Who runs the world? GIRLS! Mya Smith-Edmonds’ career at McDonald’s began at the age of 13 when she worked at her father’s McDonald’s. Fast forward to current times, Smith-Edmonds is the owner of seven McDonald’s restaurants, becoming the First and Only African American woman, next generation McDonald’s owner in Central Indiana.

A native of Houston, Texas, Smith-Edmonds developed her work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit working for her father. Before becoming an operator, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and a minor in African American Studies.

After graduating from college, she worked for one of the largest accounting firms, Deloitte & Touche.

“After college, I went on to become a Certified Public Accountant at Deloitte & Touché. Even though numbers are my thing… I love being around people, so the next job I got was as a Program Director with KCOH Radio Station.”

Before she could own and operate her first McDonald’s, she had to fulfill the requirements of the 24-month program, which she did in half the time. She completed every level with honors on her way to becoming a General Manager and Ray Kroc Award recipient, earned by the top 1% performers in the McDonald’s system.

“I have always wanted to be a business owner, because I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and provide jobs and opportunities for others. It has been my utmost priority to make a lot of money & be financially free; to be able to help & be a blessing to others in need.”

It took her five years to gain all seven of her locations.

“I have lost 13 times,” she said about the journey and process. “I had to start all over, but in the end, it was worth all the struggles.”

“One of the most important things to remember as a business owner is gratitude and humble remembrance of your beginnings.” Smith-Edmonds has put charity on the forefront of her goals within the community. She believes that fostering a healthy community starts with helping those who are less fortunate. Especially during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, Smith-Edmonds finds it vitally important to give back. Edmonds uses her influence to give back to the same areas that support her restaurants. She has worked hard to follow in her father’s footsteps and build financial freedom, while at the same time educating the youth.

She has coordinated community give-a-ways with other local businesses and supports empowerment youth programs like Ladies of Great Purpose and the Positive Black Male Association, Reaching Youth Everywhere RYE Program. She has also created multiple programs to foster a healthy relationship with the community, such as give-backs, feeding the homeless, and providing COVID-19 assistance.

She has also co-founded the non-profit organization the Smith Foundation, Inc., whose mission is to send children to college, provide food for those in need, provide Christmas toys, and supply school supplies for underprivileged students and communities. The organization focuses on nurturing at-risk teens with their time, talent, energy, and personal resources toward raising money to educate at-risk and underprivileged graduating seniors in Houston’s inner city. “My desire is to see underprivileged kids go to college, to help close the gap in economic inequality. If you ask me what my goal is, it’s to send thousands of these kids to college; and to help other people excel & reach their full potential.”

“I’ve always made plans for my life, but I know that GOD & HIS Plans are Greater; and to stay focused on what God wants me to do. I am looking forward to what God wants to use me for. I am READY, Favored and Fully Persuaded in GOD’s Plan for my life.”

Smith-Edmonds faith has guided her career, and she wants to continue that trend in guiding others through their journeys of entrepreneurship. Whether it’s building her McDonald’s empire, assisting the community, or preparing the next generation for college, her dedication is nothing short of inspiring.

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All images by Smith Foundation