By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Derrick Richardson, of Birmingham, is excited to be named inaugural executive director of The Alabama Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs.
“It’s a homecoming both professionally and personally in terms of giving back the same way I was given in my life,” he said.
Richardson, 44, served as district press secretary with U.S. Rep. Terri A. Sewell for almost two years before accepting his position this month.
The Alabama Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs is an umbrella organization that provides support to 25 club organizations serving nearly 43,000 youth across 45 cities and three military installations in Alabama.
“The Boys and Girls Club has touched so many individuals, known and unknown, in the entertainment and sports industry, as well as elected officials, and it’s a great story to tell and I look forward to telling that story,” he said.
Richardson, based out of the Alliance’s Hueytown office, will work with the CEOs of the 25 club bodies to educate elected officials and solicit investments around the state. His job also entails working on character development and life skills with children.
Richardson credits his upbringing and mentors with helping prepare him for his new job.
“People intervening [with] me to plant those seeds bore fruit and gave me a sense of what could be,” he said.
Richardson was raised by his mother and is the youngest of three boys. The family lived on the east side of Birmingham moving to Elyton Village on the west side. His mother and grandmother always stressed the importance of education.
“I can remember my mother would enter me in the church oratorical contest and it kind of got me out of my shell and really pushed me to excel in school,” he said.
He also found help through programs conducted by Aletheia House which had a partnership with the Birmingham Housing Authority. Through those summer programs, Richardson knew he could get more out of his life. One of his counselors, Wayne Hollins was the first to speak to him about going to college.
Aletheia House is a community-based organization that provides programs for children from low-income families.
“He [Hollins] gave me a sense of what could be and want to do better and strive to overcome challenges I faced and move toward success,” recalled Richardson, who attended A.H. Parker High School.
During his junior year he enlisted in the Army National Guard and Reserves and before his senior year went to boot camp at Fort McClellan. Once graduating from high school, he went to the Army Communications School at Fort Gordon, Georgia for 11 weeks.
In 1995, Richardson enrolled at Jacksonville State University. There he was involved on campus with the Student Government Association, the National Pan-Hellenic Council and became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. In 1999, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
While working for Sewell, Richardson said he gained a deep insight into the challenges people faced like unemployment, crime, human trafficking and the lack of career and college readiness.
“Seeing all those things, and working with [the congresswoman], I learned that results matter,” he said. “Regardless of the environment you’re in, you have to find a way to get results for the people you’re representing.”
He intends to address some of the same issues he saw while working for the congresswoman.
“Kids are our future. My passion has always been advocating for those who don’t have a voice,” he said.