This week, Coro Pittsburgh announced the finalists for our 9th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Awards that will be held on January 30, 2016, from 6:30-9:00pm at the DoubleTree Hotel (Downtown Pittsburgh). Coro will hold this event in order to celebrate those in our community who are role models in values-based leadership. The Coro program is deeply oriented towards values, particularly the values of diversity and inclusion. We find that when people clarify and constantly remind themselves of their core values, they build the strength of mind needed to persevere over the often long period of time that it takes to realize positive change in our communities.  

The Awards are named after Martin Luther King Jr. He is one of the most powerful role models for leaders who believe it is necessary to have a positive and inclusive vision in order to make meaningful progress on the major issues of our day.  King inspired Americans of various racial, religious, geographic, political and social backgrounds to take a stand for the idea that every human being is worthy of dignity and respect. He shined a spotlight on the statement in our Declaration of Independence that all people are created equal, and he raised our collective awareness that as a nation we were not living up to this value. Through his leadership, King engaged thousands of people to help close the gap between our stated values and the reality of racial and economic injustice.

King’s message is more relevant today than ever. Americans are still not living up to our espoused belief that all people are created equal. To be sure, we have made progress since King led the civil rights movement–for example in rights extended to same sex couples, in a global climate change agreement, in positive behavioral intervention systems in our schools, in ban-the-box campaigns in local government, and in community-based wealth building initiatives. But our political system is deeply polarized, which undermines our collective potential to wield the gifts of new technology and the passions of our people to accelerate positive change.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Awards finalists are role models of values-based leadership. They set an example for those of us who are committed to a higher purpose but find ourselves distracted by political leaders and media outlets that boost ratings by spreading fear and mistrust. America needs leaders who, like Dr. King, inspire us with a shared vision and challenge us to seek common ground on behalf of the common good. We are blessed with such leaders in our own community. Join us to celebrate them on January 30th.

Greg Crowley is the President and CEO of Coro Pittsburgh