Brightly colored Ho Ho Ho wrapping paper and a swirly red bow are missing. There is no To and From tag. It can’t be shaken or weighed to discern what might be inside. The gift can’t even be held, but for sure, each of us has received it. The bearer of this present is considered by many to be a gift herself. That became very apparent, when during the December Chamber luncheon, the name Katie Smardo was announced to the crowd.
Emcee Gerry Dick had just proclaimed Katie Smardo as the recipient of the Young Professional of the Year Award. Katie’s gift giving of time and talent over the last several years is impressive and the audience enthusiastically agreed. The award is designed to spotlight the next generation of young professionals aged 21 to 40 who demonstrate a passion for making a difference in our community. The winner must excel in four key areas; leadership, mentorship, community involvement and entrepreneurship.
That she does. Katie has been a leader of the Chamber’s young professional group called Arrows. She has been a strong volunteer force behind the impressive growth of the group. She is also a supporter of local arts efforts through The Scene, the Center for the Performing Arts’ young professionals’ organization. She also volunteers for United Way, is a graduate of the Hamilton County Leadership Academy, volunteers for Habitat for Humanity and Monon Center’s programs for children with developmental disabilities. As a 12-year member of Rotary International, she has been elected as District Governor and will serve in that important role in 2016.
When she took to the dais to accept the award, she repeated several times, “I’m really confused.” The reason her name appearing on the award did not make sense was because she was on the selection committee. She said, “I was at the meeting and we picked someone else!”
Clearly that was a ruse in order to make sure on this day, she was absolutely surprised. In true Smardo fashion she went on to give credit to others by saying, “I am very honored and I didn’t think I am as deserving. We reviewed so many great nominations. We have awesome young professionals in this community.”
One of Katie’s admirers summed up best why she is deserving of this award. “She attends or is involved with almost everything going on in our community and serves each organization with contagious enthusiasm. Good Day, Katie.