New Head of Illinois NAACP Talks Future Plans
For Springfield Resident Teresa Haley it's a typical day.
"Recognizing our veterans, making them aware of all of the services and benefits that are available to veterans throughout the state of Illinois," said Haley.
This effort isn't even associated with her day job.
"I work for IDOT, department of transportation, I'm an operations training manager, I'm preparing for travel, I'm on the road weekly."
When she's not coordinating IDOT training workshops for roadway crews, Haley has more than her fair share of work cut out for her.
"I'm usually on the computer, responding to emails, returning phone calls until midnight, my mother always said if you're not busy, you're gonna die, so I'm extremely busy I probably took that to the next level."
Haley is well known for wearing multiple hats of leadership in the capital city.
"When she set out to do something, she do not give up, she just go, go, go," said Mami Johnson, Teresa's Mother.
Haley is currently serving as Board President of the local American Red Cross, an organization she says does not discriminate.
"It's colorless and when disasters happen, we don't think about the color of the person's skin, we don't think about the social economic background that they have and so that's why I'm involved with the red cross, it's about helping people who need help, it's about helping people start again," said Teresa Haley.
For Haley there's a deeper passion, what she describes as her life's purpose, serving her community.
"Springfield has a strong history in terms of racism, discrimination, but also trying to make things better. I mean we are the capital city."
In 2010, Haley became the President of the NAACP's Springfield Branch.
"You look at President Abraham Lincoln, you look at President Barack Obama, really got his start here in Springfield and then for me to be born and raised here and then to lead the nation's oldest civil rights organization is truly a blessing and an honor."
On October 31st, Haley took on yet another role. She was elected Illinois President of the NAACP.
"She understands that although we have president Obama in the white house, that the struggle isn't over, she knows that, and she's out there on the lines every day, leading," said Lt. Enos Brents of the Sangamon County Sheriff's Office.
For Haley, this new and larger role means having more say and power to make decisions.
"When things happen and they need someone to come down and testify with the senate and the house, I'm right here locally, so no one has to travel and I think we can get more work done".
The first item on her agenda as NAACP state president is to bring more youth into the organization.
"The situation that just happened in Mizzou, we look at Ferguson, we look at Trayvon Martin and young people are starting a movement and why reinvent the wheel, let's try to connect with them and find ways to bringing them in."
"Teresa invited me to become an active member of the executive committee and the NAACP and the executive committee are advocating for a lot of issues that I feel passionate about as well," said William Grant, NAACP Member.
Another immediate plan of action for Haley is to have a local building.
"We have a back to school stay in school program which we're housing at a church right now, why not have a building which we're housing some of those materials, event artifacts, have a place for our students."
As for how long Haley plans to continue leading; "I will be a civil rights fighter until the day I die, until the day I take my last breath, so I plan on being around for a while".