While attending Virginia Union University as an undergraduate student, Roslyn Brock '99 was an ambitious young leader in the NAACP, organizing rallies and mobilization drives.
An accounting professor took notice of Brock's dedication to the organization, and gently advised her to remain equally committed to her schoolwork. To be successful, the professor said, Brock would need to balance her life inside and outside the classroom.
"That was the best advice she could have offered me," says Brock, who went on to graduate magna cum laude. "From that day forward, I was better about arranging my time and getting my priorities straight."
Striking that balance continues to be a part of Brock’s success story. She is chairman emeritus of the NAACP’s board of directors, where she also served as vice president of advocacy and government relations at Bon Secours Health System.
As chairman, Brock's greatest challenge was developing a clear and compelling strategic policy agenda for the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. The organization, Brock explains, must focus on the major issues of education, healthcare and economic opportunity, while continuing its age-old mission of ensuring equal access and opportunity for all.
The NAACP has offered Brock many leadership opportunities throughout her tenure. She has served as vice chairman of the board and head of various committees. But through the years, Brock has seen members in her age group disengage from the organization to take care of their families and pursue their careers.
To reconnect 30- to 50-year-olds with the NAACP, Brock created the Leadership 500 Summit, an initiative to recruit, train and retain a new generation of civil-rights leaders. By identifying opportunities for people to use their expertise to help advance the NAACP — such as asking educators to help secure funding for public schools — the organization creates a value proposition for these members. "It's something they can carve into their day," Brock says.
With this support, Brock hopes to move closer to her broader vision for the NAACP. "I'm hopeful that in our second century we recapture the vision of a multiracial, multiethnic organization that is particularly concerned about improving the plight of people of color," Brock says.
"We have to proactively address the issues and needs of people in communities, especially those who feel they've been locked out of a prosperous society. We must develop and implement strategies that remove political, social and economic barriers that cause us to be divided from one another."