On Sunday, June 11, Dora D. Robinson, age 71 of Springfield, MA went home to glory. In the days immediately before experiencing a heart attack and short hospitalization, she was seen around Springfield doing the things she loved to do.
Born on August 7, 1951, in Elmira, NY to Laura Belle Watkins and Arthur Givens. She graduated from the Elmira Free Academy and earned a BA from Cornell University and completed graduate studies at Smith College. She earned an MSW from the University of Connecticut. She was bestowed an Honorary Doctorate from Bay Path University and a President’s Medallion from Western New England University.
Dora carried her social and racial justice activism throughout her life, influencing organizational justice and equity initiatives at the staff, executive, and board level. She served as Vice President of Education at the Urban League of Springfield and Corporate Director & Vice President of Child and Family Services at the Center for Human Development. Dora also served in State, regional, and national leadership roles throughout her professional career.
In 1991, Dora became the inaugural leader of the Martin Luther King Jr Community Center. She single-handedly set the strategic organizational direction. Eighteen years later, she had established a multi-service agency with an operating budget of $2.8M, 75 employees, and 100+ volunteers with services delivered at three sites located across Springfield.
Dora became the first woman and first Black woman to serve as its CEO and President of the United Way of Pioneer Valley in 2009. Under her leadership, the UWPV launched several new strategies to diversify revenues contributing to education, homelessness, basic needs, and financial security programs. She also led the founding of the UWPV Women’s Leadership Council. After retiring in June of 2017, she continued to work on passion projects - the relaunch of FDR & Associates, supporting Parent Villages, the Indian Orchard Citizen’s Council, the Black Behavioral Health Network, and the Third Sector New England.
Dora was predeceased by her son, Frank Robbie Robinson, IV, father, Arthur Givens, sister Debbie Givens, mother-in-love Lena M. Robinson, brother-in-love Jerry Robinson, uncles King Watkins and Colonel Watkins, great aunt, Albert (Sapp) Dixon, and dear friends and family members she is rejoicing with today.
Far too many to list, Dora leaves behind a host of loved ones to carry on her legacy. They include her husband and life partner, Frank P. Robinson, mother, Laura Watkins, daughter, Kimberly Robinson Williams, granddaughters Francesca and Beau Williams, brothers-in-love Michael Robinson (Jo) and Clifford Robinson (Barbara), sisters, Citasha Givens and Sandi Givens-Brown, God-Children Brianna Johnson, George Blake, and Sam Blake; special aunt Beverly Watkins Jenkins (Chris Charles), and young aunt, Carol Watkins.
Dora never met a stranger. Those she leaves behind will deeply miss her unwavering commitment to serve, her ability to create something grand out of nothing, her bright smile, and her infectious laugh. The legacy and impact of her time on this earth and in this community will never be forgotten.
Memorial services will be held on Tuesday, June 20 at St. John's Congregational Church in Springfield, MA. Family visitation will begin at 9:00 am with the memorial service beginning at 10:00 am. A memorial service and internment will take place on Friday, June 23 at Monumental Baptist Church in Elmira, NY. Family visitation will begin at 9:00 am with the memorial service beginning at 10:00 am. Internment at Woodlawn Cemetery will take place immediately thereafter.
We ask that you consider honoring her memory by donating to the Frank "Robbie” Robinson Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts.