“Without countless, unnamed women the Stewart Center would not exist, and their legacy continues. Today many dedicated women give their time, energy, and resources to the Center through volunteering, serving on the APSC board, donating resources, etc.” When Megan Warley wrote those words on the Stewart Center history blog – http://stewartcenterhistory.blogspot.com/- she was not thinking of herself, but over her three years of service, she has become one of the most influential women ever to be associated with the organization.
I am sad and happy to announce that after three years of service, Megan will be leaving the Center to pursue graduate studies at Georgia State University and her passion for historical preservation. While we are sad that Megan will not continue as program director, we are excited for her as she begins the next chapter in her life. Her departure also makes us very proud. Megan’s interest in historical preservation was fostered by her efforts to organize and codify the Stewart Center’s rich history into a resource we can use to honor our past and guide our future.
The Center exists to see people living purposeful lives in pursuit of their full potential. The Center has played a role in helping Megan realize one of her life’s passions.
The Stewart Center was founded as the “Andrew Stewart Day Nursery” in 1916 and opened its doors to the first children on March 15, 1917. Mrs. Frances Stewart was influential in the organization’s founding, and the other supporting women felt it appropriate to name the ministry in memory of Mrs. Stewart’s late husband Andrew. Over the last ninety eight years the Center has been led by some remarkable women. Megan Warley is a part of that group.
In many ways the Center has been searching for its identity since it was incorporated as an independent 501(c)3 in 1995. Once an auxiliary ministry of the Atlanta Woman’s Missionary Union (WMU), the Center has experienced the freedom and the difficulty of being an autonomous nonprofit. Megan has advanced the organization in many ways, but perhaps her most profound contribution has been her ability to connect the Center with others in the larger community.
Megan has used her previous nonprofit experience along with her professional and social networks to expand the Center’s profile by generating new partnerships with other nonprofits, community groups, universities, churches, and individuals. Our programs have been greatly enriched by Megan’s ability to identify, enlist, and nurture volunteers and partnerships. While her focus has been programmatic, many of the connections she has made have increased the overall strength of the organization. For much of its history the Stewart Center was a “Baptist” ministry supported almost exclusively by Baptist churches and Baptist folks. Thanks in part to Megan’s efforts, the Stewart Center’s base of support has grown to include a broad representation of the Atlanta community.
Megan’s love for the children and youth of the Stewart Center has been the driving force behind her transformative service. She has led the program staff with excellence and integrity. The quality of our programming has increased, our standing in the community has risen, and children’s lives have been enriched because of Megan’s faithful service.
The Center was founded by a group of determined women before they had the right to vote; it has been led by strong women such as Francis Stewart, Elizabeth Lundy, Myrtle Salters, Novella McClung, Alice White, Brittany Mackey and Megan Warley ever since. Megan’s faith tradition, leadership style, talents, and tenure may be different than her predecessors but her contributions have forever changed the organization.
The Center has been in a state of transition for the entire time Megan has served as program director but I cannot help but think of the words of Mordecai in the Book of Esther when he reminds his niece Queen Esther that she might have been placed in leadership for “such a time as this.” Megan has served the Center for three years and her contributions will last for many years to come.
It has been an honor and pleasure to serve with you Megan and I am thankful we will continue as friends.
We will miss you – Godspeed Megan.