Columbia’s Building Better Communities receives top FBI leadership award

FBI director’s award recognizes “outstanding contributions to our nation’s communities”

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.


BUILDING BETTER COMMUNTIES (BBC), a Columbia-based nonprofit which helps support marginalized and struggling communities across the Midlands, received the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award during ceremonies at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., Friday, May 5, 2023. Presented by FBI Director Christopher Wray, the honor was formally presented to Mr. Perry Bradley, executive director of BBC which Bradley founded in 2010.

“Like the 38,000 employees of the FBI, you don’t do what you do for fame – and certainly not for fortune,” said Director Wray during the ceremony. “You do it out of kindness, out of compassion for others, out of a hope and a dream for safer communities, to leave your towns and cities better places than when you got there. And that’s how I’ve defined success here within our organization, too. Success to me is if everyone leaves the FBI a better place than they found it.”

Bradley was not the only recipient, but he was one of only a very select few: The FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award was presented to 50 recipients, nominated by the FBI’s regional field offices nationwide, for the year 2022.

According to the FBI: “BBC members volunteer thousands of service hours annually in disadvantaged communities collaborating with local law enforcement agencies to build safer communities and local officials and businesses to improve education that leads to income growth, better healthcare, increased voter participation, and enhanced reentry resources for those who made mistakes and desire to clear their past and successfully reenter society.”

Bradley, who was accompanied by family and friends, credited ongoing partnerships with his organization’s success.

“I am truly honored to receive this lofty award on behalf of BBC and the communities we serve, which is only possible through partnerships with local law enforcement, elected officials and community leaders across the Palmetto State,” said Bradley. “Not to mention the fact that the national recognition we’ve received for the work that we’ve done and the successes we’ve had through BBC have in no small measure been as a result of the relationships engendered like that, for instance, of Sheriff Leon Lott and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department here in central South Carolina. I am beyond grateful.”

Sheriff Lott and Richland County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Chief Stephany Snowden attended the ceremony.

“Perry and BBC have served and continue to serve as a beacon of light and hope for underserved communities by focusing on vitally important things within those communities like healthcare, education, employment opportunities, entrepreneurial mindset development and helping us combat violent criminal activity within those same communities, “ said Sheriff Lott. “Each component part critically supports the other. Without one, there is little hope for success in the others.”

Lott added, “Perry knows this. We know this. And that’s why our working together has borne much fruit over the years, though there is still so much work to be done.”

Established in 1990, the Director’s Community Leadership Award honors individuals and organizations for their efforts in combating crime, terrorism, drugs, and violence in America. According to the FBI, recipients for 2022 “were recognized for a broad range of efforts, including building bridges between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve, combatting human trafficking and providing resources to victims, and supporting local youth programs.” The May 5 event was the 15th annual Director’s Community Leadership Awards ceremony.

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