Jacksonville business owner and community leader Amy Pope-Wells will be the featured speaker at the Women Business Owners (WBO) of North Florida’s signature event on March 8 at the University of North Florida.
Pope-Wells is the owner of a LINK Staffing franchise in Jacksonville, and was recently appointed by President Donald Trump to a committee that supports the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders. She was part of a select group of women business owners to meet with Trump, his daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other leaders to discuss issues affecting women in business.
Pope-Wells plans to share the message of what she’s learned throughout building her business and through her community and advocacy involvement at the WBO event March 8. The title of the event is “G.R.I.T.,” which stands for “Growth, Resilience, Integrity, Tenacity,” which is based on the book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,” by Angela Duckworth.
“I think we need to hear a message on this,” Pope-Wells said. “Women nowadays, we have to be pretty gritty. We not only need to talk about how we’re gritty, but where our weaknesses are and where our passions are. It’s not just reading the book but relating it to our own personal lives.”
Pope-Wells said it was a series of twists and turns in life that led her to the where she is now. She grew up in a small town outside of Charlotte, North Carolina, and earned a nursing degree. She worked for almost a decade as a critical care nurse, which helped prepare her for a future of advocacy.
“I have a huge drive and passion to take care of people,” she said.
In 2007, Hope-Wells and her husband purchased a LINK Staffing franchise in Clay County, which “focuses on providing temporary, contract and full-time placement within the general staffing industry.”
Pope-Wells said one of the keys to her success is a lack of fear, and willingness to take advantage of opportunities, which helped land her a spot at the White House meeting.
“When an opportunity arises, I will always contribute where I can,” Pope-Wells said. “One of the things I’ve always tried to do is carry myself with kindness and grace: Having respect for those around me, sharing lessons that I’ve learned, whether it’s with kids or other leaders.”
Hope-Wells said just knowing when, and how, to take advantage of business opportunities is important, and she aims to share that know-how with other women entrepreneurs.
“If you’re not engaged, you don’t have those opportunities,” she said. “I try to recognize each opportunity, and try to be valuable and honest and transparent, and, most importantly, do right by people at the table.”
She said one board she sits on has just five women from the entire United States, so she wants to make sure Northeast Florida gets noticed.
“You only have a handful of people at the table and you represent that marketplace and that voice,” she said. “I can give them Northeast Florida’s voice.”
Pope-Wells said she’s looking forward to talking to women in business and sharing the lessons she learned, but also encouraging them to not give up when the going gets tough.
“Time after time, I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to dig deep,” she said. “It doesn’t always feel good, but it’s the right thing to do.”
She said she plans to offer options and ideas, but she also plans to tell it like it is.
“I’m not the person that says it’s all going to be butterflies and rainbows,” she said. “But what I will say is, ‘Look it is tough, but when these opportunities come along, you’ve got to take advantage of them.’ And you’ve got to learn how to recognize when they’re there.”
The event will also feature other successful business women in the area, including Suzzane Lemen, CEO of Dynamic Corporation Solutions (DCSI,) and a panel consisting of Brandi Bass, CEO of Jacksonville Dixie Blues; Kelly Straub, senior vice president of global accounts at sgsco; and Heather Quick, CEO of The Quick Law Group. Pope-Wells said among the panel discussions will be the topic of trying to juggle being a wife, mother, daughter and business woman.
Pope-Wells said the issue isn’t just about women’s rights but “about doing what’s right and sharing experiences and allowing opportunity for change to happen.”
And one of the biggest changes she hopes to see is building a solid foundation for the next generation of women in business.
“We have to create a bond and support structure, not just for ourselves, but to start training the next generation,” she said. “Our real job is not just what we’re doing now but preparing them. If we can prepare them to take it to the next level, then I’m perfectly good.”
For more information or to register for the WBO’s signature event on March 8, go to www.wbonfl.org/signature-event.