Dorothy Cotton

Dr. Dorothy Cotton was the Education Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) from 1960 to 1968.  Under the Carter Administration, Dr. Cotton served as the Southeastern Regional Director of ACTION, the Federal Government's agency for volunteer programs from 1978 to 1981.  From 1982 to May 1991, Dr. Cotton was the Director of Student Activities at Cornell University. She later founded her own consulting company, Dorothy Cotton & Associates, which conducts seminars on leadership development, individual empowerment, and social change. Dorothy is also one of the founding members of the National Citizenship School, devoted to teaching people how to create publicly accountable institutions that reflect high democratic ideals and enhance the capacity of every individual to live a meaningful life.

Dr. Cotton continues to work as a consultant to many organizations, schools and businesses, providing inspiration and guidance on a range of topics, including multiculturalism and diversity, human relations, race relations, nonviolent change, women's issues and the paths to personal and spiritual growth.  “Nonviolence as a System for Social Change” and “Challenging Emerging Leaders” are special topic areas for Dr. Cotton.  While at Cornell, Dr. Cotton co‑wrote a white paper entitled "The New Citizenship" which presented the thesis that “government” cannot be reinvented without first refocusing and reinventing the concept of “citizenship”.  This special paper received broad acclaim and resulted in two White House meetings to explore strategies for Government/Citizen partnership in the ongoing quest to reinvent government.

A powerful motivating speaker, teacher and workshop facilitator, Dr. Cotton often uses the "Songs of the Movement" to help her tell the story of America’s struggle for civil rights.  She accompanied Dr. King when he received the Nobel Prize for Peace in Norway.  Since that time she has traveled extensively throughout the world, including visits to the former Soviet Union, The People's Republic of China, Switzerland, Africa, Vietnam, and Europe while participating in international workshops and discussions on a broad range of current social and humanitarian issues.

Among the many honors received for her public work, Dr. Cotton has been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the University of New England in 1982 at which time she gave the commencement address.  On May 16", 1999 Dr. Cotton received the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA and in 1999 received the Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of New Rochelle while also delivering the commencement address.

Dr. Cotton is currently a freelance motivational speaker and trainer and is writing her first book on focusing on the major lessons of the Citizenship Education Training Program of the 1960s and applying those lessons to guide thought and action in today’s world.