When Marcie Leggett enters a room, her electric smile infects others almost instantly. When she speaks, her confident demeanor and Southern charm attracts attention and admiration from anyone who listens.
You'd never guess that, growing up, Leggett was an introverted student who preferred to spend time in the library with her nose in a book.
"I didn't feel like I fit in, so the library and books were my best friends," she said. "There are a number of authors who I've deemed my personal mentors; authors like Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Max Lucado, T.D. Jakes, John Maxwell, August Wilson, Christine Caine, and the Bible."
Leggett now considers herself a "relational person," and devotes her life to helping others recognize and develop their potential. She is the founder and CEO of ITEPS, LLC, a training, events and professional services firm in Washington, D.C. ITEPS is partnering with JA to serve as the Conference Room Partner at our forthcoming JA Finance Park Montgomery County, opening in fall 2018.
Although her calendar is crowded, Leggett makes it a priority to give back to the communities where she lives and works.
"My time is limited, so the time I intentionally carve out to volunteer and give back must be strategic for me and be close to my heart," she said.
That's where Junior Achievement comes into play.
Leggett's first experience with JA was as a middle school student. She was introduced to concepts like checkbooks and stocks. Her first real involvement was just over a year ago, when she came across a post about JA's work on social media.
"JA's mission was/is directly in line with my personal and professional core values," she said.
As an active JA volunteer, Leggett is a mentor much like the authors she grew up idolizing. She's passionate about teaching lessons not only in financial literacy and entrepreneurship, but self-esteem, as well.
"Statistics say that when youth build skills, it builds their self esteem," she said. "JA provides young people with skills that no one will be able to take away from them. This will also reshape the very fabric of their family and future."
Leggett saw her lessons come to life when her group of high school students in the JA Company Program at JA Finance Park Prince George's County had their first "aha moment."
"It was a moment of epiphany and almost simultaneously, they got it! The dots to the curriculum and our shared professional experience began to connect, and forward movement began!"
JA Director of Program Innovation, Gayle Robinson, said Leggett and her team bring the perfect blend of experience, passion and energy to the Company Program.
"There are few people who would sign-up to spend two hours working with students after a normal workday, and then meet for an additional hour to strategize for the following week," said Robinson. "Marcie is a true role model for the students, providing guidance, encouragement, and a little tough love. We are so lucky to have her!"
Leggett's advice for the next generation reflects her passion for giving back and loving others:
"Always, always make time to give of yourself to others and to causes that you are passionate about. It's like breathing... Listen first and speak -- after some thought -- next. Be relatable and teachable. Remain a life-long learner."
If you are inspired by Leggett’s story and would like to volunteer with JA, there are plenty of different ways to get involved. Simply fill out our Volunteer Inquiry Form and a JA staff member will be in touch shortly to discuss what time, location, and opportunity are right for your schedule and interests.