Marilyn Nye-Islam began learning about entrepreneurship when she was 12 and sold fish bait door-to-door in Vancouver, Canada, to raise half the price for the new bicycle she wanted. When she took her money to her dad and said, “Let’s go buy the bike!” he told her, “Oh, no. Now you need to pay me back for what I paid for the bait.” Voila! Marilyn’s first lesson in business.
Marilyn would eventually become a real estate broker and owner of Blue Ribbon Realty, and use her executive, entrepreneurial and communication skills in service to the Gainesville community. Previous to discovering her passion for real estate, she taught physical education and earned her master’s in education at UF.
From 1994 to 2000, Marilyn produced a weekly 30-minute cable TV show that hosted guest speakers on real estate topics and highlighted local non-profits’ fundraisers. She did all the work to produce her show, and even hauled her living room furniture to the studio each week to provide the set pieces.
She has served for 18 years on the board for the March of Dimes, and for 20 years was active with Altrusa International.
Writes her friend Liz Jones: “Marilyn has always been a working committee member, planning, organizing, and participating in an active manner. By her actions, she encourages others to give their best, which makes her a valuable leader in many organizations.”
Marilyn founded the Holiday Traditions concert that benefits Stop! Children’s Cancer and features more than 250 middle and high school orchestral and choral students.
“The tagline is ‘kids helping kids,’ because that’s really what happens,” she says. “Not only are they raising money for children’s cancer, but during the concert, the older kids are taking care of the younger ones.”
Childhood cancer victims take part in the performance, and Marilyn said there is not a dry eye in the Center for the Performing Arts.
In 2005, Marilyn received the James M. Parrish Award for Community Involvement.
Writes her friend Gayle Scott: “Give Marilyn a goal and she meets the challenge aggressively using her problem-solving abilities. … No job is too large or too small for Marilyn.”
Marilyn met her husband, Jim Islam, owner/CEO of Florida Food Service, while volunteering together for the American Cancer Society. They were married on the beach in St. Thomas in 2005 and love to travel. Marilyn is the mother of computer networker Josh Nye (he and his wife Barbara, an attorney, live in Atlanta) and Andrew Nye, a family practice physician in Jacksonville. Marilyn enjoys animals, yoga, and the beach, and plans to try her hand at writing children’s books.