Is the Urban League still relevant?

“I hear that question both internally and from outside the organization,” says Angela Perez, who became the new Executive Director of the Urban League of Kansas in May.

Perez has 10 years of experience working with not-for-profit organizations, most recently with HumanKind, formerly known as Inter-Faith Ministries. She sees an ongoing need for civil rights advocacy, which is part of the foundation on which the national Urban League was established.

Perez believes being able to design programs for specific communities throughout the state and to change them with the times is what will help keep the Urban League relevant.

“Nationally, our focus is five-fold: education, workforce development, entrepreneurship, healthcare and housing, but each local affiliate has a lot of freedom in how those programs are carried out,” said Perez.

Her educational background – a Master’s of Education in Organizational Leadership from Kansas Newman University – and previous work experience have helped her come up with a lot of ideas she is looking forward to implementing.

“I’m the kind of person who likes to just dive in and get things done,” she said, “but I understand that there are committee reviews and board reviews, and that patience is what’s called for now, especially while I’m still learning.” Perez understands with a current staff of just two, the demands will be tough and there will be some limitations.

“We’re in a period of rebuilding,” she said. “We’ve had some loss of funding but the board of directors has been very supportive and understanding of the transition.” Perez and the Board have worked together to identify and prioritize goals to help the League become more robust.

“The first goal we identified was to refurbish our computer lab,” she said. “One of our strengths is connecting community need with community resources.” The lab is often used by job seekers and people looking to improve their skills. Local agencies also use the space for meetings and training.

“Because our building was closed due to COVID-19, we’ve had time to upgrade our equipment,” she said. The installations are on track to be complete by the end of August. Then, whenever it’s safe to reopen, everything will be ready to go.

Corporate partners have donated equipment and funds, which has helped meet the Urban League’s second goal of becoming more financially stable. Revenue generated by renting office space, offering programming and hosting community events is also expected to resume when the building reopens.

This is where Perez says she needs community input. “Increasing programming is the organization’s third short-term goal. I realize the Urban League has not been as…” she said hesitatingly, “… active in the community for the past few years, but we’re ready to turn that around.”

“I need to hear from [community members] what types of programming are most helpful and what is the best way to deliver it.”

She encourages people to use the “contact us” feature on the League’s website ( or to simply call them at 316-262-2463.

“Our mission,” she said, “is ‘to serve as a catalyst to change lives and strengthen our urban community.’ Since community needs are ever-changing, the Urban League will continue to be a relevant resource in communities where we serve.”

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