Shirley Sherrod, former USDA Georgia State Director for Rural Development, named as the recipient of the 2011 Ray Gatchalian Spirit of Leadership Award for her confrontation of local, state and national structures that affect poor farmers in South Georgia.

Shirley Sherrod, former USDA Georgia State Director for Rural Development, named as the recipient of the 2011 Ray Gatchalian Spirit of Leadership Award for her confrontation of local, state and national structures that affect poor farmers in South Georgia.

DENVER – The Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance, KFLA, has named Shirley Sherrod, former USDA Georgia State Director for Rural Development, as the recipient of the 2011 Ray Gatchalian Spirit of Leadership Award for her confrontation of local, state and national structures that affect poor farmers in South Georgia. This marks the third time that the award was presented. As the award winner, Sherrod will have the opportunity to share her story and experiences at the KFLA bi-annual Forum in Washington, D.C. The Ray Gatchalian Award was created to recognize individuals that are compassionate, courageous, risk-takers, and who have a talent for getting things done.

Shirley Sherrod

Raised in rural Georgia and a graduate of Albany State University and Antioch University Midwest, Shirley Sherrod has been in the business of helping African-American farmers since the late 1960s. Between 1969 and 1985 she and her husband were directors of New Communities, Inc., a communal farm project in Lee County, Georgia, and Sherrod has since worked on behalf of black farmers in Georgia.

Under the Obama administration, Sherrod received recognition for decades of leadership as she gained appointment as USDA Georgia State Director for Rural Development. On July 19, 2010 she was fired from her position after blogger Andrew Breitbart posted video excerpts of Sherrod’s address at a March 2010 NAACP event on his website. As is now well known, Breitbart misrepresented Sherrod in his editing of the video and she has received public apologies from President Obama, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and the NAACP for their rush to judgment.

Although she was also offered and chose to decline to be the first person to fill the position of Deputy Director of the Office of Advocacy and Outreach at USDA, she continues to stand up for small farmers in rural Georgia with the vision, passion and energy of a transformative leader.

The Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance Ray Gatchalian Spirit of Leadership Award

The Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance Spirit of Leadership Award is named for Ray Gatchalian, a former Kellogg Fellow. Along with other traits, the award recognizes a Fellow who has proven to be an exceptional leader, embodying characteristics that defined Gatchalian like being compassionate, courageous, taking risk, and having a talent for getting things done. The award is presented bi-annually at the KFLA forum. For additional information please see http://www.kfla.org/programs/?p=p&c=5.

Kellogg Fellows Leadership Alliance

KFLA, www.kfla.org, is a network of more than 1,200 leaders throughout 40 countries worldwide committed to positive change and to giving back in their communities. The KFLA connects, renews and leverages its Kellogg Fellows' network and partners as an effective, humane change agent in addressing today’s critical issues.