Thirty-one-year old Tamika Mallory said there are two reasons civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton named her executive director his organization, the National Action Network, two years ago.

As she told rollingout.com, the first reason is her work spearheading the group’s Decency Initiative, which involved going into record companies and insisting that women no longer be degraded in song lyrics. The second: her continued efforts to bring national awareness to gun violence. Whatever the reasoning behind her promotion, there’s no question that Mallory, who is one of the youngest leaders of a civil rights organization in the U.S., is someone to watch.

Mallory has been a NAN member since Sharpton founded the organization in 1991. Her parents were founding members, and she regularly attended and participated in marches and rallies.

Tamika Mallory is making history as… a leader of civil rights advocacy. Mallory’s work to combat gun violence and stop the use of the “N” word, and her work with the Obama administration on equal rights for women, health care and other issues have been lauded by President Obama’s senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, who called Mallory a “young leader of tomorrow.” She has also been named to Ebony Magazine’s 30 most influential leaders under 30 list.

What’s next for Tamika?

Mallory’s work with NAN was recently recognized by the mid-Manhattan chapter of the NAACP, which awarded her the Roy Wilkins Outstanding Leadership Award.

A little-known fact about Tamika…

Mallory become an official staff member of NAN at age 15.

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THEGRIO’S Q&A WITH TAMIKA MALLORY

Q: What’s next in this chapter of your life?

A: While at the National Action Network (NAN), I have the chance to serve so many people while still achieving many of my own goals. New opportunities come and go every day but I’ll continue to let God order my steps. What I do feel, however, is that I want to elevate some of my own passions and desires within the context of civil rights activism. I’m an advocate against gun violence, passionate about women’s rights, and want to expand my work around poverty. I just came back from Haiti and am committed to shedding light on the destitution in the country and other places around the globe that are impoverished

Q: What’s a fact about you that many people don’t know?

A: My parents were founding members of National Action Network and I have been an activist since I was 11-years-old. My son is now 12 and he is an active member. The activism in my family is generational.

Q: What’s your favorite quote?

A: “I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catchers mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.” – Maya Angelou

Q: Where do you get your inspiration from?

A: The father of my young son was shot and killed shortly before 9/11. His murder left our lives hanging in the balance. But it was precisely this tumultuous point in my life that inspired me to transform the pain and anguish into constructive behavior that could hopefully prevent another family from experiencing a similar calamity. It was at that moment that I decided to take action. I reaffirmed my commitment to NAN’s cause of seeking education reform, an end to police brutality, impartiality in the workplace, access to health care, fair housing, civil liberty for all and of course an end to rampant gun usage and violence.

Q: Who are/were your mentors?

A: Reverend Al Sharpton, President of National Action Network and MSNBC anchor of PoliticsNation; Reverend Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, Senior Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon; and Cathy Hughes,founder of Radio One.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to achieve their dreams?

A: Take action! Identify and do those things that feed your passion. When you are following your heart, you can’t fail.