Retired Football Star Leonard Marshall To Speak PBSC MLK Celebration Jan. 18

Leonard Marshall

Leonard Marshall, the former NFL defensive lineman and New York Giants “Ring of Honor” legend, will be the keynote speaker at Palm Beach State College’s 25th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration being held at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 18, at the Duncan Theatre on PBSC’s Lake Worth campus (4200 Congress Ave.).

Tania Rogers, anchor and reporter for WPTV NewsChannel 5, will moderate the conversational-style presentation. The event is free and open to the public, but attendees are asked to RSVP at

Themed “Strengthening Our Community Through Service,” the silver anniversary celebration will also recognize the contributions of five community members with MLK Leadership Awards.

“MLK Day at PBSC honors Dr. King’s legacy of humanity, justice and service by recognizing the people and organizations dedicated to serving our communities in extraordinary ways,” PBSC President Ava L. Parker said. “As the only federal holiday designated by Congress as a National Day of Service, MLK Day helps educate and inspire future generations about Dr. King’s work and how we can each make a difference toward a more just society.”

Marshall played 10 of his 12 seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants and was a starter on the Giants teams that won Super Bowl XXI and Super Bowl XXV. He was selected three times to the Pro Bowl and twice named NFL Defensive Lineman of the Year. Born and raised in LSU Tiger Country, Marshall played college football at Louisiana State University before heading to the NFL draft in 1983. In 2022, he was inducted into the New York Giants Ring of Honor.

After football, Marshall received his MBA in finance from Seton Hall University, where he became a professor of finance and sports management, in addition to working as a registered investment adviser. Serving others has been especially important to Marshall, and he has received several awards for his charitable work. Causes vital to Marshall include autism, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), brain trauma, player safety, financial literacy, mental health awareness, cancer research and athlete development. He is recognized for his work in raising awareness of CTE in professional football players.

“With his background of growing up in the civil rights era, his experiences in the NFL and as an educator, and his commitment to giving back, I know our students and the community will enjoy hearing Leonard Marshall’s story and be inspired to give back as well,” said Juanita Benjamin, human resources director and equity officer at PBSC and head of the MLK Coordinating Committee since 2010.

As part of the celebration, PBSC will spotlight its 2024 Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Award winners. The five honorees are being recognized in five categories for their service and work to improve the lives of others, particularly the underserved.

Loverly Sheridan (alumni), a 2002 PBSC graduate, is the founder of Buddy Ambassadors, an organization that promotes empathy, kindness, compassion and inclusivity in children through empowerment programs and the use of Buddy Benches. A proven community leader, Sheridan received the Community Service Award from the Delta Kappa Gamma International Society for Key Women Educators, of which she’s a member, and the International Athena Young Professional Leadership Award from the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches.

Sherry Fletcher (faculty/staff), a student development advisor at PBSC for more than 20 years, has a long history of distinguished service with the National Council on Black American Affairs PBSC Chapter. Among her accomplishments, she revived the NCBAA’s southern regional conference, organized Black history programs and Juneteenth celebrations, and was the driver of initiatives such as the Sister-to-Sister Project to provide mentors to young women at PBSC.

Barbara Cheives (individual), president and CEO of Converge & Associates Consulting, has a robust record of community service that includes the Palm Beach County Criminal Justice Commission, where she is a past chair and the current co-chair of the Community Engagement Task Force. Cheives is on the board of the Lord’s Place in Palm Beach County and the governing board of St. Mary’s Medical Center. She is the past president of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc., West Palm Beach Chapter, and the chair of the Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church Social Justice Ministry. An alumna of Leadership Palm Beach County, she was awarded the 2021 Dorothy Height Racial Justice Award by the YWCA of Palm Beach County and the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches 2023 Women in Leadership Private Sector Award.

Charles McConnell (student) is the president of the Student Government Association at PBSC’s Lake Worth campus. As a pastor in a movement helping people with addictions, he visits hospitals and institutions to guide and support individuals in the early stages of recovery. Pursuing a political science and communications degree, McConnell has a cumulative 4.0 GPA and is a Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society member of the Alpha Delta Iota chapter.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County (organization), founded in 1971, has grown to become the county’s largest, most comprehensive provider of youth services and the fifth-largest Boys & Girls Club out of 5,100 nationwide. Through programming that focuses on academic achievement, STEM, resiliency and life skills, the arts, sports and fitness, career and workforce readiness, and leadership and service, the organization nurtures generation after generation of children and teens in our county to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.

For more information about the event, speaker and honorees, visit,