Cristo Rey Jesuit’s Director of Corporate Work Study, and President and CEO of Corporate Work Study Program Inc., Misty Helm, is one of 78 honorees nominated as Houston Business Journal’s (HBJ) 2021 Women Who Mean Business. The awards recognize women, across 11 industries, in leadership roles that have demonstrated excellence in their careers and community. The selection criteria focused on career achievement, contribution to company and city success, community involvement and leadership. All honorees will be recognized at an HBJ luncheon in October, and will be featured in a special HBJ publication.
Each of Cristo Rey Jesuit’s nearly 500 students participate in the school’s unique Corporate Work-Study Program (CWSP), giving students incredibly valuable workplace experience at major Houston-area corporations. “Soon after becoming the CWSP Director in 2019, me and the CWSP team had to jump right in to adjust to the challenges of the pandemic, forcing our students to learn virtually and work remotely,” Helm said. “With the support of the work-study program’s incredible staff members, we’ve been able to successfully pivot the program by, among many things, developing a new training curriculum in 2020-21 to better prepare students for the workforce, and creating a Remote Work Lab on campus to support remote-working corporate partners in a virtual environment.”
Incredibly impressed with Helm’s tenacity, Cristo Rey Jesuit President Paul Beck said, “When the challenges came, Misty rolled up her sleeves and accomplished some amazing things. Misty has done an incredible job managing a workforce of nearly 500 students, while at the same time she has brought in and maintained relationships with more than 100 companies. She has mastered her job quickly and beautifully by training, assessing and transporting nearly 100 students daily. Our work-study program is a critical component of our success in getting 100% of our students accepted to college. And, she does it all with a priority on collaboration and selflessness toward our school and our mission.”
When asked about her accomplishment, Helm shared, “As God promised, my gifts have made room for me and have ushered me into the company of some great business leaders. I am extremely honored to be included as one of the 78 women being recognized by the Houston Business Journal and am grateful to be a 2021 Women Who Mean Business honoree.” She continued, “I have accomplished a lot in the nonprofit industry, but I am just getting started. I am a woman to watch because there is still so much more work to be done to advance education for the next generation, develop more educational programs with colleges and universities that are focused on career access and workforce development for the underprivileged, and my personal favorite, to create a space and place that amplifies women’s voices.”
As a Woman to Watch honoree, Misty was asked why she is someone who is going to make a lasting impression on the industry and city. She responded, “I am a proud graduate of Prairie View A&M University, one of the greatest historically Black colleges and universities on Earth, and as a first-generation college graduate, I am the first grandchild on both sides of my family to attend college, graduate, earn a master’s degree, and have a successful career.” Helm continued, “I pull my inspiration from knowing that I am a trailblazer within my family and sphere of influence. Others are looking up to me, so while I have been able to successfully chart a path, I am intentional about leaving a trail. I have been where they are going, so hopefully, with my guidance, it is not as difficult for them to navigate their own path.” As it relates to her role at Cristo Rey Jesuit, she said, “While I may have already earned my seat at the table, I am thinking about the next generation of leaders and am making room so that by the time they tap into their own careers, they will not only be welcomed and accepted, but their cultural strengths will be celebrated too.”
Pictured: The Cristo Rey Jesuit CWSP team at the 2020 Rodeo Roundup Supervisor Appreciation Luncheon.