2022 Pillar Awards

Leronda Jackson, Founder/CEO - LFL Insurance

LFL gives back to Greater Dayton. After the devastating Memorial Day 2019 tornadoes, LFL assisted regional residents affected by that disaster, including non-clients, when other insurance companies refused. Included among LFL's Insurance’s sponsorships are Mercy Manor, a facility treating women in transition from addiction, incarceration, and related health issues, the Annual Debutante Ball hosted by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority/Dayton Chapter, and Black Brothers and Sisters Involvement. Erie Insurance named LFL "Giving Network Agency of the Year."

With three decades in life insurance, Ms. Jackson advises on diversity, equity & inclusion for the Ohio Insurance Association. Leronda serves a number of local community organizations, including Dayton NAACP, Dayton Rotary, League of Women Voters, and the Dayton Realtist Association. Leronda won the 2020 Democratic nomination for state representative in District 40. She is also a member of the National Council of Negro Women and serves the Montgomery County Female Leadership Academy as a Mentor.

Lucious Plant - Workforce Leader: Regional Director, Talent Acquisition - Dayton Development Coalition 

Lucious Plant supports the Dayton Development Coalition as Regional Director of Talent Acquisition. Lucious also leads JobsOhio’s Talent Acquisition Program in the Dayton Region and has utilized JobsOhio program initiatives to attract and retain jobs in strategic industry sectors. 

Lucious earned a Degree in Business Administration from Central State University. He has a deep knowledge of the region’s workforce, training, and education assets. During more than 30 years of public service, he has focused on improving conditions for success through workforce development and talent initiatives for the region’s businesses and job seekers.

Lucious managed state and federal workforce grants that supported the transformation of workers negatively impacted by the Great Recession, December 2007 through June 2009. His work in organizing regional workforce responsiveness resulted in a National Association of Counties (NACO) award for Strategic Workforce Planning. Lucious has successfully supported Montgomery County’s nationally recognized Business Retention and Expansion Program and managed workforce development at the nation’s largest and most comprehensive, single-site One-Stop Job Center.

Cathy Ponitz – Community Advocate and Enthusiast: Former VP, Community Relations and Diversity – Caresource Foundation

Cathy has served more than 30 years with community/corporate foundations, diversity, economic development, and social innovation in Dayton helping vulnerable families and neighborhoods thrive. She was vice president of community relations and diversity at CareSource Foundation for 14 years. The foundation is a national leader in social entrepreneurism, investing over $3 million annually supporting initiatives in personal health, anti-hunger, housing, obstetrical services, mental health/addiction, special populations, public policy, advocacy, and broad community health strategies.

Cathy has served on numerous boards and committees including Dayton CREATE, Central State University Foundation, Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio, Schuster Performing Arts Center Development Team, The Foodbank, Public Health Dayton, and Montgomery County, Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureau, National Conference on Community & Justice, Children’s Hunger Alliance and more.

Cathy is the founder of the Corporate Community Roundtable and a member of Downtown Dayton Rotary. She's currently working with OneFifteen— a Dayton region innovative substance use disorder facility and is a Montgomery County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), the voice of children in the juvenile and family court system.

Stacy Thompson Speare-Hardy – Corporate Giving Authority: Sr. VP, Sr. Mgr. Corporate Responsibility and Community Engagement – KeyBank Corp.

Stacy is responsible for leading a national team of Corporate Responsibility Officers. She collaborates with KeyBank Foundation to identify and execute high impact regional and national grants and investments of scale. She leads in developing highly collaborative relationships with consumer advocacy groups, non-profits, local, county, and state governments that impact Corporate Responsibility objectives nationally. 

Stacy is a native Daytonian and graduate of Spelman College. Stacy returned to Dayton after spending 20 years in Atlanta, New York, and Chicago. She's a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the Dayton Chapter of The Links. Stacy attends St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Trotwood, Ohio where her husband, the Reverend Dr. Benjamin E.K. Speare-Hardy is Pastor.

Stacy is President of the Dayton African Heritage Key Business Impact and Networking Group (AHKBING). Her numerous community involvements include the Arcade Innovation Hub (AIH) Board of Directors, Chairing the Greater West Dayton Incubator Advisory Committee, Wesley Dayton Boards, and the Dayton Public School Board. She was recognized as a Dayton Daily News Top Ten Woman (2011), and a Dayton YWCA Women of Influence (2017). 

The Pillar Award is given to distinguished leaders who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to serving the Miami Valley.

This year, the Urban League will present a hybrid Pillar Awards. Beginning on Saturday, June 18th, with a private awards luncheon and an on-stage presentation at the Community Juneteenth Celebration in Dayton. Then, culminating in a first-ever TV broadcast, in partnership with WHIO-TV, Channel 7, to premiere a 30-minute Pillar Awards special on Sunday, June 19th at 11:30 am. Over the two days, these events anticipate a reach of over 35,000 Dayton community members.

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