Brown ’09 is building bridges
Stacy Brown ‘09 is director of operations at Metanoia CDC, a nonprofit in North Charleston. She holds an MBA from The Citadel and is completing a course on Diversity and Inclusion through Cornell University. She is a Riley Fellow following her participation in Furman University’s Diversity and Inclusion Leadership program and has received numerous awards in the community. She is a devoted wife and mother to husband, Shamel Hardy, and daughter, Zoey Hardy. Her hobbies include reading thought-provoking books and pieces of literature from authors like Manly P. Hall and Ghandi. She enjoys hiking, white water rafting and weightlifting, activities that release energy and endorphins. She and her family enjoy Charleston’s restaurants, although she admits she loves Restaurant Week more than they do.
Future goals include continuing to make a difference in education, health care and politics, including making a run for office in the near future. She is an appointee on the Patient and Family Advisory Council’s Diversity and Inclusion taskforce at the Medical University of South Carolina. Brown said, “This brings me a level of rigor and joy at the same time. As one of the only women of color serving in this capacity, I know it is imperative to hold space for every marginalized person and have a voice for the voiceless. I live by these two quotes, ‘you must be the change you wish to see in the world,’ a modification of Ghandi’s quote, and ‘Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are,’ Benjamin Franklin.”
Mentoring at Metanoia
I began at Metanoia as a volunteer in 2005, when I was also a student at Charleston Southern. I stayed at the organization because of my encounter with one student in particular who stated that she did not want to attend college. When I saw her potential, this was not an option for me. With her capabilities and the guidance of the program and mentorship she was able to skip a grade and then attend a high performing middle and high school and go onto college and then graduate school. I then realized the power of mentorship. When you are mentoring youth, you expose them to new experiences while sharing positive values to help them avoid negative behavior and achieve success.
Role of Nonprofits in Communities
Nonprofits play a vital role in building healthy communities by providing critical services that contribute to economic stability and mobility. At Metanoia, we have shifted the paradigm by doing with and not for the residents of the communities we serve. We take an asset-based approach that seeks to build on what is right with people and communities rather than just focusing on their problems. Asset-Based Community Development is an approach to sustainable community driven development. The premise of ABCD is that communities can drive the development process themselves by identifying and mobilizing existing but often unrecognized assets. Metanoia’s mission statement also clearly begins with a faith in God and our community: “Metanoia CDC is a movement of people rooted in faith. We invest in neighborhood assets to build leaders, established quality housing, and generate economic development.” When building community, we utilize the holistic approach.
There are so many benefits of different people connecting with each other. Connecting with different people and their cultures is one of the best ways we can learn from each other. We also learn more about ourselves, which in turn creates a more connected society. When people connect, it cultivates a positive, accepting, and culturally diverse society which allows us to embrace multiculturalism and reevaluate old beliefs. We reflect on what we see as normal or abnormal and challenge ourselves to see the world from new perspectives. That allows society to escape the disadvantages of homogeneity, reduces unnecessary societal fears, and increases creativity and forward thinking.
I find inspiration from working in communities that most people have counted out as disenfranchised, socially, economically deprived, and victims of systemic practices of racism (i.e., redlining, predatory lending, over policed, and institutionalized racism in education). Contrary to a dominant narrative that presents these communities as deprived, I experience them as having great tenacity, faith, and strength despite all the odds stacked against them. This allows me to stay inspired, and to continue to keep a growth mindset in that most people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.
What I’m Optimistic About
In the midst of the pandemic, people have found a stronger sense of unity from donating food to food banks, looking out for neighbors, and providing support to the elderly. I hope that this will not subside, and I am very optimistic that people will continue to come together to build stronger and more connected communities. I am hopeful with the creation of the new vaccine, that if we work together, the outcome will produce some level of normalcy back to society, while preserving life. Lastly but not least, I am looking forward to social justice reforms in 2021. Dismantling the cradle to the prison pipeline deserves immediate congressional support. We also need to sustain momentum to have states and cities reform the country’s police and law enforcement system. Finally, I hope we can work for social justice for health disparities that disproportionally affect black communities.
Originally published in the Spring 2021 CSU Magazine.