Martin Luther King Center Announces Generous Matching Gift

Amanda Frye Leinhos & Ed Lavalle

On a blustery New England evening, Newport’s Martin Luther King Center held its 88th annual meeting at St. George’s School. Suzi Conklin Nance, President of the Martin Luther King Center Board, promised “an important announcement”, and the attendees -- board members, staff, and supporters of the agency, were not disappointed.


For the historians among our readers, the Reverend Martin Luther King was not yet born 88 years ago: The center was originally called the “Newport Community Center’ at its founding, and changed to its new name in l968.

Vincent O'Dwyer  & Ronald Dick, of the Board


There were two pieces of information that cheered the audience: Ms. Nance
said that giving was up, in spite of the economic turmoil, and that the agency had been pledged a $100,00 matching gift grant by Peter D. Kiernan III and Edo Kiernan, which brought great applause, as it means any gift to the agency will be doubled up to its amount.


Even though demand for MLK’s services are up, “we have managed to meet them”, Ms. Nance told the audience. She cited Bob Murray for his work with the hunger program, Susan Wells for the web site, and George Steel, whom she called “Mr. Spackle”. Gary Stiffler, President elect of the Board, announced that the agency will break even this year. It is not publicly funded.


Henry Leinhos and children

Amanda Frye Leinhos, in her 10th year as Executive Director, said she wanted to be “a force of nature”, and some would not argue that she is. She graciously recognized staff members, and commented that people having “a place to go” in times of trouble was key. She also noted that it takes courage to come, and noted that the high school graduation rate of children helped by the center was 100%.


Suzi Conklin Nance & Tina Castano

The meeting adjourned to wine and excellent hors d'oeuvres, enjoyed by Board members Ronald Dick and Kimberly Skeen Jones, former Director Ruth Thumbtzen, and Vincent O'Dwyer.

Ms. Nance addressing the audience

Toon, Susan Perkins, and former Director Ruth Thumbtzen

Treasurer's report from Gary Siffert

Suzi Nance & Amand Frye Leinhos

Patricia Moss

George Steel, "Mr. Spackle"

Tina Castano speaking

Sister T and Trisha Baylor

Leslie Grosvenor O'Dwyer

Attentive audience












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