by Mary Jo David
As a successful business owner, community volunteer, and budding politician, Lisa McClain’s name surfaced quickly as a Woman of Note to be featured by the Stockbridge Community News in honor of Women’s History Month. Currently Senior Vice President at Hantz Group, McClain helped found this Michigan-based financial services firm and played a key role in growing the company, which employs 700 people across 25 offices with headquarters in Southfield, Mich.
People in these parts don’t think of Lisa McClain by her married name. Instead, they remember her by her maiden name—Iovannisci—usually followed by a chuckle and a reminder that her maiden name was not an easy one to pronounce! Even Lisa laughs when she’s interviewed for this story and is asked to spell her maiden name for what is probably the thousandth time in her life.
Residing more than 100 miles away, in Romeo, Mich., it may seem that McClain has chosen to distance herself from her roots here in Stockbridge, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I have always been thankful for my small-town upbringing,” explained McClain, who graduated from Stockbridge High School in 1984. “I can never say enough about the warm, supportive Stockbridge community I grew up in. Everyone looked out for everyone else. No one told me ‘You can’t.’ Instead they were always encouraging me and saying, ‘You can!’”
And when you’re under five feet tall wanting to shoot hoops and run hurdles, living in a small-town can be a blessing. Says McClain, “I was very good at both basketball and hurdles, but I’m not sure I would have had the chance to prove myself in either sport if I’d grown up in a bigger place.”
She’s also quick to explain that her small-town upbringing taught her the value of hard work. “We were not raised with an entitlement mentality. I had to prove myself, and when I did—it built confidence, and with confidence, you can accomplish everything you set out to do.”
McClain has quite a few accomplishments to her name since her Panther days. After attending Lansing Community College for two years, she went on to graduate with a BA from Northwood University. Following an eleven-year career at American Express and a short time at a securities firm, she helped to start Hantz Group. On a personal level, McClain and husband Mike have raised two daughters, Riley and Ryan; a son, Mitchell; and a young man, Barak, whom they consider a son. Her mother, Carolyn Schell, lives with the McClains.
Besides figuring big into the success at Hantz Group, McClain is president of a 501(c) that supports 43-B Drug Court in Romeo, and she also participates on the board of an annual fundraiser, “Thrilla at the Villa,” which has raised over $1 million for multiple sclerosis.
“It’s absolutely true that your community is a reflection on you,” McClain said when asked how she finds time for community involvement.
Rehashing her years growing up and later in business, she points to two outstanding mentors who helped her personally and professionally.
Howard Ward of Stockbridge was there for McClain while she was growing up—and beyond. “He was like the father I never had,” McClain said with emotion. “He taught me that life isn’t fair and it’s going to be hard. But he was always there for me. He was the greatest man to walk the earth, and I miss him dearly every day.”
As she found her way in business, John Hantz became a mentor, beginning at American Express, where they worked together. “I have him to thank for mentoring me in business and helping me to grow and develop into a successful businessperson.”
So what’s next for McClain?
If you’ve been keeping up with Michigan politics, you might have heard that Lisa McClain is in the midst of an important political campaign. She is running as a Republican hoping to become the next U.S. representative from Michigan’s 10th District.
After spending 30 years in business and raising a family, she’s ready for this new focus. “The timing is right for me, personally and professionally,” McClain said. “I don’t like the political landscape right now. I believe my extensive experience as a business person and community volunteer, not as a career politician, has given me the wisdom and leadership skills it takes to make a difference in Washington, D.C.”
In celebration of Women’s History Month, McClain was asked whom she would pick as a female hero. She was quick to respond with her choice.
“Rosa Parks stood up for what she believed in, even when it wasn’t popular,” McClain explained. “Yet that one small action on her part helped to change the trajectory of history.” McClain believes Parks had it in her heart to make a difference, and McClain hopes to take that kind of thinking with her to Washington.