A Dream 30 Years in the Making

A Dream 30 Years in the Making

From as early age 8, Stu Jaffe can remember wanting to help others. Growing up in Baltimore, where his parents owned a retail store in a lower-income neighborhood, he vividly recalls understanding that there were people who had ‘lots’ and people who had ‘lots less’. This inequality led Stu to attend Johns Hopkins University with the intention of being a counselor to help those who fell in the latter category. 

After earning a Master’s Degree in Social Work and Community Planning at Maryland University, Stu worked as a city planner for the small town of Newark, Delaware. However, his path would soon take him in another direction as an opportunity presented itself in the world of mortgage lending.

The mortgage industry was under increasing political pressure to increase lending to families with low to moderate incomes, and Stu was hired by Fannie Mae to market to that demographic.  “This suited me well, and I felt that I was affecting real change, helping people find affordable financing to purchase a home for their families.” Stu excelled in this field - so well, in fact, that he was recruited by private lending companies and spent 30 years in the industry, including five years as president of a builder-owned mortgage company in Ohio.

But something was missing.

“Something began gnawing at me,” Stu recalls. “I had gotten too far away from the passion that I had as a boy wanting to work directly with people to make a difference in the quality of their life.” I turned to a life coach, who helped me to discern what I wanted to do next and how I cuold navigate the changes required to make it a reality,” he said.  So, with the support of his wife, Lucy, at the age of 53, Stu became a student once again, pursuing a Master’s Degree in Social Work at UAB.  

Fast forward 10 years and Stu believes he is exactly where he was always meant to be. “Today, I look back and see how my path prepared me for the work I do today at CJFS. I collaborate with my clients, helping them to find the courage to look critically at where they are now and where they want to be. Then, together, we develop a plan and a path to get them there. My background in finance allows me to help my clients achieve the goal of ‘financial serenity,’ and with my counseling skills I am able to help them down their own path.”

Earlier this month, Stu assumed the role of Clinical Director at CJFS following the retirement of longtime Clinical Director Robin McMilin. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to use my management experience to provide support and guidance to the CJFS clinical team,” he said. Stu will also continue providing direct service to individual clients. “Our dedicated clinical team provides services ranging from counseling to transportation, from care coordination to personal care, from financial management to family liaison services. Over 28 years, CJFS has evolved and grown to meet changing community needs. I feel privileged to be joining the leadership team which will guide this wonderful agency in its next chapter.”


Our experienced, professional counselors serve all people of all ages, religions, income levels and races in the community. Older adults (age 60 and over) and their families are our specialty. If you or a loved one need help managing the challenges of life, please contact Stu Jaffe, stu@cjfsbham.org or 205.879.3438.




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