A highly professional CEO walks briskly from her office, in a hurry to meet with the Board of Directors. But wait! She falls down on one knee….. and spontaneously smiles. She embraces two girls, inquires about their day, and leaves them delighted! And she expects her staff to do the same! What moves her to do this? Meet Theresa Shaw, the President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County, a leader whose primary modus operandi is to respect the needs of our children. Shaw is the powerhouse who directs the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County (BG CCC) headquartered at the Arlene and Jerry F. Nichols Campus in East Naples. She is the executive who ensures that 1,000 kids bused from 21 Collier County schools are in a safe, positive environment in the critical hours after school. In person her accessibility and commitment to youth hit home. She doesn’t have to tout her genius and drive; her results do it for her. As do the numerous accolades she has received in a career spanning 35 years dedicated to youth and education.
Recent accomplishments include the Advanced Leadership Program of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business; the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s (BG CA) Herman S. Prescott Award for professionalism; and a feature in Florida Weekly’s “Power Women.” Lucky for Naples that the BG CCC Board recruited Shaw in 2011 from the Boys & Girls Club of Rocky Mount, NC, to expand the success and reach of this youth development organization that serves children ages 6 – 18, especially those who live in poverty and other unhealthy situations.
Already, Shaw has delivered. Under her lead, the number of youth served has jumped 36% to 3,000, and collaborations have thrived. The Naples Children & Education Foundation continues its strong support and the 21st Century Learning Centers have provided BG CCC a platform to reach the most at-risk kids in Collier County. She launched a “Youth of the Year” scholarship initiative to raise financial assistance for the kids who need it most. She set in place a strategy, the “Formula for Impact,” which deepens the Club’s impact by giving kids a positive, engaging and fun experience that keeps them coming back for more. Want proof? 87 percent of all Club members are reading at grade level or higher, compared, for example, to 54% of third graders in Collier County. Math results are just as good, all high school senior Club members graduated, none were pregnant. And it gets better…
BG CA, the nation’s gold standard for youth development programs, has noticed Shaw’s impact on quality. In May, BG CA presented BG CCC a Merit Award for Program Excellence in Character & Leadership Development (for the “Junior Women of Initiative” program that pairs middle school girls with mentors from the Women’s Philanthropic Network of the Community Foundation of Collier County). BG CA also awarded BG CCC a Marketing and Communication Award for a superior communications strategy, and the Club’s youngsters’ “Discovery” project won the Group Art Project category at the BG CA’s National Fine Art Exhibit.
Shaw says, “Heroes walk among us,” when she talks about staff, current and past Board members and the kids who will become tomorrow’s engaged and productive citizens. Shaw is proud of her youth development professionals who fulfill the organization’s mission: to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Using the proven Impact strategy, staff guide youth to achieve academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. The BG CCC emphasizes graduating from high school ready for a career or college.
She credits the Board of Directors’ support and efforts with providing the fuel to propel the Club. BG CA concurred and recently recognized Board member Timothy Ubben as “Florida’s Board Member of the Year.” At the East Naples campus, Dorothy and Dexter Baker created the Technology Training Center in 2012 for teens to gain trade and tech skills and Jay and Patty Baker dedicated the baseball field this year. Shaw says, “They are my champions, my advisors, and true believers in the power of Boys & Girls Clubs. We are truly blessed.”
Not complacent, Shaw continues to work with the Board to secure funds to sustain operations and reach even more youth. One of her newest challenges is to build and open a youth development center in Immokalee. With typical optimism, she anticipates the day that facility will welcome 400 children to life changing programs and activities.