifelong educator, Francis Wong had a celebrated career in the Savannah-Chatham County School System where she was beloved by every student and parent she came across. She later joined higher education and spent 10 years in administrative leadership at SCAD.

6. Nancy N. Lewis

Nancy N. Lewis and her family continue to give and work in the name of public education, art and health. Local secondary learning academies and bastions of higher education, including SCAD, have benefited from her support. Since the opening of the Nancy N. and J.C. Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion at St. Joseph’s Candler, Savannah has become known for its elite patient care. 

7. Flannery O'Connor

Flannery O'Connor

Born in Savannah, Flannery O’Connor was one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. Her short stories, novels, correspondence and essays earned her several important accolades and continue to inspire women throughout the world. 

8. Emma Morel Adler

Emma Morel Adler has served on the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education, the Georgia Humanities Council, the Lucas Theatre for the Arts and the Savannah Council on World Affairs, securing Savannah’s future through public education, cultural stewardship and historic preservation, of which she is an ardent and outspoken national advocate. In Savannah, the Massie Heritage Center shines as Emma’s masterpiece.

9. Alice Andrews Jepson

Alice Andrews Jepson has a passion for local education, healthcare, art and culture. The Bethesda Academy, the Jepson Center for the Arts, the Jepson House Education Center, Memorial University Medical Center, Savannah Country Day School, Savannah Philharmonic, the SCAD Museum of Art and others are testament to her positive influence and generous investment in the community.

10. Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears

Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears

A former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Leah Ward Sears was the first woman and youngest person to sit on the Supreme Court of Georgia, as well as the first African American to serve as chief justice on any supreme court in the U.S. She is currently a partner and practice group leader at Schiff Hardin.

If you'd like to be there to celebrate these amazing women, don't miss the celebration Friday, February 12 at 5:30 p.m. at SCAD's Arnold Hall, 810 Bull St.