CEO Barbara Stewart
Corporation for National and Community Service
February 20, 2018
CEO First Day Remarks to Staff
As Prepared for Delivery
Good afternoon! Hello to everyone in the room and to all of you on the phone.
It is an absolute pleasure to be with you today, and to be joining you as your new CEO. I am delighted to have made it through the gauntlet of the appointment and confirmation process.
More than anything, I am delighted to have this opportunity to be part of the CNCS team. It’s a privilege to join such an extraordinary agency, with such a dedicated staff that cares so deeply about our mission.
I am extremely grateful to President Trump for affording me this opportunity, and I’m humbled by the trust he has placed in me. I’m also very grateful to the U.S. Senate for unanimously confirming me into this position.
I wanted to spend a few minutes today telling you a little about my background and sharing some thoughts for the future. But I would be remiss if I didn’t first take a few moments to extend much deserved thanks to a number of people.
Let me put into context some aspects of my background that you won’t find online or in my official bio.
My mother, Jean Stewart gave me my first exposure to service, she was an active volunteer throughout her adult life.
I remember as a little girl finding her Braille writing kit, back in the day when volunteers literally punched holes in paper to create books for the blind. She explained to me why it was important to give time and talent to help others.
My mother’s passion was helping blind people have access to books, but she and my father also volunteered with our school and our church, with the Girl Scouts and with our local food pantry. My parents modeled the importance of service, a lesson that has stuck with me throughout my life.
I’m a Midwesterner. I grew up outside Chicago and have lived in the Midwest most of my life. As a result, I have an appreciation for kindness, or what many people call “Midwestern nice”. I value hard work, I embrace cold weather, and I love underdogs - Chicago Cubs and Northwestern Wildcats.
Something else you should know about me that you won’t find on Google is that I really wanted this appointment. I want to lead CNCS because I believe in the power of volunteers.
I believe in the power of the nonprofit sector to make significant and important change and to make a difference in the lives of Americans.
In many ways, I feel as if I have been preparing for this position my whole life. And I’m very excited to be working with all of you to strengthen service and volunteerism throughout our country.
So now let me take a few minutes to talk about what I hope to accomplish, and what priorities I plan to tackle early on.
I want you to know that I am committed to strengthening our ties with the White House. Our grantees, volunteers, and service members are doing critical work to solve problems and expand opportunity in communities across the country. Much of that work is directly aligned with White House priorities - whether combatting the opioid crisis, reducing crime, closing the skills gap, supporting veterans and military families, and much more.
I promise you I will be your chief salesperson.
I’m committed to working with Congress and other elected officials to make sure they are aware of the good work being done.
You should know that I am also committed to working with all of you to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our agency.
It is essential that we continuously improve the experience for our grantees, service members, and the American taxpayers. All of this drives toward a bigger goal - increasing the positive impact of national service and volunteerism in communities across the country.
As we seek to provide more opportunities for Americans to serve, I look forward to building on the great work that you have already done to create partnerships with federal agencies, foundations and the private sector. These partnerships allow us to engage more Americans in service, and through their good work, to solve more problems and strengthen more communities.
I value your wisdom and experience and am eager to get to know all of you. I will be spending much of my time early on in listening and learning about what’s going well and what we can do better. I look forward to meeting with colleagues in DC and traveling throughout the country to talk to you and see our projects in action.
CNCS has a noble mission. Our AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers are helping disaster victims and communities in need. They are serving in schools, helping improve educational outcomes and changing young lives. They are helping seniors to live independent and meaningful lives. They are on the front lines of the opioid crisis and assisting our veterans. We have an important responsibility supporting their success.
I am delighted to be joining the CNCS family, and I look forward to working with you to ensure the success of this small but mighty organization. Together we will “get things done” to build a safer, stronger, more united nation.