It’s Never Too Late

It’s Never Too Late

 Dr. Jenny C. Laster continues to fight against being the “first and only”

At the age of 73, Jenny C. Laster will receive her Ph.D. at Union’s National Commencement on October 8.

“I love it when my 13-year-old grandson calls me Dr. Grandma, it means I have sent him a message that says not only dream big but live those dreams. Thank you Union Institute & University for helping dreams become reality,” said Dr. Laster.

Not only is Dr. Laster a role model, but she has much left to do.

“I want to be a published writer with a focus on issues and solutions that impact my communities, one is my community of females and the other is the African American community.”

Dr. Laster’s dissertation is titled, An Autoethnography on a Nontraditional Career. Her Ph. D. work also included being a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar. That required core and advanced seminars on Dr. King’s leadership and legacy, encompassing intellectual, spiritual, moral, political, psychological, and policy dimensions.

Dr. Laster chose to attend Union at the urging of the late Dr. Toni Gregory, Union Institute & University Associate Dean.

“Dr. Gregory and her husband, Dr. Everett Gregory along with my family were my cheerleaders. From my first day to the last, I was encouraged by the Union family – beginning with the president, Dr. Roger Sublett, whose commitment filters throughout the organization. I am an MLK Scholar because of the caring and scholastic abilities of Dr. Virgil Wood and Dr. Nancy Boxill. I mention them because the secret to Union is that level of caring is part of the university’s DNA.”

Dr. Laster’s many accomplishments over her career include:

  • Recipient of Fifth Third Bank 2012 Person of Courage
  • Honored by the Boy Scouts of America for her leadership in recruiting volunteers to serve in a variety of roles for the Cincinnati Hopkins District
  • National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, part of the “Dada Rafiki” tribute to women over 65 who have left their footprint on Cincinnati
  • Grassroots Leadership Academy former president and CEO addressing the leadership skill development needs of more than 500 community leaders, activists, and organizers
  • Cincinnati Urban League Director of Leadership Development
  • Co-producer of the video entitled “Glorifying The Lions,” an oral history celebrating the accomplishments of senior African American leaders in Cincinnati. This 1992 documentary was later adapted by the Cincinnati PBS affiliate and is one of their featured programs during Black History Month. This recognition of senior African Americans in Cincinnati eventually led to what is now the Urban League’s annual “Glorifying the Lions” awards program and luncheon, celebrating Cincinnati’s senior African American leadership and is presented each February as part of its annual meeting luncheon
  • Executive Director for Cincinnati Works, an organization designed to move low-income individuals into self-sufficiency through full-time employment
  • The first woman to hold the position of Vice President for ATE Management & Service Company in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • The first woman to serve as Director of Human Resources for the American Public Transportation Association in Washington, DC, and the first woman to serve as Director of Training for the Bi-State Development Agency in St. Louis, MO
  • A two-year appointment as the United States Lay Representative to the British Methodist Church, requiring her to travel to the United Kingdom in 2006 and 2007. During her trip in 2006 to Scotland, she was commissioned by the President of the British Methodist Church to preach in Scalloway, The Shetland Islands. She also served on the West Ohio Conference Re-districting Team and has held a variety of offices in the United Methodist Church and is a member of Black Methodist for Church Renewal (BMCR)
  • Graduate of Leadership Cincinnati, Class 8, and served for several years on the Leadership Cincinnati Alumni Board
  • Served on many boards including Black Career Women, Inc., Citizens for Civic Renewal, the Cincinnati Museum Center’s Children’s Advisory Board, Leading Women, and the University Hospital Community Advisory