Current CEO and President Cornell Brooks will be leaving his role as President and CEO at the conclusion of his term on June 30th.
As many of you are keenly aware, the issues that we are facing today are not unlike the issues that sprung the NAACP into action over 100 years ago. Back then it was unsafe for black Americans to walk down streets in white neighborhoods for fear they would be lynched. Today, we remain fearful to drive our cars, walk in our gated communities or play freely on playgrounds as vigilantes and police have made literal targets of our bodies.
The NAACP must aggressively and nimbly respond to this current climate of political unrest, as well as the assaults upon human and civil rights that threaten our very democracy, as only it can. To do so demands that the Board of the NAACP ensure that the organization has the right plan and the right leadership to address these 21st-century challenges.
That is why today the NAACP is launching a transformational, system-wide refresh, so that we can best position our organization to confront the realities of today’s volatile political, media and social climates.
As part of this new direction — in a decision by the Executive Committee, with the support of the Board of Directors — Current CEO and President Cornell Brooks will be leaving his role as President and CEO at the conclusion of his term on June 30th. Vice-Chair Derrick Johnson and I will be managing the day-to-day operations of our organization on an interim basis until a new leader is named in the coming months.
I know that we speak for all of you in saying that we are grateful for Cornell’s contributions and dedication to the NAACP. We wish him well in his future endeavors and appreciate the important role he will play during this transition. We are looking forward to beginning the process of finding the right leader who is best able to guide us down this new path, and we will search far and wide for this individual, starting immediately.
In addition, in the coming months, our leadership will embark on a listening tour, for the first time in our history. It is clear that Americans of all genders and ages, from all of the corners of all 50 states, have been aching to be understood, to be seen — and now, they are demanding to be heard. We want to meet those demands, and in doing so, ensure that we are harnessing the energy and voice of our grassroots membership as we pursue transformational change. As we reimagine ourselves, we want to be formed in the likeness of the people whom we serve — and to do so, we must first see, meet and listen to them.
As we embark on this journey, everyone will have a place at the table, including: the new movements for social change, local organizers helping to rebuild our neighborhoods, the faith leaders and other traditional and historic African-Americans organizations that provide much needed services to their communities, social justice advocates tackling income inequality, the millions of marchers who have taken to streets for women rights and immigrant rights, the activists who are fighting for equality for LGBTQ Americans, business leaders, philanthropists lending private sector support and the long-time civil rights guardians who have spilled blood so that we can enjoy the freedoms we have today.
But the most important seats at this table will be you, the individuals who have poured your blood, sweat and tears, your time away from your families and your passion, into this incredible organization. We value you and the valuable services that you provide to black Americans across our nation. We know that it is our branches that make the NAACP so unique, because you are doing local work with national importance, day in and day out. You are our partners on this journey, and we intend to fully utilize your experiences and insight as we move forward with this process. In the coming weeks, we will share more details on upcoming opportunities for you to offer your opinions on our strategic planning, and we hope that you will share your thoughts.
We have been steadfast and unmovable for more than 100 years, and adaptation to the changing times has become a fabric of our desire to be bigger and better with each decade. Now is our moment to seize, now is our time to be seen and heard. We look forward to our continued work together — as we cannot make this level of change and increase our impact without you.