Director of Leadership Development, Jackson Chamber
Story by Lyda Kay Ferree, The Southern Lifestyles Lady. Photography by Woody Woodard.
Brandy Stutsman joined the Chamber staff in 2007 as Administrative Assistant for Business Services. In 2013, she was Program Coordinator and in 2016, Brandy took over as Manager of Leadership Development. As Director of Leadership Development, Stutsman’s responsibilities include overseeing Leadership Jackson, Leadership Jackson Alumni Association, and the Leadership University programs.
In addition to her role as director, she also serves on the Chamber Wellness Committee. She has volunteered for the Jackson Downtown Development Corporation, and she supports all of the local non-profits. Brandy is a 2012 Dale Carnegie Training graduate.
VIP: What brought you from West Plains, Missouri to Jackson, TN in 2006?
Brandy Stutsman: My husband is the base pilot supervisor for Air Evac Life Team. I met him in 2005 when we were both employed for Air Evac in Missouri. We married in 2006, and I moved to West Tennessee. He had been here for years and was well established in West Tennessee.
VIP: You have served in several Leadership Jackson capacities at the Jackson Chamber. What do you most enjoy about your work with Leadership Jackson and Leadership University?
BS: What I enjoy most is helping develop people with specific skills and helping them learn their strengths and talents and how best they may serve our community. Leadership University started in 1999 as one of the Leadership Jackson class projects. We are in the 20th year of Leadership University.
Leadership University is the Jackson Chamber’s youth leadership program for Jackson-Madison County high school students. Leadership Jackson is our adult leadership program for Jackson-Madison County. The topics are similar. The adult program is mirrored in the youth program. We must make the program age appropriate. A lot of the topics are the same. If we are developing these students to be invested in the community they need to know these subjects, what our community has to offer and how they may better serve our community.
The criteria for high school students is a 2.5 GPA, and they must attend a Jackson-Madison County school, home school or private school. My Leadership University board of directors makes the selection of the students chosen to attend Leadership University. They do a personal interview with the students. In the past few years we have partnered with Christmas in the City on a group project.
“The sponsors of Leadership University are Union University, Lane College, Jackson State Community College and the University of Memphis Lambuth,” said Stutsman.
VIP: Why do you think the Leadership Jackson program, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary, is so successful? Why is it important to the Jackson community?
BS: Many local programs have been impacted by Leadership Jackson: Crime Stoppers, Comfort Critters, local police and sheriff’s departments, and Mothers Against Drunk Drivers chapter.
Class members visit community landmarks, meet with area leaders and participate in weekly sessions about topics impacting Jackson-Madison County including education, health care and government.
The program is so successful because of the people involved and the personal and professional growth they experience while they go through the program. Also, their willingness to give back to the city after completing the program is a factor. Our Alumni Association gives 21,000 hours per year after graduating.
Much credit goes to Judy Renshaw, past director of Leadership Jackson. She laid a great, great foundation for Leadership Jackson. Community leaders Harbert Alexander, Sr. and Larry Welch helped to create the leadership program for the Jackson Chamber that has evolved over the years with the help of its committee.
VIP: What are the benefits of Leadership Jackson to the participants?
BS: The network of resources in business and community leaders and the development of their leadership training skills, their willingness to give back to the community, and they are more engaged in community activities. They make a difference in the community. They develop a personal commitment to become involved with projects and organizations in our community.
VIP: Describe an ideal day. Do you have a favorite travel destination?
BS: I love my job and I love that it’s not the same thing every day even though I’m very disciplined in my job working with Leadership Jackson, alumnae, and Leadership University. I love how involved I am through my job and how I’m connecting with individuals every day through my work and helping them become better stewards of the Jackson community.
When I am away from my job I enjoy the boat dock in Lake Martin, Alabama (40 miles from Auburn, AL), and cooking for my family when time permits (I enjoy preparing a home-cooked dinner with fine china during the holidays.) My family and I love the sea, and I love to see the mountains. We never have a destination. We just love to go see new things and have travel adventures.
What to Know
Leadership Jackson & Leadership University
P.O. Box 1904
Jackson, TN 38302