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Donald Northcross
National OK Program Founder, President/ CEO
 

 

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Donald Northcross was born February 22, 1959 in Ashdown, Arkansas, the seventh of seven children. Raised by devotedly religiously parents, Donald was taught at a very early age to value family, honesty, hard work and civic responsibility.

In his youth, Donald excelled in sports. In 1978, after graduating from Ashdown High School, he signed a combination football and basketball scholarship to attended Northeast Louisiana University where he played for former Heisman Trophy winner John David Crowe. A criminal justice major, Donald remained at NLU until 1981, after which he transferred to Arkansas State University. He attended Arkansas State University from 1981 until 1982 where he finished his college athletic career, and went on to sign a three year contract with the Memphis Showboats of the United Stated Football League.

After injuries halted his professional football career he moved to Sacramento, California and enrolled in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Academy to pursue his second passion, law enforcement. In June of 1988, he not only graduated from the academy but he was also voted the most inspirational recruit by his peers. The natural leadership abilities he demonstrated as a recruit continued to manifest themselves and two year after joining the force, he became the first President of the Sacramento County Black Deputy Sheriff’s Association.

As president of the Black Deputy Sheriff’s Association, Mr. Northcross established an aggressive agenda of civic responsibility that encouraged his members to move beyond the traditional roles of law enforcement by using the unique power and influence they possessed as black officers in a more proactive way. At the heart of his agenda was the high rate of incarceration and homicides of young black men and the devastating impact that it was having on the black community in general and the black family in particular. In 1990, his mounting desire to reverse the grim statistics that young black boys were facing led him to found the O.K. (Our Kids) Program, an innovative mentoring program that organized black men from the community to work with young black males living in one of the most violent inner city neighborhoods in Sacramento County.

In 1991, as a result of the monumental success of the O.K. Program, Mr. Northcross was selected as California’s Outstanding Young Public Safety Officer of The Year. In subsequent years, his program continued to thrive and some of the nation’s most influential leaders continued to reward his efforts. In 1992, he was recognized by President George Bush as the 945th Daily Point of Light For The Nation. In 1993, he received a resolution from Speaker Willie Brown for his work through the O.K. Program, and he also received the first “Community Service Award” ever given by Governor Pete Wilson. In that same year, he was selected as a Black in Law Enforcement Honoree which is a national publication that emphasizes the value of the black law enforcement officer in the overall success of law enforcement in America. A few months later, he became one of ten people in California to receive a fellowship from the California Wellness Foundation.

In 1994, his awarding winning program was not only credited with the increased academic performance of the young boys who were members, but it was also credited for the monumental reduction of crime and gang violence seen in Rancho Cordova—the violent inner city community in which most of the boys resided. As a result, Mr. Northcross was the 1994 recipient of the Jefferson Award and later that year, he was named Sacramento Safe Street Hero of The Year. The following year, he won the National Association of Attorney Generals “For the Children Award.” And in 2005, under his leadership, the award winning O.K. Program became a national organization.

A much sought after speaker and consultant, Mr. Northcross has appeared on numerous panels, and radio and television shows to discuss issues ranging from crime and punishment to parenting. In 1994, he appeared on Court TV, with Harvard Professor Author Miller as the moderator, and debated the controversial three strikes initiative. Recently he was one of numerous experts assembled in Little Rock, Arkansas to discuss President Obama’s 2010 Fatherhood Initiative.

A strong advocate of the role that black men must play in solving the problems currently plaguing the black community, Mr. Northcross recently accepted a position as Dean of Men at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock Arkansas.

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