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CEO Frank E. Adams Jr. on why he left A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club — and what’s next

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Frank Adams

By Barnett Wright

The Birmingham Times

Frank E. Adams Jr. resigned last week as CEO of the A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club Inc. (AGGBGC) simply because it was “time to move on,” he said in an interview with The Birmingham Times.

Adams also acknowledged Monday morning that his parting came after a “mutual discussion” with the board.

“They asked, ‘are you ready to move on? and I said, ‘yes’,” Adams said.

The board also accepted the resignation of Victoria Truss, director of finance/administration.  In a statement late Monday morning, Donald Lutomski, chairman of the AGGGC board, said, “A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club’s board of directors confirms that the organization has accepted the resignations of its Chief Executive Officer and Director of Finance/Administration. As all personnel matters must remain confidential, we are unable to offer further comment regarding the specifics of these departures.”

Adams, who had been CEO since 2012, said in the Birmingham Times interview that he had been “thinking about [resigning] for several years now [because] I’ve always been a proponent that a great organization is one that focuses on its own succession, is one that brings in new blood, that brings in new vision and that’s not a bad thing,” he said.

What’s next for Adams, 49, who submitted his resignation to the board on Thursday?

“I’m stepping back for a minute – not too long,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of organizations and entities interested in my vision for our community and I certainly want to help push Birmingham forward. That maybe in a nonprofit sphere, that maybe in a different sector . . . but I will do it as passionately as I have in my professional life.”

Adams said he was proud of several accomplishments during his decade at the helm of the AGGBGC.

“We went from being an organization that had maybe about 500 [children who are members of the club] to well over 1,600 members,” he said. “We had explosive growth. From a programming perspective we had our traditional programs, but we expanded a lot of initiatives — we created our Center for A New Generation program at Hayes K-8 School; we strengthened our existing programs . . . We served a lot of kids who were not even members of our club over those years.”

He also pointed to the new $7.2 million Walter Howlett Jr. Clubhouse, named after A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club’s former Board Chairman, Walter Howlett Jr., that opened in February 2020.

The facility, which is located next to the Birmingham CrossPlex, includes a new gym, a music room, a game room, a café able to serve hot meals and STREAM (science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math) labs. The two-story facility has a floor dedicated to teens and serves twice as many children as the Kirkwood R. Balton facility it replaced.

“That’s a wonderful testament to the commitment that Birmingham and the metro area has to our organization,” Adams said of the new clubhouse. “When [former U.S. Secretary of State and Birmingham native] Dr. Condoleeza Rice approached us and said that she would be more than willing to serve as the chair of our [fundraising] campaign we had great civic leaders who stepped up to assist her like [Altec CEO] Lee Styslinger and [retired Regions Financial Corp. Chairman] Grayson Hall and so many others across the community.”

Adams added that the new facility “was also a major dollar investment in that [western] part of the town . . . and a testament that every child can be great in our community, but they need be in an environment where they are challenged and expected to be great — we needed to build that environment.”

Adams grew up in the Bush Hills neighborhood in West Birmingham, and first joined (AGGBGC) in 1983 where “I learned to swim, worked with arts and crafts, got help with homework, and socialized. I also learned that football was not for me,” Adams told the Birmingham Times in a 2017 interview.

He hails from a family of talent and achievers.

His father, the late Frank E. Adams Sr., was a well-known musician and teacher in Birmingham. The Smithfield native, who played clarinet and saxophone with jazz greats Duke Ellington and Sun Ra, was inducted into the inaugural class of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

His mother, Doris, a native of Rosedale in Homewood, was the first African-American teacher at Crumley Chapel Elementary School, located in an unincorporated town northwest of Birmingham. At one point she was a featured vocalist in her husband’s band.

And his uncle, Oscar Adams Jr., was a prominent civil rights lawyer who went on to an appointment on the Alabama Supreme Court in 1980. He later won the seat outright and became the first African-American to win statewide constitutional public office in Alabama.

Frank Jr. attended Woodrow Wilson Elementary School and the Alabama School of Fine Arts. After graduating in 1990, he studied clarinet at Boston University, and completed an undergraduate degree in business administration and art performance. He later earned a master’s degree in fine arts management at the school.

In 1999, Adams was appointed to fill the Birmingham City Council District 8 seat left vacant when Bernard Kincaid was elected mayor. He sought to keep the seat in the 2000 Birmingham City Council special election but lost to Lee Loder.

Updated at 9:49 a.m. on 11/15/2021 to include additional comment from Adams.

Updated at 11:11 a.m. on 11/15/2021 with comment from Board Chairman Donald Lutomski.