Denise Watters

Chief Executive Officer
Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson

By Tiffany Kjos

When Denise Watters moved to Tucson six years ago, she made a huge decision to turn her career in a new direction, and the result has been amazing. 

As CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, Watters helps impact some 6,000 children each year at six clubhouses, where they engage in programming that focuses on health, community engagement, science, technology, engineering, art, math, and workforce readiness.

“We run over 40 programs,” she said. “We are trying to develop these kids every day in healthy lifestyles and academic success, and really position them for being good citizens in the community.”

Watters and her husband came here from Washington, D.C., where she worked in human resources and operations for government contractors, after her husband got a job at Raytheon. “People say, ‘Why didn’t you just go to Raytheon?’ That wasn’t really what I set out to do when I came out here. I thought I could kind of turn a page and really start a new phase in my life,” she said.

“When she moved to Tucson from back East she jumped right into the community – attending events, joining nonprofit and industry-specific organizations,” said Debbie Wagner, BGCT’s past CEO. “She made connections quickly and was able to find groups with missions that she could support with her passion and energy.”

Watters got involved with the Arizona Bowl, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and joined the BGCT board, which offered her the CEO position in 2022.  “I really felt like it was the best way for me to stay relevant in what I do, because I am clearly a people person,” said Watters, who participated in club activities growing up in Maryland. 

The clubs are open to 7- to 17-year-olds after school on weekdays during the school year, with all-day summer camps. They youths can also experience Reid Park Zoo, parks, University of Arizona games and more. “They’re seeing Tucson beyond school and home and the Boys & Girls Clubs,” Watters said.

BCGT’s newest project aims to equip students for life after graduation. The Holmes Tuttle Clubhouse on East 36th Street, currently under renovation, will be renamed the Tech and Workforce Readiness Center and offer students critical skills in hospitality to automotive and beyond.

 “I am passionate about these kids and their futures, and I really felt like it came full circle. I love what I do every day,” Watters said.

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button