Rev. Dr. Valerie Oliver-Durrah & Brooke Durrah

Mother & Daughter Building a Legacy of Black Excellence in Brooklyn

Known throughout Brooklyn as “The Prophet of Nonprofits,” Rev. Dr. Valerie Oliver-Durrah is the powerhouse who creates collaborations between corporations and communities. For more than 30 years, Dr. Durrah, the founder, CEO, and president of Neighborhood Technical Assistance Clinic (NTAC), located in her Bedford Stuyvesant home base, has mentored hundreds of nonprofit and faith-based organizations on leadership skills. “At the time, there were no other technical assistance providers of color who were serving nonprofits and African American, Caribbean, and immigrant populations and organizations led by women,” she told The Positive Community. “NTAC began as an organization servicing civic organizations and churches to create their own nonprofits.”

Building a Business

Durrah’s impact in Brooklyn is palpable. From the renaming of the street she lives on to Jackie Robinson Way in honor of the history-making athlete who lived there with his family for many years, to serving as advisor and mentor to politicians; pastors; ministers; and many, many organizations, Dr. Valerie Oliver-Durrah gets things done. She serves as a volunteer advisor to Mayor Eric Adams’ NYC Office of Faith and Community Partnerships and was the first Black woman on the Board of the Brooklyn HistoricalSociety. Business and community leaders reach out to Durrah for advice and she travels far and wide showing others how things work when faith is part of the plan. An educator with bachelor and master’s degrees in Education from the University of Memphis, Durrah earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from New York Theological Seminary. To aid her clients in her work engaging the faith community in nonprofit work, she published a resource book, Lead Me, Guide Me.

Sharing a Legacy

While mentoring a generation of Brooklyn’s community leaders, nurturing her daughter, Brooke Remel Oliver-Durrah, MBA, to carry on the family legacy came naturally. “As I decrease, she’s increasing her role,” said the proud mother. “I suspect in a year or so Brooke will be developing her own programs relevant to the new generation.”

Since 1999, Brooke has assisted her mother with NTAC initiatives as a volunteer and a consultant, balancing college and her career as a human resources executive at the same time.“I help my mother when she needs extra support. I have been working on the NTAC gala and events. Also, I was heavily involved in my mother’s program on meeting grantmakers. It’s a borough-wide panel discussion with major foundations like the Rockefeller Foundation, that includes symposiums to understand what these foundations are doing,” said Brooke. “This was a way of learning about several foundations and their funding guidelines and criteria all at once.”

Under her mother’s watchful eye, Brooke put together two unique events pairing Black boys with Black male judges and Black girls with Black female judges. At each event, fifteen youths had the opportunity to meet and lunch with esteemed judges and justices and discuss several key issues affecting their lives. The luncheons also provided space for the young people to explore the field of law as a profession.

“Brooke fully amazes me with how much she does know about my work,” said Dr. Durrah. “When she’s on an assignment, whether with JP Morgan Chase or National Grid or conversations between Black girls and Black women judges, Brooke utilizes her education and her composure and takes things to a much higher level.”

Born and raised in Bed Stuy, after graduating from the Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooke attended Clark Atlanta University as an undergrad, and earned a bachelor of business administration degree from Medgar Evers College and an MBA from LIU Brooklyn.

Brooke began her career in human resources and marketing. During COVID, she worked as HR director for a healthcare company, placing nurses and healthcare workers at businesses needing vaccinations, testing, and employee safety monitoring. Her clients included Broadway shows trying to keep their doors open.

Post COVID was life-changing for Brooke. Downsized from human resources, she decided to regroup her career. “When I was laid off, I think I drew from my mother, who was scrappy. She knew what to do. She took her own brilliant ideas with this organization and made something out of it that was bigger, grander, and better,” she said. “My mother made it for herself and supported a community. It forever inspires me.”

Like Mother, Like Daughter

The inspiration led Brooke to launch her own company, Durrah Hurrah, a perfect name I think. The agency specializes in finding strategic business solutions; business writing and editing, grants, corporate RFPs, branding and event planning.

A recent NTAC event titled “Faith and Finance,” featured a discussion targeted to clergy women and women of faith around financial health. The transformative breakfast explored the role of faith in wealth creation and revitalizing community wealth through the building, preserving, and protecting of resources. Reflecting on scripture specifically, James 2.26: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” The women left filled with new ideas about wealth, how to obtain it and how to keep it. “I’m looking forward to my daughter blending and weaving in our journey together,” said Dr. Durrah. “People pay me for my ideas and my strategic knowledge about how to get stuff done. We make a great team. I know how to get things done. I have my hands on the pulse of New York City in all areas and sectors across health, government, faith-based, women’s issues, and social services. You name it, I have a hand in it or know people there.

Brooke has learned how to work with block associations, how to work with local politicians from local judges to school districts, the Borough President, and even the Mayor,” added Dr. Durrah. “She’s watched me in all those different capacities. It has formulated her vision for how she plans to serve going forward.”