- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 26, 2005

The new president and chief executive of the NAACP said he will spend the next five months getting the organization’s fiscal house in order.

“This organization needs to achieve a viable, sustainable financial security, and I will work over the remainder of 2005 towards building an endowment for the NAACP,” said President-elect Bruce S. Gordon, a former retail-marketing executive for Verizon Corp.

“I am an operations person who believes in tight fiscal management, and over the next five months I will work to fix the fiscal situation,” Mr. Gordon told the 64 board members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People yesterday after they elected him president.

Mr. Gordon said he plans to look forward, not backward, and will continue protecting and improving civil rights, voting rights and equal justice, but with a new focus. “The new news is that economic equality will be as important, if not more important, than the others,” he said.

Board Chairman Julian Bond said the members are very pleased with the selection. “We went through an extensive search process with a large number of very outstanding candidates, both men and women, and when it came down to the end, standing head and shoulders above all the others was this man,” hr said.

He wanted to quickly dispel any notion that the new president was outside the organization’s norm for its 96-year history.

“We have had 15 CEOs and among them have been a librarian, a diplomat, three settlement-house workers, one politician, a scholar, civil rights workers and most don’t know that our first four CEOs were white women,” Mr. Bond said.

Mr. Gordon, 59, was born in Camden, N.J., to Walter and Violet Gordon. The elder Gordon was a founding member of the NAACP’s Camden branch and that chapter’s first general treasurer.

“The NAACP is in my DNA,” Mr. Gordon said, adding that his father began “taking me to meetings when I was, I guess, 8 years old, is as far back as I can remember.”

“The NAACP for the past 96 years has been engaged in the civil rights struggle, and it has changed this country and how people live,” Mr. Gordon said. “But for the value this organization has had to this country, it should be larger and have a much more substantial impact.”

Mr. Gordon replaces Kweisi Mfume, who is running for the U.S. Senate from Maryland. Mr. Mfume resigned in December.

Last year, the association experienced one of its most tumultuous years since 1993, when its former president, Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., resigned after being caught in a sex scandal. He paid his former assistant more than $300,000 with NAACP funds in a sealed settlement without notifying the organization and left it in financial distress.

And President Bush, during a re-election campaign last year, snubbed the group for a third straight time when he declined to speak at its annual convention. Soon after, the Internal Revenue Service began investigating the group for being too partisan and threatened to take away its tax-exempt status.

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