After 43 years with the organization, Jerry Glidewell has announced he is retiring as the executive director of the Fort Smith Boys & Girls effective Sept. 1. The organization announced Wednesday (Aug. 17) that Beth Presley will be Glidewell’s successor.
Glidewell’s full-time employment with Boys & Girls Clubs started in 1979 when he was hired as the executive director of the Johnson County Boys & Girls Club upon his graduation from University of the Ozarks. After working three years at the Club in Clarksville, Glidewell was hired to become the unit director of the Stephens Club in Fort Smith. In 1987, he was promoted to director of operations, and in 1990 he became executive director.
“I will be 66 soon. I decided it would be a good time to retire while I’m still healthy and able to enjoy retirement,” Glidewell said.
During his career, he was instrumental in numerous improvements, including capital campaigns and building projects for Evans, Goldtrap, Stephens, Jeffrey, and Hunts Park; creation of after-school transportation, mentoring and feeding programs; establishing the Alumni & Friends Association; expansion of the College Scholarship program and growth of the Clubs endowment.
“We’ve been working on the capital campaign for the expansion of the Jeffery Club. We have a good announcement coming (soon) on that,” Glidewell said.
The club will expand with a 4,100-square-feet addition and complete renovation of its 11,226 club, according to Travis Beshears with Beshears Construction, a member of the FSBGC Board of Directors. The renovation and expansion, which will add an administration wing and make room for a new music and dance area for the members as well as an art studio and innovation lab, will cost about $3 million.
“It’s been a privilege to work with so many incredible people,” Glidewell said. “My time at the Club has been a calling, not a job. I will be forever grateful for those who have provided friendship and guidance along the journey.”
Retirement will give Glidewell the chance to work on some other interests, such as writing music and art, that he had not had as much time for as he’d like.
“I used to paint some in college. I’d like to do that as well,” said Glidewell, who also serves on the Board of Visitors for the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith. “I would like to volunteer more for (UAFS) as well.”
While he said that will lend support as needed to FSBGC following the transition in leadership, he will not get in the way of the new director.
“I’ve worked with Beth on many different things, through the United Way and her work with Arvest over the years and before that when she was the assistant athletic director at UAFS (University of Arkansas at Fort Smith) and when she was at First Tee,” Glidewell said. “And we have some good leadership in place who have been here for years who will be able to help (Presley) with the transition.”
Presley is vice president and director of community outreach and education for the Arvest Opportunity Fund, a subsidiary of Arvest Bank. She started with Arvest Bank in 2012, and in her prior position at Arvest as the Fort Smith region marketing manager, she worked with nonprofits by providing support to the organizations and local fundraising events and building relationships with the media and business leaders in the community.
Presley has a bachelor’s degree in education from Missouri State University and a master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Illinois.
Before Arvest, she was the assistant athletic director at UAFS, and the executive director for the First Tee of Fort Smith, a nonprofit youth organization focused on reaching out to the underserved and exposing the game of golf and valuable life skills.
“I am honored to be joining the Fort Smith Boys & Girls Clubs team,” Presley said. “This organization is well-established and well-loved and consists of an extremely talented team with a long history of dedicated donors and board members. My goal in leading this organization is to build upon its achievements while maintaining its high level of standards and to expand our impact on the youth in the Fort Smith community.”
Presley serves on the board for the United Way Fort Smith Region, chairing the United Way APT Golf Classic for the past three years. She received the 2019 Arkansas Banker Association inaugural Bill Holmes Leadership award and serves on the Emerging Leadership Advisory Committee. She received the 2022 American Bankers Association Emerging Leaders award and was included on Arkansas Money & Politics’ 2021 Power Women in Banking.
“This summer, the Board of Directors of the Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club had the daunting challenge of selecting a successor to Jerry Glidewell, who has been a remarkable leader not just for Fort Smith Boys & Girls Clubs but for our entire community over the last 43 years. To carry on the tremendous legacy of the Fort Smith Boys & Girls Clubs while advancing us into the future, we knew we had to find a visionary leader who had a true passion for the children in our community. We believe we have found this community leader in Beth Presley,” said Sam Sicard, chairman of the FSBGC board of directors, and president and CEO of First National Bank of Fort Smith.