Sadiqa Reynolds. Say her name and a cacophony of adjectives follows. She is a powerful, passionate, persistent, demanding, determined, creative, innovative, visionary and transformative leader who simply cannot be duplicated, replicated or imitated. Her unique style and contagious energy makes the seemingly impossible, possible.
As a board member with the Louisville Urban League, I have had the fortunate opportunity to witness her amazing leadership in this community. I, like fellow board members, lamented the recent announcement of her departure after serving as Chief Executive Officer of Louisville’s Urban League for the past six years. Her accomplishments are amazing. She has done more than all those who proceeded her in this role. With her leadership, Louisville’s Urban League now ranks as one of the top leagues in the country. Here is a glimpse of what happened while Sadiqa Reynolds sat in the “C” suite of the Louisville Urban League.
During her tenure, Reynolds tripled the budget at Louisville’s Urban League from $3.1 million to $10.7 million. The number of employees also grew from 22 to 81! With her talented staff, Sadiqa worked to place 2,237 men and women in jobs that represents almost $54 million in new wages.
Employment is one thing, but training is another. Realizing the fruit that could come from Louisville residents, Sadiqa launched a construction training program, which thus far, graduated 435 men and women. These graduates now make up 25% of the local construction workforce!
More jobs and training can lead to more homeownership. Such was the case during Reynold’s service to the league. Thanks to Sadiqa and her staff’s labor, 394 families were able to purchase their first home, creating $50 million in new mortgage investments!
She is an outspoken, fierce advocate for justice. She engaged in persistent, peaceful protest of the murder of Breonna Taylor by Louisville Police officers whom the U.S. Department of Justice recently charged with federal crimes in connection with the fatal raid on Breonna Taylor’s home. She lifted her voice like a trumpet and helped create the LUL Center for Policy that has already influenced significant wins like changing state legislation to allow retired teachers to return to schools without losing their pensions. She successfully advocated for increased educational funding in schools. Through the Louisville Urban League Reily Reentry Project, championed by Reynolds, the state’s largest free expungement program, 2,154 individuals were able to expunge their records and save $1.3 million in legal fees.
Creating more educational opportunities for the underserved is an important “pillar” of the league. With Sadiqa’s leadership 3,725 students were served in out-of-school time tutoring programs. She also worked with her staff to help graduating seniors earn more than $1 million in college scholarships!
I could go on and on. But finally, I end with this. The Norton Healthcare Sports and Learning Center. This center is a lasting monument to Sadiqa Reynolds vision and leadership in the city of Louisville. With dogged drive and determination, she led the league and the community -at- large to transform a 24-acre contaminated lot into a world-class sports & learning campus in record time, amid a global pandemic and deep social unrest. And, in the building of the complex 40% of construction spend was with 30 different Black-owned businesses, the highest percentage of black businesses for a capital project in the history of the Commonwealth!
Her leadership is stellar. Her work is amazing. While we lament her leaving, we are nonetheless filled with gratitude and hope for what lies ahead for this phenomenal leader. Sadiqa Reynolds leaves the City of Louisville in a better position than when she came.
The public is invited to join the board of trustees of the Louisville Urban League in celebrating Sadiqa Reynolds on Saturday, September 24th, at 6 p.m. at the Norton Healthcare Sports and Learning Center. To attend this celebration, please RSVP and obtain free tickets at lul.org.
Reverend Dr. Diane Givens Moffett is a member of the Louisville Urban League Board of Trustees.
Louisville’s Urban League is part of the National Urban League, which is headquartered in New York City. Founded in 1910 the National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment, equality and social justice for black people and historically underserved groups of people living in the urban corridors of America.
This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: The community celebrates Urban League Sadiqa Reynolds on Sept. 24.