We mourn the loss of Blair Co. NAACP past-President/CEO Don “Spoon” Witherspoon on December 26, 2020, and Blair Co. NAACP past-secretary Virginia Day on January 27, 2021. With the deaths of these two respected community leaders, and the retirement of Blair Co NAACP past-Vice President Bill Sweet, and his wife (and past-Treasurer) Patty Sweet, the Chapter faced many new challenges coming into the new year. However, as of May 26th, 2021, the Blair Co. NAACP is back in the fight for racial justice and equality in Central PA with a newly-appointed officer board and executive committee. We encourage you to read more about our officers below.
President/CEO : Andraé HolseyAndraé M. Holsey is a senior at Penn State University, majoring in Political Science. He has been widely involved in campus extracurriculars, including the Political Science Society, PSUA Black Student Union, and the Criminal Justice Organization. His awards include the 2016 Abercrombie & Fitch Diversity Champion of the Year Award from the National Society of High School Scholars, the Blair Co. NAACP Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship, the Altoona Mirror 20 under 20 Top Scholar Award/Scholarship, among others. Holsey’s outspoken advocacy for racial justice earned him a position as the Political Outreach Director of Progress for People of Color and a position on the Outreach/Action Volunteer Committee for the Alliance for Police Accountability. He has given speeches on race at George Washington University for International Scholar’s Day and for the NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner as the keynote speaker, participated in the National Action Network March on Washington (and organized dozens of other protests in the Tri-State Area), and canvassed for successful ballot initiatives in Pittsburgh to pass Breonna’s Law and ban the use of solitary confinement at the Allegheny County Jail. With his election as President/CEO of the Chapter, Holsey made history as the youngest-ever President , youngest senior official in the PA State Conference of the NAACP, and possibly the youngest senior official in the history of our nation’s largest, oldest civil rights organization.
1st Vice President : Darius MorganDarius Morgan’s degree in Business Administration Marketing and Management from South Hills Business School isn’t his only experience in how to run successful organizations. Spurred to action after the death of George Floyd, Morgan applied his business degree and managerial skills from his time at Panda Express to take the helm of the civil rights discussion in Central PA, as founder and Executive Director of Progress for People of Color. A staunch feminist, member of the LGBTQ+ community, and National PBL contestant, he brings to the table unique perspectives and managerial experience coveted in an organization like the Blair Co. NAACP. After the 2021 Election concluded, Darius and Paige Lightner (2nd Vice President) made history as the first two LGBTQ+ officers of Pennsylvania’s oldest NAACP Chapter.
2nd Vice President : Paige LightnerPaige Lightner is a 29-year-old Altoona Area High School alumnus, former Central State University attendee, and current student at Mount Aloysius College, pursuing a degree in Cannabis Agriculture & Horticulture. 3 years ago, she became one of the few black, female business owners in Blair County, with the birth of Pa’je’s Potions. However, her handcrafted CBD-infused beverage business was not only source of cultural and community awareness. Paige credits her father, former Blair County African American Heritage Festival Organizer, William Lightner for strongly influencing this awareness. In her new capacity, Paige plans to follow in his footsteps and continue to show Blair County more of the amazing things African Americans have brought and will continue to bring to this area, as a leading organizer of the Blair County African American Heritage Festival revival in Blair County, a participant in the Black Lives Matter protests, and a brand ambassador for Endo Black Inc., which brings awareness to the disease endometriosis and how it effects African American women in our country. In her own words, “I love uplifting my people and I will live always fighting for my people!”
Secretary : Erica McNealErica McNeal currently works as an aesthetician in the Altoona-area, helping people find their “look.” Her constant smile, constructive criticism, and can-do attitude are a welcome sight to the potential board of the NAACP. Erica’s time as a beauty school instructor has given her the skills needed to not only effectively manage the time of an organization, but to put it on a track that is geared towards developing others and creating long-lasting organizational progress. Her outspokenness on issues of racial equality and personal testimony to discrimination against her family are important reminders of the work to be done in Central PA, and her voice of reason resounds loudly among crowds that are searching for solutions.
Treasurer : Jeremiah WitherspoonJeremiah Witherspoon has made headlines more times than he can count as a Former Professional Boxer, Owner/Founder of Scorchin’ Boxing Gym in Altoona, PA, CEO/Founder of People Undertaking Neurological Conditions Hands-on (PUNCH), and CEO/Founder of Leaders of Tomorrow (LOT) youth mentorship program. Today, Witherspoon’s fights take him beyond the boxing ring, as he uses his successes (and failures) to mentor young people, help heal those struggling with neurological disorders, and advocate for disadvantaged communities and individuals. He plans to use his skills in running businesses to benefit the Blair Co NAACP’s spending and fundraising.
Assistant Treasurer : Sherry DillingSherry Dilling, a Martinsburg-native and founder of Morrison’s Cove March, doesn’t let her love for the stage stop with theatre production, as she is a loud and proud ally of the BLM movement. After working for several years in the investment market in Philadelphia, Dilling returned to her hometown to advocate for oppressed peoples and make positive change in the community her roots were planted in. A graduate of Juniata College, she hopes to assist the chapter in its mission of economic equality.
Chairman of the Executive Committee: Gregory McNealWith a deep-rooted family like the McNeal’s of Huntingdon, it is no surprise that Gregory McNeal wants to bring awareness of black history and necessity for change in Blair County and beyond. A 1982 graduate of the Pennsylvania State Police Academy, with 26 years of law enforcement experience, Greg’s personal testimonies of discrimination and experience working with law enforcement officials earned him the nomination as Chairman of the Executive Committee. Greg says that it is his “pleasure to continue to make a difference,” as he finds ways to hold LEOs accountable, reduce tensions between ethnic/racial communities in the area, and apply his leadership skills to functions of the chapter.