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Urban League to Honor Newby-Alexander and Blunt at Community Leaders’ Breakfast

Two individuals affiliated with Norfolk State University will be among the honorees recognized by the Urban League of Hampton Roads at its 36th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leaders’ Breakfast at 8 a.m., Monday, Jan. 20, at the Portsmouth-Norfolk Renaissance Hotel.

Dr. Cassandra Newby-Alexander, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Mary L. Blunt, a member of the NSU Board of Visitors, will be presented awards at the breakfast, which is held annually on the federal holiday that honors Dr. King. The breakfast recognizes the legacy and life of Dr. King and presents awards to those dedicated to community service/volunteerism, education and leadership.

Cassandra Newby AlexanderIn addition to serving as dean of the College of Liberal Arts, Dr. Newby-Alexander is also a professor of history and the director of the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Center for African Diaspora Studies. An author and researcher, she most recently led and succeeded in her effort to have Norfolk State host the 1619: Making of America Summit as part of Virginia’s 400th commemoration. President Javaune Adams-Gaston, Ph.D., will make the award presentation to Dr. Newby-Alexander.


Blunt L. MaryBlunt, who recently retired as a senior corporate vice president at Sentara Healthcare, was appointed to the Norfolk State University Board of Visitors in June 2019 by Gov. Ralph Northam. At Sentara, Blunt was responsible for the strategic and operational oversight of the Hampton Roads region to include Sentara Leigh Hospital, Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital, Sentara Princess Anne Hospital and Sentara Albemarle Medical Center (North Carolina). In addition, she also had responsibility for Sentara Hampton Roads post-acute service including seven nursing homes, two assisted living facilities and Pace programs.

This year’s honorees also include John Broderick, Old Dominion University president; Cecelia Tucker, assistant to the president for community relations at ODU; Howard Kern, president and chief executive officer of Sentara Healthcare; Bob Aston, chairman of the board at Towne Bank; Tom Hasty III, senior executive vice president and regulatory risk officer at Towne Bank; Joan Brock, outstanding civic leader and philanthropist; Gaylene Kanoyton, award-winning community servant and activist; and Marquise Hunt, chairman emeritus of the national NAACP Youth and College Division Task Force. The keynote speaker is Dr. Janice Underwood, director of diversity, equity and inclusion for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Begun in 1984, the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Leaders’ awards are presented to individuals or groups who promote positive images, exemplify community service, and demonstrate the values that model those of Dr. King and show evidence of the impact their contributions make in the lives of others. The Community Leaders’ Breakfast is an Urban League of Hampton Roads signature event and is also co-sponsored by the city of Portsmouth, Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University and Eastern Virginia Medical School.

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