Pat Van Burkleo, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Louisiana, retired from the organization Dec. 31 after 32 years of service.
Over the years, Van Burkleo oversaw many transitions, including the introduction of girls into the club in the early ‘90s, even before the national organization changed its name to include girls.
Another of Van Burkleo’s achievements was making the club one of the first to have after-school programs at schools instead of standalone facilities.
“Introducing that model was really good here in Baton Rouge,” Van Burkleo says. “We could be more than just brick and mortar. We could do programming where kids need us most.”
More recently, Van Burkleo oversaw the merging of the club with other local programs, including the merging of the New Orleans area Boys and Girls Clubs with the Baton Rouge-area club to form the Metro Louisiana club last year.
Going forward, he says the organization faces the same challenges as other nonprofits including maintaining trust in the community and raising dollars, along with figuring out how to best serve kids.
“I think mental health will be a big issue in the future,” he says. “That was something we talked about before I left, how our programs help the kids but also asking if there’s more things kids need. I think we’ll see in the future that kids will receive counseling and mental health assistance during their time at the club.”
There are also some rural areas in the state that would benefit from a club, he says, and he hopes the organization looks at expanding. Hammond and Gonzales, for example, are communities that the club could move into.
The interim director at the club is Angel Nelson, the organization’s COO and who previously worked at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Virginia Peninsula.
As for Van Burkleo, he plans to stay active in the community and help out any other area nonprofits in need of assistance.