On January 15th, Kelly Smallridge was named Woman of the Year by the Palm Beach North Chamber of Commerce. When Kelly’s name was announced, there was a collective celebration, appreciation and admiration in the audience. This latest of her many awards and accolades simply acknowledges what we have all known: Kelly Smallridge is The Woman of the Year for All Years!
For 32 years, she has been the driving force behind the Business Development Board (BDB) of Palm Beach County. Five years ago, she joined the Board of Directors of the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County. With so many responsibilities and demands on her schedule, when asked why she finds time to volunteer as a Board Member, Kelly responded: “We understand that in order to be successful in building a diversified and sustainable economy, we must have a solid educational support system and ecosystem of educators aligned with job creation. Simply put, education is the fundamental backbone of economic development.”
Kelly’s passion for and commitment to public education is personal as well as professional: “I am a product of the Palm Beach County public school system having attended K-12 at Kirklane Elementary, Conniston Middle School and John I. Leonard High. All three of my sons attended public schools in Wellington as well. Palm Beach County is blessed to have a prestigious and effective organization like the Education Foundation looking out for the well-being of our students and teachers. The organization is led by the most dedicated and professional group of leaders both at the staff and board level.”
Next month, we will celebrate the Distinguished Alumni & Leadership Awards. This event is co-sponsored by the BDB as well as the Education Foundation…which is fitting since Kelly herself is a past recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2013. There must be something in the water over there at John I. Leonard High School…which also produced our beloved Past Board Chair Ed Tancer…and former Principal and current Education Foundation Board Member and School District Chief of Staff Ed Tierney. When asked what parts of her work with the Education Foundation have been most rewarding, Kelly stated: “When Covid hit our county, business leaders were very concerned that so many students in Palm Beach County did not have the resources from a technology standpoint to succeed in distance learning from their home. They lacked access to the internet as well as appropriate hardware. After identifying the problem and bringing several entities together, the Education Foundation carried the torch to secure the necessary funding to ensure that no child would be left behind in our county. Their ability to quickly jump on board and mobilize resources was beyond incredible. Thanks to their hard work we not only addressed a short-term need but also shifted focus to the bigger digital divide issue.”
Whether bringing new businesses to Palm Beach County, encouraging executives to relocate to our community, expediting permitting processes or advocating for a first-rate educational system, Kelly Smallridge brings her insight, experience and knowledge to every task she undertakes….and Palm Beach County is the better for having her! Woman of the Year? Of course. Woman of the Decade? Absolutely. Woman for All Years? The Education Foundation of Palm Beach County believes the above answers that…