Monday, February 22, 2010

Health Executive to Lead NAACP

Health Executive to Lead N.A.A.C.P.

New York Times

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on Saturday announced the selection of its first new board leader in more than a decade.

Roslyn M. Brock, 44, the board’s current vice chairwoman, will become chairwoman of the board, taking the reins from Julian Bond, who last year, on the eve of the organization’s centennial celebration, announced his decision to step down. The 64-member board is the policymaking arm of the organization.

In being named vice chairwoman of the N.A.A.C.P. board at 35, Ms. Brock was the first woman and the youngest person to hold the position.

Previously she worked in health care administration and policy. In her current job as a vice president of Bon Secours Health Care, Ms. Brock serves as the chief spokeswoman on government relations, advocacy and public policy.

“This is the time for renewal,” said Mr. Bond, 70, who took over the chairmanship in 1998. “We have dynamic new leadership. Roslyn understands firsthand how important youth are to the success of the N.A.A.C.P. She was introduced to the N.A.A.C.P. 25 years ago when she served the N.A.A.C.P. as a youth board member and Youth and College Division State Conference president.”

The most recognized organization in the civil rights establishment, the association was founded in 1909. One of its main missions was to fight the lynchings of blacks.

The organization has played an important role in virtually every major civil rights issue of the last century, including the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case, the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

It has struggled in recent years, however, with declining membership, financial and political problems and questions of how best to move forward. The group’s reputation was tarnished in the mid-1990s when it fired its president for using organization money to settle a sexual harassment claim against him. In 2007, it laid off more than a third of its staff because of a budget shortfall.

In 2008, the board selected Benjamin T. Jealous, an activist and former news executive, as its youngest president, breaking with a tradition of picking ministers and political leaders and rebuffing criticisms that it was out of touch with the concerns of younger African-Americans.

“We’re looking at a generational shift in our communities,” Ms. Brock said. “We have a 48-year-old president in the White House, an N.A.A.C.P. president who was 35 at the time of his election and a 44-year-old board chair. The wisdom of those who stood the test of time got us to this point, and the youth are who will ensure the future legacy of this organization.”

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