Two new region directors hit the ground running

Two new region directors hit the ground running

Petrie, Phil W

Cynthia Buggage has been doing work for the NAACP since she graduated from college in 1979. She helped with Freedom Fund dinners, worked to increase voter registration and helped youth in the inner city through urban Boy Scout programs. In January, Buggage, 42, jumped right into the thick of things when NAACP President and CEO Kweisi Mfume appointed her director, Region VII, which is composed of 126 branches in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Buggage wanted a meaningful job that would allow her to give back to the community. “When I saw the NAACP ad for a director of Region VII, I figured my prayers were answered. It was a great opportunity,” she says.

Baggage is making the best of her new position. She plans to increase the NAACP’s visibility and membership in the region, as well as develop more youth and college branches.

In 1976 when Baggage entered Grambling College (now Grambling State University), she wanted to be an accountant. But she was drawn toward the idea of working with people, so she abandoned number crunching and declared therapeutic recreation her major, with minors in gerontology and psychology. Baggage went on to have a remarkable 19-year career with the city of Houston, rising to the recreation department’s liaison to the mayor’s office. During this time, Baggage earned a master’s degree in public administration at Texas Southern University.

“I am very happy about this opportunity,” Buggage says. “Especially in light of the way the [NAACP] has come back. I feel that I’m part of something that is making an impact on the lives of people.”

Fifteen years ago, Rev. Gill L. Ford was skeptical when he sauntered into the Denver, Colo. branch of the NAACP, but he emerged believing in the organization’s mission and goals.

“I went in to find out the branch’s position on an education issue,” Ford says. “When I raised some questions, Rev. Oscar Tillman, the branch’s legal redress officer, asked me, `What are you doing in the NAACP to make it happen?.'”

After a stern lecture from Tillman and branch President Menola Upshaw, Ford was NAACP all the way. Today the 43-yearold is director of the Region IV, which includes Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.

When Tillman moved to Arizona, Ford succeeded him as legal redress officer. He went on to serve as branch vice president, chairman of political action at the state level and president of the NAACP State Conference of Branches for Colorado, Montana and Wyoming. On June 11, NAACP President and CEO Kweisi Mfume appointed Ford to head Region IV.

After graduating from Denver public schools, the Region IV director completed his education at the Bible Institute and Seminary, a Pentecostal seminary located in Denver, Colo., at the time. Ford has spent 24 years, more than half of his life, in the ministry. Ford, who has three children, has been both pastor at Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Denver and married for 20 years.

Ford says his priorities for Region IV are to strengthen existing branches, work to eliminate disparate prison sentencing and advocate for quality education

– Phil W. Petrie

Copyright Crisis Publishing Company, Incorporated Sep/Oct 2001

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