Note: At its Dec. 6 Women in Business Breakfast, the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce named twelve Women of Distinction for 2020. In recognition of their achievements, the Morning Sun will be publishing profiles of each Woman of Distinction.

Although Julie Smith left Crawford County to attend Southwest Baptist University in Missouri and spent some time living in Nashville, Tennessee, since returning to Girard she has more than demonstrated her commitment to the community she grew up in. 

Smith will soon move to a new position with K-State Research and Extension Wildcat District focusing on family resource management and entrepreneurship, but for the last eight years she has been Executive Director of the Girard Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Actually helping a business owner from concept to reality has probably been my favorite part of this position,” Smith said. “I was able to see, you know, kind of what their dream is to be a business owner and put all the pieces together to help make that happen, so in the new role I’m going to be doing much of the same, except for it will be a larger region.

“Instead of just Girard it will be over a four-county area, and I’ll be able to work with different communities and different chambers and economic development organizations to really promote one of the goals of K-State Research and Extension, which is community vitality, so I’ll be able to help hopefully achieve that goal throughout the four-county region.”

During her time at the Girard Chamber, the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce and its president, Blake Benson, “have been great partners for us in Crawford County,” Smith said.

“When we’re talking about southeast Kansas and Crawford County, we’re kind of all in this together, so it’s not a Pittsburg versus Girard thing at all, it’s how can we work together to make this region better and this county better, and Pittsburg Chamber has been 100 percent supportive since the day I started here,” she said.

Smith said it was very humbling to hear she had been chosen as a Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce 2020 Woman of Distinction. 

“There’s three Julie Smiths in Girard so I had to make sure they got the right one. But really though it’s a true honor and something that I feel is not deserving for me individually,” she said. “I’m proud to represent Girard as a community and very appreciative for the recognition.”