Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP President Anna Richards was named North Carolina NAACP branch president of the year at this year's state convention in Winston-Salem.
Richards has been with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch since 2017, but she has grown up with the organization. She began her time with the NAACP at the age of 10 when she still lived in Pennsylvania.
When she retired from a career at Boeing and relocated to Chapel Hill with her family, Richards was faced with the decision of where to spend her time. She decided to get involved with the local NAACP branch.
“I believe that the NAACP is an effective organization,” Richards said. “It has a long legacy of social justice and causes that I believe in.”
Since becoming president in 2017, Richards has changed the local branch.
“One of the things with having organizations that have been around a long time is that you can get into a habit of doing things the same way that they have always been done,” Richards said. “I'm really proud of our team for trying out new ideas in moving forward.”
Richards has focused on community outreach and implemented a strategy of involving multiple generations in decision-making processes. Almost every committee in the branch has a co-chair of a different generation.
“That gives us a diverse perspective, as well as ideas that are cutting-edge,” Richards said.
Dawna Jones, secretary of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP branch, said Richards constantly challenges members to raise the bar.
“I think that she is truly a leader who cares about people,” Jones said. “She cares about the work and she works very, very hard to ensure that this branch is doing the work of the NAACP."
Richards plays a significant role in engaging the younger leaders of the branch, Jones added.
“She is a very organized and motivated leader,” she said. “As one of the younger members of the branch and of the executive committee, she has certainly embraced me as a mentor and has helped me to bolster my own leadership skills and ensured that the younger members of our branch are not only included but have significant leadership roles.”
Rani Dasi, member of the NAACP and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, applauds Richards' work as president.
“She has engaged the branch more in community relationships,” Dasi said. “And community building, particularly working with the schools to continue to advocate and improve outcomes for all students, and has generally just been a good friend and community member.”
Richards' history with the corporate world has influenced her leadership style.
“The one thing I’d say that has helped the work that she's done is that she has brought to the community a long history of corporate leadership and management,” Dasi said. “She worked with Boeing in a high-level position and she's brought a lot of that professionalism to the branch.”
Along with the Branch President of the Year Award, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch has won several other awards under Richards’ leadership, including Branch of the Year 2017 and 2018, runner-up in the N.C. NAACP Membership Showdown and national recognition in 2019 with Thalheimer awards for programming as well as membership production.
Richards said she has hope for the future of the branch, but also knows in which direction it should move.
“I wish the community knew how much we want to broaden our reach to engage and involve the people most impacted by the systems that we are trying to change,” Richards said.
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