When Rev. Al Sharpton made a call to action to expand National Action Network’s (NAN) reach around the country, Tamika Mallory answered. “It’s Rev. Sharpton’s vision [for NAN to be] 100 chapters strong. We are more than halfway there. Chapters are opening all over the country,” offers Mallory, who has been serving as the organization’s national executive director for the past two and a half years. “[At our convention this year], we hosted five of the Obama administration’s main cabinet members who lead departments that are specific to the needs of people in communities of color. I think that was helpful for [them] to see the organization’s vision: to bring the highest power into communities to talk directly to the people that their jobs affect.”
What attracted the young professional to want to work for one of the leading civil right’s organizations and galvanize a team of African American leaders from government, civic, media and community organizations on a historic quest to improve the lives of African Americans?
“I grew up in this organization and held every position from youth director and assistant to Rev. Sharpton to many other positions since we opened in 1991. I think that has been very significant in my being offered the position. I know, regardless of what else I have done in my life, I have always been committed to uplifting people in my community, and I think that was a good sign for [Rev. Sharpton] that I could handle this job.”
In addition to Rev. Sharpton and her pastor, NAN’s board chair Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, she credits media mogul Cathy Hughes as being a one of her mentors. “Cathy Hughes is a black woman who was a single mom just as I. She found a way out of no way to create one of the largest black-owned media companies in this country. I know that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I can just sit down with her and ask ‘How did you do it when it got hard?’ ‘How did you break down this wall?’ ‘How did you deal with these men who don’t necessarily hear your voice when you speak at the top of your lungs?’ and ‘How did you do all that you were trying to do and raise a son at the same time without ignoring him and helping him to be the best that he could be?'”
Mallory works closely with the Obama administration as a conduit for the issues presented to NAN as well as holds them accountable for important issues including job reform, healthcare, small-business incentives and more. She’s also been instrumental in using powerful social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter and bloggers to advance the organization’s mission.
Mallory has been recognized for her leadership by Ebony magazine and featured on leading media outlets as an ambassador for civil rights issues. She earned a bachelor’s of art in communication at New Rochelle and is the proud mother of 12-year-old Tarique. –yvette caslin