Southern Debutante Stefanie A. Smith arrived in Boston roughly 15 years after leaving Atlanta GA beginning her college studies. This self-described “Army Brat” states “my father was in the military, so we called Alabama and Georgia home, my formative years were developed in Atlanta GA and Birmingham Alabama as each parent had roots in both. Now as a former gypsy I’m happy to claim the state of Massachusetts was the only state that captured me. LOL”
Stefanie continues “Many POC’s are literally first generation to complete college, get the career, and help the whole family. Some also take care of elderly or immigrant parents who spent their lives working lower waged roles sending said child to college. That’s a lot to take on and sometimes chance is not there causing the golden child to face breaking different generational curses.”
Today, I am so proud of the fact that I’m working with a Black owned executive search firm that has a 98% record in placing top talent. Oh the stories I’ve seen and heard from my colleagues and bosses.” As the organization has really seen the change in many lives over their successful 21-year tenure. One core concept for us is “Changing Lives and People First” and to Stefanie “It’s great to see a black owned company making that difference a reality for many.”
Stefanie refers to her mentors as her “personal board of directors” over time the collective has worked with her across various times molding her professionally and personally over the years. Strong business minded folks like MA State. Rep. Russell Holmes, Natoya Walker-Minor, Dennis Kennedy, Miguel Garcia, Nurys Camargo, Marlene Brito, Marcus Moore, and her current boss James Smith. Stefanie shared with me that she’s keen on the topic as it’s personal to her as “a fellow first-time generation everything person. For me I was the family’s first to complete higher learning and I didn’t stop. I completed my undergrad at Salem State University in Advertising/Communications before starting my first Masters at UMass Boston for Politics & Gender Studies and literally started my second Masters in Public Administration from Baruch College seven days after finishing at UMass.”
Personally, Stefanie is proud to have broken her family’s generational curses and adds “finding the right career passion is first that might come through the guidance of a mentor however you get to it you must also put in the work allowing yourself to be open moldable and teachable is key”
During the Pandemic Stefanie started her own diversity consultancy named Smith Squared & Associates with two business partners Marcus Moore and Tamekia Smith. Since then she has joined J Anderson & Associate in Florham Park NJ and indicates “it was eye opening to learn how talent advocacy really makes long-term impactful change from opportunity and salary negotiations, equity and sign-on bonuses.” The company is currently growing and as they expand their team new partners are also welcomed to take part in their success. In a year or two they expect to manage a team of 8-10 recruiters and who knows by year 4 or 5 could include a new J Anderson & Associates/Smith Squared location in Boston, MA. Thus being a conduit between company and potential employee she’s found this work beyond reward and can see herself continuing to offer executive recruiting beyond year 5 or more.
Stefanie tells me she’s willing to sit on a few boards, but they would have to be social impact people and not just the organizations. I asked Stefanie how she relaxes and unwinds? She indicated that she’s not as busy as it may seem, she’s very structured and recently has “revisited her love for music, relearning the piano and taking voice lessons. She still makes time to listen to jazz by the waterfront or her other favorite place, on a boat. In addition to music she also loves to take hikes, scuba dive and circle the golf links’ Who knows, maybe there’s a secret Jazz Album in the works too!
Thank you for all you do and your passion, Ethnic GEM Stefanie Smith!