Thursday, January 15, 2015

Cleveland NAACP Executive Director Sheila Wright steps down, local Civil Rights chapter is broke and remains shut down and under investigation by national headquarters

Sheila Wright
By  Kathy Wray Coleman, editor-in-chief, Cleveland Urban News. Com and The Cleveland Urban News.Com Blog, Ohio's Most Read Online Black Newspaper and Newspaper Blog. Tel: 216-659-0473. (Kathy Wray Coleman is a 21-year investigative and political journalist and legal reporter who trained for 17 years under five different editors at the Call and Post Newspaper, Ohio's most prominent Black press)

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Sheila Wright has stepped down as executive director of the NAACP's Cleveland branch as her two-year-contract is up and the organization has essentially been shut down by the national headquarters for impropriety in what would have been an election of branch officers last year, and for other reasons. And the local chapter of the nation's most renowned Civil Rights organization that once wielded substantial influence in the greater Cleveland community is flat broke, sources say.

"I have not heard any updates as it relates to the election," Cleveland NAACP Secretary Arlene Anderson told Cleveland Urban News.Com late last year.

"We have to get further direction on how we should proceed and until then there will be no regular meetings," said Anderson.

Before the national takeover in October of 2014, the local chapter met the second Monday of each month.

Wright, 45, who struggled to get paid by the Cleveland NAACP as its executive director, has taken a position as director of community affairs for the Good Communities Foundation, which was established by Albert and Audrey Ratner.

"For the past two years, I have been honored to work for a historic organization that is so important to our community," Wright told chapter members in an email. "I am proud of the work we did together and I look forward to even greater achievements from the Cleveland NAACP."

The Ratners' are philanthropists and rich power brokers with political clout in Cleveland and elsewhere.

Albert Ratner is co-chairman emeritus of Forest City Enterprises in Cleveland.

The Cleveland NAACP is led by chapter president Hilton O. Smith, whom Wright reported to.

Smith is an associate minister at Greater Abyssinia Baptist Church in Cleveland and vice president for community affairs at Turner Construction Company in Cleveland.

The national NAACP is led by Cornell Brooks and the investigation of the Cleveland NAACP is being led by the Rev. Gill Ford, the national director of unit field operations and membership.