Judy Hull is a woman who wears many hats.
She is not only the Executive Director of the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce, she is also the President of the Florida Keys Scenic Corridor Alliance (see related story on pg. ?)
This farm girl, who was originally from Forrest City, Arkansas, said she knew after her first visit to the Florida Keys that this was exactly where she wanted to be.
“I am living my dream,” Hull insists.
Like so many transplants, Hull got her first taste of the Keys during a family vacation in the mid 1970s. Since their initial trip, in which her entire family decided to obtain their SCUBA certification at Ocean Quest Dive Center at Plantation Yacht Harbor, they made the annual trek from Arkansas at least once each year.
Hull likely established the foundation for her future career path during her formative high school years at Forrest City High School. Between active involvement in the choir and serving in leadership positions for several clubs at the local and state level, she also worked part time as the Youth Employment Services (YES) Director.
“This was a special program in the local Employment Security Division,” she explained. “My job was to visit with business owners and seek out part-time jobs for teenagers. I then had to match students with available jobs. It was rewarding and a lot of fun. This set me on the track I have stayed on throughout my career.”
She went to work straight away as Assistant Tourism Director for the State of Arkansas, a position in which she served for 15 years.
“The tourism and marketing experience I learned during my time in this position was invaluable in my current job,” she said.
Alongside her work as Assistant Tourism Director, Hull also served as the Director of the Great River Road. Hull described that thoroughfare as the “granddaddy of all Scenic Highways – it was created by an Act of Congress in 1938.”
“My work promoting and developing the Great River Road through the states bordering the Mississippi River took me to Australia and Japan,” she said. “Those experiences are what I pull from to keep us motivated and moving forward in our efforts to have U.S. 1 recognized on the national level. I have seen the benefits derived from the designation and know that it is worth our efforts.”
Her career highlight was a tough one to pinpoint because she’s been involved in so many amazing projects over the course of her career.
“I guess if I had to choose the most amazing, I would have to say my work to revitalize downtown Columbia, Mo. I worked to help the downtown that was full of empty buildings become the lively, vibrant heart of the city.”
The efforts during her 10 years as the Executive Director of Downtown Columbia Associations were “hard work but extremely rewarding.”
In 2005, Hull’s childhood dreams became a reality when the Executive Director position with the Islamorada Chamber of Commerce was vacated. She’s been promoting businesses, providing support, education and advocacy to Chamber members for the past four years.
“I try to do whatever I can to promote Islamorada and help our businesses prosper.”
Hull also works to produce two major events each year for the Chamber and the community – Island Fest and the Holiday Festival. She’s also actively involved in the FKSCA, Upper Keys Rotary Club, Stand Up for Kids/Unity of Marathon and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Now that she’s raised her three sons, who live in Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Arkansas, and watched them grow into successful men and great fathers, Hull’s enjoying the fruits of her labor as a grandmother.
“One of my favorite hobbies is spoiling my grandkids.”
She and her husband Steve enjoy diving, kayaking, bridge fishing, playing with their lovebird, Toukie, and working on their house.
Where can she find her favorite fish sandwich?
“I have to plead the fifth on this one,” she laughed. “There are too many Chamber members with great fish sandwiches! But, I love the swinging picnic tables at the waters’ edge at several of our local restaurants.”
And what’s the best part of being a ‘local’?
“I think my favorite part is driving to work or to meetings and looking out the window at the gorgeous view and just thinking how incredibly lucky we are to be living, working and playing here.”