Emily Gentile, president of the Beach Condo Association of Boca Raton, Highland Beach and Delray Beach. She lives at the Yacht & Racquet Club of Boca Raton and previously lived in Highland Beach. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
Emily Gentile gets things done.
The president of the Beach Condo Association of Boca Raton, Highland Beach and Delray Beach for the last 51/2 years, Gentile has continued to strengthen the organization as it sets it sights on ensuring the safety and preservation of the coastal communities.
“I’m very concerned about the barrier island and the problems we could have in the future,” says Gentile, a resident of the Yacht & Racquet Club of Boca Raton. “We need to pay attention to what can be done.”
As president of the organization — which brings together condo presidents and managers to discuss key issues and identify areas that need to be addressed — Gentile is working with representatives of the Florida Department of Transportation and with FPL to ensure improvements and address concerns of residents.
She also reaches out to her strong links to decision makers to ensure they, too, hear the voices of up to 15,000 residents in close to 70 condominiums the organization represents.
Active in Boca Raton governmental affairs, Gentile is a former City Council candidate and has served on several boards, including the Art in Public Places board.
It was Gentile’s ability to follow through on projects that first caught the eye of the condo organization’s former president, Jack Fox, who asked her to join the board. From there, it was an easy transition to the leadership role when Fox retired as president.
Gentile, who became the beach condo association’s first woman president, was quick to step in.
“I knew we had the right people and would get things done,” says Gentile, 72, the mother of a son and a daughter and the grandmother of two.
Having lived in Highland Beach before moving to Boca Raton, Gentile was an ideal choice to lead the organization.
A New York transplant, Gentile arrived in South Florida in the early 1990s and settled in the Miami area, using her technology skills while working in the financial services industry.
She arrived in Highland Beach in 2004 and quickly got involved, helping to create the town’s culture board after noticing there were few social activities for residents. That board, with Gentile at the helm, helped produce concerts and other events and was the driving force behind “Light Up the Holidays,” an annual holiday celebration.
She moved to Boca Raton in 2007 and developed contacts within the city that have proved invaluable in her beach condo association role. The panel is helping members navigate challenges including high insurance rates and legislation requiring condo recertifications following the collapse of Champlain Towers South in 2021.
She has served on the city’s Historic Preservation Board, Business Improvement District Steering Committee and the Downtown Boca Raton Advisory Committee.
Gentile plans to continue working through the beach condo association to drive needed improvements along the barrier island.
— Rich Pollack
Q. Where did you grow up and go to school? How do you think that has influenced you?
A. I was born in Brooklyn and raised in Stony Brook, New York, on the north shore of Long Island. I was very influenced by my upbringing in Stony Brook. The area was the site of George Washington’s Revolutionary War spy ring and the streets were named after the heroes of the Revolution. We were very proud of our history and the heroes that helped make America during the Revolution. I became extremely patriotic.
Q. What professions have you worked in? What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
A. I had an education in computer science in the 1980s and was hired by the head of systems at Chemical Bank in New York. Our objective was eliminating brick and mortar bank buildings and building giant call centers. After I made a name for myself, I was recruited to an officer’s position where I was responsible for writing programs for private banking customers.
Q. What advice do you have for a young person selecting a career today?
A. Anyone starting out today should focus on what makes them happy. Large salaries are great but not if you dread the work. Find your passion, work on it, watch it grow and put your energies into what makes you happy and successful.
Q. How did you choose to make your home in Boca Raton?
A. I spent several years in Highland Beach. I moved to Boca soon after because of a relationship. I love it here.
Q. What is your favorite part about living in Boca Raton?
A. My favorite part of Boca is my relationship with the City Council, cultural events, restaurants and the ocean.
Q. What are you reading now? A. I’ve been reading many historical articles of famous women. They sure didn’t have it easy.
Q. What music do you listen to when you need inspiration? When you want to relax?
A. I relax with light environmental music. It helps me to meditate. Most of my inspirations come from meditation.
Q. Do you have a favorite quote that inspires your decisions?
A. “Treat everyone with respect and dignity.” It helps to keep everything in check and makes us all human.
Q. Have you had mentors in your life? Individuals who have inspired your life decisions?
A. My parents were very inspirational and taught me about a lot of things including running a business, how to grow tomatoes. My mother taught me to have insight into why people do what they do. Another inspiration was my godfather, who was a doctor and a child of immigrants. He was afflicted with polio at very young age and was in an iron lung but went on to graduate from Georgetown as a physician.
Q. If your life story were made into a movie, who would you want to play you?
A. I asked family members, they all said Meryl Streep. In The Devil Wears Prada she was a very hard businesswoman, but had to keep the momentum of her fashion dynasty. At times I, too, have had to make tough decisions.