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Stevens out as NAACP head

| Friday, Nov. 19, 2004, 12:00 p.m.

Members of the NAACP's Pittsburgh branch elected a new leader Thursday as the organization's vice president defeated President Tim Stevens in his bid for a sixth, two-year term.

Stevens, 59, of Highland Park, lost to M. Gayle Moss, of Penn Hills, who has served as the branch's first vice president for more than a decade.

"People want a change," Moss said last night after the votes were counted at the Hill House, which served as the polling place. She won by 41 votes out of 454 cast.

The president-elect said she will make the civil rights organization more visible in order to attract new members and tackle problems plaguing Pittsburgh's black community.

"We have to go into the community to find out what the problems are" by "walking the streets" and reaching out to people, she said.

Moss, who wouldn't to give her age, said Stevens didn't do enough to recruit members, and that membership has dwindled during his decade-long tenure.

"My No. 1 (priority) is to build the membership base," Moss said.

Stevens said last night he had lost a hard-fought battle.

"I gave my branch 10 excellent years," he said. "I tried to represent the branch in a dignified way."

Moss, who has a son, five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, is the director of Naomi's Place, a transitional housing affiliate of the Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church in East Liberty. Naomi's Place assists single mothers suffering from drug and alcohol addiction and mental illness. She retired from the University of Pittsburgh in 2001 as an administrative assistant.

Moss, who takes office in January, said she also will focus on job training and education.

"Our people are gravely unemployed," she said. "We're going to form new partnerships with the government and CEOs of companies that pull the purse strings in this community for economic development."

The Pittsburgh branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is headquartered at 2203 Wylie Avenue in the Hill District.

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