Capitol Communicator is running “Up Close and Personal” profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic. In this profile we feature Deena Smith. Photography for the series is by Cade Martin, wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire and Sybil Street for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup by Patti D Nelson, Janice Kinigopoulos and Lori Pressman for THE Artist Agency.
Deena, please provide a short bio.
I was born and raised in New York City. My first job out of college was at an advertising agency in New York—DDB Needham, now DDB Worlwide, and now I’m an agency girl for life! It’s been 28 years and counting. As Director of Operations at HZ, my focus is on day-to-day business operations, revenue evaluation and margin management.
Are you involved in any other organizations?
I donate and support charitable efforts; I think it’s important to give. My sister and brother-in-law are involved with a number of community-service related projects, so I join them as a way to see them and to support others. We’ll do community cleanups, spend time with elderly residents, support clothing and food drives.
What are the things you are most proud of?
I’m incredibly proud of my son, Jared, for following his dream of becoming a commercial airline pilot since he was two years old. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics and then went on to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and is now a first officer piloting commercial aircraft for Endeavor Airlines, Delta’s wholly owned regional airline that operates as a Delta Connection. So proud of him! I’m also proud of my husband, who, after 24 years of service in the Air Force, is back in school now completing his degree in Aeronautical Science at Embry-Riddle. It’s pretty wild that they both have this interest. Ties are close in our family, I guess. I met my husband at a family wedding—he’s my brother-in-law’s second cousin!
Who are your personal role models?
My moms for sure – yes, I was blessed to have two -, who taught me about work ethic, respect, applying common sense, having street smarts and always viewing things or situations from different perspectives. Most importantly, they taught me to take no day of life for granted. They didn’t sit me down and tell me these lessons — I watched and learned. They are why I am who I am.
Did your moms offer professional advice that helped you in your career?
They were both positive and strong women and I absorbed that. One principle was to lead by example. Another was to face the fear, because you can do anything. Another lesson was to treat others well, even when it is difficult, because you don’t know what other people are going through.
What professional advice do you have for others?
Be inquisitive, never stop learning, and surround yourself with people you know are intelligent and you can learn from. Fall down and get back up—falling down is inevitable, but getting back up is where the good growth happens. Keep it moving and know that falling is human and normal. Learn from the failures and the successes.
What’s on your Spotify or Pandora playlists?
Too eclectic to stick to one genre! I recently listened to music that includes songs by Andrea Bocelli, Donna Summer, Fleetwood Mac, Nina Simone, Mary J. Blige, Morrissey, Neil Diamond and Phylis Hyman.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
Any restaurant that my husband takes me to for a date night, I’m not choosy! I love going to dinner in Georgetown, because there’s always something to do before and after. I love that area.
Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
I love to run and I wake up every day at 5 a.m. to do it. Depending on the day, I’ll run between three and eight miles. I love the stress relief, the sweat, the feeling that my mind is free. I feel like I’ve accomplished something before my “actual” day starts. People may not know that I’m an organ donor to my ex-husband. He’s the father of my son and we’ve always been very close friends. I did it because want him to be around and because, simply put, he’s a human being that I could help. You only need one kidney to live.