Lorraine C. Miller, an NAACP national board member and real estate executive who served as the first Black clerk and officer of the U.S. House of Representatives, has been named interim president and CEO of the NAACP. She will oversee the organization until a successor is found for retiring President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.

Miller’s appointment was announced by NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock at the civil rights organization’s national board of directors meeting recently in Las Vegas. Miller will fill the post while a search is conducted for a new chief executive. Theresa Dear, of Bartlett, Ill., was designated to head the search committee. Washington, D.C. resident Lamell McMorris will serve as the committee’s vice chair. Both are members of the NAACP national board.

“Lorraine is a natural fit as interim president of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization,” Jealous said in a 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.”

According to a bio posted on Historymakers.com, Miller’s parents “believed ardently” in the NAACP. A devoted member of the Baptist church, she graduated from the University of North Texas in 1975 with a bachelor’s in political science.

Her first job was teaching high school government. Soon, she moved east and began interning for the Maryland State Legislature. She spent 11 years working for former Rep. Jim Wright (D-Tex.) , serving as his executive assistant when he acted as speaker of the House of Representatives. She also worked for the late Rep. Tom Foley (D-Wash.) when he was speaker and later for Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

Miller spent two years working as the deputy assistant to President Clinton. From 1995 she held the post of director of government relations for the Federal Trade Commission and chief of the Consumer Information Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission. She also served as a senior advisor to Rep. Nancy Pelosi from 2001 until 2007, when Pelosi named her clerk of the House, the first time an African American had held the post. She also served as officer of the House.

She became president of the D.C. chapter of the NAACP in 2004 and was elected to the NAACP National Board of Directors four years later, the online bio said.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) called Miller “a strong choice.”

“Lorraine has a long history as a dedicated public servant and community advocate…” he said in a statement. “I have no doubt that her experiences will bring a wealth of knowledge to the NAACP. I was honored to work with Lorraine during her time with the House, and I look forward to partnering with her in this new capacity as we continue the fight for economic, civic, educational, and social equality for all.”

Miller will take the helm on Nov. 1. Jealous is scheduled to leave at the end of the year.

Miller said she was “honored” to be appointed.

“I look forward to continuing the path forged by Chairman Brock and President Jealous in the months ahead,” she said. “These are important times, and the important work of the NAACP will go on.”

According to news reports, a highlight of the national board meeting was the last address of Jealous, who drew thunderous applause when he discussed the progress the civil rights organization has made during the last five years.


Zachary Lester

AFRO Staff Writer