The Coastal Star

10 Questions
Meet Your Neighbor: Stacey Dowdle

Stacey A. Dowdle is all heart. She is, after all, vice president of the Palm Beach chapter of the American Heart Association.
But the Delray Beach woman is so much more than that. She’s a wife, a mother, an avid runner and a young professional who was honored this year as an Athena Award finalist for actively engaging in the promotion of women in leadership roles.
She serves on a host of boards, including the Association of Fundraising Professionals for Palm Beach County, Planned Giving Council of Palm Beach County, Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County and The Crossroads Club Inc.
Her volunteer commitments include the Delray Beach Historical Society, Naoma Donnelly Haggin Boys & Girls Club of Delray Beach, Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, the Delray Beach Drug Task Force and the Women’s Chamber of Commerce for Palm Beach County.
She is a member of The Forum Club of the Palm Beaches and listed in the 2009 “Who’s Who” in Business” directory. She was nominated for the 2010 international board of directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, dedicated to advancing the field of philanthropy across the globe.
On the weekends, you might find her building sandcastles on the beach with her 23-month-old daughter, Delaney, and her husband, Dan.
“My daughter inspires me that anything is possible,” she said.
Dowdle’s birth mother, who had fled Cuba when she was 7, died when Dowdle was 9 months old. The nuns at the hospital took care of her until Dowdle was adopted by a couple from New York.
“My [adoptive] mother was my first mentor,” Dowdle said. “She steadfastly stands on a sound belief system of faith, honesty and courage.”
And so does Stacey Dowdle.
— Mary Thurwachter

Q. Where did you grow up and go to school? How do you think that has influenced you?
A. I grew up on Long Island, about 35 miles east of New York City. My primary school years were in the Sachem School District. I went on to the University of Rhode Island to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I attended Nova Southeastern and have slowly been working toward a master’s degree in psychology.
I believe I was fortunate to have been put in the path of extremely dedicated educational instructors and teachers. They were probably the first group of professionals to demonstrate passion and commitment. I participated in athletics throughout my entire formal education experience, and believe that afforded me another area to experience commitment and dedication through hard work.
Q. What professions have you worked in? What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
A. My first job was at Newport Hospital, in Newport, R.I., on their social services team. I went on to change careers twice over the next 20 years. I have been in fundraising for the institutional pension-fund sector in New York City, and now in the nonprofit world. I’m most proud of the nomination to Association of Fundraising Professionals International Board of Directors and the Athena Award nomination.
Q. As the vice president of Palm Beach for the American Heart Association, what do you see as the toughest challenges your organization will face this coming year?
A. All of us in the nonprofit world have been given a unique opportunity to demonstrate our ability to meet the climate we are in. We owe our constituents, donors and volunteers a “clear path” to continue to support the important work we do on a daily basis. At the Heart Association, one of my most pressing challenges is to continue to educate the public and the private sector that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women over the age of 25 in the United States, and that we need more dollars dedicated to research in women’s heart health.
Q. Tell us a little about your volunteer work. Why is it important to you?
A. It is important to me to be a part of the fabric of the world I live in and to model that for my daughter. It is my belief that I was not supposed to survive the death of my biological mother. And once I moved through the pain of those details, I made a commitment that the life I was given is a fleeting moment in time, and I have a responsibility to donate my life back to others in need.
Q. What advice do you have for a young person selecting a career today?
A. My strongest piece of advice to people selecting a career is to find a mentor whom you can define a career path with based on your dynamic skill set. Know yourself, and be willing to remain teachable. Importantly, know what you are not good at, and what generates passion in you. When you are passionate about what you do, you can move mountains.
Q. How did you choose to make your home in Delray Beach?
A. I moved to Delray Beach in 1998 during a very difficult time in my life, and owe our City by The Sea a debt of gratitude for being a part of my healing.
Q. What music do you listen to when you need inspiration? When you want to relax?
A. Gospel music is so moving to me, and there is a local radio station that plays great Sunday Gospel. … I particularly love the Rolling Stones when I am running, which is my way of relaxing.
Q. Do you have a favorite quote that inspires your decisions?
A. “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination.” — Nelson Mandela
Q. If your life story were made into a movie, who would you want to play you?
A. Hmm, not sure. Maybe Sandra Bullock, she is so real.
Q. Who or what makes you laugh?
A. My daughter makes me laugh; my life makes me laugh. It took me along time to learn that we have to have humor! The ability to involve humor in the seriousness of what we all face every day, brings things into perspective and the true experience of joy … even if it’s just for a minute.

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