Dr. Courtney Stewart: Serving Delaware

Alumna Dr. Courtney Stewart’s list of titles is long and continues to grow.

by Britney Guledge

Dr. Courtney Stewart
Dr. Courtney Stewart

Right now, those titles include wife, mother, fitness instructor, adjunct instructor at WilmU, volunteer and deputy secretary for the Delaware Department of State.

This proud Delawarean grew up in Selbyville with dreams of being a farmer, but she has found her niche in government service, and today she’s part of a team that’s in charge of a wide array of state offices.

Two years ago, Dr. Stewart was promoted from director of administration for the Department of State to deputy secretary. In that post, she coordinates the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the Division of Libraries, the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs, the Board of Pardons, the Public Service Commission, the Delaware Public Archives, the Division of the Public Advocate, the Public Integrity Commission, the Government Information Center, the Secretary of State’s administration section (human resources and fiscal staff), and the Delaware Veterans Home in Milford.

She admits that after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Wesley College in Dover, she wasn’t entirely sure what she wanted to do. “But,” she says, “I knew that I wanted to stay in Dover, and I got an accounting position with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.”

She quickly found that she loved the feeling of accomplishment she got from being in state government.

“In each step of my career, I’ve worked with people who care about the trajectory and path of the state and its people,” says Dr. Stewart. “I’ve always had a group of leaders around me mentoring me along the way.”

In 2012, she completed Wilmington University’s Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) program and successfully defended her dissertation. While working on her doctorate, she developed valuable contacts.

“I was able to network with people in various departments throughout the state as classmates and instructors,” says Dr. Stewart. “I built relationships with people that I collaborate with every day in my line of work.”

One example of her WilmU connections is her work with Dr. Annie Norman, director of the Delaware Division of Libraries and holder of a DBA degree. The two Wildcat alumnae teamed with leaders in the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services to create an initiative to place social workers in public libraries throughout the state. The goal is to make Social Services resources more accessible to Delawareans who need them. During regularly scheduled periods each week, social workers in Delaware libraries assist patrons in applying for food benefits, securing long-term nursing care or childcare, facilitating referrals to additional service agencies, finding employment and job training, and more.

In addition to her work with the state, Dr. Stewart is a fitness instructor at the Dover YMCA, where she promotes healthy living and an active lifestyle. She’s also a volunteer coach with Girls on the Run (GOTR) at the Dover Y. GOTR is an after-school running program that encourages girls in third through fifth grades to build confidence, work hard, be healthy and develop genuine friendships through teamwork. She is also involved with Gals that Give, a non-profit focused on education and fundraising for other non-profits located in Kent County. To date, Gals that Give has raised more than $248,000.

“I have a passion for doing what we can to make our communities better,” says Dr. Stewart.

She lives in Dover with her two sons and her husband, James Pennewell, who works with the Department of Education. He also is a WilmU alum as well as an adjunct instructor.