On May 17, 1954, D.C. Superior Court Judge Carlisle Edward Pratt father came home with a bottle of champagne to give a toast to his eight- and ten-year-old daughters: “I want to toast you girls because as of today, the world is yours, and you can be anything you decide you want to be. It’s just up to you to decide what it is you want to be.” He then proceeded to explain that day’s Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education.
Both of his daughters took these words to heart. HistoryMaker Sharon Pratt became the first black woman to serve as a mayor of a major American city when she was elected Mayor of the District of Columbia in 1990.
HistoryMaker Benaree Pratt Wiley worked as a business consultant in Washington, D.C. From 1991 until 2005, Wiley was President and CEO of The Partnership, an organization devoted to increasing the number of black professionals in Boston’s corporate community. With The Partnership, Wiley helped over 1,300 African Americans integrate themselves into the corporate community and stimulated more than 200 corporate partners to open doors for black professionals. She is married to HistoryMaker Fletcher “Flash” Wiley, and currently serves as vice chairwoman of the Board of Trustees at Howard University.
Benaree “Bennie” Pratt Wiley was born on May 13, 1946, in Washington, D.C. Her mother, Mildred Petticord Pratt, died when she was two years old, and her father, Carlisle Pratt, was an attorney and judge before his death in 1993. Wiley grew up in Washington, D.C., and was raised by her paternal grandmother Hazel and her aunt, Aimee Pratt. She is also the sister of Sharon Pratt Kelly, who served as the mayor of Washington, D.C. from 1991-1995.
Wiley attended the public schools of Washington and graduated from Howard University in 1968 with a B.A. degree in marketing. In July 1970, she married Fletcher “Flash” Wiley and a month later they moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she entered Harvard University’s Business School, graduating with an M.B.A. in 1972. After receiving her M.B.A., she served as a consultant with such corporations as Abt Associates, Contract Research Corporation and Urban Systems Research and Engineering. As an independent consultant, Wiley worked with non-profit organizations to build their capacity and refine their program delivery. She then combined her interests in business and child development with the establishment of a high-end toy store, Giocatolli, on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. During her time working as a consultant, her son, Pratt was born in 1976 and her daughter, B.J., in 1978.
In 1991, Wiley became the president and CEO of the Partnership, Inc., in Boston. The Partnership’s goal is to assist businesses in the Boston area to attract, retain and develop professionals of color, to increase the number of black professionals at all levels of leadership in the corporate sector of Boston and to help these professionals navigate the complex corporate structure of Boston. Under Wiley’s leadership, The Partnership became a major force in Boston’s corporate world, helping over 1,300 African Americans integrate themselves into the corporate community and stimulated more than 200 corporate partners to open doors for black professionals.
Sharon Pratt Kelly (born January 30, 1944), formerly Sharon Pratt Dixon and now known as Sharon Pratt, was the third mayor of the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1995. Pratt was the first black woman to serve as mayor of a major American city.
Though she campaigned and was elected and inaugurated mayor as Sharon Pratt Dixon, on December 7, 1991, she married James R. Kelly III, a New York businessman, and changed her name to Sharon Pratt Kelly After their 1999 divorce, she resumed her maiden name, Sharon Pratt.