FEW Spotlight

FEW Spotlight

Judi Awsumb – FEW Trustee

FEW Member since 2014


Please tell us about your position and company.  Favorite parts?

I’m President  & Owner of Awsumb Enterprises, Inc., providing business growth strategies and initiatives to help businesses achieve identified growth objectives for the past fourteen years.  My company offers advisory services that are measureable to achieve the client’s desired success.  I’ve worked with CEO’s and executives in a number of innovative and high-growth companies from software companies, renewable energy, retail, engineering and a variety of other industries.

My prior experience as a Corporate Vice President in a large fortune 500 company that I grew from 16 million to over $200 million in Florida provides the necessary background and skill set to understand with each threshold of growth, business leaders need to examine all facets of their business in order to take it to the next level of growth.  My favorite part of what I do is to see my clients’ successes in implementing tools and processes that they were previously unaware of that positively impacted their growth results.

What would you like to share about your childhood? 

Born in Virginia, I moved to Orlando when I was nine years old for my Dad to take a job with Martin-Marietta (now Lockheed Martin).  My Dad was extremely hard working and was an example of a good work ethic.  I think I inherited that trait from him.  I love my work and have always been focused on getting things done and exceeding expectations. It’s part of my DNA and without my Dad setting the example, and encouraging me that I could do whatever I wanted to do in life as a small child, I don’t think I would have accomplished a continuous or repeated track record of success in my career.

How would you describe yourself?  

I manage from the heart, meaning I try to understand where the other person is coming from-and without judgement.  I’m thoughtful, positive and treat people the way I want to be treated.  That being said, I’m also tough, direct and make decisions based on pertinent information.

What would you like to share about your current family and free time?

I‘m married to John, who is an architect and is the ‘love of my life’.  We’ve been married 37 years.  We have such fun together and love to dance together at the Alfond in Winter Park when our favorite band is playing there.  We have a group of friends that we hang out with and love to go out to dinner, movies, travel and share each other’s wins and challenges.

We have one adorable 2-year-old miniature Schnauzer, Bella Star, who is the smartest, funniest and most adorable pup.  I’d like to get a cat but I’m allergic and need to get shots before I can have another one.  We’ve had dogs and cats together most all our lives.  John and I are both animal lovers and have saved our share of wild animals during our time together.  I can’t imagine life without my husband, family, friends and animals.  We’ve lived in our current home on Park Ave in Winter Park for over three decades with four renovations to our home.  It’s finally done!  John is the most important person in my life.  I’m thankful to God that we found each other.

What was your greatest accomplishment? 

Besides a blessed marriage to my best friend for 37 years, my recent accomplishment is being the founder of CEO Nexus – Women’s Collaboration Group – a fantastic group of women-owned businesses that are generating a minimum of $1 million plus in annual revenues.  The group meets once a month from 9-1pm at Rollins in a “peer to peer” learning environment. The bond they establish with each other is amazing.  We are focused on growth strategies, operations, leadership, and succession planning.  It’s so rewarding to see members grow, share, develop and implement new strategies, and thrive to achieve their business goals.  I’m excited to be starting another group in September.  This group is targeted to 2nd stage women business owners who are under $1 million who want to grow.  The fact is only 20% of all women-owned businesses are generating  $1 million or more in annual revenues, and I want to change that percentage.  The most important aspect is putting the right group of individuals together and that is the most time consuming part of the process.

What awards and acknowledgements were most meaningful to you?

I’ve been lucky to surround myself with great team members during my career and have received numerous performance and leadership awards, many of which are packed away in our attic.  Any awards or recognition that I have received are mostly due to a team effort.  One highpoint in my career was to take 100 top performers who worked for me and their guests, total of 200 to Rome, Italy for a week in recognition of their overachievement of measured performance objectives in sales, customer service, administrative and management.

What is the most important career help anyone has given you?

I was hired by Exxon as my first job to sell facsimile machines.  Yes, the big oil company thought they would venture into a new emerging area.  I worked my way up through the ranks, from sales person, sales manager, and branch manager for Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville to a national position of Director of training.

One thing that has stuck with me is to take your time to hire great people with the required skill set for the job and thoroughly vet them to make sure they are a fit with your company culture, with a good work ethic, the ability to learn, think creatively and grow within your organization.  I was always fortunate to attract great people that established my track record of delivering results.  I also was quick to let go of people who were not a fit for the team and the organization.

What causes stir your passion?

I’m passionate about keeping our children safe in our community and world, hunger and homelessness, education, abuse/violence toward people and animals, and of course helping female entrepreneurs grow their businesses which helps our local economy.

What are the primary nonprofit organizations where you volunteer and that are particularly important to you?

I’m a member of the Athena Powerlink, Orlando governing board for the past ten years.  Athena Powerlink, Orlando, is mentoring program for high potential women business owners.  I work very closely with each business owner to develop their annual plan of action.  They are in the program for one year surrounded by a legal, financial, CPA, HR and sales/marketing professionals who serve as volunteer advisors.  To see the change in these women in one year is truly amazing.  The skills they learn and implement are well worth the investment of time with them and gives me great joy to see their confidence and the achievement of their growth objectives.  I participate in the selection process of panel members that match the needs of the Athena client, update their business plan each quarter and assist with the orientation of panel members.  This program is a perfect match for my passion to help female business owners.

When I started in my corporate position over 35 years ago, there were no female role models, and unfortunately, some men were threatened by a female who was achieving assigned goals and objectives and being promoted to higher levels of responsibility.  I decided when I reached an executive position, that I would hire more women and support their growth.  Importantly, after leaving my corporate position and becoming an entrepreneur with my own company for the past 14 years, I’m spending time focused on my passion.  I’m also passionate about Pet Alliance and have served on other non-profit boards throughout my career.

What are two things people would be surprised to know about you?

Now I’m going to go back in time to the mid-90’s; I was on Good Morning America.  I was interviewed because of my role as a traveling executive (21 locations in FL).  We were touting that we could send signed contracts back to my office via fax- How’s that for technology!  What would we do without laptops, scanners and all the various tools we have to communicate!  Things are quite different today with all the technology we now use and take for granted.  Soon facsimile machines will be obsolete.

It may surprise to know I’m not always serious.  I love to laugh and have fun.  I love to tell funny stories and hang out with my husband, family and friends.

For what would you like to be known?

I want to be known as a good wife, friend, and family member.  I want to be known for always keeping my word, being thoughtful, kind and helping others through my commitment to encourage women to achieve their goals and to achieve a good work life balance.

If you were not in your current profession, what would you want to do?

I love to be a chef because I’m not much of a cook.  I only have a few recipes that I’m confident in making; therefore, I would love to learn how to make fabulous, fresh healthy food with excellent wine pairings.  I’ve worked throughout my entire life and have no plans for retiring so perhaps a cooking class is in my future.

What have been a few of your favorite travel destinations?

My husband and I have been so fortunate to travel extensively all over the U.S, Bermuda, Bahama’s, and all over Europe, as well as Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong.  Our very favorite country is Italy.  We’ve been several times and have enjoyed it from north to south including, Lake Como, Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome, to southern Naples, Sorrento, and Isle of Capri.  We had our honeymoon in Paris so it’s very special too.  My husband’s knowledge of the history of architecture makes each trip special and a wonderful learning experience about art and culture.  There are still so many places we’d like to go like South Africa in the future.

What keeps FEW important and of value to you? 

I have enjoyed the many friendships with accomplished women in FEW and especially enjoyed the retreats where we can have fun in a relaxed environment.  Christi Ashby does such a wonderful job planning our FEW retreats.  The first retreat I attended, I had to wear a boot from a surgery on my toe.  We went on a sail boat cruise in Daytona and when I returned, I was told by my Doctor, if I had fallen overboard, I would have sunk because of the weight of the boot.  I told him, my FEW sisters would have saved me!  Each year I feel more connected to the sisterhood of FEW.  I’m enjoying serving as Program Chair on the FEW Board of Trustees and want to bring unique and impactful programs to our members and welcome suggestions and ideas for 2019!


FEW Spotlight

Shelley Lauten – FEW Member May 2018

Please tell us about your position and company.

Since November, 2016, I have served as the CEO of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness.  The Commission’s mission is to convene nonprofits, faith-based institutions, government entities, philanthropic initiatives, businesses and other charitable and community organizations to develop a shared vision and implement agreed upon community-based solutions.

Our goal is to ensure that Central Florida has a coordinated system of care that ensures that homelessness is a rare, brief and one-time event for people experiencing homelessness in our region.

What have been the favorite parts of your career?

I’ve had a long and diverse career: teacher, college administrator, corporate executive and small business owner/consultant, community change agent.  Each one of those job focused on what I believe are my core talents:  change agent, teacher and student.  These are the talents I bring to my role at the Commission.

What would you like to share about your childhood? 

I was born and raised in Melbourne Beach, Florida.  So, I still have sand in my shoes and a passion for beach life.  I lived a rather average middle class upbringing.  Both of my parents were products of World War II, and both brought a great deal of unresolved trauma to their marriage and their roles as parents.  My father died young and my mother died just a few years ago.  I had three siblings, two who also died very young.  What I learned from my upbringing is what I wanted and what I didn’t want as a wife and a mother.

What about your current family and your free time?

Anyone who knows me at all knows my family.  While my birth family was dysfunctional, I was so blessed to marry into an amazing, large loving Irish family.  I married my best friend’s brother….and I actually knew her 7 years before I met him.  He was the only boy with 5 sisters, with an amazing larger-than-life Dad and a saint of a mother.  I learned what great marriages and great parenting looked like.

That prepared me well for the birth of our two children, with whom I am very close.  My oldest, Chris, is the Director of Men’s Basketball Operations at Northwestern University in Chicago and I’m a RABID college basketball fanatic. (Truly)  My daughter and son-in-law, Tori and Josh live in California.  She’s a project manager for an energy company, and he is a trainer of a semi-pro hockey team.  They have given us our first grandchild, Sawyer.  She is the absolute joy of our life right now—who knew grandparenting would be so, well….grand!

I spend most of  my free time on planes to Chicago or California…and when home, I read (a lot), exercise (pilates is my favorite.)…and get hooked on great series tv—right now, I’m catching up on The Americans….!

What awards were most meaningful to you?

I’ve had a wonderful career with many awards—but they pale in comparison to the joy and pride I get from my life with my husband of 34 years, my children and grandchild.  That said, I have had an amazing career journey…and so fortunate to love, love love my work (most days)!

What is the most important career help you received?

I have had strong female mentors in almost every job I’ve had.  I’ve be so lucky that way.  I’ve had good male mentors, too—but I learned the most from my strong women mentors in how to be a strong  executive leader, especially when surrounded by a majority of men.

What causes or issues stir your passion? 

Obviously, homelessness—I’m so proud of leading an organization that is helping to  change the lives of so many of our neighbors in need.

Then—Athena and any other group where I can mentor the next generation of women leaders. It’s my turn to mentor those who follow, just as others did for me

What are two things people would be surprised to know about you?

1.) That I’m a serious introvert.  I’ve had to learn how to be an extroverted introvert.  But, man, it’s exhausting.

2)  That not only was I a beach girl, I also grew up as a “swamp rat” in my teen years—airboating on the St. Johns River, loving the incredible nature and environment –fishing, hunting and “swimming with the gators”….crazy stuff

For what do you want to be known?

I want to be known as someone who can create positive change for our region….and not just talk about what needs to happen….But work in a collaborative way to get positive results.

What types of books do you prefer?  Favorites?

I am a reader of all kinds of books.  If I could do anything, I would be an author.   I love language and the written work.  Especially, I love history, historical fiction and classic literature—or recommendations from friends about a new author who writes really, really well.  As examples, the books I’ve most recently enjoyed include “Beneath a Ruthless Sun” and “Devil in the Grove” by Gilbert King, “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr and “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee

How can FEW be of value to you?

I’ve wanted to join for years, but my travel always got in the way.  I am so impressed with the women leaders involved.  And, as  mentioned earlier , I am a student of leadership—I have much to learn from the women of FEW.