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New Jersey-native Janaye Ingram (pictured) has been named the National Action Network‘s (NAN) acting executive director, replacing Tamika Mallory.

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In an interview with the Daily News, the Rev Al. Sharpton said the Network feels Ingram is best suited to replace Mallory. “She has shown the perfect balance,” Sharpton said. “You need someone that knows how to organize rallies and also knows how to talk to congressmen. We need an executive director that can turn demonstration into legislation.”

Sharpton also cited Ingram’s time leading the NAN’s D.C. bureau. “I’ve seen her in demonstrations and the halls of power,” he added. “I think Janaye is a superb leader.”

Ironically, Ingram, who was Miss New Jersey in 2004, says she wasn’t always a great leader. During her sophomore year of high school, the 34-year-old organized a school walkout to protest the school’s Black History Month snub. But when the walkout began, Ingram left alone. She learned that people’s fears can affect activism.

“So now the thing that I try to focus on is empowerment and encouraging people to be active,” Ingram said. “We need to not give in to fear.”

According to Sharpton, NAN’s largest focus right now is on pushing for a new voting rights bill and laws to control stop and frisk. As executive director, Ingram is expected to play a large role in spearheading the legislation. She says she is ready for the task.

“Aside from voting rights, my other major priority is addressing racial profiling. Too many people of color find themselves the subject of suspicion just because of how they look,” she said.

“We see it here in New York with stop and frisk, and we see it in other instances. There must be a federal law that protects people from laws that subject them to searches or other constitutional infringement based on the fact that their skin is a certain color, they practice a certain religion, or speak a certain language.”

Though she will have to work in Harlem instead of D.C., Ingram feels her experience in the nation’s capital will help her.

“Having strong relationships and being able to connect with policymakers and legislators has allowed me to make some change,” she said. “I’m tremendously excited to be back in Harlem. It’s the village and the people have always been welcoming. It’s a homecoming.”

Ingram plans on spending time in both D.C. and New York. She was promoted to her position on August 29th.

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Janaye Ingram: Former Beauty Queen Named NAN’s New Executive Director  was originally published on