Stacie Hunter is
Passionate when it comes to her community. Service is at the heart of it all when it comes to JPMorgan Chase’s Vice President and Community Manager for the City of Detroit. Stacie has been fortunate to combine her life’s mission with her role at JPMorgan Chase. Read on to discover what motivates her, the challenges she faced along the way, and how she maintains her never ending passion to assist people in every aspect of their lives.
INTERVIEW BY BILLY STRAWTER, JR.; PHOTOGRAPHED BY ROBIN GAMBLE PHOTOGRAPHY; STYLED BY JADE MILLER and STACIE HUNTER.
BLAC: Stacie, the first question is a soft ball, and they get easier from here. We would love to know when you were growing up what did you want to be?
I always wanted to be a pediatrician because I love helping people and I was very keen on helping children. I actually started down that path. I’m a first-generation college student and ended up getting a full ride to Western but I didn’t go because my parents were unsure, so I didn’t go. I’m sure you’ve heard that story before.
I ended up at Wayne State and was working a couple of jobs to put myself through college. My counselor told me, “Hey Stacie, you’re not going to make it. You can’t work and be a doctor.” So, I changed my major. I wish I could go back and do it over all over again, but I ended up going into business. At the end of the day, I am still doing what I wanted to do because I am still helping people and am now pursuing my doctorate degree. I should be a doctor soon and through my work as a Community Manager, I am helping people in my community.
BLAC: What advice would you give to your younger self?
The advice I would give to my younger self is to fight for what you believe in. Looking back, I would definitely fight my parents about not taking that full ride. When it comes to self-doubt, I would tell my younger self to know that she can do whatever she wants to do as long as she applies herself. Lastly, don’t take no for an answer. I have faith to get me through life’s challenges.
BLAC: Can you name someone who has inspired you?
Number one, my mom inspired me. She was a single mother and I had three brothers, so I’m a bit of a tomboy. So, one girl, three boys, and my mom who was a welder for General Motors in Detroit. My mom was a hard worker, and fortunately I never lacked in any area of my life. She was an inspiration to continue to grow and pursue my dreams. In addition to my mom, a teacher from my high school, Redford High School, also inspired me. Mrs. Jean Pierre was my math teacher recognized something in me and she took me under her wing and had me enter a Debutante pageant, even though I was shy and introverted. Mrs. Jean Pierre was really kind, and help groomed me into being a young lady versus such a hard tomboy always in her shell. So, I will always remember her for that.
BLAC: Besides Mrs. Jean Pierre, and your mom, are there any other specific women that have mentored you along the way?
I’ve had a lot of mentors along the way and throughout my banking career. There have been a lot of women who have mentored me personally and professionally from the start. Some of them showed tough love and some of them gave me nurturing. I’m also reminded of my Pastor, Charisse Staine. She’s the most resilient woman I’ve ever known, and I’ve always taken her advice to persevere and be resilient in whatever I decide to do.
BLAC: How do you unplug when you’re not working?
It’s funny you say, “when I unplug”, because I’m always working. To be honest, I couldn’t have asked for a better position because what I do in my downtime is the same thing I do on my job. First, I help my husband in his business and I also help my friend who owns an event planning service. I spend time with my family and I’m very active in the community. I mentor with the Rhonda Walker Foundation and have been on her board for about 15 years. I can’t let them go, because I love the children. Plus, I help local churches. For instance, at the Impact Church on the east side, we served over 250 seniors for Thanksgiving last year. That’s what brings me joy. I know it may sound odd, but it gives me joy. I enjoy doing my job and it’s how I live my life. I would still be doing it regardless of whether I had the position. So, to have this role, is amazing. I get to do ministry every day.
BLAC: What’s the best work advice that you’ve ever received?
The best work advice I received is, whatever you would do for free is what you’re passionate about. Find that job, then take on the job because it won’t feel like work. And that’s exactly what I did. I was well into my late forties when I discovered that, I wish I would have done that earlier.
BLAC: A number of women are leaving the workforce right now. Some of it is related to how we’ve come out of COVID, but I’m just wondering if there are any significant challenges that you’ve had to overcome as a woman of color in your career.
There are a lot of barriers. First, I’m a woman, and secondly, I’m Black. Those are two major barriers I face every day. I remember saying that to one of my supervisors when I was placed in a suburban area to work. I’ve been passed over for jobs and then had to train the person that ended up getting the job I was passed over for.
There are always going to be barriers for women. For example, with COVID, so many women had to quit their jobs to take care of their children, because the family comes first and that’s how it is. But I also commend those same women. For example, my daughter works in Corporate America and said, “Mom, I’m going to leave and I’m going to do my own thing.” I commend her for that. A lot of women have started forming their own businesses so they can have that work/life balance and be able to provide for their children, but still pursue their passions and their goals.
I’m thankful to be finally be in a place where I am recognized for my worth, my knowledge, my wisdom, and my connection to the community. It’s not a plug or anything, but JPMorgan Chase has been amazing in that sense. Anybody that knows me in the community always say to me how perfect this role is for me, and I agree. This is the first time I’ve had peace about my position and I’m 51 years old. I’m very thankful for the direction that my firm is going and I know I have the opportunity to grow. The barriers are always going to be there. However, when thinking about your future, it truly depends on whether you choose an organization that aligns with your beliefs.
BLAC: You are an inspiration. Thank you for that. What would you say are the biggest challenges for the next generation of female leaders?
Finding the organizations that align with their purpose. Diversity is more than a word, as I say, you have to be invited to the party. Finding those organizations that are going to acknowledge them for their worth and their skills. Also, for women that are going into business now more than ever, need support. They need financial support to grow their businesses. I’m seeing improvements but believe there is still a long way to go. I’ll say it again, it’s important for them to align themselves with organizations that will recognize them as leaders.
BLAC: Now the hardest question of the day, what’s on your playlist right now?
If my kids could answer, they would say it is all gospel. I do like a lot of gospel, so actually, it’s a lot of praise and worship because that is what gives me energy. So, “Great Things” by Preashea Hilliard. I made a playlist for my husband because I am newly married and it’s all gospel, praise songs and love songs. I also have, “Fall For You” by Lela James, “Do it Again” by Elevation, “Great God and Wonderful Grace” by Tasha Cobbs, “Press into Your Presence” by Shana Wilson, and finally a Whitney Houston class, “I Believe in You and Me.”
BLAC: Did you grow up in a household where there was gospel music playing on the radio?
No, I didn’t. My dad worked in a nightclub, in fact, I have his album collection sitting right next to me which is everything except gospel. I’m a worshiper and gospel music gives me peace and brings me joy. It keeps me settled and that’s what builds my faith up to be able to tackle the things that I tackle in the world.
BLAC: That is the secret weapon, the foundation that keeps you going. If you were thinking of a young woman who’s just getting started, what piece of advice would you give her today?
Find out what’s important to you and find out what you love doing every day. Don’t go to a job that you hate. Align yourself with a position according to your purpose and passion. I have given my four girls mentors because I know they will not tell me everything. So, have a mentor who is going to keep it real with you and who can guide you. If you are a hairdresser, you want an experienced hairdresser. If you want to go into cosmetology, then find someone that you can shadow.
I’m upfront with my girls and tell them about the things that I had to overcome at their age. I do this because that I want them to learn from me, so they don’t have to overcome the same things I did. The real question is whether they will listen or not, which is another reason why I give them mentors because they’re not going to listen to mom all the time. But hopefully they will listen to somebody that they trust, like a mentor. Never give up and never tell anybody what you can’t do. Because as my favorite scripture says, “You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you.” You’ll find that scripture on my personal emails. If I choose to apply myself, I can do anything that I want to do. It’s a message I share with young women and believe in firmly.
BLAC: Thank you, as the father of a 20-year-old daughter, it’s nice to know that there are strong women out there being such amazing role models.