New York — NAACP President Bruce S. Gordon said Sunday he is leaving the civil rights organization after just 19 months at the helm, citing clashes with board members over management style and the organization's mission as the reasons.
"I believe that any organization that's going to be effective will only be effective if the board and the CEO are aligned, and I don't think we are aligned," Gordon told The Associated Press. "This compromises the ability of the board to be as effective as it can be."
Julian Bond, chairman of the board of the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Sunday that Gordon tried to quit just six weeks after taking the job in August 2005, but Bond convinced him to stay.
"There were occasions where it seemed just not to be a perfect fit," Bond said. "But he had many, many great qualities, and he exhibited those qualities when he worked for us. I'm disappointed that it came to this."
Gordon will give up his duties before month's end, Gordon said in a phone interview from Los Angeles, where he attended the NAACP Image Awards on Friday.
Dennis C. Hayes, the group's general counsel, will serve as interim president, Bond said. Hayes filled the same role after Kweisi Mfume resigned the presidency in 2004 after nine years.
Gordon said that although the NAACP is an advocacy organization, his vision was to focus more on finding practical solutions to black America's problems.
Gordon repeatedly made clear that he wanted the NAACP to do more social service work, said Rupert Richardson, a board member from Louisiana, but board members balked.
"I think he saw his job as remaking us to make us more effective, but his job was to do what the board and management wanted," she said. "He was not a good fit for us, but he could have been."
Bond said, "Put simply, we fight racial discrimination and social service groups fight the effects of racial discrimination. Service is wonderful and praiseworthy and fabulous, but many, many organizations do it. Only a couple do justice work, and we're one of those few."