Dr. Leon Finney (courtesy of NBC Chicago)

Who is Dr. Leon Finney?

Rev. Dr. Leon D. Finney, Jr. is a prominent Chicago organizer who has devoted his entire professional life to the regeneration of inner city communities. He is best known for his decades-long work with The Woodlawn Organization and Woodlawn Community Development Corporation (WCDC), a community development initiative to establish affordable housing.

Over the past four decades, WCDC has organized the investment of $300 million for mixed-income residential and commercial development in Chicago’s most economically depressed neighborhoods.

Its property management arm manages 9,000 rental apartments in Chicago and Gary Indiana, with an asset value of one-half billion dollars and employs 300 blue-collar and white-collar workers.

Dr. Finney has led WCDC to become one of the most influential organizations of its type, cementing his position as one of the most sought-after community organizers and advisors on community development and race relations.

Alongside his community-based work, Dr.Finney has always been involved in different aspects of the media, from working as a newspaper publisher, columnist and former television host.

Why is he on theGrio’s 100?

Last year on his 75th birthday Dr. Finney launched a new state-of-the-art Urban Broadcast Media (UBM) Center on the South Side of Chicago.

UBM is a multimedia production studio for broadcast TV, internet TV, broadcast radio, internet radio, audio recording, New Media platforms, and an academy for media literacy along with Artifice, a technology program coding training center for high school students.

According to its site, UBM is dedicated to reaching deeper, broader and closer to its stakeholders and audience with its content platform and delivery.

Speaking to Finney it is evident he is acutely awareaware of the power of traditional and new media to shape the social and political agenda. He said he launched UBM because he was “angry over stereotypical media content that was and continues to be perpetuated in the mainstream media.”

What’s next for Dr. Finney?   

He has big plans for the multimedia center as a forum to secure a voice for the underrepresented. “I want to build a media communication operation that will be viable for generations to come. It has to be financially viable,” said Dr. Finney, founder and sponsor of UBM.