Felicia Ayers Storey
Vice President of Program Operations and Services
Presbyterian Home for Children
Congratulations! You received the distinguished recognition this summer as one of central Alabama’s Top 50 Over 50 by Positive Maturity. As you reflect on this and other recent accolades, to what do you attribute your success?
I was blessed to have a family who set standards, beliefs, and expectations for its members, which included a strong spiritual foundation and a good education. This, followed by good career choices, afforded me the opportunity to be independent and self-sufficient. In addition, I had great teachers and leaders who recognized my potential and challenged me. I always perform well for those who believe in me and want me to do well in life.
You have spent nearly 40 years at the Presbyterian Home for Children. Tell us briefly about your experience and what has inspired you to stay resilient and connected to the to the agency for your entire career.
Initially, I did not believe that I would be with the Presbyterian Home for Children for a long period of time. Being a native of Tuscaloosa, I had never heard of the Talladega ministry or its works. I thought my career path would be in Medical Social Work at UAB Hospital in Birmingham as I had interned there as a medical social worker prior to obtaining my bachelor’s degree in social work. At the time of graduation, there were no job openings in the department, so I applied for an opening in the social services department at the Presbyterian Home and immediately began to enjoy the work. I literally lived and breathed this ministry. At the time of my hire, I was required to live on campus and be assessable to the needs of the program, youth, and staff 24 hours a day. Hence, I knew the program inside and out and had a realistic view of cottage life for the children and the workers. I worked every job except maintenance, so I felt that I understood the Presbyterian Home more than most. Because I was able to advance within the agency, I avoided stagnancy and complacency. I felt the Presbyterian Home was one of the best childcare facilities for children and as we expanded our programs and services, I was drawn into being a part of the leadership which helped the agency evolve to higher levels of excellence and accomplishment.
You have been a strong leader throughout the state of Alabama and are certainly a mentor to many in your profession. Who was your mentor and how did that person support your growth?
Upon graduation, my mother took a teaching position in Bibb County, at West Blocton High School, where she was the first African American faculty member. It took great courage for my mother to integrate the school in the late 60’s, when social unrest and racial inequality was so great. My mother weathered the storm and became one of the most beloved teachers in the system, so much so that she worked her entire career in that school system at West Blocton High School and the Bibb County Area Vocational School, retiring after 33 1/3 years. I only need to look at my mother’s career to understand why I too have been with the Home for now, starting my 37th year. When God gives you roots where you can flourish, you become empowered to help others achieve the desires of their hearts.
With heightened awareness and attention to diversity, how have you advocated as a leader for all voices to be heard and recognized?
QUESTION FOR Doug Marshall: Doug, we know you are a champion of Felicia Storey and her contributions to Presbyterian Home for Children, is there anything else you’d like to share about Felicia that she might be too humble to express?