Boating Industry

January 2016

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8 | Boating Industry | January 2016 LAUNCH Analysis, data, solutions, news and perspectives to move your business forward. BY BRIANNA LIESTMAN Melissa Danko, executive director of the Ma- rine Trades Association of New Jersey, was named the Darlene Briggs Woman of the Year for 2015 at the Marine Dealer Confer- ence & Expo, which took place Nov. 15-18. Danko has led the association for the past 15 years after working in the hotel in- dustry for 10 years. Her experiences with boating included fi shing with you father as a child and boating with her husband. We sat down with Danko to discuss her accomplishments and garner her perspec- tive on the industry. Are there any standout achievements in your career as executive director? DANKO: The one thing that stands out in my mind is perhaps a lot of the work my team and I did for Hurricane Sandy recov- ery. I think it was probably one of the most challenging time periods here, right after the storm and trying to navigate through what we had to do as a trade association to help our members. Some of them lost everything and were just so devastated from the storm. I'm proud to say we did a lot of work to help them get through that tough period. We worked really hard to make sure some of these businesses were able to receive grants and funding, and it was defi nitely hard and challenging. Sandy still is here all around us three years [later] but I'm defi nitely proud of what we were able to do to help our members. What do you think the industry can do to get more young people on the water? DANKO: We have to certainly have oppor- tunities and ways to get them out onto the water … and identifying youth programs that can work toward getting kids out on the water and fi nding ways to support them fi nancially. It's defi nitely a piece that I spend a lot of time thinking about. I have two young children of my own and I real- ize what an enormous impact my husband and I are having on them, just bringing them on the water. I hear them talk to their friends about boating. So I think looking to making sure that we're engaging the chil- dren, giving the support and resources for their families or even opening the door for people who maybe don't have a boat, and doing that through programs to get other children out on the water. I think that's one Melissa Danko named 2015 Darlene Briggs Woman of the Year of the best experiences. You've got to get them out there fi rst. You've got to hook them. What do you think the marine industry can do to attract more women as an employment option? DANKO: I would defi nitely start by saying I certainly see more women professionals in our industry, so I think that's a great thing to be able to see. … The industry can certainly continue by hiring more women, engaging them and I think an incredibly important piece of this is ensuring that the workplace is equitable and fair for every- one. I also feel really strongly about ensuring that organizations, both in our industry and other in- dustries, create policies and support fl exibility not just for working women but working families as a whole. … Advancement of technology has really made it so much easier to do that, so it would be nice to see more of a focus on productivity and results by offering fl exibility and freedom. I am a strong believer that it creates a happier work en- vironment and I think our industry can certainly look to embrace that and lead the way. Photo by Lester Austin/Universal Image From left to right: 2014 Darlene Briggs winner Margaret Podlich; 2015 Darlene Briggs winner Melissa Danko; and Boating Industry National Sales Director Kathy Johnson. For an in-depth Q&A with Danko, visit Boating Industry .com

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