It was a summer at the Boys and Girls Club of Roxbury when Dhakir Warren first hiked a mountain.

Mr. Warren, a West Coast kid who came east each summer to visit his grandmother and extended family in Boston, was a regular camper at the club, where he relished his days adventuring with his fellow campers, learning to swim, to hike and to socialize.

But for Mr. Warren, his time at the club also marked a turning point. It was his first brush with the joy and the value of educational programming — a concept that would occupy his work throughout adulthood.

“It saved my life,” said Mr. Warren, seated at picnic table behind the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School on a sunny spring afternoon. “It was the first time I understood myself in the context of my own culture and my own identity. It was life changing in that regard.”

Mr. Warren, who serves as the high school’s administrator of student affairs — a role created specifically for him — has spent the last three years supporting Island students through their brightest triumphs and hardest moments. At the high school, Mr. Warren has guided the Island’s youth with a firm but kind hand, overseeing all corners of student wellness, from intervention programs, counseling and a new student code of conduct.

This month, Mr. Warren was named the new executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Martha’s Vineyard, marking a shift from educating the Island’s eldest students to its youngest. Mr. Warren will depart the high school at the end of school year to assume his role as the club’s new leader.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Mr. Warren. “[But] I’m not leaving the opportunity to work with kids. I’m actually extending the opportunity.”

Mr. Warren was born in Boston to two very young parents, but spent most of his childhood in San Bernardino, Calif. with his mother after his parents divorced. Childhood was often marked by adversity, he said, recalling the challenges of growing up as a young black boy in the 1980s.

Mr. Warren’s father’s was sentenced to 13 years in a federal penitentiary, while his mother struggled with a substance abuse disorder throughout his boyhood and early teen years, he said.

“The 80s were a difficult time, especially for communities of color,” Mr. Warren said. “[Being] a black boy, with a single mom who struggled with addiction was tough. I had a lot of the same behaviors and challenges I see some of our kids that come from similar circumstances have . . . I think that’s in part what really drives me in this work.”

At 15, Mr. Warren moved back to Boston to live with his grandmother, finished high school and went on to Wheaton College. He then earned a masters degree in teaching. One year after his move, his mother joined him and her story ends well, too, he said, noting her journey to sobriety. She later went on to finish college and earn a masters degree in social work, he said.

But the experiences of Mr. Warren’s childhood profoundly shaped him.

“If you look at the statistics — dad was in prison, a mom that struggled with substance abuse — all things considered, I probably shouldn’t be here.

That’s what inspires me,” he said. “It’s that one conversation, that mustard seed that you plant that can really make a difference in the life of a kid…It’s those moments that I want to take advantage of because it was those moments that made the difference in my life.”

Mr. Warren, who has lived on the Island since 2014, called his journey to the Vineyard serendipitous.

After starting his career as a high school teacher in Boston, he tried many paths, exploring roles in entertainment PR and marketing, before settling into a career in education and nonprofit work at organizations including Youth Design, the Harold Robinson Foundation and more recently, Demand Abolition in Cambridge.

It was Mr. Warren’s wife, Sophia Brush, an Islander by birth, who eventually brought him to the Vineyard and, in turn, to the regional high school, where a position for vice principal had recently opened up.

He applied for the job but was singled out by principal Sara Dingledy to lead student affairs. “I started my career as a high school teacher so it was a great opportunity to get back into education,” he said.

During his tenure at MVRHS, Mr. Warren has left a legacy — and structure for student support — that will outlast him. In three years, he has helped lead a cultural change at the school through efforts like an anti-vaping campaign and a truancy program. He has also become a prominent voice in conversations around social and racial justice, as the high school — and the Island — look to expand their commitment to inclusion.

“One of the misperceptions is that [this role] is just concerned with discipline,” said Mr. Warren, who speaks of his work with an unwavering optimism.

“This work is so important because the fact of the matter is our kids are struggling. We struggle with a disproportionate percentage of our population with substance use and high rates of domestic violence. These are very real characteristics of our community and these dynamics come in this building with the kids whose lives are impacted by them. When you talk about holistic [education], you have to acknowledge the very real issues that are impacting kids and their development.”

At a recent high school committee meeting, Ms. Dingledy described Mr. Warren as a core member of the team.

“He’s made us better and he’s made us all more reflective,” she said.

In his next chapter at the Boys and Girls Club, Mr. Warren said he plans to continue the work of educating students holistically and expanding program access for all. The club, which provides educational programming, after-school and summer activities for children at an extremely low cost, is currently in the midst of a major capital campaign to fund a new state of the arts campus in Edgartown. Along with programming and general oversight, Mr. Warren will spearhead the campaign through it next stages.

“It’s not just about providing opportunities for young people to learn socialization by playing together . . . it really is about how we’re going to develop the whole person,” said Mr. Warren.

The opportunity to lead the Vineyard club is a full-circle moment for Mr. Warren, from his childhood at the Boys and Girls Club in Roxbury to his grandmother-in-law who was an original fundraiser for the Martha’s Vineyard chapter.

As Mr. Warren prepares to leave the high school, he acknowledged the challenges that have marked the path to long-term change at the school. But despite the obstacles, he described his faith in the Island’s commitment to growth.

“I feel like if there is ever a community that can really address the challenges that we face, whether it’s race, whether it’s around sex, ageism, xenophobia, homelessness, whatever, this is a place that can do it,” he said.

While students roamed around the high school exterior on their way to class, walking past a shed with purple and white letters spelling out Vineyard Proud, Mr. Warren reflected on the next chapter in his journey.

“I never thought that I would ever have this opportunity,” Mr. Warren said. “I just hope that I can do the club and the community a service.”