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Working Women: Lynette Spano

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In this difficult economic climate, small business owners have to work harder than ever to survive. Lynette Spano is no exception—she worked her way from secretary to CEO.

Spano is the president and CEO of SCI Consulting. She has been with the company for 30 years, has more than 300 employees and the company does $50 million in revenue. But, she says her entrepreneurial spirit was sparked at age nine in her Brooklyn, NY neighborhood.

“I said can I shine your shoes and they thought I was cute and said of course, and they pulled out a dollar and I said bingo! I'm in the shoe shining business!” Spano said.

Spano is the oldest of seven children. She’s Cuban and Puerto-Rican—a proud Latina. She never went to college and started as a receptionist out of high school. Spano worked her way from the front desk to sales, to owning her own contracting company that provides IT systems to the federal government.

“I am incredibly privileged and honored and humbled by the fact that I'm part of this nation's task force to protect American lives. I'm a homeland security contractor and I'm so very proud of that,” she said.

Spano founded SCI in her mom’s basement—and still relies on lessons from her mother.

“It began with having values and principles and believing in yourself and daring to believe and be brave and be honest and have courage,” she said.

It's lead to one honor after another for Spano, who is one of the country’s most successful female and minority business owners.

She is also a mom and new grandmother—even keeping a crib in her office to spend some quality time with her new grandchild.

Spano calls herself far from traditional in the federal space, working out of the box, with perseverance.

“I never dreamed I would be where I am today but now today the bar has been raised, we're at 50 and I want to be at $100 million and everyone says it's never going to be enough!” she said.

Spano is also president and founder of Stars, Stripes, & Hearts, Inc., which is a nonprofit organization that supports "culturally and linguistically competent, evidence-based treatment programs for Latino/Hispanic military service members and families impacted by the invisible wounds of war," according to their website.

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