Wanda Kenton Smith, chief marketing officer of Freedom Boat Club and president of Marine Marketers of America, won the Darlene Briggs Woman of the Year Award at the Marine Dealer Conference and Expo.
Don Galey, of Galey’s Marine in Bakersfield, Calif., was the first recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.
The MDCE got underway on Sunday and it runs through Wednesday at the Orange County Convention Center.
The MRAA said the Briggs award is named after the late Darlene Briggs of Wayzata, Minn., who was admired for her tireless dedication to the industry. The MRAA and Boating Industry magazine present the award to honor her memory. It is presented annually to an outstanding woman who is actively involved in the industry at any level.
Kenton Smith joined the industry in 1980, and the MRAA said she wears multiple hats on a daily basis, which also include; president of Kenton Smith Marketing; marketing columnist for Soundings Trade Only; chairwoman of the RBLC New Markets Task Force; and member of Boating Writers International.
The MRAA said her contributions to the advancement of women in the industry are astounding. She founded Marine Marketing to Women, an educational firm that provided training on the impact of women on buying decisions for consumer products, including boats.
Kenton Smith also created an organization called International Women in Boating, reaching a membership of 350 before it was taken over by the National Marine Manufacturers Association. Her most recent contribution was the launch of Freedom Boating Divas, an educational and networking program for female members of the Freedom Boat Club.
“Wanda Kenton Smith’s continued pioneering for the advancement of women in the boating industry over the past 37 years makes her an obvious choice for this year’s Darlene Briggs Woman of the Year Award,” Jeff Siems, president of the board of the MRAA Educational Foundation, said in a statement.
“I feel extremely fortunate to have worked my entire adult career other than one year in the boating industry,” Kenton Smith said in her application. “I have been taught and inspired by many women along my walk, and I’m grateful for the experience and the people who have crossed my wake, and for the opportunities I’ve had to grow and continue to learn.”
Wanda Kenton Smith, who received the Darlene Briggs Woman of the Year Award, is shown with Matt Gruhn, president of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas.