by Laura Bednar for the Winter 2021 issue of Saint Ignatius Magazine
Over 3,000 events take place during a regular school year at Saint Ignatius High School, and the driving force behind the success of each of them is Director of Facilities and Events Jacqui Lee-Ivey.
Lee-Ivey has worked at Saint Ignatius for 26 years, starting as the Administrative Assistant to the Plant Services Director in 1994 and moving to her current role just one year later. She is responsible for scheduling events and overseeing their setup and tear down, and managing the custodial team. She also created the student worker program.
Among her chief accomplishments is successfully bringing the cleaning staff entirely in-house. Lee-Ivey says that everything her team tries to do is with the goal of excellence. “They are not just service people. They play a big role and don’t always get the credit they deserve,” Lee-Ivey says.
She wants both current students and families as well as prospective students to be impressed with the school and its appearance. It was through having the in-house staff that she was able to create the student worker program, where 10 to 12 students support the custodial staff by cleaning classrooms. “I’ve always had a heart for youth,” Lee-Ivey says.
Not only does the program help students earn minimum wage towards their education, but Lee-Ivey says they learn financial literacy, work ethic, critical thinking, and other transferrable job skills.
Recently retired Director of Campus Operations Peter Hendler says that Lee-Ivey connects with students, and they look up to her and ask for advice. “She guides them, and alumni come back and thank her for that,” Hendler says.
Lee-Ivey says, “It’s not just a job; it’s been part of my life for 26 years.” And her children have become part of the Saint Ignatius family. Her two daughters know Hendler well and even call him “Uncle Pete.” Her daughter Marquia Ivey also works at Saint Ignatius as the Athletics Operations Coordinator.
Lee-Ivey’s dedication to the school extends to the academic side as well. Three years ago, she noticed a void in the cultural awareness in the school. That’s when she planned events in honor of Black History Month. Through a series of speakers, specific food themes in the cafeteria, and musical and artistic performances, she brought the celebration of African American culture to campus.
“Cultural acknowledgement is an important part of the education process. The whole campus celebrates, not just one group,” she says.
Collaboration and hard work toward a shared goal is Lee-Ivey’s method of operation, and she says there’s something special about Saint Ignatius. “I love what I do and have always been an event planner at heart.”
Lee-Ivey says the secret to her success is a great team, good communication, and the support of Hendler as her Director. Hendler says his experience working with Lee-Ivey for 23 years has been a positive experience for him. “It’s a 24/7 job, and she manages people while being fair, firm, and consistent.”