Parent VolunteerBy MEGAN PHILLIPS,
Mandi Stanley stays creative while supporting children’s school as JAA president
Not only is Mandi Stanley an accomplished professional, but she is also an involved community volunteer serving on boards of multiple organizations.
She is also this year’s Jackson Academy Association (JAA) president, a role that she pairs with being a wife, mother and an avid reader.
A native of Amory she was graduated from high school in 1987. She then attended Mississippi State University, where she was the recipient of a four-year, full-ride scholarship called the Schillig Leadership Scholarship, an opportunity through which she met current Jackson Prep Parent and Teacher (PAT) current president, Natalie Gibbs.
“I changed majors four times, and I ended up as a general liberal arts major with concentrations in English, communication and management,” she said. “(Natalie) and I were at State on the same scholarship. I was one of the student interviewers who interviewed her for her scholarship.”
Mandi was one of the first students to attend State through the scholarship, as her freshman year was the first year it was offered.
“The goal of the scholarship was to find four students in the state of Mississippi and keep them in the state of Mississippi, so it was a game-changer for me…”
Schillig scholars had monthly meetings with the university president, met dignitaries, focused on civic leadership and even had an opportunity to meet John Grisham before his rise to literary fame.
“He had just published A Time to Kill, and he was working on The Firm… Unbeknownst to us, that scholarship was preparing us for 20 years later to take on these volunteer roles and lead these volunteer teams… I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything… There were just so many opportunities.”
As it would happen, Mandi picked up more than just a conversation with a Mississippi writer. She would later publish her own book that would discuss important ideas for public speaking.
Mandi and her husband, Bob, a sales representative for adidas who met while they were both students at State, married following graduation. They moved to Dallas where Mandi got a job as a technical proposal writer for Horizon Healthcare.
“We were in Dallas for a few years and then moved to Kansas City, where I became involved in what I do now.”
In Kansas City, Mandi began working for the American Management Association, for which she traveled around the United States presenting one-day seminars.
“I would travel and present their one-day seminars… at retreats and events and conferences.”
An example of what a week looked like for Mandi was: Fly out of Kansas City Sunday night to hit Denver Monday, Salt Lake City Tuesday, Boise Wednesday, Portland (OR) Thursday, Seattle Friday, only to return home that Friday night and repeat the next week.
“I did that between 1995 and 2002. It was great. I’ve gotten to see the United States, and I’ve presented seminars in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.”
In 2003, Mandi earned her certification as a speaking professional, a five-year process. She is currently the only certified speaking professional in the state of Mississippi.
She has five communication skills topics that she speaks about, and she’s also written her own book: The No-Panic Plan for Presenters: An A-Z Checklist for Speaking Confidently and Compellingly Anywhere, Anytime.
“Most of my talks now when I’m invited to speak somewhere are on the book.”
Mandi’s book was published shortly after she turned 40, and, so far, she has presented and worked in 46 of the 50 United States.
“I have been sitting on the same four states for about a decade, because they’re not states where a lot of people have conferences.”
In April, she’ll be able to cross one more off her list when she travels to Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“I’ve not worked in Wyoming, South Dakota, Vermont or Alaska. I told Bob, ‘As soon as I hit those four, I’ll retire.’ ”
After living in Kansas City for five years, Mandi and Bob moved to Memphis for several years. The couple has now been in Jackson for 11 years. They have two sons attending Jackson Academy: ninth-grader Rett (14) and fifth-grader Law (11).
Besides HER FULL-time, successful career, Mandi volunteers for different local and state organizations.
She has served on the advisory board for Mississippi Christian Living Magazine for more than five years. She is currently a Rotarian and serves on the board of directors for the Madison-Ridgeland Rotary Club. She is also a member of the Shackouls Honors College Alumni Advisory Board.
Her biggest job this year has been serving as president of the JAA since June 2017.
“I was president-elect last year… Our new board will come on this June. I’ll rotate off, and our current president elect will come on as president.”
Mandi has been involved with JA since her sons began attending, and she helped in classrooms and served on the board as the recording secretary four years ago before moving into the president elect role in 2016.
“My favorite (role) this year has been the JAA, no doubt. Of the 12 months you serve, each month offers its own opportunities… We have a board of 12 people, and we all jump in and work as needed.”
JA flagship events throughout the year include A Blue and White Night, the JA Carnival, and this year, the JAA is coming out with a new project that has been in the works for 18 months: a JA cookbook.
“It’s going to be called Always in Season, and we’re organizing it based on the school calendar.”
The book is expected to be released on Mother’s Day this year. Each recipe has been tested by the JAA and submitted by JA families and alums. The book itself was completed with an artist and photographer from JA.
“Everything about it has a JA touch to it,” Mandi said.
Besides this year with her work with the JAA, Mandi is a voracious reader and normally completes 50 to 75 books every year, using travel time to her advantage.
“I read on planes and in hotel rooms. If I have a writing deadline, I use my time on the road. Plane time is productivity time for me. I do my best writing in hotel rooms.”
Although Mandi doesn’t have a favorite genre, she enjoys business books and well-written fiction.
“I can admire that person’s writing technique and writing style. I learn more about just being a better writer from reading fiction.”
Mandi and Bob are both involved in their church, Broadmoor Baptist Church in Madison. The couple serves as directors for their life group and have been involved with the children’s ministry as well.
Mandi and her family are Mississippi State season ticket holders. She also loves to cook and go running with Bob.
Despite her busy schedule and high-travel job, Mandi always ensures that she makes time for her husband and two sons.
“We just enjoy spending time together.”