We at C-Suite love passionate people who are willing to share that passion and to invest in the lives of others! Mollie Jackson is a perfect example. Mollie is the Executive Director for the Presidents’ Round Table. She is full of wisdom and joy. We sat down for a bit with Mollie and invited her to share some of her stories with us. Enjoy getting to know this amazing #CSuiteChick!
What is your "day job"?
I am the Executive Director for The President’s Round Table and PRT Reach Foundation. My primary responsibilities center around fundraising and administrative tasks. It is a one-person office, so there are a couple of different “hats” that I wear as Executive Director.
Who were your heroes, or mentors?
I’m a small-town country girl who had limited exposure to the outside world, except what I watched on television. So, my hero was my dad. He was the “Superman” of my life, so to speak. He had a grade school education, and was a blue collar day-laborer, who taught us that, by hard work, you can achieve your goals. When I was six, he moved us from tenant farmer status into our own home. My mom was the disciplinarian, but my dad was the “quiet giant”. If we needed a personality correction, he would have a “walking conversation” with us. When that conversation was over, you would feel as low as a snake’s belly and be compelled to think through what you had done to disappoint him, and how to never repeat that offense again.
Daddy didn’t do hugs and kisses, but he really loved his kids. I got very sick one winter and was too weak to walk. There was too much snow to get the car out of the driveway, so he dug out a very long driveway (we had over an acre of land) by hand so he could take me to the doctor. That was his way of showing his love. I always knew that I could go to him and tell him anything, and he would try to make it better.
My mentors were educators, beginning with Ms. Sadie Crowder, my first grade teacher. I also remember the principal from my first elementary school as having an impact on my life. He also taught the seventh grade and I used to take the lunch money down to his classroom. One time he was teaching on Jamestown and the first settlement and asked me a question that I was able to answer. He praised me in front of the class. That made me feel like I was 10 feet tall. The fact that I still remember these experiences means that these educators had some impact!
There were others along the way. Ms. Broadus helped me get to college. She also convinced my parents to let me be a debutante. There is my best friend Julia, who redirected my life back to Christ after I finished sowing my wild oats. And my best friend Veronica, who has been my best friend since my first year of college. There were managers and supervisors who have been my mentors by helping me with professional counseling, as well as others who have taken the time to talk to me as a person and to be interested in where I wanted to go in life.
If you had it all to do over again, would you do anything differently?
There are three things that I would “do over”. First, I’d probably keep going with my educational pursuits. When I got my bachelor’s degree, I wanted to take a “break” and go back later to get a master’s degree or become a lawyer. In hindsight, I would have stayed in school.
Second, I would have worked harder on my marriage. My ex-husband was a good guy, but I was more focused on “career” goals.
And third, as a single parent, I would do a better job of blending family and work commitments. I regret that I didn’t go on any of my daughter’s class trips or take time off to participate in other school activities. And my electronic connection (laptop, cell phone) to work definitely blurred the family-work line.
What do you do for you that brings you absolute joy or peace?
I bought myself a convertible as a birthday present and love to take day trips on sunny days with the top down and some “oldies but goodies” music. Having a 15-minute commute instead of the 90-minute trek around the beltway is a real treat. I am able to be more active in church, and I like to travel and read.
When did you decide you were an executive administrator, that this would be your journey?
It was partially “I”, but mainly God who directed me. I directed myself to the first three jobs, which lasted about 2-3 years each. I always had the vision of finding a career and was searching for that “fit”. After finding myself unemployed due to down-sizing at my firm, I applied at USA TODAY, which was a start-up newspaper at that point. That began a 34-year career with the newspaper. When I walked out the door of USA TODAY on May 15, 2015, I was a little teary-eyed. I wanted to keep working but had no idea what the next step was going to be, but God did. Seventy-two hours later I came home from an appointment with my financial advisor to find a message from Dr. Brooks asking me to call her about a job opportunity. I don’t believe in luck or chance; I do believe the Good Lord was directing me to the next season in my life, which was Executive Director of this organization.
If you weren't an executive administrator, what would life look like?
I have absolutely no clue! I took a “fruits of the spirit” profile that identified my top three “gifts” as administrator/manager, teacher and ministerial. One has solidly matched my life -- administrative/managerial. The other two have been my surprise talents. So if my managerial/administrative career was taken away, I suppose I would be somewhere between teaching/ministerial--but I cannot picture myself doing either one!
What would you like your epitaph to be?
She tried her best to do what He expected of her.
In one word, what is it that you want people to remember about you?
It’s a tie between these two: Tenacious or Committed.
Is there anything else you wish I'd asked you?
I can’t think of anything.