Written by Tanya Terry
Reta Stanley, president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Flint and Genesee County, age 71, is a proud resident of Flint. A lot of students in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program have experienced a lot of stress due to poverty and the closing of the schools. But, Stanley he has held several positions with the organization over the years. Stanley even helps serve the community in her spare time! Read on to learn more about Reta Stanley through the Flint Courier News’ interview with this very dedicated Flint woman.
The Courier: For how long have you been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and how did you get involved?
Reta Stanley: I’ve been there for 25 years. I was first involved with a service learning program through the Flint Community Schools. It was a partnership. What we did was engage the schools in service. So, we were able to build our high school program through Big Brothers Big Sisters. They did have a high school program prior to me coming on board. But, this was a targeted effort with some intentionality to incorporate service as part of the classroom curriculum. So, we were able to engage a lot of high school students in being Bigs through that program.
The Courier: What are your obligations as CEO and president?
Reta Stanley: It’s a smaller organization, but my obligation is to provide leadership and vision for the organization, to motivate our staff and to perform. We have set goals. So, to reach those goals. To have positive relationships with our stakeholders and to partner with community organizations that align with our mission, and to work with our board of directors probably first and foremost. I also make sure that our risk management and confidentiality policies protect the clients and the volunteers.
The Courier: What direction will you take Big Brothers Big Sisters in for the future?
Reta Stanley: Big Brothers Big Sisters direction is to expand services to youth and grow the number of youth that we serve. That’s a major effort we’re always working for-to serve more in our community.
The Courier: What other organizations have you been part of or are you part of?
Reta Stanley: I’m part of the Flint Area (MI) Chapter of the Links, Inc., which is a national organization as well. It’s a service organization and friendship organization, and through that organization, through our chapter, I’ve been involved for 14 years. We give scholarships and work within the community. We’re currently working with some girls, though it’s been virtual and a little challenging, to introduce STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) under the direction of our president Shirley Johnson. I am immediate past president of the organization, and we were in the midst of the water crisis, and it was very rewarding to be able to work with our Michigan chapters to create a fund specifically for youth that had been impacted by the water crisis.
Currently I am a member and president of the Flint Public Library, and they’re doing a building renovation. But the library is a space that touches the lives of all community members. So, I’m excited to be a part of that-especially during this time of renovation that our community deserves. So, that’s another organization that I’m proud to be a part of.
Also, my husband has a foundation that gives small mini grants. It’s the Woodrow Stanley Foundation, and I am a member of that.
The Courier: What can other women do to keep motivated without overextending themselves?
Reta Stanley: Service gives you that energy sometimes, but if everyone does their part to uplift each other and we work together for the same goals, we will be able to achieve more. Women’s History Month is a time for us to reflect and appreciate our role as women in society. We should celebrate all women and let everyone know how valued our roles as women are in a celebration of what everyone does, not just celebrating certain people, but celebrating each other. Sometimes just providing that encouragement will spur people to do more.