New York, NY - Following the recent annual national convention of National Action Network (NAN), Rev. Al Sharpton, the organization’s president, announced that NAN has hired four new staff officials to join the national office The impetus for the four hires was initiated from NAN’s increased activity in the wake of a new administration and the impact policies will have on the civil rights community and people of color.
With the continued addition of new NAN national chapters and field offices across the entire country, the requests for assistance from the organization has increased around criminal justice reform, police misconduct cases, voter suppression, immigration concerns, racism and hate crimes. Currently, there are over a hundred national NAN chapters.
The first new hire is Blair Smith, a Special Project Advisor for NAN’s inaugural Financial and Pension Industry taskforce that was created during NAN’s convention to demand that public, private and labor pension fund companies do business with Black finance managers and contractors. These entities manage billions of dollars of minority monies and invest those funds with non-minority financial managers who in turn invest the money with white developers who gentrify and in some cases exploit our community. The taskforce will negotiate with them so that they have a percentage of investments and contracts with Black and minority managers who will guide some of those investments and jobs in the community of those people they are handling.
Blair has over 15 years of buy-side experience in the capital markets arena, leading the creation of marketing strategy, plans and budgets that span industries, marketplace, customers and competition.
Most recently, Blair was responsible for co-managing the $5.6 billion emerging manager investment portfolio within the State of New York Common Retirement Fund. The program manages both traditional and alternative asset class strategies (real estate, private equity, public equity, hedge funds and opportunistic).
As a Senior Investment Officer, he actively evaluated and conducted research for new investment vehicles/platforms and strategies that will strategically implement the long-term goals of the Emerging Manager portfolio.
Blair has served as a financial expert for News 12 Westchester (NY) and an adjunct lecturer with the School of Continuing Studies at NYU and Baruch College in New York City. He lectured in both Global Marketing and Executive Leadership.
The Community Organizing Unit
Two new hires have been made in the national office around community organizing and national field engagement. Organizers will travel to build a state-by-state strategic plan in the era of President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, among others, who are working to criminalize low-level offenses and set back criminal justice reform. The organizers will devise how to challenge state governments and legislators to have state prosecutors like New York State to deal with police shootings and to deal with commuting unfair long-term mandatory jail sentences. They will also organize state by state around voter suppression issues. These two millennials will work with NAN chapters, student groups and grassroots organizers.
Brandon Hicks holds a political science degree from North Carolina Central University and law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law. Mr. Hicks was born in Winston-Salem, NC and grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. Brandon’s organizing experience has included organizing for college groups, national organizations, and grassroots community organizations. He has organized diverse campaigns concerning ending police brutality, the removal of Confederate flags, and campaigns addressing Islamophobia. He believes the words of the theologian James Cone, “God hates injustice and will not tolerate the humiliation of the outcasts”. Organizing allows Brandon to serve God by helping to liberate the people God cares most about, the oppressed.
Isabel Zeitz- Moskin, is a Field and Community Organizer who is furthering her commitment to civil rights a passion of hers. Isabel comes to the National Action Network from an early career of organizing and social justice. Most recently, she served as a field organizer on the Hillary Clinton Campaign in rural Miami County, Ohio. There she developed a passion for voting rights and grassroots campaigning. Prior to this opportunity, she worked at Interfaith Power & Light, in Washington, D.C., Maryland and North Virginia, where she worked to activate communities of faith in the fight against climate change and environmental injustice.
Isabel graduated from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnestoa, with a BA in Religion. Within the field of religion she focused on liberation and feminist theology and the philosophy of language in religious doctrine. Raised in New York in a Jewish home with leftist roots, she truly believes in the powerful intersection of religion and faith to combat injustice.
Finally, Rev. AL Sharpton has announced the hiring of James Fields as a Personal Assistant to Rev. Al Sharpton to travel with him and to work directly with Rev. Al Sharpton as a Communications Assistant reporting directly to Rachel Noerdlinger. He graduated with a degree in Communications from Corker College in South Carolina and will assist with messaging NAN’s work on the road as he travels and works with Rev. Al Sharpton across the country.