By Sherlene Shanklin, Special Report with WHAS11, ABC Louisville
After nearly a decade in Louisville, Donald Lassere will leave the Muhammad Ali Center and move back to his hometown of Chicago. In his seat as president and CEO, Laura Douglas.
In ‘Your Story’ I sit down with the respected corporate leader.
To many in the community she is called the stabilizer. Because she helps corporations and non-profits maintain their business practices while stabilizing their leadership.
First, Laura Douglas did it at TARC; now she’s moving to the Muhammad Ali Center; serving as its first Black woman president. Making history in her hometown.
Douglas discusses her family and her close connection to the city. “Well, I grew up here in the Russell neighborhood. I had eight brothers and sisters. We started out at James Bond Elementary School which is now Byck. I went to Western Junior High School and to Shawnee High School.
After graduation, Douglas continued her education to become an attorney. She explained her career path. “I started out my career as a lawyer, I’m a graduate of the University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law and I’ve been a general counsel at several organizations and my most recent position was at LGE and I retired from there. Throughout my career I have always been a volunteer and I’ve always served on a number of boards in the community. And one of the places I invested a great deal of my board serve was here at the Muhammad Ali Center.”
As the immediate past board chair, she is now ready to get the doors of the Ali center reopened. Douglas says “Here at the Muhammad Ali Center the good news is, it’s an outstanding organization with a very impeccable national a reputation. My role is here is to keep the ship steady in the water as the board looks for a permanent CEO. I’m happy to do that”.
Douglas came out of retirement to take on this role, but i wanted to know if she planned to go back into retirement, as she shaped the next generation’s CEO’s at home. Douglas with a smile says “Yes, yes I will. I was a granny and my grandchildren kinda run my life for me.”
Douglas is excited about keeping the Ali Center moving until the national search is completed which could take up to six months. Douglas’ family is happy about her and understand the importance of the position but see what her family thinks her most important title is to them. She says “My family is proud but one thing they remind me every day, I’m just granny as far as they are concerned and I’m mom.”
June will mark the fifth anniversary of Muhammad Ali’s passing. The Ali Festival will honor him with his six core principles: Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect and Spirituality. I asked Douglas did she expect the opportunities she’s seeing today?
She says “As a small child I know my mother and father encouraged all of us to expand our horizon and to dream big. I’m really fortunate to have the opportunity and to be able to continue to work in a community that I really love
The Muhammad Ali Center will reopen to the public on Thursday, April 1st.
This year’s Ali Festival will be June 4th to the 13th.
The Truth Be Told Temporary Exhibit has been extended to 2022.
The Muhammad Ali Center is located at 144 N. 6th Street, Louisville, KY 40202.