Worthington News

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Entrepreneur promotes 'infinite hope'

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Donna James speaks during the Martin Luther King Jr. community celebration at the Worthington United Methodist Church on Monday, Jan. 20. James is the founder and board chairwoman of the Center for Healthy Families and is the managing director of Lardon & Associates.

Be thoughtful about how we are going to leave this world a little better than when we found it.

That was the message of central Ohio businesswoman Donna James during Worthington's Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration.

More than 200 people attended the event at the Worthington United Methodist Church on Jan. 20.

Along with singers and dancers, James emphasized the words and message of King in his "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963.

"His focus was always on the best of humanity," she said, urging the crowd to remember the phrase, "finite disappointment, infinite hope."

Born in Greensboro, N.C., and exposed to the oppression by police officers as a young child during a race riot, she has learned to forgive, she said.

She was an unwed teenage mother and thanks her mother and grandmother for keeping her moving in the right direction.

She went on to become an executive with Nationwide Insurance and was the first African-American to sit on its executive committee. She currently is the managing director of the consulting firm, Lardon & Associates.

James is the founder and board chairwoman of the Center for Healthy Families and in 2010 was named by President Obama to serve as chairwoman of the National Women's Business Council.

Her current focus is on leadership and the eradication of poverty and infant mortality, she said. The infant mortality rate in Columbus is higher than in Chicago or New York City, she said. It is tied to the child's ZIP code, with prematurity and poor nutrition high on the list of causes.

"This is something we can do something about," she said.

She urged those in the audience to form their own three areas of focus so the world could become a better place.

The Capriccio Youth Choir, the Capriccio Vocal Ensemble and the St. John A.M.E. dance ministry performed.

Ensemble director Larry Griffith led a call and audience response of the "I Have A Dream" speech, which was first delivered Aug. 28, 1963.

The audience also joined in the singing of We Shall Overcome, ending the program with the well-known words: "Deep in my heart, I do believe that we shall overcome someday."

The annual celebration, which includes a free lunch in the church basement following the program, is sponsored by the city of Worthington's Community Relations Commission, in partnership with the Worthington Libraries and the Worthington City Schools.