Women Worth Watching 2015
Stacey D. Stewart
United Way’s US President Is Driven to Make a Difference
Stacey Stewart grew up believing that we are all called to help one another, and that no problem is insurmountable. She learned that lesson at the dinner table, from a mother who was part of the first black-majority city council in Atlanta’s history and a physician father who helped desegregate hospitals across America and win for black Americans the right to equal access to health care. Her parents instilled in her a can-do attitude and passion for making a difference that is reflected in her work today at United Way Worldwide.
They can also be seen in her efforts to help other women achieve. “Being a woman in my profession is more challenging than I expected it to be,” said Stacey. “There are still a lot of barriers for women in senior positions and there are sometimes different standards for women and men in the workplace. Although we have made progress, I still believe there are great strides that need to be made regarding women in the workplace today.”
“…there are great strides that need to be made.”
Stacey sees her job as helping United Way Worldwide fulfill its potential to be part of the change that so many Americans are working hard to achieve, by creating opportunities for all through education, financial stability, and health—the building blocks of a good quality of life.
Drive, passion, and enthusiasm for the work of community change propels Stacey and her team to find new, collaborative ways to build stronger communities. She is leading a new era of collective action at United Way, creating a national network of change leaders who are doing more than raising money for good causes. They are galvanizing their communities around a common agenda.
These efforts have helped accelerate United Way’s relevance in the nonprofit sector as a leader of community impact. The organization has set three 10-year goals: Improve education, and cut the number of high school dropouts (1.2 million students every year) in half; help people achieve financial stability, and get 1.9 million working families (half the number of lower-income families who are financially unstable) on the road to economic independence; and promote healthy lives (increase by one-third the number of youths and adults who stay healthy and avoid risky behaviors).
Education: MBA Finance, University of Michigan; BA Economics, Georgetown University.
First Job: Senior Associate with Merrill Lynch specializing in public finance
What I’m Reading: “Bud, Not Buddy” by Christopher Paul Curtis in a book club with my daughter and “Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account” by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli
The most important quality a woman leader should have is…
…not being afraid of your own strength.
The career advice I’d give my former self:
Understand how to better promote yourself.
Words I live by:
Be still & know
The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…
…I would spend more time on STEM subjects in school.
When I really need to focus on a project, I…
…I try to get a clear picture of the end goal.
My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…
…becoming the President/CEO of the FannieMae Foundation was my biggest career leap and I learned that when asked to step up in a big way, it is entirely possible to do it.
Being a woman in my profession has been…
…more challenging than I expected it to be. There are still a lot of barriers for women in senior positions and there are sometimes different standards for women and men in the workplace. Although we have made progress, I still believe there are great strides that need to be made regarding women in the workplace today.
I’ve learned that failure is…
…a great learning experience.
I maintain a healthy personal life by…
…praying, exercising, being with my family, and getting massages.
I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…
…I figured out that there is a way to combine a love of economics, public finance and doing public good.