Benjamin Jealous, 17th President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), has resigned effective December 31. He claims his responsibilities as president and CEO constantly kept him away from his wife and civil rights attorney Lia Epperson, and his children Morgan, 7, and Jack 13 months.
"Leadership knows when to step up and when to step down," Jealous said. "This day I can say with pride that I'm prepared to step down and make room for the next person who will lead this organization to its next chapter."
In what state does Jealous leave the nation's largest civil rights organization?
The civil rights leader said he's satisfied that he will leave an organization in much better condition than it was when he took over five years ago. Back then, the Baltimore-based civil rights group was financially shaky and shouldering constant criticism that its aging leadership was out of touch. Now, the organization is solvent, social media savvy and its staff seems to be part of a new cadre of leaders — headed by President Obama — who are diverse, well-educated and visible.
"In the last five years, we've had double-digit revenue growth, we've spent five years in the black," Jealous said.
Under Jealous, the donor base has grown from 16,422 in 2007, just before he started, to 132,543 last year. Revenue has grown from $25.7 million in 2008 to $46 million in 2012. Out of a total score of 70, independent non-profit reviewing organization Charity Navigator gives the NAACP 51.42 for finances and 70 for accountability and transparency.
Other NAACP members seem to be extremely disappointed by Jealous' decision. "Truly we were surprised," Brock said. "We're disappointed that he's leaving at this time. He's five years in, and we were expecting him to be with us seven years, based on our agreement with him." She first heard of the news on Wednesday according to reports.
“As others questioned its [NAACP] vitality, we have been able to regrow the mightiest of all trees in the ecology of social justice,” he said. “I’m really going to miss the street fights we’ve been in.”
A woman has never been the President in the history of NAACP. Jealous hopes the organization will move in that direction.
Jealous will make the formal announcement to his staff Monday morning.