Boys & Girls Clubs of America Takes Center Stage at 5th Annual Cary Center Nonprofit Summit

Charlotte Tuggle | Communications Editor

The Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies in the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University hosted the fifth annual Nonprofit Summit Tuesday, featuring a keynote address from Boys & Girls Clubs of America CEO Jim Clark.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, or BGCA, is the nation’s largest facility-based youth development organization, serving more than 4.6 million young people each year in every state and at military bases worldwide. Clark joined the BGCA as president and CEO in 2012, and has since led initiatives to restructure the organization, increase club enrollment, provide training and resources to local clubs, and guide the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clark said in tough times, the work of nonprofit organizations is more important than ever.

“From the start, hope is really not lost. It’s the driving force behind the work that we all do but also in this great country,” Clark said. “First, we’ve got to find our passion, and to me, passion is purpose. It’s the why in what we do. Second, we have to be courageous and lead in a bold way as you’re seeing happening, right here. And third, we have to remember that what we do isn’t easy, but really worth it.”

The Student Philanthropy Board, which is supported by the Cary Center’s Women’s Philanthropy Board, also presented the Alabama Nonprofit Employee of the Year Award to Richard Curry, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Lee County. Curry was honored for his innovation to bring Boys & Girls Clubs programs into the homes of local families, his care of the staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, and his management of revitalizing club spaces.

As the pandemic threatened operations of the Boys & Girls Clubs in Alabama, Curry said he worked with Clark to find a solution.

“In December of 2020, we received word that not one, but two of our sister organizations in the area would close their doors for good, leaving kids in their community without the Boys & Girls Clubs experience that I and so many others had benefitted from,” Curry said. “I did the only thing I knew to do in that moment: reached out to Jim Clark, who is fulfilling his promise on providing tools and resources to reenter those communities. For the first time in our 31 year history, with the help of Jim Clark, we will expand and become the Boys & Girls Clubs of East Alabama.”

The summit’s theme this year was “Come Together.” Both Curry and Clark spoke to themes of togetherness and collaboration during tough times, and Clark said he hoped attendees of the summit understood that coming together in the nonprofit world was the key to its success.

“We are all about leveling the playing field for kids and families that don’t always have access to the experiences and opportunities that some in this country have,” Clark said. “When we are all at our best, and positioned to do our best work, is really when we have the courage to lead boldly. It brings people together. Leaders are what bring people together. When we come together as different groups, we give ourselves the opportunity to be that transformational leader.”

The Nonprofit Summit, held at the Auburn University Hotel and Dixon Conference Center, opened with remarks from Roger Thurow, best-selling author and hunger relief activist who currently serves as a Scholar in Residence in the College of Human Sciences.

Training sessions focused on nonprofit marketing, building relationships, and breaking stereotypes, led by Hands on Atlanta Director of Marketing Tim Adkins, Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama President Jennifer Maddox and Insight Solutions, LLC President Barbara Alford, and Family Sunshine Center Executive Director Tay Knight, respectively.

The 2021 Nonprofit Summit was the largest ever, with more than 200 attendants present to connect and learn best practices from experts.

“As our team at the Cary Center planned for this summit, we felt this idea of coming together to be a fitting theme as we emerge from one of the most challenging periods in modern times,” said Cary Center Executive Director Sidney James Nakhjavan. “As we spent the day together at the summit, we witnessed people from throughout the country ‘come together’ to be inspired and energized by the wonderful advice from the talented slate of speakers. It was wonderful to feel firsthand the attendees’ energy and to know that what they were learning would fuel the impactful work that they do every day.”

The Cary Center also announced its annual volunteer, internship, and career fair – “Meet Me at the VIC” – will be held in-person on March 1, 2022.

For more information about the Cary Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, visit their website or contact Brittany Branyon. To register with the Cary Center as a nonprofit affiliate, visit