Margaret Podlich, president of the Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), the nation’s largest boat owners’ association with more than 500,000 members, was named the 2014 Darlene Briggs Woman of the Year. Podlich was honoured Wednesday Nov. 19, during the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo Awards Breakfast at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, Fla. The Darlene Briggs Woman of the Year Award is presented annually to an outstanding woman in the marine industry.
Photo: From left to right: Marcia Kull, Volvo Penta; Margaret Podlich, BoatUS; and Kathy Johnson, Boating Industry.
For the past 20 years, Podlich has served in various capacities for BoatUS, working her way up to the presidency in 2011. She began her two-decades-long career with the association back in 1994, when she was recruited by BoatUS to run its then-new, non-profit BoatUS Clean Water Trust. In 2005, Podlich was promoted to the position of vice president of government affairs. She ascended to BoatUS’ top position more than three years ago, overseeing the group’s membership activities, recruitment and retention efforts, government affairs and lobbying responsibilities, and consumer and public affairs, among other responsibilities.
Podlich is active beyond her BoatUS duties with organizations such as the Recreational Boating Leadership Council and the American Boat & Yacht Council, where she currently sits on the ABYC Board of Directors. She also served one term on the U.S. Coast Guard’s Boating Safety Advisory Council, ending in 2011.
A lifelong boater, Podlich was raised in a sailing family. After racing in college while attending Tulane University, she competed in a wide range of national and international events, including finishing fourth in the 2011 Rolex Women’s International Keelboat Regatta. In 2006, she also was a member of the three-woman Yuengling Team Cronin sailing crew that competed for a place on the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team for the 2008 Beijing Summer Games “To be in the select group of women who have received this award before me — who build, sell, service and provide ‘homes’ to the boats that are critical to our half-million members — is very humbling,” says Podlich. “Folks like Volvo’s Marcia Kull and Grady-White Boats’ Kris Carroll have shown great leadership and prove there are successful career paths for women in recreational boating. I hope the industry recognizes that today, women play a central and growing role, and can offer a valuable perspective when it comes to increasing our customer base.”
The recipient of the Darlene Briggs Woman of the Year Award demonstrates leadership and commitment to the boating business. Recipients also must show a willingness to volunteer their time and effort in their communities and social organizations.
The award was established in 1987 in honor of Darlene Briggs of Wayzata Marine in Wayzata, Minn., who exemplified these qualities, serving as the first retail marine saleswoman in Minnesota and the first female member of her state marine trades association. It is sponsored by the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas and Boating Industry magazine.
At the event, Boating Industry’s national sales director Kathy Johnson introduced the 2007 Darlene Briggs Award winner, Marcia Kull, vice president of Volvo Penta of the Americas, who presented the award to Podlich. Podlich received a trophy furnished by Boating Industry, which will publicize the presentation and feature Podlich in an upcoming issue of the magazine following the event.
“Margaret’s passion for boating is evident in all she pursues, and she directly translates that passion into action that ensures safe and available boating access for all boaters,” says Kull. “She promotes and protects boating on both a national and regional basis, and works with a wide variety of stakeholders to solve issues facing the boating community tirelessly and enthusiastically. She is an incredible person and thoroughly deserving of the honor of being named the Darlene Briggs Woman of the Year.”