During Afterschool Professionals Week, OAN would like to celebrate James Warner II of the Boys & Girls Club of the Western Reserve.

As a youth, James relied on the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland and multiple at-risk youth programs in East Cleveland, Ohio to survive. While he was in elementary school, James moved 5 times in 6 years. Life at home was a struggle as he coped with having an alcoholic father and a mother who had significant mental health issues; thankfully, he had a safe place in the Clubs. James attributes his success in life to being involved in youth sports while the Clubs provided him with a caring place, friendly faces, and fun with a purpose.

Since obtaining his social work degree in 1996, James has dedicated the past 20 years to excelling and working tirelessly in the youth service arena. He served as a caseworker in both the mental health and foster care fields, in juvenile justice as a Director of a nationally successful treatment program for juvenile offenders, and with Boys & Girls Clubs of the Western Reserve in Akron.

James joined BGCWR in 2011 and served as the Director of Operations and Programs for two years, but his heart, passion, and purpose was always most fulfilled working directly with youth and families. In 2013, after completing the BGCA Advanced Leadership Program, James requested a salary decrease and job transfer into the Club Director position he holds today. James inspires a team of creative employees while modeling the collective expectation to give 110% daily.

Under James’ leadership, he and his team have doubled the average daily attendance at the LeBron James Boys & Girls Club, serving ages 5-18, to capacity from 2014 to 2016. During this same timeframe, the teen average daily attendance has tripled! James, never satisfied with providing great programs in a half-full Club site, routinely works 7 days a week to impact the members at his site. His goal is to provide a place of change and hope—to give back the same inspiration and support he received as a youth from the caring staff who motivated him both personally and professionally—to our Club kids.

James proudly shares, “I will be a BGCA Club Director for the rest of my career.”

Thanks, James, for all you do for Ohio’s youth!

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