June Bacon - Bercey
THE FIRST FEMALE CHIEF METEOROLOGIST IN THE U.S.
June Bacon-Bercey was a barrier-breaking meteorologist who paved the way for women and minorities to make headway in the male dominated field. She attained several firsts during her time as a meteorologist including becoming the first African American broadcast meteorologist, the first female broadcast meteorologist and the first female chief meteorologist in the U.S.
Bacon-Bercey is a native of Wichita, Kansas, born in 1928. She received her first degree in mathematics at Friends University of Wichita before moving to Los Angeles, California.
She went on to study meteorology at UCLA, and in 1954, became the first Black woman to graduate with a meteorology degree from the school.
In the 1960s, Bacon - Bercey went back to school to earn a journalism degree at NYU.
After graduating, she started as a science reporter at WGRZ in Buffalo, NY, and made her debut on the weather wall in 1972 after the chief meteorologist was fired. Bacon-Bercey was put on the air in his place later that day. Only four months after becoming the first Black female meteorologist, she was promoted and became the first-ever female chief meteorologist.
From there Bacon - Bercey's career continued to grow. Shortly after becoming chief meteorologist, she became the first woman and first African American to receive the American Meteorological Society's seal of approval. She left WGRZ in 1979 to work for the Nation Oceanic and Atmospheric Association as their chief of weather and television services.
She also went on to create a scholarship for women in meteorology and helped fund the meteorology program at Jackson State University in Mississippi, which focuses on bringing more African Americans into the field.
Bacon-Bercey died at 90 years old in January 2020, and in her honor, the American Meteorological Society renamed the Award for Broadcast Meteorology the June Bacon-Bercey Award in 2021.