Louisville Metro official Sadiqa Reynolds will become the new president of the Louisville Urban League this fall.
Reynolds, 43, will replace Ben Richmond as the president of the civil rights advocacy group. Richmond announced his retirement earlier this year after leading the organization since 1987.
She will be the first woman to lead the Louisville Urban League.
Reynolds comes to the Urban League from Metro government. In her most recent role, Reynolds serves as the city’s director of community building, for which she’s paid about $122,000 annually. She oversees several city departments, including Metro Parks, Animal Services and Public Health and Wellness.
On Twitter, Mayor Greg Fischer said the new role for Reynolds will be a “loss for my team; big gain for our city.”
Reynolds said she considers the Urban League’s mission of helping disadvantaged people and minorities gain economic and social equality part of her life’s work.
“For me, this position makes my life make all the sense in the world,” she said at a press conference at the Urban League headquarters in the Russell neighborhood.
“Now I understand what every hurdle was about, what every closed door, was about. Now I understand why I had to have some of the experiences I have had.”
Dan Hall, board chairman for the Louisville Urban League, said Reynolds selection followed a national search and a rigorous vetting process.
“The board feels very confident that Sadiqa will move the Urban League forward, broaden it’s impact and take it to another level, and elevate its profile both locally and nationally,” he said.
Reynolds doesn’t start her new role until Oct. 1, but she said she is already working to formulate a strategy for tackling a range of issues that impact residents’ quality of life.
She said she will focus on advancing affordable housing efforts in the city. She pointed to a proposed ordinance stalled in a Metro Council committee that aims to diversify where affordable housing in areas of the county not traditionally known for such developments.
“This is not the time to move backwards on affordable housing,” she said. “This has to be a priority not only for the Urban League, but for the community.”
Reynolds said she’ll work with Urban League staff to address education, jobs, civil rights and the restoration of voting rights for convicted felons.
“There needs to be some legislative agenda. It is time for Kentucky to not be one of three states that does not restore rights after a person serves their time,” she said.
She said she’d also work to get more young people involved with the Urban League.
Richmond said he’s excited to see a “homegrown leader” replace him.
“Someone who has not only a deep passion for the mission of the Urban League but a real deep passion for our community,” he said.
Reynolds said she’ll have work to do before leaving Metro government, including finding a new director of public health.