Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Leadership & Service

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Leadership and Service is an annual intergenerational and interfaith event where Geneseo students, faculty, staff, and local senior citizen volunteers come together for a day of community service and learning. 

2020 Day of Leadership & Service

January 20, 2020

Brandon White

student volunteers

student and citizen volunteers

students at table

The 2020 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Leadership and Service took place in the MacVittie College Union on Monday, January 20. The event was free, and lunch was provided.

The keynote speaker was Brandon White, poet, emcee, author, and educator. Currently an English Language Arts (ELA) Specialist at UnboundEd, White is a former middle school teacher and Restorative Practices Educator for the Rochester City School District. He received his B.S. at Buffalo State College and his M.S. from the University of Buffalo. White’s professional journey has been guided by the question: How do we provide equitable ELA and literacy instruction in a way that affirms student identity and dismantles systemic racism in education?

The lunchtime speaker was Dr. Hank Rubin, author of more than 70 scholarly and editorial articles, chapters, and books on topics including public, nonprofit, education, and collaborative leadership; collective impact; race, racism, and privilege. Dr. Rubin earned his B.A. at the University of Chicago (with two years of coursework at SUNY Geneseo), his M.A. at the University of Chicago, and his Ph.D. at Northwestern University. In 2018, he retired from the Rochester Area Community Foundation as vice president for community programs and was invited by descendants of Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington to establish the Frederick Douglass Center for Collaborative Leadership within Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives.

The day’s program included workshops facilitated by faculty, staff, and students exploring the philosophies of Rev. Dr. King; group service projects to benefit local nonprofits and community agencies; and musical selections from the Gospel Choir at Geneseo.

Please contact Assistant Dean of Students for Leadership and Service Nick Palumbo at with any questions.

2019 Day of Leadership & Service

January 21, 2019

Danielle Ponder

students volunteerin

students hugging

students watching

The College hosted the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Leadership and Service on Monday, Jan. 21, 2019, in the MacVittie College Union Ballroom. The annual intergenerational event drew 110 people including SUNY Geneseo students, faculty, and staff; seniors connected with the Foster Grandparent program administered by the Livingston County Office for the Aging, and high school students from Geneseo Central’s Leadership and Service class.

Danielle Ponder, Esq., delivered the keynote, “For the Love of Justice.” Ponder, a Rochester, N.Y. native, is an activist, musician, and attorney. She performs internationally with her band, Danielle Ponder & The Tomorrow People. She is a former Monroe County public defender, where she provided defense for the impoverished. She currently serves as an adjunct professor at SUNY Brockport and Rochester Institute of Technology and sits on several community initiatives and sits on the board of Teen Empowerment.

Ponder began by delivering, an a capella version of an original song. Beginning the event with a heartfelt and beautifully delivered piece set the tone for the day by emphasizing the need to open ourselves to hearing and coming to terms with the hard truths about race, poverty, and inequality in America, and how important it is to approach solutions to these issues from a place of love. Ponder shared her experiences growing up in Rochester, lessons from her eight-year career as a public defender, as well as national criminal justice data to support her call for open and honest dialogue and self-reflection around what freedom looks like for different Americans.

Ponder delivered another original song to close out her presentation that emphasized championing love over hate and good over evil. By doing so, we can move the Legacy of Dr. King forward.

The 2019 volunteers worked on service projects that will benefit local and national organizations and charities. The projects include making fleece blankets to be donated to the local Veterans Association, assembling and decorating Winter Care Bags for residents of Morgan Estates Nursing Home, and writing cards for Active Duty and Veterans as part of Operation Gratitude.

Students could choose from five GOLD workshops, and during lunch, alum Gurnaina Chawla '16, a SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence recipient who expects to graduate from Cornell Law School in 2020, delivered the talk, “Service and Social Movements for Change.” The Gospel Choir also performed during the event.