Betty Willhoite

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Betty J. Willhoite is a former president of the League of Women Voters of Chicago, Illinois and a former board member of the Cook County League of Women Voters. Following a career as a teacher and debate coach, she established the Chicago Debate Commission, a model for urban school debate programs, which served 31 high schools and 2,700 students. Betty was elected the first woman president of Chicago’s Community Renewal Society in 1995. She also worked closely with the Chicago Jobs Council, the Hunger Action Network, the Coalition to Protect Public Housing, and the Coalition for the Homeless[1].

Chicago Center for US/USSR Relations and Exchanges

As at May 13, 1988, Betty Wilhoite, Chair, Community Renewal Society served on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Center for US/USSR Relations and Exchanges.[2]

Tribute to Golub and Montgomery

On November 16, 1989, Betty Willhoite was listed as a friend of the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights Tribute to Leon Golub and Lucy Montgomery, held at the Congress Hotel, Chicago.[3]

Friends of Alice Palmer

In the mid 1990s Betty Willhoite was listedas a member of Friends of Alice Palmer (in formation), alongside Danny K Davis, Tony Rezko, Timuel Black and Barack Obama[4].

Debating sponsor

The Chicago Debate Commission was founded in 1995 by urban debate pioneer and patron Betty Willhoite and the Community Renewal Society. It brought together a group of civic leaders – most notably its late chair, Justice Seymour Simon – who worked to bring competitive academic debate back to Chicago Public Schools[5].

Democratic Socialists of America

In 2004 Betty Willhoite was a member of Chicago Democratic Socialists of America[6].

Progressives for Obama

In 2009 Betty Willhoite, Living Wage Advocate was listed as a signer of the Progressives for Obama website.[7]


  2. Letter from Richard Cooper of CCUURE to Rose Jennings and Buzz Palmer, May 13, 1988
  3. Tribute to Golub and Montgomery: Program, Nov. 16, 1989
  4. Undated Friends of Alice Palmer membership list. Harold Washington papers
  7. Progressives for Obama