Rev. Dr. Lorina Marshall-Blake


“I said to The Lord that if you ever put me in a position like the one I’m in now, please use me to effect change in and around the world. I’m always looking for opportunities to make lives better, constantly reaching back. If I succeed then they succeed.”

“I’m about how do we make a difference; how do we make it better for our communities that we live, work and play in. Here’s the joke that I often say; I’m a M.A.D woman. I’m a woman Making A Difference, and I got a lot to do.”

Family and Community
“With one sister and three brothers, I grew up in West Philadelphia in a small row house on the 600 block of Yewdall Street. I thank God for who I am. I’ve always been the one to rally everyone together, saying, ‘come on guys, we have to come up with a plan.’ Even today, the family gathers at my house to figure out what we’re going to do with some challenges.  

“Although neither of our parents graduated from high school, they encouraged us to achieve greatness first through education. They emphasized that once you get education, you can never lose it.  Three of us even graduated college. In 2017, education is still key. I loved the sayings that my grandmother and mother used, ‘Good, better, best, never let it rest; let your good be better and your better be best.’ It wasn’t a part of our family heritage to give up. One more from my grandmother describes me the best; ‘it’s nice to be important but it’s more important to be nice.’ 

 “The church also played a major part in my growth as a person. I’ve been in the same church for over 50 years, and now I get to give back to the children in the community. It’s important that the children know that someone cares. They don’t need to hear ‘no you can’t,’ they need to hear ‘yes you can.’ Even though I live in EastFalls, I work every Sunday in West Philadelphia with young people to help ensure their success because that’s what people did for me.

“It’s important to let people have a voice and make them feel included even if you don’t agree with them. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. When I look at my work, I get excited because often, when people are marginalized and left out, I find ways to include them. 

Defining Moments
“On the spiritual side, when I first made the commitment to go into ministry, I was at a women’s retreat. I heard one of my favorite bible verses from Jeremiah 29:11, ‘for the Lord declares, I have a plan for your life.’ From that moment forward, I accepted the accountability and responsibility to be what I call an exhorter or proclaimer of the word. Another defining moment was May 1, 1993. I was finally licensed and ordained.

“From a career standpoint, the most memorable moment was when I got my Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. I’ve been at Independence Blue Cross for 26 years making friends, doing great works and moving up. When the company president asked me to run the foundation, I said, I know people, I know the systems, and I know how to communicate but I don’t know about running a foundation. As I reflect, I realize I did and do know how. 

“Service is in my DNA. I am the happiest when I’m serving others. One of my favorite quotes by Dr. Johnnetta Cole, ‘leadership is about believing 100% in yourself and learning to believe 200% in the people you are asking to follow you.’ To know that I served well and made a difference helping people to get over the finish line, is what’s important to me. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s hard. The responsibility doesn’t always come when you want it to, you just have to be ready to step into it and go with your best shot and hope that you’re doing the right thing.

To know more about Rev. Dr. Lorina, read our story on women of influence:

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