Distinguished Alumnus for 2016: Rev. Dr. Leon Finney, Jr.
Graduated from the D.Min. program in 1990
Service to others is Rev. Finney’s highest calling — first and foremost to the Pastorate of the Metropolitan Apostolic Church in Chicago, IL. In 2003, he led his church to purchase, and thereby save from demolition, the 114 year Metropolitan Community Church which originally served the Presbyterian faith community until 1926. The church facility is now securely on the Chicago historic register. In 1992, after receiving his Doctor or Ministry degree, Finney was invited by the World Parliament of Religions to organize the African American Inter Religious Community to participate in its One Hundred Year Anniversary. Others organizations he's served include: Chicago Plan Commission, Chairman Monitoring Commission for Public School Desegregation, Chairman Board of Trustees Health Clinic at Altgeld, Member Board of Managers Metropolitan YMCA, Chairman African American Legislative Committee for Illinois District Re-Apportionment, National Chairman Finance Committee (Jesse Jackson for President), Chairman Chicago Finance Committee (raised $215,000 to help Elect Nelson Mandela President of South Africa), Volunteer Field Organizer/Coordinator State of Indiana, and Barack Obama for President.
In February, 2009 the Chicago Urban League honored Finney as its first recipient of the coveted Community Organizer of the Year Award together with numerous other awards and certificates of recognition. From 2009 to 2011, he served as Chairman of Chicago State University Board of Trustees. In 2013 Finney organized a network of community based computer literacy centers involving 3,150 intergenerational participants. Also, to give voice to the marginalized voiceless peoples of color, he founded in 2013 the Urban Broadcast Media, a multi-media center which includes state of the art television, radio channels, audio recording, social media, and training studios. At a cost of $750,000, the center is housed in the renovated church parsonage.
Finney is one of thirteen founders of the Business Leadership Council and its Executive Committee. He is currently the Convener of the Metropolitan Faith In Action Conference (a mass based coalition of community based organizations committed to addressing the civic issues of both the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois).
Finney has helped give definition to the national community Development Corporation movement by organizing and leading one the the nations first such associations, the Woodlawn Community Development Corporation (WCDC). Over the past four decades, WCDC has organized the investment of $300M for mixed income residential and commerical development in one of Chicago's most economically depressed neighborhoods. In August 2015, the Chicago Housing Authority awarded the company a five year contract valued at $10 million dollars to manage 4,500 rental apartments thru 2020.