University of Pittsburgh
February 1, 2006

Gwen Elliott, Former Police Commander and Advocate for Adolescent Girls, to Speak at Pitt's Center on Race and Social Problems

Founder of Gwen's Girls will discuss how to empower young women

Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-Gwendolyn J. Elliott, one of the first female police officers in Pittsburgh and founder and CEO of Gwen's Girls, will speak at the University of Pittsburgh from noon to 1:30 p.m. Feb. 14 in the School of Social Work Conference Center, 2017 Cathedral of Learning, 4200 Fifth Ave., Oakland. The talk is free to the public; lunch will be provided, and registration is not required.

Elliott's talk is titled "Empowering Girls: Gender-Specific Approaches for Productive Futures." During her nearly three-decade career in law enforcement, Elliott witnessed firsthand the plight of the girls and young women who came to the attention of law enforcement officials. Feeling there was a lack of services for this population, she founded Gwen's Girls in May 2002. The nonprofit independent agency, based in Point Breeze, provides girls ages 8 to 18 with the tools needed to become successful adults.

Elliott was hired as one of the first Pittsburgh police officers in 1976; she quickly rose to the rank of sergeant, and then commander, the first Black woman to achieve that post. She was in charge of the Office of Family, Violence, Youth, and Missing Persons; was assistant to the mayor on youth policy; and founded the Moms and COPS program. In the 1970s, she established the Women Police of Western Pennsylvania to mentor women in the field. She continues to mentor women police officers, as well as criminal justice students at Point Park University, where she is an adjunct professor. She has served on dozens of boards and has received many women's leadership and public service awards.

The Center on Race and Social Problems, housed in Pitt's School of Social Work, is hosting Elliott's lecture as part of its Reed Smith Spring 2006 Speaker Series to provide an opportunity for faculty, students, and community members to engage in race-related discussions of mutual interest. For more information, call 412-624-7382 or visit