Mark Williams’, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at BHGH, relationship with Boys Hope Girls Hope (BHGH) began with his own high school education. As a student at Brophy College Preparatory, some of his classmates were BHGH scholars and the program had a great deal of support from Father Mathewson, SJ and Father Growney.
After graduation, Williams pursued a law degree and began his own family. Now, decades later, his children attend St. Francis Xavier Elementary School, another BHGH AZ partner institution with a strong history of support.
“We’ve had a lot of exposure to these great BHGH kids,” said Williams. “They’re our kids’ friends, they play school sports together, they’re just part of our community. And so I saw an opportunity to give back and make a commitment to service, which is something that we take pretty seriously here in our house.”
Williams’ role as Vice Chair and incoming Board Chair for 2024 uniquely positioned him to help spearhead BHGH’s latest initiatives to be more strategic with investments and serve more students. Once the pivotal decision was made to retire the Residential Program and shift all focus to the Academy Program, the benefits became immediately apparent: BHGH would be able to impact more students and uplift the broader community, a win for all.
“It seemed very obvious,” said Williams. “But as we went through it we were really nervous about making the right investment in our scholars. This shift allows us to focus not just on organizational survival, but on expansion and growth with our new strategic vision.”
That new strategic vision includes expanding existing BHGH programs while also serving new populations. There’s significant opportunity for growth with college-aged students who may be first-generation and lack support once they’ve left high school. There’s also the prospect of a new BHGH Learning Center space; one that will be able to serve the growing number of students in ways that are most beneficial to them.
Amidst all the changes and big decisions of the past several years, Williams is most proud of the board and staff’s unwavering commitment to the students. He describes the leadership of both as ‘truly servant leaders,’ who are focused on the well-being and success of the scholars, especially in the face of wide-ranging challenges like the pandemic and changing economic landscape.