Earlier this month, longtime University of Pittsburgh law enforcement specialist Deborah Walker, announced her candidacy for president of the Pittsburgh branch of the NAACP in the upcoming Nov. 13 election.
“I’ve talked to scores of people across the city and there’s been one common theme that comes up: the NAACP needs a new start,” Walker said. “And I think with my skills and experience I could be that new start that moves the organization into the future.”
In addition to her years of service with the NAACP, Walker is the former chair of the Pittsburgh Citizens Review Board, president of Pitt’s Staff Association Council, chair of the sub-committee for education on the Governor’s Commission on African-American Affairs, and chair of Pitt’s Alumni Association Student Programming Committee. She said this leadership experience combined with her skills, knowledge, education and contacts make her a great candidate for NAACP president.
“I belong to a number of organizations and I hold leadership positions in those organizations,” Walker said. “There’s so many issues that need to be addressed and to become successful the NAACP must have and rely on strong leadership.”
At the top of Walker’s list of issues is police misconduct. This issue is of particular interest to Walker because of her 20 years of experience as a police officer for the University of Pittsburgh, her position as Pitt’s chief judicial officer, and experience as a professor of criminal justice, community policing and community-based corrections.
“Our police need to be more responsible. And also the lack of diversity on the police force is a great concern to me. Our police force should not only reflect our communities but our city,” Walker said. “I want to be able to come to the table with the mayor and the chief of police and resolve these issues.”
Walker said there are several other quality of life issues affecting African-Americans in Pittsburgh and surrounding communities. They include unemployment, disparities in the criminal justice system and voter suppression.
“We have to be in a position where we can be contacted and discuss how we can support those seeking minority representation,” Walker said. “I would say that when I talk to scores of people, they say we don’t hear a lot from the NAACP about these issues.”
Overall, Walker said the NAACP needs a president who can increase the organization’s membership and mobilize that membership to become more active. Her goals are to restore the NAACP’s legacy; reenergize and refocus the organization; re-strengthen partnerships; rebuild the organization; and renew interest in college chapters.
“We not only have to work on our past but we have to work toward our future so I’m asking the people of Pittsburgh to consider the work I’ve done in the community, the skill set I have, my experience and walk into the future with Deborah Walker,” she said.