The Chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and Publisher of the Chicago and Gary Crusader Newspapers, Dorothy R. Leavell, was honored with the Café Mocha Radio Salute Her 2017 Media Legend Award on December 14, 2017 at the Kimpton Hotel Allegro in Chicago’s downtown. The luncheon was a beautiful celebration of eight outstanding women who exemplify and redefine what perseverance looks like from inside out—the theme of the program.
Café Mocha comedienne and actress Loni Love was joined by her radio co-host broadcast veteran Angelique Perrin at the podium to serve as mistress of ceremonies for the 6th annual Salute Her: Beauty of Diversity Awards luncheon. These ladies along with their other co-host, Hip-hop icon YoYo, corporate sponsors, honorees, supporters, and staff hosted a beautiful luncheon that was both inspirational and motivating.
Each award honors women for their passion, creativity and drive to break down barriers in their respective fields. With a mission to inspire women, build networks and pay tribute to females, from unsung heroes to accomplished celebrities.
AARP’s State Director, Laurinda Dodgen, in her introduction of Dorothy R. Leavell described her as someone, “who is not afraid to live a disruptive life for the good of others.” Although the narrative did not provide details of the journey Leavell took to create this legacy in the ever-challenging newspaper publication industry, the video certainly gave them a glimpse of this pioneer, trailblazer and philanthropist.
Legendary advocate Leavell was elected to return to the role of Chairman of the prestigious NNPA earlier this year. It is a mission she is very passionate about and brings to the role the knowledge and experience of having served two consecutive terms in that position, which was then called, president, from 1995-1999. She has been a member of NNPA for more than 49 years.
As NNPA President, she increased visibility and international prominence when she led a controversial 20-member delegation to Nigeria to investigate their political crisis. Leavell has also served as the NNPA Foundation Chairman. During her tenure as foundation chairman, she led a successful campaign involving NNPA member papers to gain a pardon for the Wilmington 10 from the Governor of North Carolina.
She is entrenched in her community and has worked tirelessly to redefine the representation of Blacks in the media with her editorial decisions that are dedicated to uplifting the Black community and righting injustices with the power of the press. Leavell has received many honors and recognitions, including being inducted into the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame in 2016, Chairman of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Member of the National Civil Rights Hall of Fame board and being named NNPA Publisher of the Year.
As a philanthropist, she has an extensive history as a lifelong supporter of the Arts, and commitment to the community. Leavell donated a valuable personal art collection of 150 commissioned pieces to the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago; additionally, she is a co-founder of “Heroes in the Hood,” a program which celebrates young people in the Black community who perform volunteer services and good deeds, yet often go unrecognized.
The audience was led in several moments of applause for Leavell. She said, “Isn’t it great to be a woman today!” Leavell reminded everyone of recent achievements by Black women, including the election of United States Senator-elect Doug Jones. “The press is needed today more than ever and I am working day and night to make sure we have a Black Press because without it, we all will have too many Trumps in our lives,” said Leavell.
She also recognized the other honorees many of which are her friends. The other awards and honorees are Trailblazer Award – Lynn Whitfield, legendary actress and producer; Game Changer Award – D. Michelle Flowers Welch, Founder/Chairman of Flowers Communication Group; Champion for Children Award – Jennifer Maddox, Creator of Future Ties and a Chicago Police Officer; Champion for Change Award – Geraldine Smith, Chief Servant of Life Builders United; Toyota Green Initiative Award – Alissa Constable, Founder of emerge/NEXT Chicago; Broadcast Innovator Award – Patricia Edwards, Entertainment Director/APD at WSRB/Crawford Broadcasting; and Community Service Award – Kelly Fair, Founder of Polished Pebbles Mentoring Program.