County’s First Couple Remember Their Roots, Rally for ACES

Before retiring, Montgomery County executive Ike Leggett and wife, Catherine, help raise $1.7 million for underrepresented students.

Catherine And Ike Leggett

Catherine And Ike Leggett.

Isiah “Ike” Leggett, outgoing county executive, and his wife, Catherine, closed out their time in public office the way they entered it—by focusing on the life-changing potential of higher education. In advance of the gala event in their honor, held September 23, 2018, at The Music Center at Strathmore, Montgomery County’s first couple established the Ike and Catherine Leggett Scholarship. The scholarship benefits the ACES program (Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success) for underrepresented and minority students in the county pursuing college degrees.

Governor Hogan

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan thanked Leggett—“a trailblazer, pioneer, advocate for the people of Maryland.”

The celebration at Strathmore marked Leggett’s tenure as Montgomery County executive. Prior to his three terms in the executive position, he served 16 years as a county council member at large. He is the first African American to be elected to the Montgomery County Council. In a tribute filled with live performances and special guest speakers, including Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, and Montgomery County Council President Hans Reimer, the event raised more than $1.7 million for the ACES program.

Accolades for Leggett highlighted his even-handed leadership and relentless focus on improving the lives of his Montgomery County constituents. Catherine was honored for her steadfast support of the arts and humanities and an outstanding career developing human resources policies and programs. Both Leggetts are ardent supporters of civic groups across the region, public education, and the Montgomery County Democratic committee.

Four Seasons Dancers

Four Seasons Dancers

During her remarks, Catherine Leggett recounted an upbringing in Mt. Vernon, New York, just outside the Bronx, where her mother and grandmother encouraged her in education despite their poverty. Catherine was the first in her family to attend college. She earned a BA in sociology and psychology and a JD from Howard University. “I know firsthand what a game-changer this [ACES] scholarship can be to the future of all our young men and women in our county,” she said. “Our humble beginnings also explain why I’m so passionate about helping others live their dreams.”

Ike Leggett grew up in a segregated Louisiana. He was the seventh of 13 children raised in a three-room house without indoor plumbing.

He attended Southern University with financial support and employment at the university as an outside maintenance worker. He is a decorated US Army veteran.

He holds four degrees, including law degrees from Howard University and George Washington University. He served as professor of law at Howard University Law School from 1975 to 2006, and as assistant dean of the law school from 1979 to 1986.

Cokie Roberts And Bob Levey

Emcees Cokie Roberts, political commentator and author, and Bob Levey, columnist, The Washington Post (retired), conducted the live fundraising portion of the program.

After his term ends this fall, Leggett plans to pursue writing, research, and travel. Catherine Leggett will continue working in her professional and civic endeavors.

To make a contribution to the Ike and Catherine Leggett Scholarship, visit the Leggett Legacy Forward website.

Photos by Pete Vidal

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