Reel Women: Janeen Paulauskis, Executive Director

Janeen Paulauskis

Janeen Paulauskis

The founding member
of the
Fort Meyers Beach
Film Festival
is also a
White Sox fan

Janeen Paulauskis is a former Chicago girl (go Sox!) born and raised in Bridgeport. She began her career at the Chicago Convention and Visitors Bureau working registrations at conventions and becoming the Housing Manager at age 21.

Janeen moved with her husband Darryl and son Justin to Fort Myers Beach in 1997. She is a founding member of the Fort Myers Beach International Film Festival and has been Executive Director since 2001.

Honored in Gulfshore Business’ 40 UNDER 40 for her work on the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival and as part of the award-winning team for Marketing and Publicity from the Florida Festival and Events Association, she has been a proud supporter of the Fort Myers Beach arts community and its many events.

She currently serves on the Florida Festivals and Events Association Board, The Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee and Board, The Southwest Florida Attractions Association Board, the Fort Myers Beach Friends of the Arts and the Bonita Springs Film Festival.

She is a former Board Member of the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. She enjoys her position as Marketing and Events Director for Fish-Tale Marina, Fish-Tale Waterfront Dining, the Estero Bay Express Dolphin Tours and Santini Marina Plaza.



How did you get into the business? After moving from Chicago to Fort Myers Beach Florida, I became the Finance Director for the Town of Fort Myers Beach and they were creating a new event for our Town. As Finance Director, I was working with the outside consultant on finances and because of my love for films became more involved. I then became Executive Director of the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival the second year. We are currently in our 13th year after a brief hiatus.

What obstacles have you faced specifically because of your gender? I have been fortunate enough to work with teams that have supported females in the workplace. The Town Manager at the time of the creation of the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival was a woman and was instrumental in the success of the event.

Best thing to ever happen to you to remind you that you are a woman? For me personally, the best thing has that I have not been treated differently because I am a woman! I am pretty strong, confident and independent so I’ve not had to overcome any obstacles!

Work you are most proud of? I am most proud of the fact that I have been able to work full-time, serve on both state and local volunteer boards while being able to have a happy and full home life with my husband and son. Now that my son is grown, I am most proud of his volunteerism in our community that comes from watching and assisting his mom in her work and volunteer projects.

Do you think the #metoo movement has created significant change? Most definitely! I am proud of the movement and applaud their efforts to expand the conversation of equality and healing for those who have been affected.

How have professional attitudes towards women evolved during your career? I’ve been working since I have been 14 years old. I am proud to have witnessed the changes in professional attitudes towards women during my 37 years of working both in Chicago and here in Florida. I learned from a strong woman who started her career later in life. I am so grateful to my mother for teaching me the value of a dollar, the power to say no and how to be a full-time mom and wife and still maintain a successful career.

Trapped on an island what essentials must you have? Well… I work on an island, Fort Myers Beach (Estero Island), so the essentials are flip-flops and sunscreen!

If you had a time machine, what would you say to your past self? I would tell my younger self that life is a wonderful! I once read a quote that said “You are on a journey, which means things will change. Even important things will change, sometimes shockingly. But it is nevertheless a good journey, and it’s worth every step.”

If you could have a one-on-one with anyone who would it be? And why? I recently lost my husband in a tragic accident. I did not have the opportunity to see him again or say good-bye. I’d like to have that one-on-one with him to let him know what an amazing husband and father he was and how very much I loved him. He was my biggest supporter and number one volunteer for the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival!
To see the complete list of Reel Women, click here.