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Jennifer Smith

At first glance, Jennifer Smith doesn’t scream “biker babe.” But this slight, fashionable Fort Worth mom of two is just that – and so much more. Jennifer and her husband Mark bought the Fort Worth Harley Davidson dealership in 2006 after owning a few mom-and-pop car dealerships. Why motorcycles? Mark has been riding since he was a kid; when he and Houston-born Jennifer were dating during college, Mark used to ride her around Sundance Square on the back of his bike.
Jennifer, who met her husband while playing cello in his Christian rock band, now has her own three-wheeled motorcycle, a trike. She’s driven to places such as Denver and Las Vegas. During the trip to Vegas, she stopped at a convenience store and stood inside its coolers in order to escape the 115-degree temperatures.
In the early days of the couple’s businesses, Jennifer kept the books and was involved with day-to-day operations. Now, through her charity work, she says she can affect more people when she’s away from the enterprise.
Jennifer was drawn to service in high school, having done mission work in Asia and South America. She and Mark went to Nicaragua with their church in 2003. “It gave me awareness of the fact that the world is a lot bigger than Texas,” she says. When Jennifer read The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard E. Stearns, president of the Christian humanitarian organization World Vision United States, she felt called to do more.
During a World Vision conference on water in California, Jennifer met four other women from the Dallas-Fort Worth area who had the same passion. Using seed money Jennifer raised from selling off things she no longer needed, the five women founded If You Knew in 2010. If You Knew’s mission is to raise $5 million in five years to support World Vision in providing safe drinking water and other aid to families in Africa. “Water is life. It is everything,” Jennifer says. “I could not imagine giving my child disease-filled water because I had no other choice.”
To get the organization closer to its goal, Jennifer hosts intimate dinners and fundraisers, including the Harley dealership’s annual Water4Life Ride. Last year, 400 riders turned out; the event has raised more than $700,000 in two years. Jennifer also hosts events to benefit local charities, including the Fort Worth Pregnancy Center.
Despite owning a business, traveling around the world (Zambia last summer, Ethiopia last month) and being involved with various charities, Jennifer still has plenty of time for her family.
Eating dinner together as a family is often sidelined in many homes because of work or after-school activities, so Jennifer mixes things up by gathering her crew for a big breakfast each morning. It’s their time to bond and laugh. “It’s different, but it works for us,” Jennifer says. Each afternoon, Jennifer is home to help the kids – 6-year-old David and 8-year-old Julia – with their homework, sticking with the work-before-play philosophy. She also plays music with each child.
Jennifer and David aim for 15 hours of quality time together each week in order to maintain a good marriage and be better parents. They have a standing weekly sitter so they can go out to dinner and talk, giving each other undivided attention. “I try to rock my husband’s world and he tries to rock my world, and in turn the kids are happy,” she says.
Jennifer sees herself as the gatekeeper of the home, providing a peaceful sanctuary by filtering out certain foods and media. Case in point, healthy eating habits is something that Jennifer stresses to her children. She sometimes has up to six burners going at the same time for breakfast, cooking locally sourced eggs, organic vegetables, gluten-free pancakes and hormone-free turkey bacon. Each meal must have one protein and one raw fruit or vegetable, she says. The Smith household encourages whole foods; in fact, the kids think of bread and juice as junk food. Jennifer recognizes that kids will rebel, though, so no food is forbidden.
Organization is another secret to her family’s happiness. Jennifer has lists and charts for everything. “I could be a commercial for The Container Store,” she says. “And then you get on Pinterest and it’s all over.”
But perhaps the biggest legacy Jennifer will leave her children is through her selfless actions. David and Julia are thankful for water, warm beds and their parents; they are aware of their fortunate lives. “My son is only 6,” Jennifer says, “but he has a soft spot in his heart for the poor.”