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Volunteer advocate appointed Pittsburgh NAACP executive director

Wednesday, June 13, 2001

By Ervin Dyer, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Lavera S. Brown, a veteran community activist and volunteer advocate, was named executive director of the Pittsburgh NAACP last night.

Brown, of Penn Hills, replaces and fulfills the role of Louise Craighead-Jenkins, who resigned earlier this year.

Brown, who will begin her post Aug. 1, is no stranger to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. A longtime member, she serves on its board and for three years chaired its membership committee.

As executive director, Brown said, she’ll focus on fund raising, increasing membership, and creating a formal volunteer program.

Brown, 69, has come out of retirement to take the position, which she calls a “mission” both because of the nature of civil rights works and the fact that she made the decision to accept during a church service.

“Many obstacles have been overcome,’’ she said at the United Way Building, Downtown, last night. “But there are still so many social and economic issues that continue to plague our community. There’s so much more to be done.”

Brown pledged to use her volunteer and management skills to bring the organization visibility and renewed membership.

She’ll be an asset, said former NAACP President Harvey Adams.

“Her reach into the corporate community, church community and civil justice community is extensive,” he said. “She has a deep-rooted commitment that’ll solidify the NAACP with other uplifting civil and human rights groups.”

She’ll share responsibilities with Tim Stevens, who remains president of the Pittsburgh NAACP. His position is volunteer.

Brown has agreed to serve for a year as executive director, a position funded by grants from the Pittsburgh Foundation and the Poise Foundation, an organization that focuses on groups that have an impact in the black community.

The executive director’s post at the NAACP went unfilled from 1974, when Stevens last held the job, until 1998, when it was revived with a $127,000 grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation, which supported the position for three years.

In making the announcement, Stevens praised Brown’s oratory skills and history of community involvement.

Brown joined the YWCA as a child in the Hill District and went on to become a member of its national board of directors, successfully pushing to remove the organization’s investments from South African companies during apartheid.

In 1979, she co-founded the Coalition to Counter Hate Groups, which was jointly funded by the YWCA and National Organization for Women.

Brown recently retired as director of the Volunteer Action Center of the United Way of Allegheny County. In 1995, she was awarded the local version of the One Imperative Award. In 1997, she received the Urban League of Pittsburgh’s Ron Brown Award for community service.

This year she was honored with the Pennsylvania Association of Volunteerism Award.

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