A Selfless, Respected Black Leader in Central Ohio
You may know Daryle Griffin by his last name – the legendary Griffin football family –and in line with his family’s numerous successes, Daryle has run with every opportunity that he’s been blessed with, both in his career and in his community. Here at Cramer, we know Daryle as a colleague and dear friend of over a decade who has a heart of gold.
Daryle is a storyteller at heart, and as we reflected during Black History Month, we took time to catch up with him and are honored to share his story – the story of a selfless, humble, wise black leader in Central Ohio whose accomplishments have truly run the gamut to make a lasting impact throughout his life.
Growing up with six brothers and one sister, “The family unit is what was at the center of it all for my mom and dad,” said Daryle. His parents (James W. Griffin and Margaret Elizabeth Griffin) instilled strong values in all their children that have shaped them into the people they are today – values of faith, education, sports, and the importance of treating all people equally and with respect.
Sports were undoubtedly an integral part of this strong foundation and fostered a healthy level of competitiveness in the Griffin household – all eight Griffin siblings attended and graduated from college on athletic scholarships, Daryle with a full ride playing football at Kent State University from 1971-1975 – but the bigger emphasis was always on education. “My parents were always wanting a better life for their kids than what they had, and they knew what it was going to take,” Daryle shared.
Neither of his parents were afforded the opportunity for a higher education, and his dad worked three jobs to support the family. “My dad had an attitude – whatever he had to do to get his family to be in a successful situation, he was going to do – and he did that! It kind of makes me sad when you look back… how much harder he had to work to have
just a little bit of the comforts that his white peers had.” Daryle remembers some hard times in his family, but the way they operated as a unit, Daryle’s grateful life outlook, and the family’s faith carried them through to where they are today and forms the way in which Daryle looks back on his life.
Although James and Margaret Griffin passed away years ago, Daryle and his siblings make it a priority to keep the entire family (all 75+ nieces, nephews, cousins, spouses and grandchildren!) connected; “My siblings and I bring together our families for Griffin family reunions every year and we all teach our kids to be able to plan and the importance of making sure the family unit continues and we stay in touch with each other.”
Education & Career
As Daryle pursued his Business Administration degree in Industrial and Labor Relations with a minor in Statistics at Kent State, he also became very involved in the Ohio Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). A founding member of the Ohio FCA chapter and Assistant Athletic Director at the time, Tom Phillips, approached Daryle and asked for help reviving the organization at Kent State in wake of the tragic May 4, 1970 shootings that left the spirit on campus low. Through Daryle’s dedication to FCA in college he met Coach Kara Bright, another founding member of Ohio’s FCA chapter who would go on to be a lifelong friend and mentor.
After graduating from Kent State in 1975, Daryle’s commitment to FCA lasted well into the beginnings of his 32-year professional career at AT&T. His roles at AT&T spanned from business operations to human resources, with a few other roles in between. Regardless of his position, and through all his achievements and promotions, the values instilled in him never faltered and always shaped the way he went about his career.
He also joked that “I just couldn’t get football out of my system!” In the early ‘80s, he coached two professional minor league football teams in Columbus; and under his watch, the Columbus Metros came to be ranked number two in the nation and Daryle went on to be inducted into the Minor Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014, receiving the Ray Mansfield Memorial Award.
Before retiring from AT&T in 2007, Daryle finished out his illustrious career with the great honor and responsibility of being the first director of diversity & inclusion for the sales organization. “It was nerve-racking at times, just dealing with people and how they were programmed… let’s face it, some people tended to promote people who looked like them, who had similar situations growing up, who grew up in the same communities… and to step outside of that was very difficult for some. It made it hard for them to see the benefits of why we should have a diverse organization, because that wasn’t their world.”
Through the challenges presented by this newly developed role and in a time when not many other companies were placing emphasis on diversity and inclusion, Daryle still reflects on this as the most intriguing and rewarding time of his career. “So much needed to be done,” he said. “It all goes back to how I was formed. My career progressed but it always involved treating people with respect and decency… fighting for the underdog and using the talent that God has given me to do the right thing.”
Although Daryle Griffin enjoyed a rewarding career at AT&T, he said: “I told myself, ‘I really need to get back to what the Lord is calling me to do,’ and that was Brightway Center.”
Come 1997, Daryle had stayed close friends with Kara Bright, so when Kara decided to start a separate organization from FCA, one that would expand upon its mission and instill a vision to “create a place where youth could come together to learn, to think, to question, to develop Christian moral values, to have strength and courage to take a stand based upon Christian ideals and teamwork,” Daryle was right alongside him. Unfortunately, Kara got sick shortly after Brightway Center’s inception and the organization had a hard time getting started, but Daryle never stopped being drawn to its vision.
Shortly before Kara passed away in 2005, he called Daryle and George Speck to his hospital bedside and told them his last wish: that they would work with a few others that Kara trusted to bring the Brightway vision to life. Kara left everything he had, including 177 acres of land in Smithfield, OH, to Brightway Center, and Daryle was determined to honor his promise. The ultimate mission of Brightway Center was “To be a premier ministry facility that influences the world for Christ through athletics, academics and bible studies.”
Daryle became the President & CEO of Brightway Center in 2009 and got to work!Under the counsel of three of our firm’s team members, Michelle, Mike and Dawn, Brightway started doing outreach to local high schools, developing and increasing their programming. “We were all about mind, body and spirit,” Daryle said. Their M.V.P. Program had the goal of motivating students to understand that winning in life is much more important than just winning in sports, and engaged students through educational, physical fitness and spiritual sessions.
Daryle retired in 2021, and Brightway Center is now moving forward with a transition into what will be known as the Kara Bright Foundation, providing grants and scholarships to youth in need.
“Now that I’m retired and looking back at things, I’m beginning to really appreciate the experience that the Lord gave me,” said Daryle. “He really prepared me for the work that He allowed me to be a part of… literally gave me the skillset, and I didn’t even know I was getting the skills needed for Brightway, until now when I look back. It all culminated with my leadership at Brightway.”
Thank you, Daryle Griffin, for your unwavering compassion for others and for the wisdom and guidance that you continue to instill in Team Cramer to this day. Daryle means so much more to us and to so many others that he’s touched throughout his life. All of us Cramer are beyond grateful and proud to call Daryle a trusted colleague and dear friend!