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Edley, Christopher

Christopher Edley

1928-2003

Organization president, advocate, lawyer

"All of my adult life has been heavily laden with the things and the kind of work that would advance Black life," recounted Christopher Edley, former president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), in Jet magazine. Under Edley's tutelage, the UNCF became one of the most widely recognized charitable organizations in America. He joined the UNCF in 1973, a year after the organization enacted one of the first national advertising campaigns to raise money for black higher education. Edley assumed guidance of the campaign with the slogan "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste" for 17 successful years. Poor health forced him to retire in 1991, after helping to solicit the largest individual donation in the history of black philanthropy. Instituting a strong organization was Edley's "greatest gift," related Fisk University president Henry Ponder to Matthew Scott in Black Enterprise. "He has set a well-defined management style into motion that will ensure that our institution moves forward, continuing the mission of raising money for our schools, to provide the best quality education for our students."

Born on January 1, 1928, in Charleston, West Virginia, Edley graduated magna cum laude from Howard University in Washington, D.C., in 1949. He was one of a handful of black students studying law at Harvard University, and he received his law degree in 1953. He then moved to Philadelphia, where he practiced law both as an assistant district attorney and in private practice with Moore, Lightfoot & Edley. In 1960 he became the chief administrator for the United States Commission on Civil Rights. In 1963 he joined the Ford Foundation, becoming the organizations first black officer. Edley worked for ten years at the Ford Foundation before moving to the UNCF. He married Zaida Coles in 1950, and the couple had two children: daughter Judith and son Christopher F. Edley Jr., a prominent educator and dean of the University of California-Berkeley School of Law.

When Edley was hired to direct the UNCF, it was "like a mom and pop kind of store that was getting bigger," he confessed to Leon E. Wynter in the Wall Street Journal. "People were so busy waiting on customers that no strategic thoughts were being given." During his tenure, Edley provided the UNCF with future goals and fund-raising ideas, including the only national higher education telethon, the "Lou Rawls Parade of Stars." Noted for aggressive maneuvers, Edley actively promoted increased giving by individuals, engineered UNCF's entry into the Combined Federal Campaign, and implemented state and municipal payroll deduction campaigns. His use of television to advertise not only made the needs of black colleges highly visible, but also set new standards in public service advertising. The UNCF's award-winning college fund ads were some of the most eminent in public service advertising history. While he headed the organization, Edley used advertising "to soften people up," he told Wynter. To provide the public with an immediate opportunity to give money after viewing an ad, he created yearly telethons and special events featuring sports and entertainment celebrities.

Based in an office in New York City, Edley employed his successful tactics for nearly two decades. The fund received more than $700 million during his tenure to support 41 private black colleges and universities. When Edley began office in 1973, the UNCF received annual donations of about $9.5 million. By the end of his time in office in 1990, the annual average had risen to $48.6 million. Enrollment in historically black colleges rose to 48,233 students in the late 1980s, a 13-percent increase over mid-decade figures. Colleagues credited the financial triumph of the UNCF to Edley's business savvy. "Mr. Edley has made tremendous strides," Ponder informed Scott. "His ability to raise funds is a significant feat when you consider that during his tenure, the country was in and out of recession, large corporations were merging and there were fewer dollars available." Cathy Mitchell, handler of the Advertising Council Fund's campaign, told Wynter, "I think that Chris is quite a leader. He's directly involved with the advertising and he knows his organization. He knows his market and what he wants to convey."

"If I have succeeded in doing something wonderful, it is because of the leadership, the volunteers and the staff who have supported me," Edley told Scott. "We have implemented all of the modern techniques of business to help our favorite cause." During his last year as head of the UNCF, Edley initiated "Campaign 2000: An Investment in America's Future." Under his direction, the UNCF obtained a $50 million challenge grantthe largest single donation to a black charity to datefrom former ambassador to Britain and founder of TV Guide magazine, Walter H. Annenberg. "You can't reduce tension and run the fund," Edley divulged to Don Wycliff of the New York Times in the year of his retirement. Edley, who had a heart bypass operation seven years earlier, was motivated to leave his position upon the advice of his doctors to reduce stress.

"Dad's whole career has been public service in one form or another," Edley, Jr., revealed in Ebony about his distinguished father, "so the uplifting memories are kitchen-table discussions about helping people, about civil rights, about economic opportunity, about housing and the Emancipation Proclamation, about loaning money to poor clients and, later, about planting and nurturing the seeds that became the public-interest-law movement across the nation." "The gift of giving will be the lasting legacy of Christopher F. Edley," assessed Scott, describing one of America's most illustrious public servants. "He will always be remembered for his ability to inspire others to give." Edley passed away on May 5, 2003, after experiencing a heart attack at his home in New Rochelle, New York.

At a Glance

Born Christopher Fairfield Edley on January 1, 1928, in Charleston, WV; son of Phillip and Helen (Penn) Edley; died May 5, 2003, in New Rochelle, NY; married Zaida Coles, September 2, 1950; children: Christopher, Jr., Judith Coles Edley. Education: Howard University, AB (magna cum laude), 1949; Harvard Law School, LLB, 1953; Swarthmore College, LLD, 1976. Military service: U.S. Army, 1946-47 and 1950-51; became sergeant.

Career: Lewis, Tanner, Moore (law firm), Philadelphia, law clerk, 1953-54; Philadelphia, PA, assistant district attorney, 1954-56; Moore, Lightfoot & Edley (law firm), partner, 1956-60 and 1960-61; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, chief administrator, justice division, 1960; Federal Housing & Home Finance Region 3 (later HUD), regional counsel, 1961-63; Ford Foundation, government and law program officer, 1963-73; United Negro College Fund, Inc., president and chief executive officer, 1973-91, president emeritus, 1991-2003.

Selected memberships: Allstate Insurance Co., board of directors, 1993-97; Student Loan Corp, board of directors, 1993-98; American Airlines, board of directors, 1977-98; American Bar Association; New York Bar Assocation; Harvard Law School, trustee, 1972-78; National Partnership to Prevent Drug and Alcohol Abuse, trustee; NAACP.

Selected awards: Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, Distinguished Service Award, 1966; Humanitarian Father of the Year Award, 1974; Ohio State University, Outstanding Achievement Award, 1977; Howard University, Distinguished Alumni Award, 1979; New York Urban League, Whitney M. Young Jr. Memorial Award, 1987; Martin Luther King Center, Salute to Greatness Award, 1991; OIC Humanitarian Award, 1992; Congressional Black Caucus George W. Collins Award, 1991; also recipient of numerous honorary doctoral degrees.

Sources

Periodicals

Black Enterprise, December 1990.

Black Issues in Higher Education, June 5, 2003, p. 12.

Ebony, June 1988; August 1988.

Jet, August 20, 1990; May 26, 2003, p. 27.

New York Times, August 2, 1990.

Non-Profit Times, November 1990, p. 10.

Wall Street Journal, August 1, 1990.

Marjorie Burgess and

Tom Pendergast

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"Edley, Christopher." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Edley, Christopher." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/edley-christopher

"Edley, Christopher." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved July 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/edley-christopher

Edley, Christopher 1928–

Christopher Edley 1928

Attorney, education advocate, fund-raiser

At a Glance

Sources

All of my adult life has been heavily laden with the things and the kind of work that would advance Black life, recounted Christopher Edley, former president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), in Jet magazine. Under Edleys tutelage, the UNCF became one of the most widely recognized charitable organizations in America. He joined the UNCF in 1973, a year after the organization enacted one of the first national advertising campaigns to raise money for black higher education. Edley assumed guidance of the campaign with the slogan A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste for seventeen successful years. Poor health forced him to retire in December, 1990, after helping to solicit the largest individual donation in the history of black philanthropy. Instituting a strong organization was Edleys greatest gift, related Fisk University president Henry Ponder to Matthew Scott in Black Enterprise. He has set a well-defined management style into motion that will ensure that our institution moves forward, continuing the mission of raising money for our schools, to provide the best quality education for our students.

When Edley was hired to direct the UNCF, it was like a mom and pop kind of store that was getting bigger, he confessed to Leon E. Wynter in the Wall Street Journal. People were so busy waiting on customers that no strategic thoughts were being given. During his tenure, Edley provided the UNCF with future goals and fund-raising ideas, including the only national higher education telethon, the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars. Noted for aggressive maneuvers, Edley actively promoted increased giving by individuals, engineered UNCFs entry into the Combined Federal Campaign, and implemented state and municipal payroll deduction campaigns. His use of television to advertise not only made the needs of black colleges highly visible, but also set new standards in public service advertising. The UNCFs award-winning college fund ads were some of the most eminent in public service advertising history. While he headed the organization, Edley used advertising to soften people up he told Wynter. To provide the public with an immediate opportunity to give money after viewing an ad, he created yearly telethons and special events featuring sports and entertainment celebrities.

Based in an office in New York City, Edley employed his

At a Glance

Born Christopher Fairfield Edley, January 1, 1928, in Charleston, WV; son of Phillip and Helen (Penn) Edley; married Zaida Coles, September 2, 1950; children: Christopher, Jr., Judith Coles Edley. Education: Howard University, A.B. (magna cum laude), 1949; Harvard Law School, L.L.B., 1953; Swarthmore College, L.L.D., 1976.

Lewis, Tanner, Moore (law firm), law clerk, 1953-54; assistant district attorney, Philadelphia, PA, 1954-56; Moore, Lightfoot & Edley (law firm), partner, 1956-60 and 1960-61; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, chief administrator, justice division, 1960; Federal Housing & Home Finance Region 3 (later HUD), regional counsel, 1961-63; Ford Foundation, government and law program officer, 1963-73; United Negro College Fund, Inc., president and chief executive officer, 1973-90. Member of board of American Airlines, Boweny Savings Bank, and the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company; committee member, Harvard Law School, 1972-78; trustee, National Partnership to Prevent Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Active in several civic, charitable organizations, including NAACP, Legal Defense Fund, Center National Policy Review, Citizens Research Foundation, and National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing. Military service: U.S. Army, 1946-47 and 1950-51; became sergeant.

Member: American, National, and New York Bar associations.

Awards: John Hay Whitney fellow, 1950; Howard University alumni award, 1959; certificate of appreciation, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1960; distinguished service award, Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, 1966; Humanitarian Father of the Year Award, 1974; Rust College Honorary L.L.D., 1975; outstanding achievement award, Ohio State University, 1977.

Addresses: Home 90 Vaughn Ave., New Rochelle, NY 10801.

successful tactics for nearly two decades. The fund received more than $556 million under his leadership to support 41 private black colleges and universities. When Edley began office in 1973, the UNCF received annual donations of about $9.5 million. Under Edleys management, by the annual revenue of March 1990, the fund amassed a five-fold increase of $48.6 million. Enrollment in historically black colleges rose to 48,233 students in the late 1980s, a 13 percent increase over middecade figures. Colleagues credited the financial triumph of the UNCF to Edleys business savvy. Mr. Edley has made tremendous strides, Ponder informed Scott. His ability to raise funds is a significant feat when you consider that during his tenure, the country was in and out of recession, large corporations were merging and there were fewer dollars available. Cathy Mitchell, handler of the Advertising Council Funds campaign, told Wynter, I think that Chris is quite a leader. Hes directly involved with the advertising and he knows his organization. He knows his market and what he wants to convey.

If I have succeeded in doing something wonderful, it is because of the leadership, the volunteers and the staff who have supported me, Edley told Scott. We have implemented all of the modern techniques of business to help our favorite cause. During his last year as head of the UNCF, Edley initiated Campaign 2000: An Investment in Americas Future. Under his direction, the UNCF obtained a $50 million challenge grantthe largest single donation to a black charity to datefrom former ambassador to Britain and founder of TV Guide magazine, Walter H. Annenberg. You cant reduce tension and run the fund, Edley divulged to Don Wycliff when interviewed in the New York Times, announcing his retirement that same year. Edley, who had a heart bypass operation seven years earlier, was motivated to leave his position upon the advice of his doctors to reduce stress.

Born January 1, 1928, in Charleston, West Virginia, Edley graduated magna cum laude from Howard University in 1949. He received a law degree from Harvard University in 1953 and went on to serve as assistant district attorney in Philadelphia through the mid-1950s. Before his employment by the UNCF, he was program officer for the Ford Foundation. Married for more than forty years, Edley and his wife Zaida are the parents of one daughter, Judith, and one son, prominent educator and Harvard Law School professor, Christopher F. Edley, Jr.

Dads whole career has been public service in one form or another, Edley, Jr., revealed in Ebony about his distinguished father, so the uplifting memories are kitchen-table discussions about helping people, about civil rights, about economic opportunity, about housing and the Emancipation Proclamation, about loaning money to poor clients and, later, about planting and nurturing the seeds that became the public-interest-law movement across the nation. The gift of giving will be the lasting legacy of Christopher F. Edley, assessed Scott, describing one of Americas most illustrious public servants. He will always be remembered for his ability to inspire others to give.

Sources

Black Enterprise, December 1990.

Ebony, June 1988; August 1988.

Jet, August 20, 1990.

New York Times, August 2, 1990.

Wall Street Journal, August 1, 1990.

Marjorie Burgess

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Edley, Christopher 1928–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Edley, Christopher 1928–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/edley-christopher-1928

"Edley, Christopher 1928–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved July 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/edley-christopher-1928