UMass Dartmouth To Honor Community 'Drum Majors'

YWCA Executive Director Yvonne Drayton and UMass Nursing Prof. Jeanne Leffers will be honored at the 2005 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award breakfast on January 28. U.S. Rep. James McGovern will be the keynote speaker for the event.

YWCA Executive Director Yvonne Drayton, UMass Nursing Prof. Jeanne Leffers 
to receive award; Congressman McGovern to deliver keynote 

YWCA Executive Director Yvonne Drayton and UMass Nursing Prof. Jeanne Leffers will be honored at the 2005 University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award breakfast on January 28. U.S. Rep. James McGovern will be the keynote speaker for the event. 

The breakfast will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the Commuter Cafeteria in the Campus Center. Tickets are $15, UMass Dartmouth students with ID pay $5. Reservations can be made by calling the Office of Equal Opportunity, Diversity & Outreach at 508-999-8008. The deadline for reservations is January 21. 

The Drum Major award was created last year to honor individuals who have made significant contributions toward realizing Dr. King’s dream of equality, social justice, and peace. The award is named for one of Dr. King’s sermons, in which he said he wanted to be remembered as a “drum major for justice…for peace…for righteousness.” 

“Our community is blessed with people who are truly drum majors for justice and equality and reflect Dr. King’s values and dreams,” said Chancellor MacCormack. “Yvonne Drayton and Jeanne Leffers have contributed in powerful and inspirational ways to expand educational, cultural, and health care opportunities for all people. It is important that our University and our greater community recognize such leaders and learn from the example they set for all of us. And we are fortunate to have Congressman McGovern, a champion of justice and fairness, as our keynote speaker.’’ 

Ms. Drayton has been executive director of the YWCA of Southeastern Massachusetts since January 1992. During that time, she has spearheaded major changes to, and expansion of, the longtime agency’s programs, as well as significantly extending its service area. Through action and word, Ms. Drayton has demonstrated a commitment to the YWCA’s reorganization, collaborating with others to make the Association more flexible and responsive to the needs of women and girls throughout the country and the world. 

Prof. Leffers, a community nursing faculty member since 2000, regularly brings nursing students to the Dominican Republic to offer care to needy persons, and to broaden the students’ knowledge of poverty and diversity. Her courses focus on the disadvantaged, and topics of social justice are front and center. In the past year, she and other faculty have developed a series of workshops devoted to diversity and inclusion teaching. 

U.S. Rep. James McGovern (D-Massachusetts) has represented the 3rd Congressional District since January, 1997; and has been an advocate for initiatives aimed at enhancing education, higher education, and health care, and preserving social security. Prior to election to Congress, he spent 14 years as a senior aide for the late U.S. Rep. John Joseph Moakley and led a Congressional investigation into the murders of six Jesuit priests and two lay women in El Salvador. 

Ms. Drayton and Dr. Leffers were nominated by members of the community. Final selections were made by a diverse panel of community leaders organized by the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity, Diversity and Outreach. 

“In these times of escalating violence and intolerance, it is more important than ever that we keep Dr. King’s dreams of equality and social justice at the forefront of our society,” added Assistant Chancellor George Smith. 

In 2004, community activists Lee Charlton, President of the NAACP, and Ross M. Grace Jr. received the University’s first Drum Major Award. 

News and Public Information