For the second time, Rev. Regina Ragin Dykes is throwing her hat in the ring for president of the NAACP. The longtime member was beaten in 2010 by current president M. Gayle Moss.
“I’ve been an active participating member of the Pittsburgh Branch of the NAACP for almost 30 years,” Dykes said. “I’m a lifetime member and I’m also on the state board of the NAACP. So I work on both levels. I’m an active participant.”
Dykes is the pastor at New Life AME church in Homewood and works at the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh as a workforce development specialist. She was the executive director at the Hazelwood YMCA for seven years and also served as the supervisor of Allegheny County’s residential placement program for mental health, mental retardation, drug and alcohol.
Her other accomplishments include founding the When Women Work Ministry, a non-profit organization dedicated to workforce development. She is also the host of two television shows on the Pittsburgh Community Television channel.
“I’ve worked with people on issues and that’s something I continue to do because it’s not just something I did for employment, it’s my passion,” the mother of seven said.
Her education includes an associate degree in child development, an associates degree in social work, and a Bachelors of Arts degree with concentrations in sociology and psychology. She was ordained nearly 20 years ago as a nondenominational minister and will soon be ordained as an AME minister.
One of the key populations Dykes said she would focus on if elected is senior citizens. She said this community is struggling from high utility bills and high healthcare costs.
“Nobody seems to want to pay attention to the fact that we are number one as a county for the number of senior citizens,” Dykes said. “The senior citizens are being affected. And somehow the older people are being lost in the shuffle.”
The other issues she said she would focus on are the youth, employment, housing, and education.
“We’ve got to get inside the schools. For so long they’ve kept us on the outside and they’re doing some crazy stuff,” Dykes said. “We have to have people involved who have a passion and aren’t doing it for a paycheck.”
In order to address these issues she said she would harness the power of area churches. With nearly 50 AME churches in the Pittsburgh and surrounding area, and countless churches of other denominations, she said the religious community could bring about serious change if they joined together.
“It’s really working to make a change. We need to change this city, change people,” Dykes said.
When asked what she would do differently from the current NAACP leadership, Dykes wouldn’t go into specifics. However, she said when she was trying to renew people’s memberships people told her they left the NAACP because the organization wasn’t doing enough.
“There needs to be change,” Dykes said. “The one thing I thought was that there needs to be an increase in membership, but that’s happening now. Maybe because of the election.”