Jamie Scott is a young woman who is fulfilling her purpose. She is the Executive Director of Pulaski County Youth Services and the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Jamie Scott Group, LLC. in Little Rock, Arkansas. Jamie is like the younger version of “Olivia Pope in Scandal” per one of her friends, but without the Scandal. She oversees and leads the firm’s management of strategic initiatives, making sure her clients achieve their political goals. She was also appointed the Executive Director of Pulaski County Youth Services earlier this year. Woman’s Essence Magazine (For & About Powerful Women) were excited to interview Jamie Scott and share her answers in hopes it will inspire other women to pursue their purpose in life.
WEmag: When did you realize you had the passion to help the youths in your state and community?
J.S.: It’s simple. I came from humble beginnings. Everything that I have accomplished came from hard work and a determination to be a positive ‘product of my environment’. When I would turn on the television and witness today’s youth making life-altering decisions, or watch the high school dropout skyrocketing, I realized that someone needed to do something to change the reality of day-to-day life for youth. I am a firm believer in the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” For me and the children of my county, Pulaski County Youth Services was established to be that ‘village’. During graduate school, I wrote a program as an assistant to the chancellor of Arkansas State University that focused on retention for minorities and higher education. The program was created almost 8 years ago, and still exists at Arkansas State today. It was then that I had my “aha” moment and realized how passionate I am about youth, education, politics and how it all intertwines to making my state better. In my prior position as Director of Upward Bound, I managed a $1.2 million grant that prepared first generation low income at risk students for post-secondary education. It was probably the most rewarding job I’ve ever had in my life, and I love the youth and families that my staff and I were able to work with. It was interesting because a lot of their success solely depended on the authentic relationship that I was able to build with each individual student. I worked a lot of long hours year round, and it was truly a servant position. That’s when I knew I was called to truly work with youth. When I received my current appointment I prayed about it, and cried when I gave my resignation, because I felt like I was leaving the kids. But now I realize that God was only putting me in a place to impact many more lives than I would have had the capacity to had I stayed as the director for Upward Bound. I am still close to my Upward Bound students.
J.S.: I grew up watching powerhouse politicians truly make a change. Once I completed my graduate degree I moved home and started working in my grandparent’s restaurant until I was able to find a job. It was a very humbling experience. I have always been interested in politics, and it was my first degree choice at Arkansas State, but I changed it to teaching because I’ve always been torn between politics and education. Because of our connections, I was able to fly to Iowa to work on the grounds for Hilary Clinton in 2007 for her presidential race, and that was my first exposure to working on any campaign. I became addicted! I traveled to several battle ground states for her in 2008, and after we lost the nomination, I returned home to work on a few races locally in Arkansas. After careful prayer and consideration with my family, and I decided to step out on my own and start my own consulting group in February 2010, and the rest is history. I’ve never had to market or go after clients; all our clients come through referrals from United States senate races to judicial races. Even with all of the great leaders of our time, the biggest impact on me was my grandfather. Having been one of the North Little Rock Six, who were trailblazers to the integration of North Little Rock High School, my grandfather showed me that your courage can take you anywhere and your determination will allow you to leave a lasting legacy in your communities. Because of him, I have always had the belief that I was a ‘game changer’.
WEmag: What are the connections with education and politics? How did you become successful in pursuing both your passions?
J.S.: Simply put, you can’t have one without the other. If you aren’t educated about what is going on in your community, you cannot serve the people. Without the backing of the government and fighting for resources to be effective vehicles, the education system will crumble. I have become successful just by understanding the connection and being an intricate part of the execution.
WEmag: What motivated you to continue to pursue both?
J.S.: Arkansas is my home. I want it to be the best that it can be! If I’m working with youth to help shorten the educational gap in Arkansas, in addition to having the consulting company, that gives me the ability to work in both areas that I am passionate about.
WEmag: It has been said to only focus on 1 passion but you did not follow that rule. How were you able to work on both your passions and make them successful?
J.S.: By nature, I am a multitasker. I have so many interests, but ultimately all of my passions roll into my love for service. I am, at heart, a public servant. When I take myself out of my work and do it for the next generation, being a multi-faceted professional becomes simple to me.
WEmag: Congratulations for being appointed the Executive Director of Pulaski County Youth Services in February. Share with the readers your role as the Executive Director and how it has made an impact in your career and personal life.
J.S.: Where do I start? I have loved every moment of the experience and am thankful for the opportunity to serve. We have been making significant strides since February, securing half a million in grant funding to provide free afterschool programs for youth and families across Pulaski County, which includes a great focus on rural areas, which I personally feel has neglected in the past, as well as executing my brainchild, the Vision 2025 Leadership Institute. With all that we have accomplished, it is clear that we have miles and miles to go. I am humbled by the response received from our community and the youth. It gives me great joy to know that the lives of our participants are forever changed. That feeling will stay with me for the rest of my life.
WEmag: How are you balancing being an Executive Director of PCYS, Founder of the Jamie Scott Group, LLC (JSG) and your involvement with many other organizations?
J.S.: I’m not! I have an excellent team behind me. They are extraordinary project managers. Because they are so talented, they make having several irons in the fire look easy. I’d like to take all the credit, but I can’t! I work equally hard making everything come together. It’s no secret that I am a perfectionist, so I truly work long, long hours striving to make the future of Pulaski County bright!
WEmag: Who or what inspired you to follow your dreams and make them into a reality?
J.S.: I am inspired every day by women who are strong leaders, both internationally and locally. From significant female figures making changes in the world, like Malala Yousafzai, a champion for girl’s rights and education, Iowa Representative Helen Miller, Women In Government Board Chair, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first female elected leader of Liberia, West Africa, to local female leaders in the community, such as my mentor for the past five years, Senator Joyce Elliott, and Georgia Mjartan, Executive Director of Our House. These women inspire me on a daily basis to become a better person and a strong female leader and voice in the community. I am a visual learner and I believe in “writing things down and making them plain”! I LOVE making vision boards at the beginning of each year. This sets the tone for things I want to accomplish and serves as a reminder to me each and every day to challenge myself, hold myself accountable, and track my progress. Vision boards have been an undeniable blessing in my life and allow me to be realistic about my present and my future.
WEmag: Where do you see yourself 5 years from today? Do you see yourself running for a position in politics? Do you see yourself changing the education system?
J.S.: I want to have put my legacy in motion. As far as running for a position in politics, I am definitely going to one day run for office, but for right now, I am focused on changing the face of education by shaping better students and leaders for the next generation.
WEmag: Tell the readers your secret to pursuing more than 1 passion and making them equally successful.
J.S.: First and foremost, I keep God in everything I do. I also take my talents in team-building, connections to the youth, and my affinity for my community and integrate them into the things that I love most: politics and youth. It is very important to take time to myself away from all the demands on my life, so I make it a point to take a vacation every year for one week to another country, so that I can function at a high level throughout the year, and be many things to many people and many organizations, in many capacities.