By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer

Former Sacramento High School student Dominique Donette, who went on to graduate from Harvard and UC Berkeley, has joined the CA/HI NAACP as its Public Affairs Specialist.

The California/Hawaii State Conference National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (CA/HI NAACP) announced that community activist and organizer Dominique Donette has joined the organization as its Public Affairs Specialist. 

Ms. Donette will be the state’s civil rights organization’s lead lobbyist and will also support the CA/HI NAACP communications and public relations efforts. She will report directly to newly hired CA/HI NAACP Executive Director Betty Williams, who is also the president of the Sacrament Branch of the NAACP.

“I am excited to support an organization which has had such a strong impact on social and racial justice issues over the last century,” said Ms. Donette, a graduate of Harvard Graduate School of Education and the University of California at Berkeley. “I am proud to be the next legislative representative selected by the NAACP to represent the African American residents and NAACP members in California and Hawaii.” 

The NAACP is the nation’s largest civil rights organization. Its principal objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority citizens of the United States and eliminate racial prejudice. The CA/HI State Conference NAACP executes those objectives at the regional level. 

As a lobbyist, Ms. Donette will work to secure the support of state legislators on significant issues to enhance individuals’ lives and help them find solutions to problems that negatively impact communities of color.

CA/HI NAACP President Rick Callender, announced that he would bring in a staff that could work around the State Capitol when he replaced Alice Huffman, who ran the organization for more than two decades. 

He first hired Ms. Williams — who was serving as a president of the Sacramento Branch of the NAACP — as executive director because of her  political and social ties in the city. Now Callendar has added Ms. Donette to his roster. 

“We are absolutely thrilled to have someone with such an extensive resume and professional background,” Callender said.  “Dominique’s lifelong commitment to social justice spans back to her organizing days in New Orleans post-Katrina. She will be a sure asset to our team in advancing the issues that our communities care most about.”

A native of Sacramento’s Oak Park and graduate of Sacramento High School, Ms. Donette polished her skills by working with various community stakeholders, key organizations, and agencies in the city, state and across the country. 

At the age of 35, Ms. Donette has been an advocate for student diversity, equity and inclusion. Her background also includes working on various public and social affairs campaigns. 

Prior to joining the CA/HI State Conference NAACP, Ms. Donette led a city-wide initiative on Black student achievement at San Francisco Unified School District as a special assistant to the Superintendent. 

Ms. Donette also worked on a variety of campaigns in New Orleans during post Hurricane Katrina and Rita, including organizing communities for change in the Magnolia Housing Project. She also helped build homes for Habitat for Humanity in Gautier, Mississippi.

“I first began organizing with the NAACP on housing and voting rights post Hurricane Katrina in 2006, and then went on to work in education,” Ms. Donette said. “I’ve been away from Sacramento for 16 years and am super happy to be back and serving in this way, too.” 

While attending Harvard, including the Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard Business School, Ms. Donette pursued a Master’s degree in Education Policy and Management.  She also explored issues such as the racial and economic achievement gap.

Thanking Sac High for preparing her for an Ivy League education, Ms. Donette said she had complete access to Harvard’s extraordinary faculty, expansive resources and a flexible curriculum that balances policy, management, and research.  

After graduating from Sac High in 2004, she went to New York to attend the Alvin Ailey School in New York to brush up on her performing arts skills in dancing. Five years later, Ms. Donette received her double Bachelor of Arts degrees from UC Berkeley in Dance and American Studies. 

While at UC Berkeley, which then had a 2.8% Black student population on campus, Ms. Donette fought for increased representation of minority students. Now she will have an opportunity to speak on the behalf of a larger group.

With a membership that exceeds 500,000 people, The NAACP has more than 2,200 affiliates in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Japan, and Germany. The CA/HI NAACP oversees 72 branches and youth chapters. 

Ms. Donette has traveled the world numerous times. But she said returning to Sacramento and working for the oldest civil rights organization in the country is kind of a debt she is willing to repay.

“I exist because of a community that made it possible. Do I have my own internal motivation? Yes, definitely,” Ms. Donette said. “But a path has been cleared because of the sacrifice of others, the investment of my elders and I don’t take that for granted.”

The California/Hawaii State Conference NAACP is currently offering expungement clinics and has their annual Lobby Day planned for May 17. For more information, visit http://cahinaacp.org