Roslyn Brock will never forget her first NAACP regional meeting. It was 1985, and she was serving on the organization’s national board while still an undergrad at Virginia Union University. Seated with attorney Oliver Hill of the historic legal team that brought the Brown v. Board of Education lawsuit and civil rights attorney Samuel W. Tucker, Roslyn was awestruck. “It was incredible to be a college student and see them work their magic. They had such passion.”
No, it’s not a Japanese garden: It’s Roslyn on the idyllic grounds of Bon Secours Health System, where she's director of system fund development.
These days, Roslyn is working her own magic as vice chairman of the NAACP. She’s been a member of the organization since her freshman year in college; she was unanimously elected to the position in 2001—the youngest (and first female) vice chairman in its 98-year history.
A native of Fort Washington, MD, Roslyn has been involved with two things since she was a teenager: health care and the NAACP. She’s in her early forties now, and the two are still integral to her career. “Health care is my passion. It says in my high school and college yearbooks that I would be a health service administrator,” she says.
Roslyn speaking at NIH during its 2006 Black History Month program.
After earning a master’s in health services administration from GW, Roslyn spent 10 years at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where she focused on health care and earned an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern. She’s helped make health care a civil rights issue: The NAACP now has 38 state health committees that focus on disparity issues, universal access and HIV/AIDS.
When she was just 30, Roslyn’s life changed. In 1995, her husband died from a blood clot in his lungs. “After that, I needed to get grounded again. I needed to come home.” Roslyn returned to Maryland in 2001 and joined Bon Secours Health System, a Catholic health care ministry headquartered in Marriottsville. She provides strategic direction for 13 hospital foundations in seven states. “I am able to leverage my political and social network to impact life here in health care,” she tells Bisnow.
Roslyn speaks at Augusta State University for the 2005 Martin Luther King Jr. program.
“I’ve been watching you,” the iconic CME Presiding Bishop and former NAACP vice chairman William H. Graves told Roslyn one afternoon. “You’re still rough around the edges, but I’ve been watching you.” Bishop Graves nominated Roslyn to be his successor; Myrlie Evers-Williams endorsed her and she was elected unanimously. Without Bishop Graves’ urging, Roslyn says she never would have run for the post. “It’s my responsibility to do that for someone else, to pass it along.”
Roslyn will be running for chairman of the board in 2009, right as the NAACP plans to move its national headquarters from Baltimore to Washington. (Current Chairman Julian Bond says he will step down after the centennial celebrations.) If elected, Roslyn would become the 4th woman to chair the organization. “In the past, most of the leadership of the civil rights movement and the NAACP were male-dominated and male-led. But I see light,” Roslyn says with a smile.