Acting with Courage
When Carrie Potter ’95 attended Mercy High School, the teachings of Catherine McAuley resonated with the young student and had a profound impact on her view of life and eventually how she approached her business career.
“Catherine taught us that implementing change can be uncomfortable, but we must be courageous in our concern for others,” said Potter. She reminded us to take stock of ourselves, that who we are includes the moral courage to make a difference,” she added.
And that is what Carrie has done in an industry that can often be glamorized and spotlighted for excess– she has instilled a sense of wise financial investment both personally and professionally.
She began her own firm, The Carrie Potter Group, LLC in Houston in 2006 to manage professional athletes with a focus on three priorities: protect their earnings, invest for their future, and give back to the community. Her advisory business expanded its services in 2008 and now provides financial consulting services for small businesses also. Her company has been instrumental in creating community partnerships, non-profit organizations and engagement strategies that deliver widespread reach for her clients through community leadership opportunities, special events and scholarship or grant programs.
A long way from home for this Omaha native and Mercy High School valedictorian; but not surprising given this writer’s conversation with her. Potter takes being courageous to heart.
“I learned at an early age that it is possible for anyone to significantly change the world. The values instilled in me by my parents and reinforced at Mercy and the confidence I developed there gave me the courage to speak my mind, ask questions and become a catalyst for change,” she said.
That courage is also evidenced in how she approached her college selection.
“I remember receiving marketing materials from colleges and universities and being struck by George Washington University’s slogan, ‘Something Happens here,’ and I was hooked. I wanted a location where I would be exposed to other life and cultural experiences and in a community that practices public service daily. Washington DC was the perfect place for this. I was not going to let the fear and trepidation of others about living in our nation’s capital to deter me,” she explained.
Potter made her presence felt at the school, holding numerous leadership positions and service roles while earning her undergraduate business degree. She served in the Residence Hall Association, , a member and coordinator of the student orientation program for two years and served in the student government two years as a senator. In fact, she was the first female to be named student body president at George Washington University, an institution of more than 22,000 students.
Her experience in coordinating student orientation connected her to the issues of the student body and helped her appreciate the goals of student clubs and activities, including sports, and how they were funded. Those learnings were strategic insights for her future career.
She was awarded a Presidential Administrative Fellowship at George Washington to pursue her MBA in finance. Upon graduation, she joined P. M. G. Sports and Entertainment moving up the career ladder quickly and eventually becoming vice president.
At PMG, she assisted in the negotiation of NBA player contracts and implemented marketing partnerships with the NBA, several NBA teams, and businesses such as Reebok, EA Sports, Papa Johns, Taco Bell, Pepsi, American Express and Toyota. Potter was also responsible for client financial matters including insurance, real estate, cash management and bill payment; evaluating business opportunities; philanthropic matters and public relations; and client interface.
“During those eight years, I became deeply concerned about how players deal with their finances—are they managing and investing their funds wisely but also giving back to the community? I knew I could add my skills and professional expertise to this challenge,” she said.
When asked why she attended Mercy, she said her parents gave her a choice but felt that a Catholic education at a college preparatory school with excellent academics would be the best fit for their daughter.
“Mercy stood out and the Negotiated Tuition Program sealed the deal making it financially possible for me to attend,” she said.
Mercy has become a bit of a family affair with her three sisters, Katie Potter Peterson’99, Julie Potter Richt ’01 and Mary Jo Potter ’04, all attending the school.
Potter continues to practice what she learned at Mercy in her personal and community endeavors. She is the Chair-Elect of the Board of Directors for the Houston Area Women’s Center, whose mission is to help individuals affected by domestic and sexual violence in their efforts to move their lives forward. She also serves on the Dean’s Board of Advisors for The George Washington University School of Business. As a Fellow in Class XXXIV of the American Leadership Forum/Gulf Coast Chapter, she recently attended a retreat where discussions focused on how participants serve their communities.
“I told the group about Catherine McAuley and how she reminds us to be courageous in our concern for others and to think outside of our comfort zone,” she said.
This writer believes Catherine would be quite proud on how this alumna has taken those teachings to heart and has become a savvy business woman with compassion.
“I have great confidence in you to do what you think best. State your opinion and always act with courage.”—Catherine McAuley