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Exclusive: Roslyn Brock, Youngest Chair of NAACP

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It started with Roslyn Brock taking an aptitude test in high school to determine her skill set.  The curious student wanted to figure out her track for college, the results revealed that she should either pursue a law degree, attend medical school or become a hospital administrator. She knew that her career interests were not in medicine or law. Instead she learned everything that she could about hospital administration. "That became the path that I was on so healthcare was really my passion and calling in life," says Brock. Her impressive resume supports her mission. The 44-year-old widow has been a member of numerous health reform committees and has published articles on the health care system. She earned a master's degree in health services administration from George Washington University, an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.  Brock speaks to ESSENCE.com in her first interview since the announcement of her election as the new Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NAACP. The Fort Pierce, Florida native shares her plans for the oldest Civil Rights organization and how she will lead a "new generation" of advocates to achieve her objectives. In addition, she comments on First Lady Michelle Obama's initiative to reduce childhood obesity. In making the announcement of her election, Ben Jealous, President of the NAACP who at 35 was the youngest person appointed to lead the organization said, "I am very excited that Roslyn is our new [Chairman for the Board of Directors for the NAACP], she is a huge advocate for social justice and very involved and focused on the crisis for today and the histories of tomorrow. She brings a sense of urgency for all of us who were born assets of the great Civil Rights movement." ESSENCE.com: First, congratulations on being the fourth and youngest Chairman of the Board of Directors of the nation's oldest and largest Civil Rights organization. How are you feeling? ROSLYN BROCK: Thank you. A lot of people have had a hand in it. To be at this place is truly a blessing. I never thought I could possibly lead this organization knowing that it is a male-dominated organization and only had three women prior to this time. The fact that only two African American women have served as chair really made it seem out of my reach. But as I have continued to walk this journey and develop who I am both professionally and personally, getting a little closer seemed possible. This is truly a blessing. ESSENCE.com: What are some of your plans for the NAACP? BROCK: I really want to focus on the NAACP when it comes to what I call PGA, which is an acronym for Policy, Government and Accountability at the board level as well as focusing our ability to properly align our support with the work of the NAACP. I want to make sure that our message is relevant for a new generation of civil rights and human rights advocates. ESSENCE.com: You spoke about your passion for healthcare. What do you think about the First Lady's pledge to reduce childhood obesity? BROCK: I think it is a timely, timely initiative. Because when you see [some] of our young people, they are grossly overweight and it really determines their self-esteem at such young ages during their life span and the quality of life that they have, particularly with communities of color. I think she is right on target in terms of trying to address good nutrition, opportunities to focus on exercise and healthier eating in our households. ESSENCE.com: How will you ensure that your ideas will work? BROCK: I am working closely with President Ben Jealous and the board. We are also planning to have a retreat in the spring to really look at who we are and where we are as we roll out this first year of our second century. Right now, I do not have anything specific, but it is a wonderful opportunity for the NAACP. The future of the nation is calling and the NAACP has an answer. Read More:
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