In January, Daniel Simmons, the CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina, will leave his post to join the national Boys & Girls Clubs of America staff as Director of Government Relations Club Services. This week, News + Record Publisher + Editor Bill Horner III talks to Simmons about his transition.
It was more than seven years ago that Simmons took over leadership of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sanford/Lee County. After a merger and acquisition of a club, and after the formation of two new clubs, the B&GC of Central Carolina today consists of four clubs across three counties — including the Wren Family Center club in Siler City and the recently-formed Pittsboro club — employing nearly 50 people and serving 1,000 students throughout the year.
At the local level, Simmons will be replaced Jan. 3 on an interim basis by Sarah Reese Womack; Womack now serves as director of resource development for the B&GC of Central Carolina.
I’m really excited about this new role and I appreciate this opportunity to talk about my leadership transition. Beginning in January, I will serve as Director of Government Relations Club Services at Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
I focused a significant amount of my time at Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina on advocating for support from the U.S. Congress, the N.C. General Assembly, local school systems and local municipal governments. In fact, this year, our club organization has been running neck-and-neck with another club in Indiana for first place in government advocacy for Boys & Girls Clubs across America. Prior to that, for the past two to three years, we’ve consistently been in the top 5%-10% of clubs in America for government advocacy efforts.
I’ve focused on this work because I believe clubs are critically important to local communities when it comes to educating our kids, preparing them for the workforce, keeping them out of the penal system and, in general, helping them to become well-rounded and great citizens in our communities.
My new role has two major functions. First, I’ll serve as a consultant to Boys & Girls Clubs across America, helping them to secure support from the federal government and state governments through grant programs. Examples of these include USDA meals programs, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and funding for mentorship and gang prevention from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
In addition, I’ll coach local club leaders on development of partnerships with their local school systems and municipal governments.
Secondly, along with an awesome group of my colleagues at Boys & Girls Clubs of America, I’ll continue to work directly with members of Congress to gain support on key pieces of legislation and funding that support all youth across America.
The board of directors, staff and I have accomplished so much, large and small, over my past seven and a half years. In my opinion, our biggest accomplishment has been the expansion of our footprint, which allows us to serve more kids. We started off in Sanford and now, in addition, we serve in Lillington, Pittsboro and Siler City.
You can ask any member of the board of directors from the time I was hired in 2015. They will tell you that my vision from the beginning was to expand this organization to closely mirror the footprint of Central Carolina Community College, which was key to creating a formidable educational partnership with them. Also, with the increase in economic growth on the horizon, I knew that we needed to have clubs open and established in each of the four cities to be ready to serve kids and families.
As I look back over the last few years, it’s amazing how all of this has come together and I look forward to seeing how our clubs serve and expand their services to kids and families as our three-county area absolutely explodes economically. I moved to Sanford from the Charlotte metro area in 2013 and it has been so fun and rewarding to be a part of this area’s economic growth as the Boys & Girls Clubs CEO, the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce board president, a member of Sanford Area Growth Alliance Board and president of the Rotary Club of Sanford.
Yes, I will be working remotely as well as flying. Most of my travel time will be to Washington, D.C., and to our national office in Atlanta, but around 75% of my work will be done via teleconference. Candidly, I am so thankful for the ability to conduct this work I love via teleconference. It allows me to be of service to 5,000 clubs across America and on military bases around the world while being able to maintain my residence in Lee County. That is super important to me. I love it here.
As far as local activities, some days I feel like I’ve chaired every board in town. I say that with a lot of humor, but I have led several local civic and nonprofit organizations like Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce. I’ll probably know more about what I can do locally after the first 90 days in my new role. Still, you can count on seeing me out and about, whether it’s shopping and dining in our awesome downtown Sanford, playing holiday carols on the trumpet at The Salvation Army’s red kettles, or volunteering for a local Boys & Girls Club event. I look forward to more Sunday brunches at Carolina Brewery in Pittsboro and dinners at Best Food in Siler City. And I hope to continue co-hosting the News + Record’s “Chatcast” with you, too, Bill. I really enjoy those interviews and we’ve covered some incredible topics. I have no plans to withdraw myself from this community. I have too much invested here to do that.
Our Government Relations team at Boys & Girls Clubs of America divides up geographic territories amongst team members, and my territory is the southern U.S. I will have a specific day-to-day focus on serving local club organizations from, basically, D.C. to Louisiana. I look forward to being of service to Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina as a volunteer and a Boys & Girls Clubs professional, especially as it relates to government advocacy.
The leadership team I’ve assembled at Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina is one of the things I’m most proud of and they give me a ton of confidence as I leave the organization.
Our team is smart, confident, team-oriented and 1,000% committed to the mission. As CEO, I get most of the credit for our successes, but I owe most of it to them. Sarah Reese Womack, currently director of resource development and marketing, will assume the role of interim CEO on Jan. 3, 2023. Currently, the board plans to post the CEO role for applications in early January and then commence an interview process to determine the next non-interim CEO of our organization.
I have total confidence in our board of directors as they select my successor and I am supremely confident in Sarah’s abilities. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina is going to carry forward very strongly in 2023 and beyond. I firmly believe the best is yet to come.
I’ll wrap things up here by simply saying “thank you.” Thank you to the board of directors, staff, investors and the community for your support over these past few years. It really does take a village. Without all of these folks involved, our growth and our increase in impact on children simply wouldn’t be possible.
Local clubs belong to local communities and it takes exceptional community support to make them thrive so our kids can be their absolute best! If you’d like to learn more about how we positively impact kids, families and communities, please visit our website at www.centralcarolinaclubs.org. While you’re there, consider getting involved as a volunteer and/or an investor. Our staff can’t wait to help you get involved!
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