Candace Prince-Modeste admitted to being excited, as well as a little nervous and tense, last Sunday as she was preparing to be sworn in as president of the Jamaica Branch of the NAACP.
“I’m still excited,” she told the Chronicle in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “I think the rest was mostly taken care of at the ceremony.”
Prince-Modeste, who has been involved with the NAACP since 2007, was sworn in before a crowd of about 150 at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center in St. Albans. She, the chapter officers and members of the executive board were sworn in by New York State Supreme Court Justice Valerie Braithwaite Nelson as the branch also held its Founders Day celebration.
The gathering included Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP’s New York State Conference and a member of the organization’s national board of directors. Gail Lewis of Queens Public Television served as mistress of ceremonies.
Dukes, in a phone conversation with the Chronicle, said the new president's long commitment to both the NAACP and the Jamaica Branch give Prince-Modeste the qualities the organization is looking for as it grooms its next generation of leaders to step forward.
"She is going to be great leader for Queens," Dukes said.
Other dignitaries included U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Queens, Nassau), Councilmembers Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica), Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans), Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) and former Councilman Archie Spigner, as well as state and branch NAACP officials from throughout the city and New York State.
Prince-Modeste said she will remain at her job as Miller’s chief of staff. At 36 she is the youngest president in the history of the Jamaica branch.
One of her top priorities will be to focus on the chapter’s youth outreach.
“I want to get the youth back into the fold,” she said. “We do have a youth council. I want people to know they can work on civil rights issues just as much as adults can.”
She also believes the chapter needs to reinvigorate its committees, which she said they have “for every topic under the sun.”
Prince-Modeste said the Jamaica Branch will be active and outspoken as the state Legislature works on matters such as a package of voting reform bills.
This story was updated to include comments from Hazel Dukes.