Member Spotlight: Margie Smith

Member Spotlight: Margie Smith

Margie Smith, Business Consultant, Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at FIU
sbdc.fiu.edu, www.islainvest.com

Florida SBDC at FIU provides one-on-one assistance to business owners to grow their business in Monroe County, part of an experienced team with various specialties providing this at no cost. SBDC is an SBA Resource partner. We also assist with disaster loans within the State Emergency Support Function 18: Economic Stabilization.

My husband Cale and I moved to Islamorada from Washington, DC, in 2005. We had just had our first baby and after a 14-year career in the aviation industry, we were planning for me to stay home for a few years. I was not ready to leave my career behind permanently but he had an opportunity in beautiful Islamorada (and his parents are in Key West), so I decided to take a leap and start over. What an amazing place to show my infant, then toddler, the world!

I had worked summers during grad school as an aircraft mechanic in the Chicago area (near Glenview where I had grown up) after obtaining my degrees and FAA certificates from Southern Illinois University. With my MPA in hand, I was the first Airport Manager at Schaumburg Regional Airport.

I moved to DC in 1996 for my dream job: Congressional staffer on an Aviation Congressional Commission tasked with financial and operational reform of the civilian aviation industry. We created the first Performance Based Organization in the federal government at the FAA with our legislation. From there I became technical staff at MITRE CAASD, a non-profit aviation think tank that supports the FAA. My work there ranged from developing runway approaches and departures to writing the first Business Plan for the FAA. My last job in DC was representing the nation’s public airports before the federal government as Director of Regulatory Affairs for the American Association of Airport Executives.

Later I rejoined the workforce after my second child, just as my husband was starting Islamorada Investment Management in the Keys. Fellow BPW member Jackie Harder told me about a position at United Way of the Florida Keys, and I became the CEO in 2010. After that high profile turn around focusing on food insecurity and affordable childcare, I did business development for our wealth management firm and then in banking—a departure from my public service mission but skills I use in business consulting now.

Active in business groups Keyswide, I served on the BPW/Upper Keys board from 2011-2014, working on our political forum since then. As Past President of the Ocean Reef Chamber of Commerce, I serve on advisory boards for Monroe County Parks and Recreation, and Mote Marine Lab.

After running our United Way, I was designated an Honorary Conch, and a Community Service Award winner for the American Business Women Association chapter. In DC I had been a White House Fellowship Finalist but that seems like a world away now. I have been a member of BPW/Upper Keys since 2008. My family can often be found poolside as my teens are competitive swimmers and I officiate for USA Swimming.