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John D. Lee

Boys & Girls Clubs in Tennessee        2011 Hall of Fame Inductee

John D. Lee

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley • Knoxville, Tennessee

     President/CEO John D. Lee began his ambitious career with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley as Assistant Executive Director four decades ago on September 16, 1970.  From there he progressed to his current position of President and CEO.  He is only the second President/CEO in the organization’s history since its inception in 1943.  For decades, John and the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley have been in the forefront of youth development, and each day, they take advantage of the opportunities to bring a child the chance for a changed life.  Born in Charleston, South Carolina, he is a graduate of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.  John is married to Phyllis and has three children, Amanda, Maria and Philip.  John enjoys the outdoors; when he is not at the Club, hunting, camping, and bicycling are his favorite past times. 

    John D. Lee leads by example, and his vision inspires others to follow. After over forty years of experience, there is no doubt that he is a true inspiration to other professionals in the movement.  He has been a mentor to area executive directors, sharing his fund raising expertise and management knowledge. He is constantly mentoring to some 260 staff, guiding them by maintaining an open invitation to meet and discuss career opportunities.  Staff are exposed to the Boys & Girls Club vision by being allowed the opportunities to participate in training events.  Under John Lee’s direction, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley has hosted numerous Boys & Girls Clubs of America trainings for professionals across the state and southeast region.  John Lee’s commitment to professional development is evident, as the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley has been awarded the Arthur Williams In-Service Training Award nine times.   

    In 1985, he was awarded the Robert M. Sykes Award, and in 1994 the U.S. Department of Justice (FBI) presented him with the Directors Community Leadership Award. In September of 2000, the Midway Rehabilitation Center recognized John as a Youth Development Leader for his valuable contributions to the Knoxville community, and on May 23, 2000, he received the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Service to Youth Award and Service Bar for 30 years of service to the Boys & Girls Club Movement.  In 2002, John received the Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Professional Service Award for service to the National Movement.

    John Lee’s professional and personal challenge has always been to do whatever it takes to keep children safe.  In 1999, John led the charge to pass a law to ensure that any bus transporting children use a stop sign while unloading and loading passengers.  In addition to the stop sign law for which John was an instrumental instigator, a law now exists as a result of John’s support that allows Boys & Girls Clubs across the state to choose to become Day Care Licensed.   In addition, because of John’s proactive vision, studies were conducted that revealed that there were not enough activities for teenagers in Knoxville.  The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley’s Moses Teen Center was one of the first centers in Knoxville dedicated to serving the needs of teens in our community.  In 2004, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley entered into a unique relationship and began providing services to youth detained in the Richard L. Bean Detention Center.  The regional center services fifteen area counties in East Tennessee.

    The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley has experienced tremendous growth under the leadership of John Lee. When John Lee began his illustrious career, the organization was operating two Boys Clubs. His leadership led the organization through the Girls Club merger in 1990 and controlled growth over the years that now allows more than 5,400 members to participate in productive activities in 16 Clubs in four East Tennessee counties.  The organization employs 260 full-time and part-time professional staff with an annual budget of $6.8 million.  And, the Clubs provide more than 404,400 USDA hot meals and snacks to members annually.

 Throughout John Lee’s career with the Boys & Girls Clubs, he has worked diligently toward goals to bring a quality program to all young people who come through the doors. He ensures that enriching and enlightening services that increase self-worth and promote knowledge and opportunities to grow and develop in a safe and nurturing environment are offered. The work that he has done with boards, volunteers and staff in working with many community organizations and in developing innovative programs is second to none in the Boys & Girls Club Movement.

    In 2005, John Lee was presented with the Contribution to the Profession Award, which is a national award presented to a Boys & Girls Club professional who has made a significant contribution towards the advancement of the Boys & Girls Club Movement during the course of their career.  In February 2010, he received the Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Service to Youth Award for 40 years of devoted service.  And, most recently in February 2011, John Lee was the recipient of the David Roark “Light the Path” Award for 41 years of service to Boys & Girls Clubs.