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New leadership institute to launch at Our Lady of Mercy

Alex Crichton

The daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King delivered the keynote address Friday at Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women to help mark the establishment of a leadership institute there.

A $1.2 million gift from donor Paul Speranza, former Vice chairman at Wegmans, will create the Institute, and it’ll be named after his late wife Cheryl.

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It's designed to benefit all Mercy students, especially young women of color

Bernice King told those assembled that it's vitally important to create the next generation of diverse civic and business leaders.

"Our world desperately needs more women in leadership," she said.

Bernice King addresses hundreds at Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women
Bernice King addresses hundreds at Our Lady of Mercy School for Young Women

King also quoted her father who said 'a movement that only moves people is a revolt.  But a movement that changes people, systems and institutions is a revolution...'

"What will take place here and throughout this nation, will indeed be a revolution.  Because we will see changes in people, in perspectives, and we'll see changes in our institutional structures," she said.

Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Mercy, Christian Jensen, says the Cheryl Speranza Leadership Institute will feature a leadership curriculum and scholarship opportunities.

"The first cohort of eleven scholars, there will be eleven in the first cohort, and it's a full scholarship designed for economically disadvantaged young women from diverse backgrounds," he said.

Jensen says a new generation of women leaders will make a big difference in this community.

He says the institute should also increase the diversity of Mercy's student body, with currently about 20 percent of its nearly 800 students being women of color.

Bernice King says she was at Mercy for three key reasons:">