24th Annual MLK Celebration Leadership Award Recipient: Lynda M. Jordan

Lynda M. Jordan PhD '85

Associate Professor of Chemistry, North Carolina A&T State University

CEO and Founder, A Place to Heal Ministries, Inc. (APTHM)

Associate Minister, Holy Temple Church, Roxbury, MA

24th Annual MLK Leadership Award

MLK Leadership Award recipient Lynda M. Jordan PhD '85 (MLK Visiting Professor 1997-2000) is the third of less than ten women of African descent to date who hold a PhD in Biological Chemistry from MIT—also “one of the few Boston urban minority high school students to obtain a doctorate degree” from the Institute.  At the time Dr. Jordan attended MIT, 80% of the students were men, only 3% were African-American, and only two
African-American women had received PhDs from her department.

The story of her extraordinary journey is featured in the award-winning 1995 NOVA/WGBH documentary series Discovering Women. Narrated by actress Michelle Pfeiffer and directed by Yvonne Smith, “Jewels in a Test Tube” captures Dr. Jordan’s journey from a childhood in Roxbury (where she was “on the cusp of becoming a delinquent child”) to a career in science. At the documentary’s premiere, First Lady Hillary Clinton honored Dr. Jordan for her contributions to science and science education.

Dr. Jordan returned to MIT in 1997 as an MLK Visiting Professor in the Department of Chemistry.  It was during her sabbatical visit to the Institute that Dr. Jordan says she was “called to ministry,” and she would later earn both a Master of Divinity (MDiv) and a Master of Public Health (MPH) from Harvard University.  READ MORE

"I am deeply humbled to receive a leadership award in the name of such a great man as Martin Luther King Jr.," said Dr. Jordan, an associate professor at North Carolina A&T State University, her alma mater. "With the grace and the strength of God, I hope that I will be able to inspire at least one young person to transcend the obstacles and pursue dreams at the highest level."

In nominating Professor Jordan for a leadership award, Senior Assistant Dean Isaac Colbert wrote: "Lynda uses her experiences at every opportunity to teach younger minority and female students about the incomparable values of perseverance and hard work, about self-confidence and professionalism, and about cultivating challengers, supporters and listeners along one's journey through life. She has encouraged young scholars to think about their psychological, social and academic survival and has given practical advice in each arena."