Spalding University awarded an honorary degree to Louisville Urban League President and CEO Sadiqa Reynolds on Wednesday night during the Urban League’s Derby Gala at the Omni Hotel.
Spalding President Tori Murden McClure surprised Reynolds on stage during the program, coming out to present her with an honorary doctorate of public service. Spalding Chief Advancement Officer Bert Griffin handed Reynolds a framed honorary diploma.
Reynolds received a standing ovation from the capacity crowd of about 1,000 at the event, which is part of the Kentucky Derby Festival.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been completely surprised in my life before (Wednesday night),” Reynolds said. “I am so thankful to be honored in this way. So many people don’t get their flowers while they are alive, but for reasons unknown to me, God allows me to receive my flowers while I’m here. I feel very blessed, and I feel the weight of the community because I understand, ‘To whom much is given, much is required.”
Reynolds, an attorney and former Jefferson County District Court judge, has been the leader of the Louisville Urban League since 2015. She is the first woman to serve as President and CEO of the organization, which advocates for social justice and provides services for African-Americans and disadvantaged people in the areas of justice, housing, employment, education and health.
Reynolds said during her remarks at Wednesday night’s gala that last year the Louisville Urban League helped 251 people land jobs, 72 people purchase homes and 105 families avoid foreclosure. She said hundreds were assisted in seeking expungement through the Reily Reentry Program.
Reynolds, who was Louisville Magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year, also led the Louisville Urban League’s successful proposal to the city to turn the former FoodPort site in the Russell neighborhood into a $30 million track and field and sports complex.
Reynolds previously served as the Inspector General for the state’s Cabinet for Health and Family Services and as Louisville Metro Government’s Chief for Community Building in the Office of the Mayor. She was also the first African-American woman to clerk for the Kentucky Supreme Court.