Skip to content

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Leadership is having a vision and creating a course of action so people have a blueprint in addressing and solving a problem.

As a part of our series about lessons from Thriving Power Couples, I had the pleasure of interviewing Quentin and Stefanie Brown James.

Stefanie Brown James is an experienced social entrepreneur, civic engagement strategist, and the Co-founder and Senior Advisor of The Collective PAC, the largest organization dedicated to supporting and funding Black candidates to win elections on the local, state and federal levels and the engagement of Black voters in the political process. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Stefanie previously worked at EMILY’s List, NAACP, and is a former member of the Board of Trustees at her alma mater, Howard University and a member of the National Social Action Commission for Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Quentin James is the Founder & President of The Collective PAC, as well as the co-founder of Vestige Strategies, LLC. Before launching The Collective PAC in 2016, Quentin led a team of Vestige Strategies’ consultants in securing victory for Dr. Keith Rowley as Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago in 2015. Previously, Quentin was the Black Americans Director for the Ready for Hillary PAC. In that role, Quentin directed the PAC’s outreach to the black community across the United States and helped recruit over 50,000 African American grassroots donors and over 3 million grassroots supporters.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you two to your respective career paths?

We were both involved in the NAACP in our early teenage years through youth councils. We met over the years through our involvement there. What really connected the two of us was how engaged we both were in the mission of civic engagement at such a young age. Our shared commitment to upholding the rights of Black people — that meant a lot to us and ended up staying with us through college. The basis of how we met really laid the groundwork for what The Collective PAC is today.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Honestly, thinking we needed staff right off the bat in order to achieve what we wanted was our first mistake, but also thinking we can do it all by ourselves wasn’t right either.

When we first started, we spent money that we didn’t have to hire consultants, and unfortunately it wasn’t money well-spent because we didn’t formulate what we wanted The Collective to be. We ended up doing the work on our own. Once we did that, we realized we still needed a team! Essentially, hiring people before we knew what we wanted left us doing the bulk of the work. It taught us to be smarter with who to hire for what and why.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We are unapologetically about building Black political power — we’re the largest organization to do what we do, and we write checks. Our ability to effectively fund campaigns that we believe in shows that we put our money where our mouth is and separates us from similar organizations. We started The Collective as two young people in our 30s, and it is still thriving and growing today almost five years later.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

For the past three years, we have been developing an idea to create and host a policy school for Black political officials that would teach leaders to be better legislators and give them an opportunity to network and collaborate with one another. The school would provide a place to talk about recreating a new agenda that would not only benefit the Black community, but the broader nation as well. Our goal is to have our first cohort by the end of 2021.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

It’s really important that every individual team member understands the mission, vision, and direction of the organization, and more importantly what their specific role is in manifesting that mission. Each employee should always be able to answer: What is happening now? What has happened in the past? What is to come? If that is the case, it will bring the entire team together and keep the larger goal of the organization top of mind.

Every piece of the puzzle is important. Giving your team as much information you can at all times gives your team answers to those integral questions. That kind of transparent and consistent communication from leadership also shows a respect and investment in your team. It creates autonomy and serves as a cornerstone for determining what you want to do as an organization every step of the way.

How do you define “Leadership”?

Leadership is having a vision and creating a course of action so people have a blueprint in addressing and solving a problem.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Hillary Clinton. When we were in our early years (about two years into our work), she created “Onward Together”, a program supporting groups that advance a fairer and more inclusive America and that encourage people to organize, get involved, and run for office. We were one of the 12 organizations that she supported.

That kind of early support from her put us on people’s radars and introduced us to crucial donors and influential people. She also uplifted our story on her personal platforms, which got us visibility to a broader reach of people who didn’t know who we were. Her personal endorsement gave us credibility in the political world, and we will always be grateful for that.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Our entire organization and what we stand for brings goodness to the world. When we can uplift Black people, who are striving to be public servants, it uplifts all of humanity. We know the disparities that exist, and we are addressing challenges that impact all working-class Americans.

What are the “5 Things You Need To Thrive As A Couple”? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Patience. You both can be right, but not at the same time.
  2. Teamwork. Have a shared belief on what you want for each other and work together to achieve it.
  3. Positivity. Think positive and assume the best before thinking negative or assuming the worst.
  4. Autonomy. You can’t do everything together, and just because you do things separately it doesn’t impact the direction of your relationship.
  5. Open communication. It’s important to have open, honest, and uninterrupted conversations with each other without distraction.

You are people of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

That’s exactly what we’re doing now. Everyone can do something to support a candidate. Even if you give $1 to one candidate that you think can improve your life, it has the potential to inspire change.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Always be a good person.” In today’s society, you never know who’s path you will cross. No one is better than anyone else so be a good person to everyone and do the best you can.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

[Stefanie]: Oprah! She is the ultimate example of entrepreneurship and creating your own reality for life. She started something from nothing, and I have complete respect and admiration for that. She also likes to eat and drink wine like me, so I know we’d have a great time over brunch.

[Quentin]: Elon Musk. I am in awe of his work and everything he has created, from Tesla to now space and satellite ventures. I am fascinated with how he takes an idea and vision and brings it to life to scale quickly.

How can our readers follow your work online?

You can read more background on The Collective PAC on our website. For a more personal look into our work and lives follow us on social media:



Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

Lessons from a Thriving Power Couple, With Quentin and Stefanie Brown James of The Collective PAC was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.