FORT PIERCE — Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee Counties is announcing the appointment of new CEO, Stacey Watson-Mesley, following the retirement of esteemed 27-year leader Dr. Judi Miller. Watson-Melsey brings nearly 20 years of non-profit management and education experience to the role with a clear passion for the mission of providing one-to-one mentoring for children and youth.

“It is a humbling honor and privilege to serve and advocate for children and youth in any capacity. As I enter the role of CEO for Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee Counties, our entire team of committed professionals will continue to ignite, inspire and defend the potential of all children through exceptional one-to-one mentor matches,” Watson-Mesley said.

During her teen years, Watson-Mesley overcame adversity through the power of education and mentorship and whole-heartedly believes in the long-term impact of trusted adults investing time and energy in the future of children:

“Post-secondary education and having a mentor saved my life. When my peers went off to college, I was living on my own and scraping together part-time jobs to get by; I had no framework to imagine a different future. After spending a year watching many people I loved who were not in school self-destruct, I decided to “try” college. It was during my undergraduate years at Radford University that Dr. Rita Sizemore Riddle mentored me into discovering hope, confidence, personal and academic success. I found my voice in the world and decided to use it on behalf of other children who may not see success as something they have access to.”

Stacey’s experience working on behalf of children and youth began early in her career and continues today. Most recently she served as Executive Director of the Achieve PBC collective impact initiative hosted by the United Way of Palm Beach County following many years as Chief Operating Officer of the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology, an affiliate of Bill Strickland’s National Center for Technology, and Executive Director of the South Buffalo Education Center. Her curriculum geared at supporting underserved communities resulted in an appointment to the NYS Governor’s Team on School Engagement and Drop-out Prevention and the New York Statewide Alternative Education Committee. Her commitment to education and personal growth continues and in 2015 she attended and completed Duke University’s Non-Profit Management program.

“The board of directors is extremely enthused having Stacey join Big Brothers Big Sisters as its new leader. We look forward to working with her as she implements exciting new ideas and programs to further drive the success of the Agency. Her enthusiasm and drive will allow us to take Big Brothers Big Sisters to the next level of success. She truly believes that “It’s all about the kids.” Says Chair Elect, Bradley Lorimier.

Big Brothers Big Sisters continues its commitment to provide children with strong and enduring, professionally supported mentoring relationships that lead to positive outcomes for children. Independent research by Public/Private Ventures found that after 18 months of spending time with their volunteer mentors, youth being served by Big Brothers Big Sisters are more likely than their peers to perform better in school, make healthier and safer choices, and have positive interactions with parents. Big Brothers Big Sisters’ Youth Outcomes Survey Report substantiate that its programs have proven, positive academic, socio-emotional and behavioral outcomes for youth, areas linked to high school graduation, avoidance of juvenile delinquency and college or job readiness.

This article was distributed through Treasure Coast Business, a news service for the readers and advertisers of Indian River Magazine.