JACKSONVILLE, Fla., March 14, 2014 – Lisa Almeida, CEO of Freedom Boat Club in Jacksonville and St. Augustine, was named Up and Coming Entrepreneur of the Year at the Women in Business Awards held March 11 at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Almeida, known by many as Lisa the Boatanista, was chosen out of three finalists for the award.
“I am honored to receive this award for doing something I love,” said Almeida. “I worked in the corporate world for 25 years before leaving to relax, go into semi-retirement, and hang out on the water. My plans changed when I heard about Freedom Boat Club and decided to pursue a second career. I am so lucky to have been able to parlay my passion for boating into a successful business.”
Almeida is a graduate of Flagler College and worked as Director of Marketing for BellSouth for the nine-state Southeast region until 2006. In 2009, she was hired by Freedom Boat Club to take over struggling franchises in Jacksonville and St. Augustine and was able to turn around the operations in just four months. Almeida purchased the two franchises with a partner in 2011 and has grown the membership from 40 to 296 members and has expanded from four boats to 26. Her franchises are considered new models of success for Freedom Boat Club, the nation’s oldest and largest boat club.
Almeida is a member of the Captains Club, The Jacksonville Power Squadron, The Jacksonville Marine Association, and serves on the City of Jacksonville’s Boating Committee. She was recognized by the mayor’s office for her leadership in helping preserve the 27-year tradition of the Jacksonville Holiday Boat Parade, which in danger due to budget cuts. Almeida also raised $11,000 for Special Olympics in 2012 when she finished second in Jacksonville’s Dancing with the Stars competition.