Born in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, Nancy Dickerson Whitehead attended Clarke University for two years before graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1948. After working as a teacher, researcher and radio producer, she was named the first woman correspondent by CBS News in 1960 to cover the Presidential elections. During her time at CBS she covered Hubert Humphrey's campaign, Lyndon Johnson's campaign, the Kennedy funeral and the civil rights movement, including the March on Washington. Nancy left CBS in 1963 and joined NBC News in Washington where she covered national news and politics until 1970.
Next, she formed her own company and devoted herself to producing and appearing in syndicated television productions. One project "784 Days that Changed America - From Watergate to Resignation," won the Peabody Award. Among the stories of which she was most proud were her 1980 interviews aired on PBS with Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Saudi Arabia Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.
Nancy was to receive an honorary doctorate from Clarke University and give the commencement address in 1996. Unfortunately, she suffered a serious stroke that winter and died from resulting complications in 1997. Nancy was the mother of eight children and resided in New York City with her husband, John Whitehead.
The degree of doctor of humanities, honoris causa, was awarded posthumously on September 8, 1998, at the inaugural ceremony for the Nancy Dickerson Whitehead Medallion of Excellence in the Field of Mass Communications.