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George H. Lambert

Nonprofit executive George H. Lambert was born on May 12, 1951 in Washington, D.C. to George H. Lambert, Sr. and Arnitha Green Allen. Lambert graduated from William Penn Senior High School in York, Pennsylvania in 1971. He went on to earn his B.A. degree in urban studies from Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia in 1975.

Upon his college graduation, Lambert worked for two years at the Richmond Community Action Program. Then, he became a community organizer for the Northern Virginia branch of the Washington Urban League in Alexandria, Virginia. Lambert was hired as the executive director of the Northern Virginia branch of the Washington Urban League in 1980. He also co-founded the Alexandria Forum, as a space for civil rights groups to collaborate on key issues and strategic planning. In 1990, he led the branch’s transition into the fully affiliated Northern Virginia Urban League. During his tenure as the executive director, Lambert also served as a senior regional consultant to the National Urban League. Lambert left the Northern Virginia Urban League in the mid-2000s, at which time he served as a senior director for resource development for the United Way of the National Capital area and as the vice president of public affairs at Issue Dynamics, Inc. From 2011 to 2013, he served as the president and chief executive officer of the Lorain County Urban League in Elyria, Ohio. Lambert was then appointed as the president and chief executive officer of the Greater Washington Urban League in 2014. In this role, he created the Thursday Network, which facilitated interactions between African American youth and the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia. Lambert also worked with the Washington Nationals to institute Black Heritage Day at Nationals Park; and he partnered with corporations like Potomac Electric Power Company to offer utility assistance in the African American community.

He was a member of the National Urban League’s Association of Executives; the Academy of Fellows. He was also a parishioner of Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, Virginia.

Lambert and his wife, Bernadette Curtis-Lambert, have five children together.

George H. Lambert was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 2, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.041

Sex

Male

Interview Date

02/03/2017

Last Name

Lambert

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

H.

Occupation
Schools

William Penn Senior High School

Virginia Union University

Randall Junior High School

James G. Birney Elementary School

H.D. Cooke Elementary School

First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

LAM04

Favorite Season

Christmas holiday season

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Greece

Favorite Quote

Have Mercy. To God Be The Glory.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

5/12/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sweet potatoes, salmon

Short Description

Nonprofit executive George H. Lambert (1951 - ) served as president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Urban League in Alexandria, Virginia and the Lorain County Urban League, in Elyria, before being appointed the president and CEO of the Greater Washington Urban League in 2014.

Employment

Greater Washington Urban League

Lorain County Urban League

United Way

IDI

National Urban League

Northern Virginia Urban League

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George H. Lambert's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George H. Lambert lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George H. Lambert describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George H. Lambert describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George H. Lambert recalls how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George H. Lambert talks about gender discrimination in the Baptist church

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George H. Lambert remembers staying in Washington, D.C. after his parent's divorce

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George H. Lambert describes his parent's personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George H. Lambert talks about his brother

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - George H. Lambert describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - George H. Lambert talks about moving to York, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George H. Lambert talks about his mother's decision to move him out of Washington, D.C. as a teenager

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George H. Lambert describes his neighborhood and upbringing in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George H. Lambert recalls attending William Penn Senior High School in York, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George H. Lambert talks about developing his interest in African American studies

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George H. Lambert remembers his options after graduating from high school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George H. Lambert describes his decision to attend Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George H. Lambert recalls majoring in Urban Studies at Virginia Union University

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George H. Lambert talks about the black political leadership of the 1970s

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - George H. Lambert recalls reading the works of influential black writers

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - George H. Lambert remembers joining the Northern Virginia branch of the Washington Urban League

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George H. Lambert recalls backing coed dorms at Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George H. Lambert remembers Richmond's annexation of Henrico County, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George H. Lambert talks about his job offer from the Richmond Community Action Agency

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George H. Lambert remembers his graduation from Virginia Union University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George H. Lambert talks about his community organizing work

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George H. Lambert describes Alexandria, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George H. Lambert recalls the history of the National Urban League

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George H. Lambert talks about neighborhood preservation in Alexandria, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - George H. Lambert describes his role at the Northern Virginia branch of the Washington Urban League

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - George H. Lambert remembers Mayor Marion Barry, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George H. Lambert remembers Mayor Marion Barry, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George H. Lambert talks about the Northern Virginia Urban League becoming an affiliate of the National Urban League

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George H. Lambert describes African American politicians in Northern Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George H. Lambert remembers football coach Herman Boone

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George H. Lambert talks about Governor L. Douglas Wilder

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George H. Lambert recalls the articles he's published in African American newspapers

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George H. Lambert talks about his work with the National Urban League

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - George H. Lambert remembers Vernon E. Jordan, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - George H. Lambert describes past presidents of the National Urban League

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - George H. Lambert talks about his work in public affairs and with the United Way of America

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - George H. Lambert describes his experiences with the Lorain County Urban League in Elyria, Ohio

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - George H. Lambert remembers the application process to become Greater Washington Urban League president

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - George H. Lambert talks about the Black Lives Matter movement

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George H. Lambert remembers Chief Cathy Lanier of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George H. Lambert talks about educating young African American males on law enforcement procedures

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George H. Lambert describes the Greater Washington Urban League's partnership with the Washington Nationals

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - George H. Lambert talks about the Greater Washington Urban League's collaborations

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - George H. Lambert describes the scholarships and philanthropy of the Greater Washington Urban League

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - George H. Lambert talks about his retirement

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - George H. Lambert reflects upon the presidency of Barack Obama

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - George H. Lambert describes race relations in the United States

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - George H. Lambert describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - George H. Lambert reflects upon his life

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - George H. Lambert talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - George H. Lambert describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

4$12

DATitle
George H. Lambert remembers football coach Herman Boone
George H. Lambert remembers the application process to become Greater Washington Urban League president
Transcript
So, are there any stories from this period of time? I mean, from these ten years that--?$$Well, you know, so I will share one with you. I had a great mentor when I served in Alexandria [Virginia] and for the Northern Virginia Urban League and so for the affiliate there and the person of a gentleman by the name of Ferdinand Day who is now deceased. Ferdinand Day was the, also he was the first African American to become the chair of the board for the, for the school board there [Alexandria City School Board] and so he, he was really my mentor. He, if you recall the movie, 'Remember the Titans,' and, and at some point in the movie, so Denzel Washington was the person who starred in the movie, but, but Herman Boone was the real coach. And so Herman was a good friend, good buddy. And so in the movie, you know, there was this whole discussion about the team, the football team not being able to go. I can't remember where it was, but not being able to go to someplace to play a game or whatever. And so Ferdinand Day, as the chair of the school board, said, well, you know, he would just cut some of the things out of the budget so that there would be resources and money for, for the team but it was that kind of boldness and, and leadership that Ferdinand Day really kind of brought. And so, you know, at some point the, the system really decided to acquiesce, if you will, and supported him in terms of the team but, but Herman Boone is someone that I really admired and when he did the movie, 'Remember the Titans,' when he and Denzel did the movie, I was still serving there. And so we decided that we were going to recognize Herman Boone at our annual gala, we were going to recognize him for his leadership. And so I remember having lunch with Herman one day and I said to him, "You know, it would be great if we could get Denzel Washington to come and present the award to you." And he said to me, he says, "Well George [HistoryMaker George H. Lambert], send him a letter." And so, so I did, you know, sent, sent Denzel Washington a letter and his people immediately got back with me, probably in a couple of weeks or so and said, "Unfortunately, Mr.," you know, "Mr. Washington is--has other commitments now and won't be able to come." So I called Herman and said, "Herman, I did what you told me to do, you know, we sent Denzel Washington a letter and asked him to come and I'm told that, you know, we're told that he's not going to be able to come." And Herman is kind of very direct when he talks with you. He said, "Okay, George, thank you, I'll take care of it." I didn't quite understand what that meant. So I'll never forget, maybe about a week or so later, my wife [Bernadette Curtis-Lambert] and I, we were coming in from church and it was Herman, he called, and so the phone was ringing as we were walking in the door and he said, and I said, hello, and so Herman said, "George, this is Herman Boone." And I knew who it was, he didn't have to tell me who, but I knew it was, "Herman Boone," and I said, "Hey, Herman, how you doing?" He said, "Well listen, I'm calling to let you know that Denzel Washington is coming." I said, "Herman, come on." I said, "Now, it's Sunday, you know, I'm coming in from church," and I said, "You shouldn't be really kind of, you know, pulling--." He says, "George, I'm telling you he's coming." I said, "Herman, you sure?" He says, "George, I'm standing in the man's kitchen right now and he wanted me to call you. He said, he wanted me to call Mr. Lambert and tell him he was coming." So, lesson learned from that. First of all, Denzel Washington, as he explained to Herman, as I understand, he never really saw my letter from him. His people got it and, you know, they knew how busy he was and so his people just kind of made a decision for him that he would just not be able to do it but Denzel Washington thought so much of Herman Boone and the work that he had done in terms of the integrating of the football team [at T.C. Williams High School, Alexandria, Virginia], he really wanted to come to present the award to Herman Boone. So, he did come at our gala to present the award to Herman Boone, so yeah.$$Okay.$$So when you ask me, you know, memorable experiences, that will be one I will never, ever forget, yeah.$$Okay, okay, that's something. So this would have been around the time the movie was out and--?$$Yeah, it was during the period that the movie was out, yeah, yeah.$$This is like in the mid-'90s [sic. 2000], I guess?$$Mid-'90s [1990s], yeah, yeah, mid-'90s [1990s] or so, yeah, yeah.$So you were there from 2011 to 2013; and you said you accomplished your objectives and kind of--$$Yeah, yeah (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) got them back into working order.$$My coming, 'cause so, from Lorain [Lorain County Urban League, Elyria, Ohio], I did come to the Greater Washington Urban League [Washington, D.C.] but initially that was really not in the game plan because my predecessor here and a lady who I really considered a mentor, who I, you know, continue to revere as well, [HistoryMaker] Maudine Cooper, had served here as the president of the Greater Washington Urban League for a number of years and I had no idea that, you know, she was really considering retiring. And so even when she announced her retirement, yup, you know there were some folks who reached out to me and said, you know, "George [HistoryMaker George H. Lambert], Maudine is retiring, you ought to consider, you know, throwing your hat in the ring for the, for the Greater Washington Urban League." I was like, "No." You know, part of it with me was that I just, to some extent thought that everybody who thought they had arrived, so to speak, were going to be in the hunt to become the president of the Greater Washington Urban League. It had nothing to do with my skillset but just kind of felt, everybody who arrived, that's where they were going to be and I just really didn't want to travel in that. And so to kind of show you how, because also kind of maintain, it was the Lord's hand in this as well. It was the last day of the cutoff time to submit your resume that I finally made a decision that I would submit my resume for the position, the last day, okay. And, and so, the last day and then, you know, six months or so later, because there was a number of rounds of interviews, or whatever that I went through, I actually went through six rounds of interviews, to then emerge and to actually become the president, you know, of the Greater Washington Urban League but initially, this wasn't my focus. I wasn't really looking, that I was even going to throw my hat in the ring. So, so I just, you know, I just kind of now step back and look at it and just know that there was, it was, you know, the intervention of the Lord's hand in it.$$Okay, well, now so, were there, were there a lot of candidates?$$Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean the, at the end of the day, some board members here shared with me, there were quite a few candidates, you know, and so, so yeah, yeah, but that, that, you know, for an affiliate of this size and for the work that this particular organization is involved in doing and for the, the notoriety that Maudine Cooper really kind of brought to the Greater Washington Urban League, that would be expected. I would have expected no less, really. That would have been a, that there would have been a number of candidates that would have had an interest in, in throwing their hat in the ring for, to become the president of the Greater Washington Urban League.