Roxanne Spillett, whose nearly $1 million salary as head of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America sparked a congressional investigation of how the organization was spending federal money, has announced she will step down as president at the first of the year, though she will remain with BGCA as a part-time consultant on special projects. The board of governors announced late Thursday that James Clark, who for the past eight years has served as president and CEO of the Milwaukee Boys & Girls Club, will succeed Spillet on Jan. 2, 2012.
Milwaukee’s Boys & Girls Clubs is one of the organization’s largest and under Clark’s leadership has expanded from 23 to 40 locations. He has also overseen continuing growth in its revenues.
The board selected a successor from outside the national hierarchy, under which BGCA drew the ire of Congress.
Spillett, the first woman to lead BGCA, has been a lightning rod for congressional criticism for the past several years. Though BGCA receives millions in private donations, a large portion of its budget traditionally has come from federal grants, especially for mentoring.
The boiling point came last year when four powerful Republican senators blocked what was to have been a $465 million special appropriation over five years to go to BGCA, questioning why Spillet received such a high salary while the agency had closed hundreds of local sites, despite receiving federal funds to open more clubs in low-income areas.
The senators – Charles Grassley (Iowa), Tom Coburn (Okla.), John Kyl (Texas) and John Cornyn (Texas) – requested thousands of pages of documents from BGCA, held meetings with BGCA officials and openly criticized the organization. Though a portion of the documents was released to the public, information regarding the financial aspects of its operation was not.
And after a flurry of initial publicity, the senators went silent and never revealed any resolution to their investigation. But privately, congressional and Obama administration officials expressed exasperation with Spillett’s haughty attitude toward them.
As the inquiry progressed, Spillett’s salary and benefits and those of her top aides were modified, reducing the amount of money going to a special retirement pool for them.