Spotlight on Dr. Jenny Laster – In recognition of International Women’s Day

Spotlight on Dr. Jenny Laster – In recognition of International Women’s Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is “Embrace Equity”, which is exactly what alumna Dr. Jenny Laster, founder of Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio’s African American Leadership and Development Program (AALDP), has spent her life fighting for.

Dr. Laster was born in 1940, in St. Louis, Missouri. She grew up in an all-Black community with segregated public schools. In her 2022 book, “I mopped floors so you won’t have to!,” she credits her loving family, especially her mother and grandmother (only one generation from slavery), for encouraging her to live her life to the fullest.

Her professional career began as a teacher. She received her B.S. in Elementary Education and taught in the St. Louis public schools for ten years. She remembers when tuition was only $20 per semester, plus the cost of books. Always a teacher at heart, she continued her career as an educator in the nonprofit and corporate world after she moved to Cincinnati.

In 2016, Dr. Laster fulfilled one of her dreams when she received her Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a major in Ethical & Creative Leadership from Union. She writes in her book of that momentous occasion, “I walked across that stage, led by those before me, and trailed by those who follow me.”

On February 8, 2023, the Cincinnati City Council recognized Dr. Laster for her many years of service. Her legacy of nurturing and supporting emerging African American leaders has helped many Black leaders grow into trailblazers for the city.

Her awards and board leadership roles are numerous, including the recipient of the Cincinnati Herald Nefertiti Award, Fifth Third Bank Person of Courage, Boy Scouts of America Leadership in Recruiting, Cincinnati Museum Center Children’s Advisory Board, UC Hospital Advisory Council, and many more.

Her many accomplishments include the following:

  • Founder and CEO of The Grass Roots Leadership Academy, which addressed the leadership development needs of more than 500 community leaders.
  • Director of Leadership Development, Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio.
  • Co-producer of “Glorifying the Lions”, an oral history celebrating the accomplishments of Cincinnati senior African Americans. The documentary was adapted by the Cincinnati PBS affiliate and is now part of the Urban League’s annual awards program.
  • First Executive Director of Cincinnati Works, an organization designed to move low-income individuals to self-sufficiency through full-time employment.
  • Vice-President of Human Resources, ATE Management & Service company.
  • Adjunct faculty at Cincinnati State Technical College and the University of Cincinnati.
  • Leadership Development Program Director, Center for Closing the Health Gap
  • Co-founder of Execucircle, a professional development conference for African Americans held throughout the Caribbean, Africa, and Brazil.
  • Two-year appointment as the United States Lay Representative to the British Methodist Church.

Congratulations Dr. Laster, on a life that has engaged, enlightened, and empowered.