Chief Executive Officer • Boys & Girls Club of Newark • Newark, N.J. • Age: 33
One might say that Felix A. Rouse remains a kid at heart. As the head of the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, Rouse controls the reins of an organization that, he says, contributed to both his personal and professional success. Giving back, therefore, is a mission he takes seriously.
The Boys & Girls Club of Newark sits in the heart of New Jersey’s biggest and most ethnically diverse city, one that is enjoying the benefits of a dynamic new mayor and that is full of potential. Rouse sees a similarly bright future for the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, which has has three Club sites throughout the city, a school-based extension, more than 70 employees and an operating budget of about $3 million. The Club must undertake fundraising, strategic partnerships and campaigns to keep it highly visible in order to guarantee its long-term success, Rouse says. “I am the public face of our organization and I must work to ensure that our brand is well known in the community,” he says. “Community engagement is a large part of my job, as no one entity can solve all the problems that youth face.”
Rouse spent much of his childhood in foster care before he was adopted. He asserts that the guidance and support of the Boys & Girls Club of America, as well as education, kept him and his brother on the right path. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in business administration from Cornell University. “I always had the adults at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark, to talk to, to cry on their shoulders and to help me. Now I want to give some of that back to others,” he says.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Newark serves more than 12,500 children and has about 3,100 registered members. The group has been plagued with skyrocketing costs and a revolving door of executive leadership. Rouse plans to stay. ”I love this organization and I am passionate about spending the rest of my life working on behalf of youth,” he says.