Lina Jankus grew up on a farm in Colombia among cows, chickens, horses and a strong grandmother who taught her that “as long as you have food, clean clothes and shoes to walk in, you don’t need anything else.”
Today she’s a thriving West Palm Beach insurance entrepreneur operating Lina Jankus & Associates Corp. as well as property and casualty agencies within El Bodegón supermarkets. After she got her start at 19 as Prudential Financial’s youngest registered agent, at 36, Jankus finds her greatest challenge in what she can do for others.
“I started to help because I love to make a difference in people’s lives. It makes me complete. It’s my passion. Honestly I don’t think I do enough.”
Selected as one of the 2016 Hispanic Women of Distinction, a top honor for South Florida Latinas, Jankus’ generosity has benefited many good causes. In Colombia, Jankus helps fund initiatives for clean water, food and medicine for needy women and children, and in the U.S. she has been a longtime supporter of nonprofits, such as the ASPIRA Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Alzheimer’s Community Care, Autism Speaks and the Hispanic Human Resources Council. The latter has a day care center, and Jankus often brings books to her adopted toddler class, and on holidays, gifts, decorations and costumes. “I don’t like to just write a check. I like to be involved. I like to see their eyes and their smiles. I just enjoy that feeling so much.”
Jankus also gives back to her alma mater. Through the PBSC Foundation, she set up the Ari & Kari Scholarship, named after her twin daughters. She offers her expertise, too, as a member of the College’s Business Partnership Council for Risk Management and Insurance programs.
Now a proud U.S. citizen, Jankus believes that while success can happen anywhere, the USA provides more opportunities to make dreams come true.
“The United States is the best country in the world. Coming here with absolutely nothing, starting with no English, no money, and then knowing that this country gave me the opportunity to actually learn a new industry and build a business—I was in heaven. I’m very blessed to be in this country.”