By STEVEN NALLEY
The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Golden Triangle named Joyce Ellenwood as its new Chief Professional Officer, placing her in charge of clubs in both Starkville and Columbus.
Before coming to the Golden Triangle, Ellenwood served as assistant director of academic advisement at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla. As an undergraduate at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., she was an NCAA All-American track and field runner, and before college, she ran on the Liberian team at the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championship in 1999.
Ellenwood said she came to Starkville when her husband, Garfield Ellenwood, became an assistant track and field coach with Mississippi State University. When she saw the position with the Boys and Girls Club, she thought it would be a good application for her experience in education.
“I thought it was ideal, being able to serve the community and serve the children of the community in a unique way,” Ellenwood said. “(The Boys and Girls Club) has a long-standing history in youth development. There are many organizations that serve the same cause; however, the history of the Boys and Girls Club is a staple in communities.”
The Boys and Girls Clubs of America began life as a set of boys clubs, the first of which was established in 1860 and 53 of which affiliated with each other in 1906. Staff work with children up to the age of 18, teaching them character, leadership and other life skills.
Roy Ruby, president of the board of directors for Starkville’s Boys and Girls Club, said Ellenwood’s arrival marks the end of a two-year interim, during which Stevie Moody, director of the Columbus clubhouse, served as acting CPO. Ruby said while Moody served well, it will help to have the leadership of a full-time CPO again, and Ellenwood’s experience will fit the job well.
“We were impressed with her credentials, personality and background, and we are convinced she’s going to lead the Boys and Girls Club to new heights,” Ruby said. “We’re just very fortunate to have an opportunity to hire her.”
Ruby said the recession has made life difficult for the Boys and Girls Club and other organizations dependent on philanthropy. He said he is grateful for financial aid from the city of Starkville, Oktibbeha County and the United Way, and he hopes Ellenwood’s experience will help the Starkville and Columbus Boys and Girls Clubs thrive.
“We want the Boys and Girls Club to be better known in the community,” Ruby said. “We obviously need to increase the revenue for the club to do more. We want her to ensure that the programs for the Boys and Girls Club that teach the qualities we want to teach. We want to do the most good for the most young people.”
Moody said two or three years ago, the Columbus Boys and Girls Club struggled to raise funds. The situation has improved in the years since, he said, and he believes Ellenwood will be able to continue to improve it further.
“I think she’ll do a good job as CPO,” Moody said. “She’s got the expertise to go out and get more funds for the organization.”
Ellenwood said she was never a member of a Boys and Girls Club when she was young, but she did volunteer several hours with the club as an undergraduate at Seton Hall. One summer, she said, she worked as a science teacher in an urban area through the club. She said the Boys and Girls Club’s focus on ideals children may not learn in school attracted her, then and now.
“Just the club feel, the reason the parents choose to have their children come to the clubs, has always stuck with me,” Ellenwood said. “I want to elevate the profile of the club and bring those services and programs in an innovative way not only to the members of the club but also to the parents and community.”