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Stacy Jones is CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire, a position she began in the spring of this year. She holds a degree in Speech Communications and Political Science from Southwest Minnesota State University. Stacy’s professional experience includes a decade working as a television news and sports reporter, followed by 15+ years in marketing and communications roles. Stacy and her husband, Dave, have two children, Colby (17) and Karlee (15). When she isn’t volunteering in the community, you might find Stacy behind a microphone – either covering state tournaments for South Dakota Public Broadcasting or DJing on B102.7
1. What attracted you to the position at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire?
Easily, the mission. The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire is an amazing organization that truly impacts the lives of so many young people. We serve over 1,200 children from four weeks old up to age 18 – that is a tremendous opportunity to impact not only their lives but also our community. I have had some amazing experiences in my career that prepared me to lead this organization, and I feel called and grateful to be here.
2. What might someone be surprised to learn about you?
I grew up a farm kid – and honestly, a poor farm kid. We didn’t have much but I had a teacher who believed in me and brought me into our local FFA chapter. In fact, I was even a State FFA officer representing Minnesota in college. I learned at a young age how to take care of myself because we didn’t often have money to pay someone to take care of our problems – and that included how to fix my own car. I’ve changed my own oil, replaced a starter and done a lot of other maintenance on my vehicles over the years. Ironically, that knowledge has served me well when we need to fix any of our Boys & Girls Clubs vans.
3. What makes a great leader?
I feel it is understanding your team and your staff and being able to pull the best out of them. No two people are exactly the same, so you cannot manage and support them in the same way. It takes individualized mentoring and coaching to create a great team. I also truly believe in trusting your people. When they know you trust them, they perform better and ultimately grow and become better versions of themselves. Finally, I do think you really need to remain positive in any situation and look for solutions. I am absolutely a “glass half full” individual.
4. What is something you are optimistic about?
I’m optimistic about our future as a society. Sure, there are many things that give us all concern, but again I’m “glass half full” and we have a lot to look forward to in our youth. I spend a lot of my time with young people, and we have some amazing humans in our midst. We absolutely need to continue to support and develop them, and they will impress all of us. I guarantee it.
5. If you could witness any event of the past, present or future, what would it be and why?
My great, great, great, great grandfather (Franz Gruber) composed the popular Christmas carol, Silent Night – which is probably the most performed Christmas song on Christmas Eve around the world. I would love to be there as he was composing. It was just a simple moment in time that has had tremendous ripple effect across the globe. To watch him putting those simple notes together by candlelight in a tiny little room in Austria, not knowing what was about to happen over the next several centuries would be an emotional experience.
6. What is something you are proud of?
Like many working moms, easily my children. They work harder than I ever did (and I’m a pretty hard worker), but most importantly they understand the importance of gratitude and humility. The personal qualities and values they have embraced mean more to me than any success they may have.
Personally, I am proud of the risks I’ve been willing to take in my lifetime… just like that line in Grumpy Old Men – “I also know the only thing in life, that you regret, are the risks that you don’t take.” When I look back, it’s being brave enough to put myself out there on more than one occasion. It can be terrifying but taking a risk has always taught me something. For example, I was the first female to become a sports anchor/reporter for a statewide television station. Back then, women didn’t discuss sports let alone report on them – and I was fresh out of college. I had so many champions in my corner and a few others who did not want me to succeed. At the time, I didn’t realize what was happening, but looking back I understand that putting myself out there so publicly to be a sports expert when a woman wasn’t considered an expert probably changed the trajectory for several other females in sports and sports broadcasting.
7. What is one of the biggest challenges facing our community today? And how should we tackle it?
Right now, the childcare industry is experiencing a crisis. The margins in childcare are minimal at best. Providers lose staff as they are competing with other businesses who may be able to compensate at a higher rate. At the same time they are also cautious about raising rates in order to increase staff pay because that puts a burden on families.
This isn’t just an issue for parents and childcare providers; this is a workforce issue. If parents cannot find childcare, let alone childcare they can afford, they stay home and don’t enter the workforce. Estimates indicate that more than 4,000 Sioux Falls parents are not in the workforce but potentially could be if they had accessible and affordable childcare.
Finding a solution to the childcare crisis will benefit all businesses and organizations within our Sioux Falls community. We are currently working through solutions through the Sioux Falls Childcare Collaborative which includes multiple providers from across the community. Its mission is to improve access to quality childcare and educational programming for kids of all ages, regardless of economic circumstances. The Collaborative recently launched an initiative partially funded by the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce to help research best practices and compile solutions for our community. We need employers to be part of the conversation and solution
8. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Honestly, it’s to not give up and to have faith. The statement sounds a bit cliché but there have been multiple times in my life, and even career, when I was being pushed, challenged and criticized. What I’ve learned is when the experience is painful, you are growing the most.
9. What is a skill you would like to learn, and why?
My family is full of musicians. My husband, son and daughter are all incredibly gifted musically. I am extremely impressed with how they can make what they see on a piece of paper turn into art. So, I’d love to be able to play an instrument – in some ways, just to join the family band 😊.
10. What is your favorite way to spend a day in Sioux Falls?
There are so many fantastic ways to spend the day in Sioux Falls, but I would say spending time with our young people is easily my favorite. I absolutely love dining out and enjoying our parks, but when I am able to spend time with the children of Sioux Falls, I am deeply inspired. They have so many dreams and ideas for our community, that it makes my heart full to be around each and every one of them!
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