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Las Vegas-Clark County Urban League CEO Kevin Hooks: Guiding from poverty to prosperity?

kevin hooksPlease describe your role as CEO?
My role is to establish and implement a vision for the future. Everything we do at the Las Vegas Urban League is informed by one question— how do we guide those we serve from poverty to prosperity?

What is the mission of your organization?
The Las Vegas Urban League is a strong component of a larger organization, the National Urban League; a 100-year-old organization rooted in the fight for civil rights. Our over-arching mission is to empower communities and change lives.

How do you approach business challenges?
Ron Brown, the great Secretary of Commerce under Bill Clinton once said, “the price of leadership is loneliness.” A leader does not have the luxury of leading by emotions. The interest of the enterprise is what is paramount. I approach all challenges on their individual merits. I use analytics to inform the decision and experience to confirm its accuracy.

How do you evaluate talent you are hiring and what skills are you seeking in this marketplace?
We are collectively changing the narrative of the historically underserved. I’m looking for passion and integrity. We make a long-term impact on our clients and it’s critically important that members of our team have a particular level of compassion for the community we serve. They must embody the compassion that Walter Breugemen describes as a “radical form of criticism;” a compassion that addresses the need while indicting the root causes. We want to provide a hand-up while being critical of the system that allows for such a reality to exist.

What are the top three benefits to being a member of your organization?
First, to be among the seasoned warriors in the fight for civil rights and justice is an honor in itself; being a participant in history is more satisfying than being on the sideline. The business networking within the organization gives young professionals the opportunity to learn from some of the top leaders in their field. Finally, your membership is the bullhorn that will allow you to give voice to change as you envision it. You will be a part of the collective, but your voice will travel on its own wave length streaming through the democratic underbelly of our nation.

How do you utilize technology to give yourself business advantages?
As the CEO, I spend a great deal of my time traveling for meetings and conferences, so it’s imperative that I stay connected to my team via phone, email, Skype or social media. It’s important they know I’m always available whether I’m in town or overseas.

What technological advances have you used to communicate with your membership?
We are always looking for new ways to widen our footprint in the community. It’s especially imperative that we reach the next generation of trailblazers. Over the past year we have really pushed our social media imprint on Twitter and Facebook and are actively looking to add other networks to our portfolio in the near future. We’re also one of the first affiliates to have a mobile application so our members can keep up with program updates and success stories from wherever they are.

What are three most important business organizational processes and documents used to become a member?

What are the two key factors for business successes?
1. Teamwork happens when there is shared commitment. It is important that my entire team identifies with the values contained within our mission.
2. Sustainability has become the lifeblood of organizational success. That is
no different for the nonprofit sector. We are committed to diversification for longevity.

Name your three favorite business books for insight and inspiration?
What Makes the Great Great by Dr. Dennis Kimbro
Words that Work by Frank Luntz
Why Should White Guys Have All the Fun by Reginald F. Lewis

If you were giving a speech about skill sets needed in the future to remain relevant to 500 workers at a retraining seminar what would the of title of your speech be and why?
The only way to stay relevant in any business is to be willing to do what others won’t. The most valued people in a work place are those that are not secluded by walls of overestimated self- worth, but rather those that will do any task regardless of its perceived size and value. The people who are the last standing are those that say what they will do and not those that say what they will not do. Finally, I would tell them that education is a lifelong journey. You should avoid what Dr. Cornel West refers to as the “credentialization of education.” Education is continuous and should not stop when you receive a certification or a degree.

Describe your leadership style?
I tend to manage by exception. I prefer to surround myself with people that are smarter than me and empower them to win. I will only get involved with day-to-day minutiae if there is a problem that requires my involvement.

Please support the work of the Las Vegas Urban League. Text EMPOWER to 501501 [and] it will donate $10 to our fight against poverty.