25 Women: 'Resilience and faith' led Britney Smith to career, volunteering
体育在线365If you imagine a staircase reaching ahead of you, and imagine a woman climbing calmly and confidently to the top with an air of peace and gratitude about her, that woman would be Britney Smith.
体育在线365For the past 16 years that Tallahassee has been her home, Smith has taken each step of her career with a combination of purpose and faith. Because of the way she lives and interacts with others, she is one of Tallahassee’s 25 Women You Need to Know.
Now in its 14th year, the 25 Women program is the Tallahassee Democrat’s way of honoring women who lead. Look for their profiles during March in print and see videos on jameswburdick.com.
体育在线365Not that each step has been an easy one. Coming to Tallahassee as a college freshman from Selma, Alabama, she was the first member of her family to earn a bachelor’s, and then a master's degree from Florida A&M University. Soon after, she was beginning a career and settling into professional life.
But then she was laid off, and found herself applying for a job with an employment agency. “My friends were working in Philadelphia and other big cities, and here I was working in a temp job,” she recalls. “I was pretty down.” But, she says, the word temporary was significant. “I knew that wasn’t going to last forever.”
She was right, and the next step was soon revealed. She joined the faculty staff at Keiser University, and was quickly promoted to the Business Program Director. As she got busy teaching classes in marketing, management, and entrepreneurship, she also represented the university on a Leon County initiative called Leon Works, which introduces high school students and the community to high-demand, high-wage jobs that don’t require a four-year degree.
Her thoughtful and creative contributions led to another step: a role as the Public Information and Communications Manager for Leon County. “It was a busy time,” she says when reflecting on managing county communications during hurricanes Irma and Hermine. The hands-on experience she gained and professional skills she demonstrated earned her awards and the opportunity to present online and at national conferences about Leon County’s communication strategies during weather emergencies.
Over time, the next step in her career was revealed, and she stepped into the role of Assistant Director of Publications and Strategic Events at Florida A&M University. “I feel that I have learned every step of the way through resilience and faith,” she says.
体育在线365Tallahassee is now Smith’s home, which she loves for its intentional development of diversity and inclusion events. As a co-host for the County’s Created Equal event, a conversation about race and race relations that has attracted hundreds, she won Inspirator of the Year for Leon County Government. “It wasn’t just me,” she laughs. “I was just one of the people who made it happen!”
Smith reaches in and helps where she can. "I like to volunteer with organizations that have a positive impact on women and children,” she says. As a Big Sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters, a professional mentor for the Capital Area Community Action Agency’s Getting Ahead program, a member of the Junior Woman’s Club of Midtown, a career mentor through the Ladies Learning to Lead program, and member of the board of the Innovative Community Engagement Foundation, she brings her calming sense of peace and confidence to everyone she meets.
But it is her steadfast support of the Jayda Dionne Parker Scholarship Committee that has been the most humbling. “Jayda stayed next door to me in the dorm rooms during our freshmen year at FAMU,” she explains. The two quickly became friends and bonded over having the same birthday. When Jayda died from cancer in December 2013, Smith began organizing fundraising events on their shared birthday to raise money for a scholarship established by Jayda’s parents. In 2017, Smith won the Chairman’s Award for being an outstanding volunteer.
Britney Smith pauses on the staircase that reaches beyond where she can see, and looks back with a smile. “I want the people that I work with to know that you can be confident without being arrogant, and that you can stand up for yourself. Overall, I believe life is meant to be enjoyed. I genuinely care about the well-being of others, and I work hard so that the people in my life can feel that and believe it."
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Presenting the 25 Women
For the second year Moore, a nationally ranked communications and marketing agency, is partnering with the Tallahassee Democrat to present the 25 Women You Need to Know and 5 Young Women to Watch.