First Woman, First Black Woman to Lead the Organization
Will be Engaged in The Center’s Public Re-Opening on April 1st and The Muhammad Ali Festival in June
Laura M. Douglas, the Ali Center’s Immediate Past Board Chair, and a member of its Board of Directors for a decade, has been named as the Center’s Interim President and CEO. She will be the first woman and first Black woman to lead the organization. Donald Lassere, its current President and CEO, who announced his resignation last month after nine years at the helm, will be moving back to his Chicago hometown to prioritize family demands. He has accepted the position of President and CEO of the Chicago History Museum. Mr. Lassere’s final day at the Center will be April 9th.
As Interim President and CEO of the Muhammad Ali Center, Ms. Douglas will oversee the day-to-day management of the organization and will work with the Center’s Executive Committee on the future transition of a permanent leader. Ms. Douglas will begin transitioning into her new role today.
The Ali Center’s Executive Committee has begun seeking firms to manage a national search for a permanent Chief Executive Officer.
Ms. Douglas is a highly respected leader in the corporate, legal, education, and social justice communities. In addition to her ten years of service on the Muhammad Ali Center’s Board of Directors, she led the organization for three years as its Chairperson and now serves as its Immediate Past Chair on the Center’s Executive Committee. Ms. Douglas is no stranger to the Louisville community, for both her high profile professional career and her multitude of volunteer positions in the community.
Said Robert Croft, Chairman of the Board for the Ali Center, “Laura is a proven leader with a distinguished track record of success in whatever endeavor she takes on. The Center’s Executive Committee is extremely grateful for Laura’s commitment to step into this interim leadership role at this exciting time in our history and we have full confidence in her abilities. She is the right person at the right time to fill this interim role.”
Ms. Douglas said, "As a member of the Ali Center's Board, and a past Board Chair, I have an unwavering commitment to the Muhammad Ali Center and its mission. I am proud to continue my service by assuming this new role. I am also humbled to lead the Center’s wonderful team of professionals as we approach the five year anniversary of Muhammad’s passing this June and finalize our plans to mark that occasion with the annual Muhammad Ali Festival. I also look forward to working with our staff to welcome back the community and all its visitors to the Center when we re-open to the public on April 1st.”
Ms. Douglas received a J.D. from the University Of Louisville Brandeis School Of Law and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Louisville. Early on in her career, she practiced law at large companies, and worked at The University of Iowa and Ohio University. She relocated back to Louisville where she was employed at the Legal Aid Society. From there Ms. Douglas moved to the Metropolitan Sewer District; the Louisville Water Company; E.ON.US; and LG&E and KU Energy, LLC. She also served as Secretary for the Public Protection and Regulation Cabinet. Ms. Douglas has served on multiple Louisville area Boards, Commissions, and Workgroups over the years. Most recently, she worked as the Interim Co-Executive Director of the Transit Authority of River City (TARC).
The Ali Center, which has been temporarily closed due to the pandemic, will re-open on Thursday, April 1st. Hours will be Wednesdays through Sundays, 12:00 noon to 5:00 p.m. It has also extended the dates of its Truth Be Told exhibit to February 2022.
About the Muhammad Ali Center
The Muhammad Ali Center, a 501(c)3 corporation, was cofounded by Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie in their hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. The international cultural center promotes the Six Core Principles of Muhammad Ali (Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect, and Spirituality) in ways that inspire personal and global greatness and provides programming and events around the focus areas of education, racial and gender equity, and global citizenship. The Ali Center is formally associated with the United Nations Department of Global Communications, and in 2020, became one of the newest stops on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. The Center’s headquarters also contains an award-winning museum experience. For more information, please visit www.alicenter.org
Muhammad Ali Center
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