When he was a child, Shelley Stewart benefited from the encouragement of his first grade teacher, Mrs. Mamie Foster. Her message was simple, “Learn to read, get an education and you can be anything you want to be.” That statement is as true today as it was then. It’s the method of delivery, however, that has changed. Undoubtedly, teachers remain a huge influence in the lives of children. But it’s also true that kids today are inundated with messages of all types directed at them. Getting through all the clutter is the challenge.
Dr. Stewart’s career in marketing and the media provide The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation with a unique set of skills for reaching our youth. It’s a basic marketing principle that when you understand your target audience better, you are more likely to affect change in their lives. When applied to the issue of illiteracy, this approach results in solutions like a fleet of former school buses that transport students through a life-like experience to a place where eight out of ten dropouts ultimately end up – prison. Innovations like The Choice Bus are typical of the unconventional approach Dr. Stewart and The Foundation take to solving the dropout problem.
Board of Directors
Shelley Stewart - Dr. Shelley Stewart is a business leader, community leader and philanthropist. He is Chairman and CEO of o2ideas, a Birmingham-based and nationally renowned corporate advertising and public relations company, and Founder and President of The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation.
Stanley D. Lawler - Stanley Lawler is President of the Lawler Foundry Corporation, a Birmingham-based company dedicated to serving fabricators and forgers with dependable, high-quality castings and forgings. He is currently a Director of the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis, a longtime member of the National Ornamental & Miscellaneous Metals Association and a member of the Birmingham Rotary Club.
Carmen Smith - Carmen Smith is Vice President of Creative Development and Inclusive Strategies for Walt Disney Imagineering, concentrating mainly on editorial participation in the creative process and the establishment of partnerships to enhance product relevance in a diverse global marketplace. Smith graduated from Hunter College with a degree in communication arts, received her master’s degree in international administration from New York University and completed the Simmons Graduate School of Management Certificate Program for Developing Managers and the Harvard University Women and Power Executive Education Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Rick Schostek - Rick Schostek is Executive Vice President of Honda North America, Inc., responsible for strategic planning, support and governance functions for Honda divisions ranging from Finance to the Office of Inclusion and Diversity. Schostek joined Honda in 1987 as an attorney in the legal department and took on the role of Vice President in 2001. He has held leadership roles at Honda Manufacturing of Alabama and Honda Manufacturing of Indiana and is a member of the board of directors of the Ohio Manufacturers’ Association and the National Association of Manufacturers.
Matthew Dent - Matthew Dent is President and CEO of the Buffalo Rock Company, responsible for the company’s overall operations serving Alabama, western Georgia and the Florida panhandle. Dent began his career with Buffalo Rock as an intern during his junior year at the University of Alabama and rose through the ranks until he was named Executive Vice President and CEO in 2008, and then President in 2011. He holds membership in the American Beverage Association, the Alabama Beverage Association, the Pepsi-Cola Bottlers’ Association and the Dr. Pepper Bottler Marketing Committee, among others.
Emily Clark - Emily Clark works for State Farm Insurance in Public Affairs and is responsible for community relations including safety and education initiatives in Alabama and Mississippi. She is a graduate of Jacksonville State University with a degree in business management and received her master's degree in advertising and public relations from the University of Alabama. She is on the board of directors for the Alabama JumpStart Coalition of Alabama and F.R.I.E.N.D.S. (Families Reaching, Influencing, Educating & Networking for Down Syndrome), and is a member of the Public Relations Society of America.