10829781501?profile=RESIZE_710xSimone Spiegel sits at her desk at Samco Properties, a commercial real estate company of which she is vice president and co-founder. She also is board president and chair for the Fuller Center, a Boca Raton nonprofit. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

By Tao Woolfe

Simone Spiegel’s office desk bears a ceramic nameplate identifying her as “First Lady.”
Although it is meant to be a tongue-in-cheek title, it seems fitting for Spiegel, a woman of so many actual titles and responsibilities.
Foremost, she is vice president and co-founder of Samco Properties, a nationwide commercial real estate company based in Deerfield Beach.
She is also president and board chairwoman for the Fuller Center, a huge, Boca Raton-based nonprofit providing early education, meals and after-school care to children of lower-income workers.
“The Fuller Center is just incredible,” Spiegel said. “Children who might otherwise not have the best chance to succeed receive a quality education and after-school care. The teachers are wonderful.”
Ellyn Okrent, the CEO of the Fuller Center, used similar superlatives when describing Spiegel.
“She is genuine, honest, brilliant, supportive, amazing,” Okrent said.
Although Spiegel, 63, seems soft-spoken and reserved, she can be a tough negotiator.
Okrent gave this example: The Fuller Center is planning a new building for one of its two campuses. Recently, Okrent and Spiegel met with a group of contractors and engineers to discuss the plan.
“They were all men, sitting around the table and speaking about technical details, and zoning issues,” Okrent said. “Simone listened for a while and then in her ladylike way, put her hand up and said, ‘No, no, no, that’s not the way to do it.’ She knows her stuff and she doesn’t let anyone take advantage of us.”
The men did not know that Spiegel came to the table equipped with deep knowledge of real estate, construction and zoning from her 40 years of helping Samco acquire, redesign and construct shopping malls and office buildings.
In addition, Spiegel was armed with a law degree from Nova University Law School, where she honed her negotiation skills.
“I don’t really practice law, but it comes in handy,” said Spiegel, whose office is filled with real estate books, plants and photos of her husband, Sam, her two daughters, and her two grandchildren.
On the wall, Spiegel displays her diplomas from Nova and from her bachelor of arts in economics from Harvard University, plus a quilted tapestry of green, gold and red made by a friend.
Spiegel said her husband also obtained his law degree from Nova, but that’s not how they met.
When Spiegel was attending Harvard, she came to South Florida to visit her father. Her dad introduced her to Sam Spiegel, whom he had met — and liked — while conducting a real estate deal. The couple went on a date, fell instantly in love, and shortly thereafter, Sam asked Simone to marry him.
“We married as soon as I finished college,” Simone Spiegel said. That was 1982, the same year they co-founded Samco. The business grew and grew, and now owns and operates 3.5 million square feet of commercial real estate across 19 states.
The couple has lived in Highland Beach for 19 years, Spiegel said, and is quite content there.
“We live in a nice, quiet building. We love walking on the beach and the kids love visiting us there,” she said.
The Spiegels also have ties to Boca Raton. They’ve been members of Temple Beth El for 38 years. They support the Boca Raton Museum of Art and Boca Raton Regional Hospital.
Simone Spiegel — who lost two close family members to drug overdoses — also donates to Overdose Lifeline Inc., a nonprofit in her hometown of Indianapolis that helps addicts and their families cope with substance abuse.
But her passion is the Fuller Center, which not only cares for and educates some 900 children a year, but supports their hardworking parents.
The center provides services to ensure that children go home each night to self-sustaining parents able to provide safe, healthy and enriching homes.
Okrent said Spiegel has greatly helped the center during her 15 years of involvement — eight of them on the board. Okrent said she was thrilled when Spiegel became the president and chairwoman.
The two women talk nearly every day by phone or by text about the center’s challenges and victories.
“She’s everything a CEO would dream of as a board chair,” Okrent said. “She’s incredible.”

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