Las Vegas Native and Chair Emeritus of United Way of Southern Nevada’s Women’s Leadership Council

In a town like Las Vegas, which constantly renews and reinvents itself, it can be uncommon to find someone who remembers what the city looked like back in the days of vintage Vegas. Monte Smith, chair emeritus of United Way of Southern Nevada’s Women’s Leadership Council, is one of those people.

When you ask her what it is like to be one of those few native Las Vegans though, she is quick to correct you. “I frequently run across someone who has lived here since the 1960s, and the first thing we do is swap some ‘do you remember when’ stories,” Monte says. “There are some great shared memories of a much different town, but for us kids, we thought it was just like any other.”

She got her first taste of how different Las Vegas was in 1982, when her home in the Huntridge neighborhood was rocked by an explosion. It was the night Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal’s Cadillac was destroyed by a car bomb in the Marie Callender’s parking lot at Sahara Avenue and 6th Street. Thankfully, everyone was fine, but it caused quite a mess.

(L-R) – Alyssa Mayor, Angel Williams, Lawrel Larsen, Monte Smith, Soraya Aguirre, and Danielle Domnitz

Thinking back on this, Monte muses that “our town has come a long way.” She goes on to explain that Las Vegas has grown past those days, and as in any growing city, residents and leaders work tirelessly to meet the diverse needs of the community, many without praise or recognition. Seeing the generosity and philanthropy in Southern Nevada generates inspiration and creates incredible good in the community. A long way from mob activity and car bombs, right?

Seeing this positive change and wanting to be part of it led Monte to United Way and the Women’s Leadership Council. “For me, WLC is a microcosm of our diverse, hardworking and generous community,” she explains. Each member brings different perspectives and strengths to the table. “One of our members has said we are greater than the sum of our parts, and I couldn’t agree more!”

Monte Smith with student in Spread the Word Nevada’s Breakfast with Books program
Every member has their different interests and Monte considers her interest to be one of the most diverse. “I confess, I am a total insurance geek,” she jokes. As the vice president of sales and marketing at Brown & Brown Insurance of Nevada, she is very well informed about the topic. “Business risks and financial responsibilities to society are always changing, and I’ve spent the last 30 years learning about those risks.”

She knows how people feel about insurance, though. In fact, she even shared a tip: “A great way to kill a good conversation is to bring up the topic of insurance.” However, she knows how important her work of staying up-to-date and informed is for her clients. “I care deeply that my clients do everything possible to protect themselves. In my career journey, I have been fortunate to establish rewarding relationships and now call them friends.”

Each of these relationships offers her a chance to enjoy her favorite activity: learning. “Every hour presents me with a new opportunity to learn something from a person or a difficult business problem, a never before encountered circumstance or a situation that requires thoughtful resolution,” she says. She feeds her love of learning with seminars and classes on personal and professional growth, teaching how to do something better or smarter.

Learning and growing as a person takes a lot of time, but she also enjoys reading and being active outdoors, usually through running, hiking and snow skiing. “These activities provide joy for me, but more than that, they carve time out for loved friends and continue the physical and mental growth I seek with my other favorite activity of learning. They foster thoughtfulness and inspiration.”

Content provided by United Way of Southern Nevada