Quotations to live by:

"One person can make a difference." I remember these words from my days with the Urban League of Philadelphia, where a poster showed Whitney Young and this quotation. It inspired me to go into public service. What continues to fuel my energy and passion for public service is the phrase

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Why We Can't Wait

, the title of a 1964 book by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Books on my nightstand right now: The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, by Jonathan Alter; Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don't, by Jim Collins; Winning, by Jack Welch; The Wealth of Cities, by John O. Norquist; You Won - Now What? How Americans Can Make Democracy Work From City Hall to the White House, by Taegan D. Goddard and Christopher Riback; and The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison.

Favorite author, nonfiction: Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Favorite author, fiction: Toni Morrison.

Favorite poem: "Still I Rise," by Maya Angelou.

A book that influenced how I live my life: A book I recently discovered, Running With the Giants, by John C. Maxwell. The book talks about how anyone can make a difference no matter what his or her position in life is.

TV show I'm not ashamed to admit I watch: CSI: Miami, on CBS.

TV show I hate to admit I like: Dancing With the Stars, on ABC.

Favorite comic strips: The Boondocks, by Aaron McGruder, and Beetle Bailey, by Mort Walker.

Movies I love so much I've watched them more than twice: Hotel Rwanda, Barbershop, and Gone With the Wind.

Magazines I read regularly: Black Enterprise, Ebony, Time and Newsweek.

Favorite type of music: R&B and classic soul.

Recording I play when my soul needs a lift: "A Change Is Gonna Come," by Sam Cooke.

People in my field I most admire: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Nelson Mandela.

Living people I'd most like to join for dinner and conversation: TransAfrica founder Randall Robinson, Harvard professor William Julius Wilson, and author Robert Putnam.

Heroes from history: I admire Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln for their boldness. I admire Carter G. Woodson, W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington for their enlightened thinking.

If I had the power to order the entire Philadelphia region to read one book, it would be: Better Together: Restoring the American Community, by Robert D. Putnam and Lewis M. Feldstein.

And here's why: The simplicity of the title says it all. Philadelphia is a great city, and it could be even better if we all continued to work together for the good of everyone. The book provides an excellent blueprint for increasing civic engagement, community renewal and social capital.