top of page

Carrollton Rainbow represents at Nellie Duke International Women's Day Dinner

The Nellie Dunaway Duke Tribute Dinner is to honor Carroll County's own, Nellie Duke. Duke spent her life working to improve the lives of women in Georgia and throughout the world and received many accolades over the years. The International Alliance of Women awarded her the TIAW World of Difference Award, and she was one of only 16 American women to receive this honor. UWG holds an annual Nellie Duke Leadership Conference, and UWG’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion awarded Duke the 2015 Living Legacy Award.

Nellie Dunaway was born on March 8, 1931 on the 20th anniversary of International Women’s Day, outside of Rome, Georgia. Nellie Duke attended the Carroll Lynn School of business and began her professional career in retail, and was later employed by the American Cancer Society from the early 1970s to the early 1980s. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Duke campaigned for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in Georgia.

From 1994 to 2015, Duke chaired the Georgia Commission on Women, an organization of which she was a charter member. Duke was also president and CEO of the Georgia Women’s Institute, chairperson and CEO of the Women’s History Museum, president of the Georgia Woman of the Year Committee, and founder and president of the Georgia Osteoporosis Initiative. Bill Clinton also appointed her to the Commission on Women in American History. As part of her work with the Georgia Commission on Women, she published the book, “Women & the Law, A Guide to Women’s Rights in Georgia.”

Duke studied at the Carroll Lynn School of Business and Chicago University and worked in sales and marketing for J.C. Penney Co. and later as department manager for Sears. She has also been a semi-pro basketball player (1947-1948), basketball coach, PTA president, Girl Scout leader, Boy Scout den mother, church youth counselor, recreation department teen director, advocate for women’s rights and volunteer for homeless veterans.

Duke lists among her greatest accomplishments her five children, 10 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. She is also proud of changing, along with the NAACP, Carroll County government (via federal courts) and influencing city government to make it more diverse.

In the 1960s, Duke worked to make school integration successful and peaceful and influenced the removal of the footnote in Georgia laws, “The above does not apply to women, idiots or children.”


bottom of page