Stacey Stewart made history as the first female African-American president of the March of Dimes,
Taking on the reins in January 2017, Stewart has come in at a challenging time, when the board of the 80-year-old institution was looking to make some drastic changes. “I think a lot of organizations that have been around awhile are all in the midst of this level of transformation and it is because the world has changed around us,” Stewart said.
With an MBA in Finance from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a BA in Economics from Georgetown University, Stewart has undertaken the task of transforming the March of Dimes into a more effective, well-oiled machine by executing measures like embracing more virtual organization and encouraging telecommuting by employees. To scale down costs and regain financial stability, the organization under Stewart has put its New York head office up for sale, and is encouraging employees to work remotely and video-conference.
These are tough but necessary choices to keep the organization in step with changing times. And as a business veteran, Stewart knows a thing or two about financial management and running giant organizations efficiently.
Prior to her appointment at the March of Dimes, Stewart served as the first U. S. President of United Way Worldwide (a leadership and support organization for the network of nearly 1,800 community-based United Ways in 45 countries) where she did impactful work in education, income and health, while also building strong corporate partnerships and developing brand recognition.
Before joining United Way, Stewart was Chief Diversity Officer and Senior VP for the Office of Community and Charitable Giving at Fannie Mae. Stewart brings all of this experience to her current position, and though research is one of the key focus areas at the March of Dimes, Stewart is making sure that they’re also paying attention to policy.
Recently, Stewart was vocal about proposed health-care changes under the Trump presidency. When the U.S. president made a move to cut off crucial federal payments to insurers, Stewart didn’t mince in denouncing the move.
“These kinds of decisions have real-life consequences,” she told the L.A. Times. “It is not fair for our leaders to play games with people’s health and their health-care.”
Stewart also voiced her concerns for women who could potentially lose health coverage provided through America’s Affordable Care Act. “We know at the federal level, state level and local level, policy makes a difference,” she said in an interview with The Philadelphia Tribune. “Making sure that we maintain high levels of coverage for all women so that they have the health care they need and access to the health care they need to have a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby born is critical.”
Growing up as the daughter of a physician who not only treated large numbers of low-income African-American women, but also played an important role in the movement to desegregating hospitals in the South during the 1960s, Stewart has activism in her blood. Couple that with a sharp business acumen, and the future of the March of Dimes certainly looks to be in able hands.
Baisakhi Roy | The Edge Blog