2012 Member of the Year
Chicagoland Commercial Real Estate
A rare and welcome event in any volunteer organization is the arrival on the scene of a member such as Emily Smith. When Emily joined NAWBO in 2009, she initially felt intimidated and was unfamiliar with matters such as networking, certification, and the SBA. But she was fortunate to have followed the oft-recommended pattern for success as a NAWBO member: (1) a trusted friend and business colleague advised her repeatedly to join, and then encouraged her to attend events and join a committee; (2) she made the acquaintance of chapter leaders who recognized and encouraged her leadership qualities; (3) she was inspired to continually increase her involvement as a way of “paying it forward” for the benefits she gained from her membership.
Emily “gets it” about the potential value of NAWBO membership to any woman business owner, and she virtually lives and breathes the NAWBO mission. Her Board title “Director of Membership” only describes at a minimum the value that she represents to this chapter. Whenever there is a leadership or volunteer need in any area, Emily has repeatedly stepped forward to pick up the slack and “save the day” by quickly generating creative ideas and solutions, securing sponsorships, and otherwise masterfully engineering successful events and programs. She takes on these projects quietly and without fanfare, driven only by the best interests of the organization.
As Membership Director, Emily has been responsible for nearly every new member; every current member who has renewed; and every event designed to attract, connect and energize current and prospective members. It was due primarily to Emily’s passion, leadership, and endless hours of one-on-one connections that NAWBO Chicago received the adulation of a grateful national NAWBO along with the award for most new members brought in last year during the 2011 spring membership drive. She and her Membership committees developed and reinstituted Membership Orientations and Prospective Members events. And as she became increasingly familiar with member wants and needs, Emily championed more member-focused programming and networking, and reinstituted connecting events and monthly membership meetings.
Beyond her Membership Director role, Emily often spearheads the planning of events and special projects – such as NAWBO Day 2011, and the robust lineup of free-to-members monthly topic-driven programs for calendar year 2012. Overall, Emily is tireless in her efforts to build membership, expand the chapter’s reach and visibility, and increase revenues and sponsorship dollars.
But Emily wears an entrepreneurial hat as well. As a successful commercial real estate broker and tenant advisory specialist, she has helped small, medium and large businesses alike negotiate favorable terms on lease occupancies – even with the most recalcitrant landlords – and operate from a position of power. Her company, Chicagoland Commercial Real Estate, provides a free assessment of your current leasing situation, and its services range from renewal/relocation evaluation to occupancy analysis/planning, market/financial analysis, lease negotiations and documentation, construction, and post occupancy support.