Employee of the Year Makes People Her Priority

She often is the first point of contact for Palm Beach Atlantic University parents, the one who cries with moms and dads when they leave their students for the first time, and who prays with them as their students journey from freshman year through graduation.

In between, Mary Jacobs organizes some of PBA’s biggest annual events, such as American Free Enterprise Day and Family Weekend.

Mary Jacobs, director of special projects and parent relations at Palm Beach Atlantic University, was named PBA’s 2013 Employee of the Year. PBA is a private, Christ-centered college in West Palm Beach, Fla., USA.Recently Jacobs, PBA’s director of special projects and parent relations, was named PBA’s 2013 Employee of the Year. Candidates for this honor are nominated by their peers, and a committee selects the recipient.

In nominating Jacobs, colleagues described her as always smiling and putting others first. They also called her a team player, an innovative thinker and a “go-getter with a winning personality that is contagious.”

Those who work with her say Jacobs is known not only for her upbeat personality and calm demeanor but also her ability to solve problems. For instance, she once was in a parking lot heading to her office and saw a motorist who looked lost. Jacobs stopped to ask if the person needed help, and the visitor turned out to be a parent whose daughter’s housing situation was unresolved. Jacobs invited the individual to her office, called the appropriate department and ensured the parent made contact with the right staff member.

For Jacobs, bringing people together is what her job is all about.

“It’s great to be able to work with departments all across campus,” said Jacobs, who has worked at PBA since 2007.

“Those are my favorite moments, connecting students with faculty and staff and people in the community. So many great stories have come out of those connections.”

In addition to assisting parents and students, Jacobs is the liaison to the PBA Parents Council. The council’s co-chairs, Duane and Sherrell Smith, said that Jacobs has been “awesome to work with.”

“She always has a smile on the outside and in her heart,” Duane Smith said. “She will do everything that is possible to have the parents’ experience be as rewarding as the experience the students are having at PBA.”

Among her many duties is organizing monthly prayer meetings, during which parents pray for the needs of families and students.

“Not only are we able to lift these families up through prayer, but it builds community,” she said.

Before coming to PBA, Jacobs worked for three years as director of events for the National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach. Before that, she was a co-owner of a special event and hospitality company, and she served as the owner/director of three Gymboree Play & Music Program franchises in Palm Beach County. She also worked in the resort industry as an activities director.

Jacobs’s event-planning skills have come in handy when organizing such large-scale events as American Free Enterprise Day, which is attended by hundreds of PBA students, invited guests and the public. She also is the principal organizer of Family Weekend, a time when parents and families are invited to campus to participate in activities with their students.

Off campus, she has been active in community boards and organizations, including the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Girl Scouts of America, SunFest and the Junior League of the Palm Beaches. She also has volunteered with such organizations as March of Dimes Walk America, the Boys & Girls Club and Special Olympics.

A West Palm Beach native, Jacobs grew up the tenth of 11 children. After graduating from Cardinal Newman High School she attended Florida State University, where she majored in education and minored in general communication.

She and her husband, Scott, live in Lake Clarke Shores and are the parents of Theresa, 16, Scottie, 14, and Jennifer, 12.
Jacobs said that she believes her current position enables her to put her gifts to use serving others.

“I’m challenged. No two days are ever the same,” she said. “It stretches me, but it allows me to use the gifts God gave me to work with people.”