In 1978, civic leaders Beth Smith and Marjorie Powell Allen sat down for lunch together. Allen, at the time President of the Powell Family Foundation, wanted Smith’s help in creating a space for women to interact with each other and support each other in improving their careers. The two studied the idea for two years before they opened The Central Exchange in a Crown Center office.
At the time, women were prohibited from joining both the Kansas City Club and the University Club — places where business was conducted by men. They envisioned a place where women could exchange ideas and opportunities.
The pair set out to gather an intentionally diverse group, in ethnicity and in age. When The Central Exchange opened its doors for the first time, it opened with 12 initial members: Beth Smith, Majorie Powell Allen, Terry Satterlee, Kay Barnes, Anita Butler, Joan Dillon, Adele Hall, Mamie Currie Hughes, Dorothy Johnson, Linda Moore, Linda Hood Talbott, and Judith Whitaker.
“Women needed services to help them get on track; then they needed opportunities. Other women, with funds to contribute, could offer this specialized support.”
~Marjorie Powell Allen