“The Urban League’s interest is in the personal and economic development of our community’s residents,” explained recently appointed UL Los Angeles chairman, Noel Massie.
“It’s why the Urban League was built…”
Massie, who replaced former chair Carl Ballton earlier this year, said he will strengthen that focus from his end, and he will make sure that the League’s incoming president— who members are still searching for, is on the same page.
“The [new] leader needs to be an emotionally intelligent, very collaborative, relationship driven person. And, they need to have enough business acumen to develop the programs and the resources to support [the Urban League’s mission].”
In addition to manning his post at Urban League Los Angeles, Massie is currently the president of United Parcel Service Central California District. There, he is responsible for all operations, customer relationship management, and revenue management of nearly $2 billion annually. The District employs nearly 11,000 employees and serves over 80,000 customers daily.
The Sentinel had a recent conversation with Massie, who talked about carrying out that mission through community partnerships, quality education and effective leadership…
Los Angeles Sentinel (LAS): Tell us a little bit about yourself
Noel Massie (NM): I’ve been with UPS for 35 years, since 1977.
And I started in the Bay area, Oakland, California. That’s my origin, Oakland, CA. And I started with UPS as I’ve said. I’ve held assignments all over the U.S. really, starting with working in the corporate headquarters in Atlanta in 91/ 92. The capacity I spent there was really running our corporate leadership development.
We have a system of leadership development schools that we send our leaders to. So, I was assigned to that for a couple of years.
LAS: So, in other words, you started from the ground up.
NM: Oh yeah, for sure. I was a college student, an electrical engineering student at San Jose State. That’s how I started my career with UPS. We recruit college students basically to kind of feed our organization.
[UPS] had as a company, a relationship with the Urban League at a national level for 30 years. It’s one of the few organizations that as a corporate entity we include as a strategic partner. Like, the United Way of America would be a strategic partner. The Urban League is a strategic partner.
LAS: What is your vision for the new president when he comes into the office?
NM: The new president has to keep the emphasis on education. When you talk about the whole focus of what the Urban League in Los Angeles has been over the last five years, it’s really been about neighborhood stability. And, that makes sense.
The new president needs to continue to support that conversation. Neighborhoods at Work and Neighborhood Transformation are going to be the outgrowth of education and educational support. [He/she needs to focus on] the reduction of high school drop out rates, particularly in Black communities and Black neighborhoods. That has to be considered as well as college readiness.
And then, the second area of focus has to be community health, reduction of crime, the improvement of health and wellness of the community, so that areas like high blood pressure and diabetes get attention.
When a father dies of high blood pressure and then you leave a family behind, that’s a big deal. So, wellness, community health as I mentioned crime reduction— has to be a continued vision for this person. And then, finally, an area I’ll talk to the new president about is financial stability, providing financial stability services to the community for jobless veterans and Americans who are disabled. Those are areas where I think we’ve been a little thin from a jobs growth perspective I’m going to want to see more effort.
LAS: The Urban League has been known for jobs but a lot of criticism has been that the League went into a new direction, education, which is good but lost its way [as far as jobs.]
NM: It’s been my biggest criticism as well, because of my background in workforce. [But] building partnerships with organizations is an area that’s been solved. And, it will be shored up significantly over the next 24 months, particularly going into 2013.
The structure around building relationships I found in Chicago with job growth is that you build a program that has the specs that some companies say they need. And then, you get support for that program so when those folks exit that program they have a destination employment point. We did a lot of work with that with UPS in Chicago when I was there, with a nursing program. We built brick and mortar with the community colleges and the city through the work force board.
Over a 4 year period we put 63 women through that program and around two dozen women who exited are already LVNs. And, they were living in the projects at the time.
UPS provided their employment and the structure around getting their GEDs and then the community colleges put them through the nursing program, while they worked for UPS. So, it was a really nice program and something that I look to help the new president build here in Los Angeles, something like that.
LAS: What can the community expect from the Urban League under your chairmanship?
NM: I think what they can expect from the Urban League is continued focus on job growth, education improvement, reduction of crime so that we have a healthy environment. I think the Urban League’s interest is in personal development and economic development of the residents in the community. And, that’s going to happen. And, I think collaboration is going to be the way that we’re going to do that.