Since 1968, Dorothy R. Leavell has served as editor and publisher of the Crusader Newspaper Group. Following the death of her first husband Balm L. Leavell Jr., Dorothy took the helm of the company’s two newspapers, The Chicago Crusader and the Gary (Indiana) Crusader. On Friday, June 5, 2015, Leavell herself will be in the spotlight as The Chicago Crusader celebrates its 75th anniversary with a gala at the new Loews Chicago Hotel. Community, political, religious and business leaders will be among the 500 guests saluting Ms. Leavell and the newspaper.
Leavell instituted modern changes to enhance the production and effectiveness of the newspapers. She also stabilized her holdings by purchasing and upgrading the buildings, which housed its editorial and production facilities. Since their debut, the Chicago Crusader and Gary Crusader have never missed a single issue.
In an era when print publications are faltering, failing and resorting to solely an online presence, Leavell has maintained a robust readership of nearly 300,000. Her guiding mission is serving the African American communities in Chicago and Northwest Indiana.
Leavell was elected president of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), a Black newspaper trade organization, in June 1995 for a two-year term and was re-elected in June 1997 ending her term in 1999. The Association has a combined readership of more than 15,000,000 readers. During her tenure, she increased the visibility and international stature of the organization. Leavell led a controversial 20-member delegation to Nigeria to investigate the Nigerian political crisis. As a media advocate, she also was a staunch and visible supporter for the controversial and delayed confirmation of Alexis Herman as U.S. Secretary of Labor. In 1997 she attended the swearing in ceremony on May 9th.
A member of the NNPA for more than 46 years, Leavell has served in various other capacities including assistant secretary, a member of the board of directors, and as treasurer, a post she held for 11 years. She has been featured in articles and on television programs discussing such topics as women in business; the strength of the Black Press; cultural diversity and its impact on business; and several human and civil rights issues.
In June 2006 Leavell was elected Chairman of the National Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation. The Foundation oversees the philanthropic arm of the Association including the NNPA News Service, providing news articles and columns to the membership of NNPA; NNPA Black Press Archives housed at Howard University in Washington, D. C.; as well as administer internships, scholarships and grants to college students throughout the United States. She termed out as Chairman in June, 2011. But her service to NNPA did that end there, she was elected as Region 3 board member during the June, 2011 convention. Also during that convention she was named “Publisher of the Year” during the Merit Awards gala.