ESA Celebrates Women’s History Month: Patricia M. Smith — A Heart of Servitude with the Goal of Unity
Memories are powerful in that they evoke emotions in the present that were formerly felt and allow for time travel back into the past to experience events that once took place. On behalf of all of us here at ESA and in honor of Women’s History Month, I would like to take you back in time on a little journey into the late 1980s when Patricia M. Smith was ESA president. If you knew her, our hope is that you find remembering her and her contributions to our industry inspiring, motivational and helpful.
Printed, written words allow us to turn back the pages of time to discover and extract pieces of past wisdom, which I found in Smith’s “The President’s Column” when ESA was known as the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA).
The title she chose — “The Road to Unity Continues” — reflects what ESA was some 32 years ago and still is today — an inclusive association with a unified voice to build a community that provides resources, advocacy, connections and education to electronic security and life safety professionals.
“Now, in 1989,” she pens, “NBFAA has embarked on its own road, filled with potholes and puzzlement: the road to unity.”
She knew that coming together as a united front was best for the industry, but she also recognized that it could be a tough process filled with issues to be worked through and solved, along with a bit of confusion thrown into the mix. However, the outcome was worth the process in that a unified voice for the industry was established and continues to this day.
“I really think if any of us intend to be in business five years from now, we need to take concrete steps to create a nationally unified voice for the alarm industry … and we need to start now,” Smith quoted in her article about the state of affairs in the industry heading into the 1990s.
Smith recognized that it is impossible to unify an association much less an entire industry segment by making a one-time, set-in-stone plan. The plan must ebb and flow … allow for changes and to be reworked as often as necessary to fulfill the goal of unification. That same thought process holds true today as we are constantly seeking ways to provide ESA members more value by brainstorming new programs and training initiatives; modifying programs that are not working quite as planned; and embracing member feedback.
Toward the end of her article, she penned some words in which I think should become a motivational quote to add to your daily life – “The process of refinement is not over yet.”
It serves as a reminder to us all to never stop the process of learning, networking, seeking mentors, reaching out to industry leaders, becoming actively involved in our industry, advocating at the governmental level, etc. — make small changes daily to improve yourself, your business and the industry along “that most important road, the road to unity, one which will enable us to protect our own bright futures,” Smith wrote.
Interesting Facts about Patricia M. Smith
- She attended the University of Alabama and the University of Maryland, ultimately obtaining a business degree.
- Her first job was with the Democratic National Committee, working on the convention that nominated Harry Truman for President in 1948.
- She had a successful business called Security, Inc.
- She served as 28 president of the association under the theme “Back to the Basics.”
- Back to the basics, to Patricia, meant serving members and strengthening programs to build the overall industry.
- She was the first woman to be named “Man of the Year” by ESA, then NBFAA.
- She was involved in developing the first level one class, which became the beginning of ESA’s National Training School.
- She enjoyed entertaining, playing bridge, serving her church and spending time with her friends and family.