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It’s been a while since Stacey James was a 20-year-old Pizza Hut manager, but she still has a plaque from those days to remind her that effective leadership pays off.
As general manager, James supervised employees and controlled costs — not an easy task for a young woman leading an older, mostly male staff.
“I did my best to show them that I was there to work alongside them, not above them. We had a very well-oiled machine running with a team that worked together and was recognized as being a Million Dollar Store after my first year as general manager. I still have that plaque in my office to this day,” says James, co-owner of James Financial Partners LLC, an independent financial planning company.
James applies the skills she used to achieve results in food service to her role as vice president and director of operations in charge of managing the finances and daily operations of James Financial Partners.
“My involvement in our company has taught me a lot about being a leader,” she says. “I don’t feel like a leader tries to be a leader. It just happens naturally by simply being yourself, being kind, doing what you say and learning what motivates others.”
After taking time to be a stay-at-home mom, James returned to the workforce in 2010 and in 2015 was named to Springfield Business Journal’s annual 40 Under 40 list. “When I came back to work in 2010, I did just that – I got to work,” she says. “I worked hard in our business and got involved in the community. ... Not only was I doing things to help others, but I was meeting so many amazing people along the way.” Partly through her efforts during the onboarding process of new clients, James Financial Partners was recognized in 2017 as one of the top 50 offices nationwide by Woodbury Financial, a network of independent brokers.
James volunteers for several groups. She’s a member of Springfield Metro Rotary and chairs that organization’s McGregor Elementary Committee, which, among other activities, helps with the Cents of Pride store where students who earn points can spend them for things like hygiene items and food.
“This is a project that I am extremely passionate about,” James says. “I am there one Friday a month helping the students make good choices and discussing wants versus needs. … I am talking with these students, building them up, showing them that you can be anything you want to be. I strive to be a positive influence in these kids’ lives. Letting them see me dressed in my professional clothes, knowing I am a mom and working woman inspires them to realize that they, too, can do it.”
Her favorite day of the year at McGregor is Santa Clause’s annual appearance at the school’s store when the children get to tell him what they want for Christmas.
“The joy in the students’ eyes is priceless,” James says.
She sits on the board for Harmony House, for which she is also an ambassador for the iCare Campaign, a fundraiser and awareness event for domestic violence. In addition to adding James Financial Partners to the list of businesses supporting the campaign, James recruited several other organizations to the cause, including Connell Insurance Inc., TerraGreen Dental LLC and Legacy Bank and Trust.
She is also active with the Logan-Rogersville Educational Foundation’s annual fundraiser, which last year raised about $40,000.
The nonprofit moves into its new campus.