She will replace Patricia A. Coulter, who is stepping down after 13 years. The Urban League was founded in 1910 to advocate for civil rights and economic empowerment among African Americans. The Philadelphia chapter has about 500 members.
McPherson, 61, said she came to Philadelphia 14 years ago to work as a senior vice president at the Franklin Institute. She later launched the Roz Group, which has done communications work for the Convention Center, the President's House on Independence Mall, and other businesses and organizations.
A native of New Orleans whose father was an Army officer, she lived in France, Japan, Kansas, and New York while growing up. The divorced mother of two daughters holds a bachelor's degree in secondary education from Southern University in Louisiana and an M.B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey.
McPherson said she has had a long affiliation with the Urban League, noting that she was a member of the board of the Urban League of Northern Virginia before coming to Philadelphia.
"I have always been passionate about their cause and the mission," McPherson said.
She said she brings a particular interest in education. She said she started her career as a schoolteacher and later worked as a textbook editor.
"At one point I knew every superintendent in a major school system," she said.
"When you look at the business of empowering African Americans through education, entrepreneurship, and employment, those are some critical issues for me," McPherson said.
She said a key focus for her was helping people gain job skills.
"I am very big on employment issues and also training issues," McPherson said. "Philosophically, I have often felt that many people are not aware of the broad variety of jobs that exist out here."
Asked about the challenges she sees facing the Philadelphia chapter, she said: "This is still a tough, tough economic climate, and nonprofits, in general, are having a hard time when it comes to fund-raising. So I have to keep the organization relevant and attractive to funders."
McPherson said she wants to build on the gains the Urban League made under Coulter's leadership.
"I have a lot to learn," McPherson admits. "I am not coming with all the answers. I want to spend the first year really studying the success part and then building on from that."