(The Root) — The NAACP Saturday announced that Lorraine C. Miller, a member of the national board of directors since 2008, would become interim president and CEO of the 104-year-old organization.
In doing so, she's the organization's first interim president and the first woman to fill the president-executive secretary's role since 1916, a spokesman told The Root, although four women have been chairman of the board and three have held the title of national president. She begins Nov. 1.
Leadership of the search committee to select a new president and CEO was also named, according a release. It will be chaired by the Rev. Theresa Dear of Bartlett, Ill., and the vice chairman is Lamell McMorris of Washington, D.C. Both are members of the NAACP's national board.
The moves come after NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, who served as the face of the nation's largest civil rights organization for the past five years, announced plans in September to step down, effective Dec. 31. In a detailed interview with The Root's editor-in-chief, Henry Louis Gates Jr., he cited a desire to spend time with his family as one of the reasons for his departure.
"Lorraine is a natural fit as interim president of the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization," Jealous said in a prepared statement. "She comes into this position with two decades of experience working for the U.S. House of Representatives and an even longer career in civil rights advocacy and policy. She will have the honor of leading the dynamic staff of this great organization."
Miller's selection is timely. Soon after Jealous announced his resignation, social media began a major push for a woman to lead the organization. The board appears to have listened — at least for the interim. She comes with a long list of credentials.
A commercial real estate broker, she sits on the board of D.C. Vote and served as the first African-American clerk and the first African-American officer of the U.S House of Representatives from 2007 to 2011. Before that, she worked for former House Speakers Nancy Pelosi, Tom Foley and Jim Wright, as well as U.S. Rep. John Lewis. She also worked in the Clinton White House and at the American Federation of Teachers. She is a member of Washington, D.C.'s historic Shiloh Baptist Church.
As a member of the NAACP, she served for six years as president of the Washington, D.C., branch. She has also served as a member of the group's national board of directors since 2008.
"I am honored to have been selected for this venerable role," Miller said in the prepared statement. "I look forward to continuing the path forged by Chairman Brock and President Jealous in the months ahead. These are important times, and the important work of the NAACP will go on."
Editor's note: This article has been revised to clarify how many women have held leadership roles in the NAACP.