The Louisville Urban League leadership was busy this past week — the social justice organization announced the hiring of a new director on Wednesday and its CEO took the stage at the Women’s March in Washington D.C. on Saturday.
In a news release on its website, the Urban League stated that Christina Shadle will join the organization on Feb. 4 as its director of investment, a position that will focus on the $35 million Louisville Urban League Sports and Learning Complex at Heritage West. Shadle is currently director of account services at IQS Research, a local company where she designed and oversaw market research programs.
Urban League CEO Sadiqa Reynolds shed some more light on what led up to the hiring. Shadle reached out to Reynolds about creating the position, and she raised funds to cover her salary.
“She did that. She raised the money for her position already,” Reynolds said, citing it as an example of her power to raise funds. She added that she’s known and admired Shadle for a long time and knows she is committed to the West End.
Shadle, who speaks English and Spanish, has experience with creating alliances between public and private entities, with leadership negotiations and with building operational frameworks, according to the release. She also created Louisville’s first Hispanic Latino Business Council, volunteered for five years with an initiative supporting minority and women-owned businesses, and is a partner in Mayan Café with her husband, Bruce Ucán, and sister Anne Shadle.
The organization has raised almost half of the funds it needs for the complex in the six months since the city chose the Urban League to develop the 24-acre vacant site at 3oth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard. The Urban League plans to construct a state-of-the-art track and field development, with an outdoor track, multipurpose infields, a 4,000-seat indoor facility and more.
There is still work to do, Reynolds said. “We have lots of fundraising left to do, and we need someone who can help us with that, and we really need to be intentional with our reach out to the corporate community.”
The league hopes the investment will help attract hotel, retail, restaurant and other development to the surrounding neighborhoods. An analysis paid for by the city stated that the sports complex is expected to create a total economic impact of $15.9 million and more than $325,000 in local tax revenue annually.
“The need now is to bring additional bandwidth, funds and technical know-how to this project – all for the purpose of transforming the environment for residents directly affected by redlining and discrimination,” the release states. “This commitment is institutionalized in the Louisville Urban League as we address injustice and inequity at a systemic and scalable level.”
Injustice and inequity were the focus of Reynolds’ speech at the Women’s March in Washington D.C. this past Saturday
Reynolds told Insider that the event, which drew an estimated crowd of 100,000, was remarkable. “I have never been anywhere where I’ve seen such a diverse group of women,” she said.
The National Urban League reached out to her about representing the organization at the march.
“I really tried to think of the issues, and there really are just so many issues you would never be able to get through it all in five minutes, but I wanted to highlight issues that are important to women and particularly black women,” Reynolds said of her speech, which she finalized about 20 minutes before.
Reynolds said she has trouble writing speeches too far in advance.
“In order to deliver it, I have to feel it,” she said.
Reynolds revved the crowd out by saying maybe it’s time for women to make decisions about war, affordable housing, health care, access to clean water and other topics such as economic integration. “How can we ever be equal if I have no resources,” she asked.
The march aims to draw attention to women’s rights and equality, and Reynolds spoke broadly about women being “in the back of the line” but also took the opportunity to say, if that is the case, African-American women are “in the back of the back of the back of the line.”
“I am more than a woman. I am a black woman,” Reynolds said. ” …There is no place in a great America for racism, sexism, hatred, bigotry, antisemitism, homophobia, discrimination. America can never be great without my voice.”
She spoke out against President Donald Trump’s proposed wall, the detention of foreign children and police brutality, also noting that as a lawyer and former judge, she has worked with good people in law enforcement.
And while white supremacy impacts everyone, people must realize it falls more heavily on African-Americans, Reynolds said.
“I represent black women who can take no comfort in silence,” she said. “We are not angry. We have simply swallowed so much pain it is oozing out of our pores and it comes out like fire, hot enough to burn just one more person attempting to oppress us.”