Meet the Board Members

Par Excellence Youth Development

Taylor Byrd, Jr., PhD


A native of Boligee, Alabama (Greene County)

A graduate of The Pennsylvania State University with a Ph.D. in Agricultural Education, Administration; a graduate Tuskegee University with a Masters of Ed in Agricultural and Extension Education; a graduate of Alabama A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Education and General Science and a graduate of Greene County Training School, Boligee, Alabama.

His professional career started with him teaching Agri Science at Woodson High School, Andalusia, AL; Tennessee Valley High School, Hillsboro, AL and Courtland High School, Courtland, AL. Upon completing his PhD he was hired as a Professor and as Chairman for the Department of Agribusiness Education and Head Teacher Educator at Alabama A&M University. He spent eight years at Alabama A&M University. He left his alma mater for TVA where he was the Assistant Manager for Community and Economic Development at the National Fertilizer Development Center in Muscle Shoals, AL. He retired from TVA in 1996 and returned to AAMU as a Research Professor, Director Ed Technology, Instructional Outreach, and Recruiting. He retired from AAMU in 2013.

Dr. Byrd has been and is involved in numerous community organizations. To name just a few: King’s Memorial United Methodist Church, Pre-K Director, Past Chairman, Staff/Pastor Parish Committee, Past President, Decatur-Morgan Alabama A&M University Alumni Chapter, City of Decatur Personnel Board Member, Past President, AAMU National Alumni Association, Inc., founding member and Past President 100 Black Men of America, Past President, Minority Development Association, Kiwanis, NAACP, and ADC.

He established the “Dr. Taylor Byrd, Jr. $60,000 Endowed Scholarship” for students majoring in Agribusiness or Agricultural Sciences at AAMU and also solicited funding for the $50,000 Greene Track Endowed Scholarship for students from counties in the Alabama Black Belt majoring in the Agricultural Sciences at AAMU.

He has traveled abroad as an Educational, Research, and Extension Teaching Specialist on USDA Developmental Teams to Burkina Faso (Upper Volta), West Africa; South East Asia; Malaysia; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Rome, Italy.

He is married to Deborah Washington, have three children Marcus Dalton Byrd, Taynetta Byrd O’Neal and Florence Nicolette Byrd and four grandsons Xavier O’Neal, Mason Byrd, Ezra Byrd and Eli Byrd.

LeRoy Gradford, Jr., Ed.D.,


Doctor of Education (KAPPA DELTA PI), The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL., MBA, Florida Institute of Technology, . BA Degree (Magna Cum Laude), Shaw University in Raleigh, NC. MBA, Florida Institute of Technology, Twenty Years Military Service. Combat veteran of Vietnam and Dominican Republic. Retired as a Captain, in 1980. Afterwards, was employed by the Huntsville School System. Served in Executive Positions as Human Resources Director and Facilities Manager. At the same time, was Adjunct Professor at three Colleges & Universities: University of Alabama, Athens State, & Motlow State College. Facilitated courses in Education and Business. Retired after twenty years. Later, served for seventeen years as Deputy & Chief Executive Officer at the Community Action Partnership. Partnered with Local, State, and Federal Government to provide over twelve million dollars per year funding. Funds were used to enhance the life of Low Income families and Individuals. Provided assistance with utilities, energy, housing, and transportation to medical appointments. Played competitive golf for over twenty five years in and out of US.

Reggi Clark

Event Chairman

Bio coming soon…

James O. Bearden, Jr.,

Vice Chairman

Bio coming soon…

Kevin Hathaway


Bio coming soon…

Howard Bankhead

Community Manager

Howard J. Bankhead is the Executive Director of Par Excellence Youth Development (PEYD) and the Tennessee Valley Jazz Society-Huntsville (TVJS). PEYD and TVJS are 501(c)(3) non-profit youth development and arts agencies. Par Excellence Youth Development Board of Directors is a unique group of community leaders committed to the betterment of the lives of our youth, families, and communities.

Mr. Bankhead holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing with a minor in Management from Alabama State University. In addition, he has over 35 years of experience presenting Jazz programs through various events and activities (such as the signature Jazz-N-June on the Mountain).

Howard has worked with many great artists through various jazz endeavors, including Randy Weston, Houston Person, Curtis Lundy, Freddy Cole, Nnenna Freelon, Jimmy Heath, Marian McPartland, Ron Carter, Bobby Watson, Ellis Marsalis, and many, many others.

Additionally, Mr. Bankhead has 20 years of experience in “youth golf endeavors,” better known as “Jr. Golf.” At the age of 44 in 2002 and due to knee problems, Howard tried golf after playing tennis and distance running. When he hit his first golf ball down the middle of the fairway, his world literally changed.

Growing up as a football and track star in High School and College, those sports came to him naturally, and so did golf, but the challenge of golf captured his mind, body, and soul in another dimension.

Due to systemic Jim Crow laws of the 60s and 70s, Howard felt someone should address the past inequities. So, he put his marketing degree, his love for youth, and his love of golf together and became a social entrepreneur by launching the Tennessee Valley Youth Golf Development. His goal was to allow Black youth to experience golf early in life, which was denied him and countless other Black youths. Plus, golf offered unmeasurable academics and life skills.

After connecting and working with members of the North Alabama Golf Club (NAGC), Howard grew and delivered golf programs to underserved Black youth in Madison County. He swayed bigots that operated public golf facilities to give his program access to practice facilities so Black youth could try the sport of golf.

His persistence helped him obtain a contract with Huntsville City School Afterschool Camp Success Program, which operated from 2002-2007. Under this afterschool golf program, Howard traveled to five elementary schools, reaching over 1,200 youth in grades 2nd – 5th. Additionally, Howard applied for many grants while operating the program, including Hook A Kid on Golf, PGA Growth of the Game (Ernie Ellison), and USGA Good for the Game (Judy Bell). Fortunately, all grants applied for were awarded.

In 2003, Howard heard about The First Tee program and attended a First Tee training, where he met Dr. Michael Cooper. From there, we’re here today.

Today, as Executive Director of Par Excellence Youth Development, Howard is the head golf instructor, chief grant writer, and general manager.