By Deborah Bailey,
AFRO D.C. News Editor
Kimberly Jeffries Leonard, Ph.D is a living example of what civic engagement looks like in action.
Jeffries Leonard, national president of the Links and The Links Foundation, is a 2022 recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Lifetime Award. The honor was bestowed on her this spring at the U.S. Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C.
Jeffries Leonard exemplifies the truth that every voice is needed – every hand involved. She demonstrates through example the value of black women bringing our entire stories forward as we continue creating the best version of America in, for and with our communities.
“We were elated to facilitate Dr. Jeffries Leonard’s nomination for this award,” said Dr. Cliett Long, executive Director of the Charleston, S.C.- based Lowcountry Rice Project (LCRP). LCRP was responsible for submitting the President’s Volunteer Service award nominations.
“Her lifelong commitment to service at the local, state, national, and international levels embodies the spirit and intent of the award. Her leadership in service is influential and will demonstrate to many others the importance of service to our fellow citizens,” Cliett explained.
Jeffries Leonard’s service to the community has included decades of service in the fields of behavioral health and health disparities. She has worked through some of the most challenging public health issues affecting all Americans – particularly Black Americans.
Leonard has served as deputy director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Substance Abuse Treatment at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. She was also chief operating officer of the District of Columbia’s Department of Health.
Prior to her executive level leadership in government health care, Leonard served as senior deputy director of Addiction Prevention Recovery – not a glamor role. Leonard participated in “on the ground” advocacy for persons and their families struggling with addiction here in the District.
More than 3,000 people per year seek addiction recovery services in the District. Moreover, the death rate due to drug overdoses is 58 per 100 persons according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So providing treatment, recovery and supporting persons, living with addiction through their entire journeys is no one’s dream.
Jeffries Leonard served as vice president of the Black Women’s Agenda when she was nominated to serve in the role of National President of the Links.
“As gatekeepers of justice and our communities, we are in a season like no other,” Jeffries Leonard said in remarks following her installation as president.
In this coming season of life, the community organizations, service organizations like the Links, and others will become extremely important in developing and advocating for initiatives. Programs and policies will help sustain life and open doors for Black Americans.
“It is my hope that this incredible recognition from President Biden serves to encourage others and to serve their communities through volunteerism,” Jeffries Leonard said.
The Links, is one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations of extraordinary women who are committed to enriching, sustaining and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. Members contribute more than one million documented service hours annually.
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