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Monday Meeting: Charlotte Pelton, from working for her mother to working for National Committee for Women

Charlotte Pelton is president of Charlotte Pelton & Associates, a management consulting firm based in Palm Beach Gardens that she formed four years ago.

In November, Pelton landed the U.S. National Committee for UN Women as a new client. The committee supports equality for women and girls around the world.

Name: Charlotte Pelton

Age: 61

Hometown: Jackson, Miss.

About your company: Charlotte Pelton & Associates is a management-consulting firm providing services in planning, marketing and resource development. In 25 years of fund-raising experience, I have found that if an organization plans properly, then raises awareness through marketing, fundraising will follow much more successfully. This has been true for projects for the Palm Beach Zoo, Lakeside Medical Center in the Glades, Palm Healthcare Foundation, the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and School in Palm Beach Gardens and others.

Recently expanded offerings include business and community development consulting services — along with the addition of our newest team member, my husband, Larry Pelton (formerly of the Economic Development Council of St. Lucie County and the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County), who joined the firm this month, bringing more than 40 years of experience in attracting and expanding businesses.

How your business has changed: We have changed to reflect the downturn in the economy and the resulting client need for comprehensive services at affordable prices. In the past, I have been a shareholder in three consulting companies. When I founded my own company in 2009, I determined that to give the best services at a fair, affordable price, we would serve all clients with a team of at least two staff members.

How will you approach the new assignment to work with the U.S. National Committee for UN Women? As we approach all of our projects, we have mapped out a detailed timeline so that the organization’s leaders and staff know who on our team is responsible for what aspect of the project.

It is a challenging project: we are charged with creating and implementing marketing and fund-raising strategies aimed at encouraging monthly giving from donors across America to support programs for social, political and economic equality for women and girls around the world.

It certainly is a wonderful opportunity to tap into a variety of the talents represented by our staff. It is not only a marketing challenge, but also a fund-raising challenge because none of the donations raised in the U.S. are spent on programs in the U.S. This does not lessen the importance of the U.N. Women mission to enable women of all ages to have access to education, employment opportunities and sustainable livelihoods that enable them to live free of gender-based violence. However, donating for a cause overseas serves as a negative for some U.S. donors.

First paying job and what you learned from it: My first paying job was working for my mother when I was in middle school. She was property manager for several apartment complexes; my sister and I would earn money by cleaning apartments when people moved out.

She was a tough taskmaster who expected that the apartments would be spotless when we finished, regardless of how dirty they might have been when we started. I learned that my “boss” expected me to produce work that met her expectations, not my own, and that I was expected to stay on the job until it was done, regardless of how many hours that might take. Cleaning other people’s dirt and grime in kitchens and bathrooms was not fun, but I did learn what clean — and hard work — really mean.

First break in the business: After college, I moved to Memphis, Tenn., and was hired by Memphis Blue Cross Blue Shield. Because of my new boss’ sudden serious illness and untimely death, I was given the opportunity to become manager of a department at a young age, a position that might have otherwise have taken me years to achieve. This gave me the chance to learn how to manage and motivate a team of people while learning a host of new skills myself.

Best business book you ever read: While it is not a business book per se, one of the best books I have read related to my chosen vocation is A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri J. M. Nouwen. He reminds us that the sometimes very hard work of raising money is a special ministry that enables individuals to undertake great acts of kindness and generosity, helping nonprofits do their part to change the world.

Best piece of business advice you ever received: “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” I have worked for folks who have treated me badly and those who have treated me well, so I can attest to the truth in that statement. Having experienced both, I know what type of leader I want to follow and, therefore, what type of leader I want to be.

What you tell young people about your business: That working as a consultant has allowed me to learn about a wide variety of important causes, to help each one fulfill its mission and achieve its vision, and to be an informed advocate long after a project has ended.

What do you see ahead for Palm Beach County? As the economy continues to improve, I see a business community increasingly open to women in leadership roles.

I have certainly witnessed that within FPL, the company I had the fortune of joining when I moved to Miami in 1980. Many of the women I worked with have risen through the ranks and now take their rightful places alongside men in top leadership roles in what was traditionally a male-dominated industry.

Passion cause: Executive Women of the Palm Beaches and its charitable foundation. The organization reflects the coming together of a group of women leaders, not only to support each other, but also to work together to support girls and women in need of help to achieve their highest potential. I am proud to serve as Executive Women’s president-elect and also as co-chair of our upcoming Women in Leadership Awards luncheon in May 2014.

Power lunch spot: Pistache in downtown West Palm Beach, as it is easy to get in and out of quickly, with never a long wait. I always enjoy running into folks I know, and the food is healthy and delicious.

What is the most important trait you look for when hiring? First and foremost, integrity. After that, I look for those with great communication skills, both written and oral. If someone can’t communicate well, then he or she cannot be successful in our business.

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