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Published: Tuesday, 4/24/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Debt issue to delay search for new leader

Toledo Urban League to raise funds, memberships

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Rev. John C. Jones. Rev. John C. Jones.
TOLEDO BLADE Enlarge

The Greater Toledo Urban League is taking a breather to refine its focus — and reduce its debt — as its president steps aside.

Hiring a successor to the Rev. John C. Jones, the outgoing chief executive, is not an immediate order of business.

“I’m not going to bring in a new president and CEO [to] be burdened with a large debt load,” James Murray, board chairman, said Tuesday night. “Our goal is to get the debt paid down, and down the same path at the same time, we’ll be bringing in a new person. It’s not a large amount of money, but it is money.”

The Urban League, regrouped, will focus on helping people get jobs and making sure children receive an education, Mr. Murray said. A target to start anew is July 1, “but we’re not going to justdo it to do it,” Mr. Murray said. “We’re going to do it the right way. We’re working on it, and when we’re ready the community is going to know it.”

Mr. Jones has been director of governance at ProMedica for several months, working with the health-care system’s boards and committees. He has continued to help at the Urban League during the transition, however.

Mr. Jones said that the Urban League’s debt grew to about $300,000 as funding and fund-raising dwindled during the economic downturn and despite efforts to control costs, but has been paid down to about $200,000 since late last year.

The organization attracted a sell-out crowd of 750 in March, 2011, to its annual dinner, with Bill Cosby as keynote speaker. The event yielded $50,000, “but still, with all that was going on, that wasn’t enough to get us over the hump.”

Mr. Murray said that those owed money will be paid.

“It’s a difficult situation out there for not-for-profits in particular,” he said.

The group had federal and other government contracts for job training and senior services, Mr. Jones said. Government cutbacks cost the group much of that business.

“The needs aren’t going away. The only thing is, the money went away,” Mr. Murray said.

Mr. Jones, an accountant by training, worked for ProMedica before his presidency with the organization as well, when in March, 2008, he was hired to be the second permanent director of the Greater Toledo Urban League, succeeding Johnny Mickler.

Mr. Jones is a Toledo native and a 1992 graduate of what is now Emmanuel Christian School and a 1996 graduate of Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio. He is an associate minister of Christian Temple Baptist Church, where his father, the Rev. Charles Jones, is pastor.

The Toledo affiliate of the National Urban League, civil rights organization founded in 1910, was organized in 1997 after decades of attempts. The local affiliate has community and corporate support, said Mr. Murray, who promised a membership drive.

“There’s no reason the Greater Toledo Urban League should not have 5,000 paid members,” Mr. Murray said. “That’s anywhere from a dollar to $25 to $500.”

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.



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