By John Lynds
East Boston native and Savio Prep graduate Michael Triant was named the new Executive Director of the Salesian Boys & Girls Club at the board’s December meeting. Triant, who worked for the past 17 years for the Boston Center for Youth and Families as an administrator, started Monday at the Club, taking over the reigns from Father John Nazzaro who is now the Club’s Director of Mission.
“Once I heard of this opportunity, as a kid who grew up in East Boston, as a kid who graduated Savio, as a kid that went to the Boys & Girls Club, I wondered if it could become a reality,” said Triant, a husband and father of three who now lives in Winthrop with his family. “Once the ball started rolling and it became more and more of a possibility it wasn’t even a choice at that point I had to do it.”
Triant, 38, who grew up on Faywood Avenue was raised like many other kids of his generation in Eastie.
“I was played basketball at the Marty Pino Center every afternoon, I got involved in the house leagues through Johnny Forbes at the Boys & Girls Club where I made friends that are still my friends today,” said Triant.
What always impressed Triant about the Salesians was the level of commitment the staff had to the kids.
“You had guys like (the late) Wally Bowe that were so influential on the lives of kids I grew up with and kids that were older than me,” said Triant. “I was fortunate that I grew up in a stable home with two parents, but there were so many kids at the Salesians whot didn’t have that.”
Triant said he remembers getting jealous as a youth because he didn’t understand why staff like Bowe would concentrate their attention on kids that didn’t have much.
“As I got older I understood,” said Triant. “Guys like Wally (Bowe) were doing whatever they could to give that little extra attention to the kids that didn’t have a father or had a tough home life.”
Triant said the staff he’s inheriting at the Club reminds him very much of the staff that was at the Salesians when he was a kid.
“The team at the Boys & Girls Club is just continuing that Salesians tradition,” said Triant. “They are looking to work, they are looking to help, they are looking to provide a good positive influence on the kids there. Don Bosco’s philosophy was integral growth of children especially the poor and the needy and that’s our mission.”
Triant began his career in youth based services in March 2002 as the manager of Boston’s Camp Joy program that offers youth programing for kids with special needs.
“I then moved to managing citywide sports recreation and fitness programs,” said Triant. “That was a great role because it gave me the experience of building my own budgets and hone in on community partnerships.”
Then Triant became the Administrative Coordinator for the BCYF’s Holland Community Center in Dorchester.
“That role is very similar to being the executive director of a youth based community non-profit,” said Triant. “But you’re under the umbrella of the city which has its advantages and disadvantages.”
While working for the city and its automatic budget for programming, Triant said he’s in a different predicament at the Salesians, which relies heavily on fundraising to run its programs and pay its staff.
“Everything starts with fundraising,” said Triant. “How do you become the best organization you can be? It starts with the staff and in order to attract the best staff you have to have the money and in order to get money you have to fundraise. Staff development, staff training, expanding programs that all comes at a cost.”
Triant said he’d like to shore up and expand the board.
“We have a great board,” said Triant. “In my experience the three things that make a good board even better are people that have ties to wealth, board members that are committed to work hard, and finally people with the institutional knowledge and wisdom of the organization.”
Triant’s said he hopes his ties to Savio and Savio alumni will be a positive for fundraising.
“I’d love to see more Savio alumni get involved with fundraising, board activities, donations,” he said. “You look at the Facebook group, Savio Memories, there’s over 1,000 members. If those members, their families, their kids, their friends gave $500 a year that’s $500,000. We could do so much with that money here at the Club to enhance programing or hire more staff to run special programs.”
Father Nazzaro said he was happy that Triant made the final cut, and is now the new executive Director.
“His connection with the Salesians as a Savio graduate is one of the reasons why Michael (Triant) was considered a worthy candidate for the position,” said Nazzaro. “He comes with a connection and knowledge of the Salesians and the knowing that our Boys & Girls Club is different because of its ties to the Salesians. I look forward to him adding new insight with his youthfulness, his own experience with family and his own experience working with kids to bring new spirit and another generation into the Club.”