Webster School of Communications alumna Courtney Stewart recently received the university’s 2022 Loretto Award in recognition of her service to humanity and social justice.
Stewart, who completed her Master of Arts in Communications Management in 2005, is known for her storytelling and messaging expertise and her focus on driving change through audience and intentional communication strategies. She joined the Missouri Foundation of Health in 2014 as vice president of strategic communications. Prior to that, she served as associate vice president of university relations at Harris-Stowe University, as well as supported internal and CEO communications at Boeing. She currently serves on the communications advisory board for the School of Communications.
Stewart, who has a strong belief in education, likes to bond with young people and share her story in hopes of inspiring them to succeed regardless of their racial makeup or background. She recently agreed to a Q&A interview with The Journal’s Lonnie Walton.
Webster Journal (WJ): What does this award, which recognizes service, mean to you?
Courtney Stewart (CS): This award means everything to me. Getting recognized for service, and in my case being how I use strategic communications to further advance the mission of my organization as well as in service to others through community work, is major to me. Using my gift of being a creative and a force behind messaging that changes hearts and minds around issues that are important to me, to the people of Missouri, to our nation, is a dream come true. And to have your graduate alma mater honor and celebrate you for it is confirmation that I’m on the right track – that a difference is being made somewhere in the world.
WJ: Why is it important for you to stay active as a community volunteer?
CS: Volunteering, participating in community events and showing support to young people are important parts of who I am. You can’t advocate for the community if you’re out of touch and not showing up in places where you’re engaging with people and learning something new.
WJ: What do you enjoy most about mentoring young people?
CS: Not to sound cliché, but the future of our planet, world, our country rests on the shoulders of young people. So, being fortunate enough to have young people look up to me and see me as a source of inspiration is an opportunity for me to embrace and nurture youth and share the space that I’m in. One day, they will be here, so helping them find their way in that brings me joy.
WJ: What do you tell them about your journey as a woman of color who achieved success as a community leader?
CS: Education is an important component of greatness, regardless of what social media and the internet tell us, so I find comfort in spaces where I can speak to young people about staying the course with their educational journey. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my ability to prioritize and value education and continuous learning. Earning a degree is still a game-changer, but it’s not the only tool. I matriculated through school and also put myself in spaces where I knew connections could be made for me to thrive in my career. Additionally, I show up unapologetically me – from the inside out – and it’s served me well.