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Long Beach's MLK Center names new Executive Director

Center leaders seeking to add more educational programs

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The Long Beach Martin Luther King Center announced last month the appointment of Mack Graham as its new Executive Director.

Graham, 33, brings a decade of nonprofit and social work to the center, a focal point in the North Park community for children, adults and seniors, who receive educational and recreational services and food items.

He replaces Interim Executive Director Evita Hernaez, who has served since February 2020.

“I really look forward to working with the community, working closely with the city and staff here,” Graham said. “I’m really excited to be part of this community.”

He will work under the direction of MLK Chairman James Hodge.

The center is currently closed to the public, but they are in talks with the city to reopen to the public.

Graham, a Staten Island native, has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stony Brook University and earned a Master's degree in Nonprofit Leadership from Fordham in 2017.

At Stony Brook, he held an internship at Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group. While interning in the music industry, Graham worked with the New York Urban League. He also was a grassroots fund-raiser.

Graham worked with foster children on Staten Island, and realized he loved the work. He noticed that the youngsters took a particular interest in his background in music and as a former football player for the Stony Brook Seawolves. Graham introduced some of the foster children to professionals in the music industry.

“It was basically like a music mentorship organization,” Graham said. “That was basically the first taste of nonprofit leadership.”

He later moved to Austin, Tx. and returned to New York to complete his Master's Degree.

Armed with an advanced degree, Graham worked at the Muslim Community Network as an operations manager in Manhattan. About a year later, he moved on to iMentor, where he oversaw institutional funding. At iMentor, his department raised $2.3 million for the nonprofit.

Looking for deeper involvement with the community, Graham came upon an opportunity to work with the MLK center in Long Beach.

“I believe that the work the MLK Center is doing, and their mission, created great synergy with my passion and goals,” Graham said. “I felt it was perfect timing because I realized I wanted to devote my life to social justice work and community development.”

“I want to empower the black and brown community of Long Beach,” Graham said. “I do want this organization to have a macro effect statewide and internationally and we could easily do that utilizing the virtual platform and implement the right systems and programs.”

Graham, along with Hodge, wants to establish an education pod and school work assistance programs for children. Graham said he and Hodge want students to have access to Wi-Fi, food and tools they need to succeed. They also want to have onsite staff to help children with homework.

In a statement, Hodge said, “Mack’s background in nonprofit leadership and obvious passion for education, social justice and community service made him a premier choice. He’s an exceptional person who will bring great energy and vision to the MLK Center. I’m excited to welcome him.”

Graham is also on the Board of Directors at Lower East Side Family Union. He is a member of the Young Executive Council at Madison Square Boys and Girls Club. Recently, he became a member of the Justice League NYC, a task force of youth justice activists, advocates and artists who focus on social issues negatively impacting society and combine their resources to make broader changes in New York.