The Formative Years

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, several Urban League affiliates recognized the need to prepare a new generation of young leaders to take the mantle of leadership of the civil rights movement. Young African American men and women in their 20’s and 30’s were invited to participate in and take an active leadership role in their local Affiliate Urban League programs and activities. 

These new professional auxiliary groups began to operate as programs of affiliates in:

Detroit, MI (“The Blue Monday Network”), Chicago, IL (“The Metropolitan Board”), Philadelphia, PA (“Philadelphia Urban League Young Professionals”), and Washington, DC (“The Thursday Network”).

These auxiliary groups actively supported the Urban League movement by educating other young professionals about the movement, recruiting new members, furnishing young volunteers, sponsoring educational initiatives like youth mentoring and tutoring programs, coordinating fund-raisers for scholarships and for the financial support of the affiliate, and delivering personal and professional development and networking opportunities to young professionals in their local communities.



The “Meeting”

As these auxiliaries began to grow, the Affiliate leadership took note of their success and began to ponder the power of a national movement of young professionals across the country.  Simultaneously, Hugh Price, then President and CEO of the National Urban League, realized the need to make this potential national movement into a reality. He held a historic “Young Professionals Dialog Session” with over 200 young professionals in the New York area in April of 1998. This dialog session, in addition to a white paper submitted by Marcus Mitchell, ignited the spark that led to the formation of a working group, tasked with establishing the framework and foundation for the National Urban League Young Professionals.

Under the direction of Annelle Lewis, Senior Vice President of Affiliate Development and Programs, the working group again convened in New York in September of 1998. Led by Marcus Mitchell (Philadelphia, PA), the working group consisted of

Karla Ballard (Wilmington, DE), Toi Anderson-Bennett (New York, NY), Rhonda Utley- Herring (Trenton, NJ),Melinda Emerson (Philadelphia, PA), Vernice Black (Philadelphia, PA),Tyra Metoyer (Houston, TX), Felecia Carrington (Houston, TX), Kim Beason (Milwaukee, WI), Brian Anderson (Boston, MA), Shawn Barney (New Orleans, LA), Kevin Hooks (Los Angeles, CA), Chontell Macon (Providence, RI), Jennifer Braxton (Philadelphia, PA) and B. Michael Young (Washington, DC).

They met on several occasions throughout the year to develop the foundation and structure for the implementation of the organization.



The Announcement-NULYP

The National Urban League Young Professionals(NULYP) was unveiled at the 1999 National Urban League Annual Conference in Houston, TX. Marcus Mitchell assumed the role of President and under his leadership the organization began to define itself and to carve out its role in the National Urban League movement. The leadership team met on regularly to refine the structure of the organization as well as to develop its first draft of by-laws. Soon thereafter a special election was held to fill the open positions on the newly established NULYP executive board.

The executive board members supporting Marcus’ Presidency included:

  • B. Michael Young Eastern Vice President
  • Tyra Metoyer Southern Vice President
  • Kim BeasonCentral Vice President
  • Graylind WherryTreasurer
  • Chontell MaconSecretary
  • Karla BallardPrograms Chair
  • Felecia CarringtonPersonal and Professional Development Chair
  • Rhonda Utley-Herring Resource Development Chair
  • Melinda Emerson Membership Chair
  • Vernice BlackPublic Relations Chair
  • Kevin Hooks, Candace Smith, Shawn Barney, and Toi Anderson-Bennett serving as at-large board members.


NULYP Presidents

  • Marcus Mitchell - 1999-2000
  • Karla Ballard - 2000-2001
  • Ryan Myers - 2002-2003
  • B. Michael Young - 2003-2005
  • Nolan V. Rollins - 2005-2007
  • Cassye D. Cook - 2007-2009
  • Barton J. Taylor - 2009-2011
  • Brandi R. Richard - 2011-2015



NULYP Executive Board Leadership 1999-2000

Marcus Mitchell
Philadelphia Urban League Young Professionals

Regional Vice Presidents

Kim Beason
Central Region Vice President
Milwaukee Urban League Young Professionals

B. Michael Young
Eastern Region Vice President
Thursday Network of the Greater Washington Urban League

Tyra Metoyer
Southern Region Vice President
Houston Area Urban League Young Professionals




Graylind Wherry

Chontell Macon
Providence Urban League Young Professionals





Karla Ballard
Chair – Programs
Metropolitan Wilmington Young Professionals

Felecia Carrington
Chair – Personal and Professional Development
Houston Area Urban League Young Professionals

Rhonda Utley-Herring
Chair – Resource Development Chair
Trenton Urban League Young Professionals

Melinda Emerson
Chair – Membership Chair
Philadelphia Urban League Young Professionals

Vernice Black
Chair – Public Relations Chair
Philadelphia Urban League Young Professionals

Kevin Hooks, Candace Smith, Shawn Barney, Toi Anderson-Bennett
At-Large Members