Born and raised in Northwest Atlanta, Stacey Stewart is the first female African-American president of March of Dimes and the fifth president in almost an 80-year history. “I succeed another woman that did run the organization for a very long time, but it’s really profound to be the first person of color to run this organization that has such a historical importance for people not just in this country, but around the world,” says Stewart.
Stacey’s initial career aspiration was to work in banking. She was an economics major at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and was a finance major at the Business School at the University of Michigan. This led her to Wall Street where she worked in public finance, which is all of the work that is done on the corporate finance side, but primarily done for state and local government. Stacey’s responsibilities included raising money for roads, bridges, schools and housing. After Wall Street, Stacey worked for Fannie Mae, a leading source of financing for mortgage lenders, where she became the president and CEO of the Fannie Mae Foundation. She credits that position as being her first entrée and step into philanthropy and non-profit work. “Making sure that I was a part of an organization, that, again, still had sizeable resources and could really make a big impact on people’s lives led me from Fannie Mae and the Fannie Mae Foundation to United Way and now to March of Dimes,” says Stacey.
March of Dimes started in 1938 because President Franklin Delano Roosevelt did a call out to ask people to contribute dimes to help fund a cure for polio, which affected him and many people across the country. Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin developed a vaccine for polio that now has, for the most part, ended the polio epidemic in the United States. March of Dimes has evolved and expanded its mission to improving the health and conditions of mothers before, during and after pregnancy, as well as improving the birth outcomes for babies. “The most important thing is where we’re going and obviously the biggest issue that still impacts newborns is the issue of prematurity. It is the leading number one killer of children under the age of five, the number one cause of death for newborns and that is one of the biggest area of focus for March of Dimes today. We are committed to ending pre-term birth,” says Stacey Stewart.
March of Dimes has made a point to keep its position as the leading organization to focus on the health needs of moms and babies. Women can visit March of Dimes’s website, www.marchofdimes.org , to retrieve information and tips they need to maintain their health and have a healthy pregnancy. March of Dimes has also launched a walk program, March for Babies, which is held every year in April and May in cities around the country and is a way for everybody to get involved and participate in a cause around the health of babies. To contribute not only a monetary donation, but also your time, please visit www.marchforbabies.org .
WORDS BY SHEAN ENGLAND