A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky Foundation for Women to honor Paducah’s Betty Dobson with 2018 Sallie Bingham Award


The Kentucky Foundation for Women announced Betty Dobson has been named winner of the 2018 Sallie Bingham Award. The award will be given at the foundation’s annual celebration of community, KFW Day, on Sunday, September 23th at Hopscotch House.

Dobson was selected for her tireless work preserving and interpreting African American history at the Hotel Metropolitan in Paducah. Dobson co-founded the Upper Town Heritage Foundation (UTHF) to restore and preserve the hotel and the legacy of its owner Maggie Steed. Steed welcomed and nurtured African American travelers, musicians and athletes at the hotel during segregation. Dobson offers tours, which she leads in the persona of Maggie Steed.

Betty Dobson

Dobson, who had a career in sales, has been a community activist from a young age. She revitalized Hotel Metropolitan to create a “comfortable space in which to address the many questions people have regarding race.”

Dobson’s nomination cited her work as a “community builder” who has fostered partnerships with multiple organizations over the years, mentored young girls, made connections among women in the hotel space during salon-style evening gatherings, and operated as a gallery to display the work of local artists.
Dobson leads the Bronzeville Artistic Divas, a group of young African American girls in discussing issues of the day and developing skits and raps that allow the girls to express their feelings and concerns. The program will culminate in a public performance of the pieces.

“Betty Dobson is a passionate educator and mentor working to ensure that younger generations know about the hotel and its historic significance in our area and the in the country. She has provided a central space for the community, the arts, and academic community that facilitates research and reflection on the role that the African American community has played in the past and will play in the future history of the area. This is a legacy that will last for generations to come,” said KFW Executive Director Sharon LaRue.

Named for KFW’s founder, the Sallie Bingham Award recognizes Kentucky women who are leaders in changing the lives of women and girls across the state by supporting feminist expression in the arts. Recipients show a demonstrated and sustained commitment to excellence in the feminist art for social change in Kentucky and to advancing social change that impacts women and girls in Kentucky. The award was founded in 1996 by former KFW Director, Ann Stewart Anderson. Winners are selected by nominations or by recommendation from the KFW staff or Board. Previous winners include fabric artist Alma Lesch, writer and arts mentor Judy Sizemore, and writer Crystal Wilkinson.

The Kentucky Foundation for Women is a private foundation formed in 1985 by Louisville writer Sallie Bingham. Its mission is to promote positive social change by supporting varied feminist expression in the arts.

From Kentucky Foundation for Women


Related Posts

Leave a Comment