Betti S. Whaley has been appointed president of the Washington Urban League, Jerry A. Moore III, chairman of the league's board of directors, announced yesterday. Whaley, a veteran of the civil rights and civic organization, succeeds Jerome W. Page, whose October resignation became effective Jan. 1.

Whaley, 50, is a native of Baltimore and a graduate of Ohio State University, where she earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in social work. After working with the Columbus (Ohio) Urban League, she joined the national staff of the league in 1963 under the late Whitney Young Jr., who guided the organization through the civil rights movement.

Whaley is credited with creating the personnel and program departments of the league while working with Young. She left Urban League employment in 1973.

Whaley also has held posts as commissioner of day care of New York City, as an official of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, and as an aide to Rep. Cardiss Collins (D-Ill.) when the congresswoman chaired the Congressional Black Caucus.

Whaley said in a telephone interview yesterday that this is "a keen time for the Washington Urban League. At a time of high unemployment, efforts to help minorities, especially blacks, are critical. There is a need for a continuing supplemental educational network."

Whaley said she will concentrate on creating "a strong action-oriented research base to get CETA (Comprehensive Employment Training Act) eligible workers off the AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) rolls and into jobs.

"We will build on the programs Page had stewardship over," Whaley said. "The agency's basic financing is in good shape." Page left the Washington Urban League after a three-year term of office.

The 1,700-member Washington Urban League was founded 40 years ago as a nonpartisan civil rights organization and is involved in various economic programs in minority communities in the area, primarily Washington and Northern Virginia.

An official celebration of Whaley's appointment is expected later this month, Urban League officials said.