The stories of most talented business leaders usually follow a similar track: Young protege does well in grade school, attends top college, and hits the workforce with a running start up the corporate ladder. While our new COO, Gavin McGuire, checks two of these three boxes, unlike most of his peers, he chose to forgo the corporate route for a career in the nonprofit sector.
Upon graduating from Morehouse College, Gavin worked as the VP of Programs for metro Atlanta’s Future Foundation and subsequently became the COO for Usher’s New Look Foundation. Both youth-centered organizations flourished under his leadership.
Most recently, he served as executive director at one of the largest YMCA locations in the nation. At the Andrew Walter Young Family YMCA in greater Atlanta, Gavin introduced earned income models to boost revenue and elevate the organization to even higher heights.
In each of his assignments, Gavin focused on listening to the children, families and communities he served to ensure he truly provided what they needed. “I do a lot of listening,” Gavin says. “Not just coming in with a silver bullet to say ’I know this is the solution’ from afar. It’s important to use a participatory model to make sure that the community has buy-in.”
With this holistic and inclusive approach, he brings out of the box solutions to meet the needs of the community.
Gavin notes that many nonprofit programs do not comprehensively address the education, socioeconomic, or health needs of the community. He plans to employ his proven community engagement and earned income models to deeply impact Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan as we continue our multi-year effort to reimagine our Clubs as world-class spaces.
The New Orleans native says that having a collaborative spirit and tapping local resources are key to making organizations like BGCSM pillars of their communities.
“I’ve always served in communities that lack access to resources or significant opportunities to thrive,” he says. “So, the challenge was always the (underlying) needs.”
Additionally, Gavin has worked as a social entrepreneur for nearly 20 years, influencing the trajectory of populations across the country via his McGuire Impact Group. He notes that education played a major role on his desire to influence communities.
“My experience at an HBCU is one of the most powerful in my life,” he says.
Gavin even credits an experience with a local Club in his hometown with preparing him for higher education, where he eventually studied both psychology and urban planning. At that Club, he took an ACT/SAT preparedness course that helped him perform well on the standardized tests.
“My mom was a Valedictorian of her high school,” Gavin reflected from his new BGCSM workspace. “But unfortunately, her mom passed away (before she could begin college).”
The elder McGuire chose to decline the full academic and athletic scholarship she was offered to the famed HBCU, Dillard University, to stay home and help raise her younger siblings. Her sacrifice often reminds her son of the importance of education and taking advantage of opportunities whenever possible.
“As a young Black man, (education was) a passport out of the situation that we were in,” he says. “But also, I wanted to make sure that I help my mom realize her dream vicariously through me.”
Gavin’s dreams did not stop with graduation from one of the nation’s most recognizable historically Black colleges. As chief operating officer of BGCSM, he is already shaping his moonshot as we continue to #Reimagine our spaces.
“I think that we can be a driving force with the leaders of the city,” Gavin says. “I see us as the model that can address the community – not only for the needs of the youth – but for their families.”