GULF COAST STAFF

NPT's Best Nonprofits to Work For 2021

Gulf Coast Recognized Among “Best Nonprofits” in 2010, 2011, 2017, 2020, and 2021 learn more here.

Mark Pritchett

President | CEO

Mark Pritchett is responsible for the overall leadership of Gulf Coast Community Foundation, including corporate strategy, oversight of its programs, operations, and investments.

Mark is known as a seasoned leader in business, philanthropy, and public policy. In 2018, Florida Trend magazine recognized Mark as one of Sarasota’s “Impact Players” for his leadership in addressing many of our region’s toughest issues. And under Mark’s direction, Gulf Coast Community Foundation has been honored nationally as a “top 25” nonprofit to work for two years in a row and three of the past five years.

Mark has earned a statewide reputation for taking on bold and controversial issues, building consensus, and crafting innovative solutions. Two of his most notable accomplishments were leading the Governor’s Select Task Force on election reform following the controversial 2000 presidential election and creating a pioneering mediation service to assist homeowners and insurance companies in resolving hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage disputes after the unprecedented 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons.

Mark currently serves on the boards of the Florida Chamber Foundation, Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, the Sarasota County Economic Development Corporation, and the Community Foundations of Florida CEO Leadership Team. He is a Lifetime Member of Leadership Florida and personally supports dozens philanthropic endeavors outside of his role as CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation.  In 2021, Mark was presented the Civic Achievement Award by the American Jewish Committee.

He earned his Bachelor of Science and master’s degrees from the University of Kentucky and his PhD from The Florida State University.

Mark loves hiking the Colorado Rockies, biking with Gina Taylor, reading science articles, sipping Kentucky bourbon, and watching UK sports teams…not necessarily in that order.

Alex Abel

Staff Accountant

Alex joined Gulf Coast Community Foundation in July 2021 after working three years as a Staff Accountant for a consulting company of Long Term Health Care. As a member of the Finance team, he works closely with the Philanthropic Accounting Coordinators to ensure gifts grants and accounts payable are reviewed and processed in an accurate and timely manner. Alex is most fulfilled seeing the impact on the community beyond the finances. Alex holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of South Florida. He enjoys traveling the world with his wife Carolyn and spending time with their two pups, Jefferson and Hamilton.

CJ Bannister

Philanthropic Advisor

As a member of our philanthropic services team, C.J. works closely with our donors and professional advisors to transform our region through bold and proactive philanthropy. Prior to her work at Gulf Coast, she served as the Chief Development Officer at Sarasota Military Academy, helping to launch their foundation. Prior to that, as Director of Veterans Services for Goodwill Manasota, she led Goodwill’s efforts to raise funds through philanthropy, planned giving, and local, state and federal grants in order to provide services to returning veterans, who face heightened risks of unemployment, personal problems, and homelessness.

C.J. herself is a veteran. After graduating from high school, she joined the United States Air Force, where she worked as a Crew Chief for four years and subsequently cross-trained to be a Paralegal and worked with the JAG for the remainder of her service. Bannister earned the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSgt) as well as many awards and medals, including: Basic Military Training Honor Graduate, The John Levitow Award at Airman Leadership School, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Military Education Award, the Air Force Good Conduct Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. Bannister served from 1993 until 2001, when she ended her military career as a non-commissioned officer. 

After leaving the Air Force, she attended International College (now known as Hodges University in Naples, FL) toward a BS in Management and also worked full time as a Paralegal.  C.J. began her career as a financial advisor in 2007, helping individuals with investment and financial needs.

Bannister is dedicated to helping others and passionate about giving back and making a difference. She sits on the board of the Sarasota County Veterans Commission, is a graduate of the Gulf Coast Leadership Institute, and has almost 19 years of experience in this community giving back, growing business and programs, as well as establishing and maintaining meaningful partnerships.

Alyssa Barnsley

Brand Strategy Coordinator

Alyssa joined Gulf Coast Community Foundation as the Brand Strategy Coordinator in October of 2022 after having served the business community with the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce.  She found her passion for nonprofit and community work during her internship her final year of college.  Alyssa strongly believes in the power of communication and sharing good stories with the community. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of North Florida. In her free time, Alyssa enjoys reading, watching movies, and spending time with her goldendoodle Eliza. 

Kelly Borgia

Strategic Engagement Manager

Kelly joined Gulf Coast Community Foundation in the summer of 2018 after having worked 10 years at Asolo Repertory Theatre as their Production Stage Manager. As a member of our Brand Strategy team she works closely with all of our functional teams to create and execute impactful and meaningful engagement experiences. She is also responsible for managing Gulf Coast’s Arts Appreciation and sponsorship grant programs. Kelly is most fulfilled when she is working to better our community in an efficient, effective, and collaborative work space. Kelly holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Stage Management from the University of Central Florida. She enjoys cooking, bike rides, the Florida sunshine, and—most of all—spending time with family.

Priscilla Boward

Philanthropic Administrator

Priscilla joined Gulf Coast Community Foundation in the May of 2022 as a Philanthropic Administrator. Priscilla formerly worked in donor relations and communications with several Christian nonprofits in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Using her donor development and coordination skills, Priscilla works with our Philanthropy team to connect with donors and assist them in establishing and maintaining their funds. Priscilla holds a Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communication from Cornerstone University. She most enjoys spending time in the community, building relationships with the wonderful people of Venice, and celebrating all that the area has to offer. Her favorite leisure activities are spending time in nature, playing games with friends, and exploring new activities.

Kelly Carlstein

Vice President Brand Strategy

Kelly directs Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s marketing and public relations strategies. As part of Gulf Coast’s marketing and communications team, she leads digital and traditional marketing strategies and innovative story telling in partnership with donors and community partners. She is a member of GCLI class of 2018. Prior to joining Gulf Coast she worked in marketing and public relations for the private club industry and most recently healthcare. Kelly enjoys spending her time outdoors with her husband and baby boy.   

Travis Cheney, CPA

Controller

Travis joined Gulf Coast Community Foundation in April 2020.  Travis previously worked in public accounting, as well as served as a Controller and a CFO of other organizations prior to joining Gulf Coast.  As Controller of Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Travis works with all teams to ensure that Gulf Coast operates at peak efficiency on all financial aspects, as well as ensuring that all grants get out to the community as quickly as possible. Travis holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and a Masters of Professional Accounting both from Butler University in Indianapolis, IN.  Travis is also licensed as a CPA.  When not working, he enjoys, cooking, swimming, and most importantly spending as much time with his son, Tristen.

Rachel Denton

Marketing | PR Associate

Rachel joined Gulf Coast Community Foundation in the fall of 2021 after working for almost four years at the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections office as Communications Manager and Voter Outreach Coordinator. As a member of the Brand Strategy team, she executes the marketing and public relations efforts for Gulf Coast Community Foundation. Rachel is a former board member and current member of the Central West Coast Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association. Rachel was honored as Young Professional of the Year in 2018 by the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and Sarasota Young Professionals Group. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Humanities with an emphasis in Communication from Florida State University. Rachel enjoys gardening and spending time with her family and friends, especially her puppy dog.

Karla Detert, SHRM-CP

HR Generalist

Karla has been with Gulf Coast Community Foundation since December 2018. As the Human Resource Generalist, she enjoys caring for our team and the amazing culture we have cultivated. Karla and her husband have a blended family with five children and four grandchildren who occupy most of her time. When not with her family, she enjoys attending baseball and football games. Karla is a SHRM Certified Professional and serves on the board of Sarasota Manatee Human Resource Association, the local SHRM chapter.

Kate Ferguson

Office Coordinator

As a member of the Operations Team, Kate brings her love of collaboration, organization, and helping others to the role of Office Coordinator. Together with fellow Office Coordinator Hillary Newton, Kate is responsible for supporting the Gulf Coast team at both the Venice Headquarters and The Sarasota Philanthropy Center. A “grammar and punctuation fanatic,” Kate holds a B.A. in English and an M.S. in Education. She has worked as a writer and editor for the Syracuse University Office of Publications and as a middle school English teacher and college adjunct. Prior to joining Gulf Coast, Kate served as Membership and Communications Director of The Venice Golf and Country Club. Kate enjoys reading, listening to podcasts, playing the piano, and above all, spending time with her husband and their two children.

Kirstin Fulkerson

Senior Vice President for Philanthropy

Kirstin has been with Gulf Coast for almost 20 years and has played numerous integral roles on many teams throughout her tenure. As Senior Vice President for Philanthropy she transforms our region through bold and proactive philanthropy through her work with Gulf Coast’s family of donors. Kirstin leads the Philanthropy Team’s efforts to engage nonprofits, donors, professional advisors, and local leaders in building a culture of generosity throughout our community. She puts her expertise in community leadership, complex charitable gifts, planned giving, strategic fundraising, and family philanthropy to work for the greater good. Kirstin has an MBA from the University of South Florida and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Colorado. She enjoys spending time with family and friends and being outside in nature.

Lauren Hersh

Philanthropic Advisor

Lauren joined Gulf Coast Community Foundation in 2022 as a Philanthropic Advisor. Lauren is a seasoned philanthropic steward with over 20 years in the nonprofit industry. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Business and Flute Performance from DePauw University. Prior to Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Lauren was the Director of Donor Engagement, Individual and Corporate Giving for seven years with Sarasota Orchestra. Lauren has also held development positions at The Out-of-Door Academy, Girls Inc. of Sarasota, Young Concert Artists, and the New York Philharmonic. She is a former board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Southwest Florida Chapter and a 2016 graduate of the Gulf Coast Leadership Institute. In her role at Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Lauren works directly with donors to maximize their philanthropic impact in our region. 

Kameron Hodgens, Ph.D.

Director of Community Leadership

Kameron joined Gulf Coast Community Foundation in the spring of 2022 after having worked for 15 years in senior level administration for two local human service organizations. As a member of our Community Leadership team, she works closely with our nonprofit, civic, and governmental organizations to leverage funds from multiple sources with the ultimate goal of maximizing impact and positive change. Kameron is passionate about using data to guide decision making in efficient and effective ways.  Her undergraduate degree in psychology is from Florida State University and she has a Masters and a Doctorate in Developmental Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. You can find her in the kitchen cooking delicious new recipes and or at her favorite place on the beaches of Anna Maria Island with her family.

Jennifer Johnston

Director of Community Leadership

As Director of Community Leadership, Jennifer collaborates with nonprofit partners and diverse leaders to improve well-being for all. She develops and sustains initiatives to address regional priorities. Jennifer plays a lead role in mission-driven grant making on behalf of donors and Gulf Coast’s Board of Directors. Jennifer’s prior experience includes serving as a Director for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, creating healthier school environments for students and staff across the country. Jennifer completed a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health promoting health-education campaigns nationwide after earning a Master of Public Health degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Hailing from New Hampshire, Jennifer loves hiking in the mountains and exploring natural wonders near and far.

Jacintha Knox

Philanthropic Accounting Coordinator

As a Philanthropic Accounting Administrator, Jacintha Knox assists Gulf Coast’s Finance Team with processing gifts, grants, and accounts payable. With over 20 years of nonprofit experience, Jacintha is passionate about working with organizations that support community initiatives. She has a personal interest in museums, the environment, and animal welfare initiatives. Prior to joining the foundation in 2019, Jacintha spent 13 years working in museum education and tourism, and she enjoyed gift processing at the Dumb Friends League animal shelter and MSU Denver.

Jacintha received her bachelor of science in Textiles, Clothing, and Design from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her master of arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver. In her spare time, she enjoys writing mystery and children’s books, arts and crafts, and visiting the beach.

Hollie Mowry

Community Leadership Associate

Hollie Mowry has been with Gulf Coast Community Foundation since 2019. She works with the Community Leadership team, supporting local non-profits in their critical work of creating “thriving communities with opportunities for all.” She processes all of Gulf Coast’s Community, Leveraged, and Initiative grants, which gives her the opportunity to see many projects from idea to implementation. The best part of her job, aside from her teammates, is hearing success stories from non-profits and knowing that she had a small part in making someone’s life better. An actress in a previous life, Hollie loves being at the theatre, both on and off stage. When not working or at a show you can find her spending time with her husband and daughters, learning Italian, or planning her next trip.

Hillary Newton

Office Coordinator

Hillary serves as Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s Office Coordinator with fellow Office Coordinator Kate Ferguson under the Operations Team and has been in the position since June 2022. She previously served as an intern at Gulf Coast, working with the Community Leadership and Brand Strategy teams. Hillary is responsible for supporting the Gulf Coast team at the Venice Headquarters and The Sarasota Philanthropy Center. Hillary will graduate from University of South Florida in the winter of 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in sociology. Hillary is passionate about our community, sustainability, leadership, and making a difference in our region. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her two children, reading, yoga, and the arts.

Sasha Pyatte

Philanthropic Advisor

Sasha joined Gulf Coast Community Foundation in May 2022. She is an experienced development executive with over 15 years of experience in fundraising, communications, donor cultivation, stewardship, marketing, and public speaking. As a Philanthropic Advisor, she works closely with our incredible donors to help realize their philanthropic goals and have the biggest impact possible. Prior to Gulf Coast, Sasha served as Director of Advancement & Strategic Partnerships at the Van Wezel Foundation, Executive Director of the AdventHealth Zephyrhills and Dade City Foundation, and Director of Philanthropy for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Sasha enjoys live music, shopping local, and cooking and spending time on the water with her husband and two pups. Sasha received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from the University of Central Florida and has earned her Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE).

Kristin Prince

Executive Assistant | Corporate Secretary

Kristin Prince is the Executive Assistant to the COO and the Corporate Secretary for the Board of Directors. Kristin supports the CEO and all Board members by providing what they require to fulfill their own fiduciary responsibilities to the Foundation as well as ensure compliance and document management for the organization.  Kristin is also a member of the Operations Team, working closely with the COO to ensure all Gulf Coast teams are able to deliver on their mission.

Kristin holds a master’s degree in political science from The CUNY Grad Center and a bachelor’s degree in art from Northeastern University.  Kristin currently volunteers at Teen Court, Sarasota.  Kristin splits her time between Florida and Massachusetts where she enjoys flower gardening, reading historical fiction and memoirs, and spending time with her family.

Anthony Riskalla

Financial Associate

In 2018, Anthony relocated from Connecticut to Venice, Florida, and joined the Gulf Coast team in the fall of that year as a Senior Accounting Associate. Prior to his relocation, Anthony was an executive in the financial services sector for over 25 years. He has brought his extensive knowledge of finance and financial systems to his current role assisting the Gulf Coast finance team in ensuring the integrity of the Foundation’s accounting information. His primary responsibilities include managing data associated with individual investment accounts held with various custodians, and developing efficient accounting processes by leveraging Gulf Coast’s financial system capabilities.  

Chris Stobaugh

Chief Financial Officer

Chris has been Gulf Coast’s CFO since August 2018.  In her role, Chris works with the Board and staff to create and monitor policies that strengthen Gulf Coast, its investment portfolio, its spending, and its internal controls.  Chris and her team provide key information to management and the Board to allow them to make informed decisions to guide Gulf Coast’s future.  Prior to joining Gulf Coast, Chris spent most of her 35-plus year career in the accounting and finance arena, including positions with global accounting firms, public and private companies, her own consulting business, and private equity management.  Chris made a conscious decision to join the not-for-profit world, and is passionate about ensuring that Gulf Coast will be here for our community for many, many years to come. Chris earned a bachelor of science degree in accounting from Youngstown State University and completed graduate coursework at the University of North Florida.  Children and animal causes are close to Chris’ heart.  She is a former foster mom and loves her “second hand dogs.” Chris enjoys cooking and baking for her family and friends, adventure vacations with her husband and sons, never-ending remodeling projects in her home, and she is a second degree black belt in Shotokan Karate.

Michelle Stout

Philanthropic Accounting Coordinator

Michelle joined our organization in March, 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, after working in accounting/office management for over thirty years. As a member of the finance team, she manages grant administration and works closely with the development/philanthropy teams, and our generous donors. Michelle is most fulfilled when distributing donations to non-profit organizations who embrace improving our community and the “Better Together” culture. Michelle holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Economics/Business Administration/Accounting and Masters of Business Administration degree. She enjoys spending time with her adult children, family and friends, cooking, swimming, and biking.

Kristin Taylor

Philanthropic Administrator

As a member of our Development team, Kristin engages with our donors allowing them to realize their philanthropic potential. In addition, she is responsible for overseeing Gulf Coast’s scholarship program which provides greater access to postsecondary education for local area students. Prior to joining the foundation in 2011, Kristin worked in the fast-paced world of television news as a video editor for WWSB ABC7 in Sarasota.  She earned her bachelor’s degree in telecommunication production from the University of Florida. (Go Gators!) Her claim to fame is representing the country as a member of Team USA at the Bally Total Fitness World Aerobics Championship in 1999. She did not help lead the team to victory. For exercise these days, she and her husband can be found chasing around their two children.

Veronica Thames

Senior Vice President for Administration | Chief Operating Officer

As the Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President for Administration, Veronica Thames partners with the President|CEO to translate Gulf Coast’s vision and goals into action. Veronica also plays a key role on the Community Leadership team, leading our I3 Initiatives. Prior to Gulf Coast, Veronica served as Vice President of Human Resources at Blake Medical Center Healthcare Corporation of America.

Veronica currently serves on the board for the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corporation, the St. Stephen’s Episcopal School Parents Association and is the Vice Chair of the Board at HCA Florida Sarasota Doctors Hospital. She was a long-time member and former chair of the Sarasota Manatee Healthcare Collaborative.  Veronica is also a 2009 graduate of Leadership Manatee.

Outside of work, Veronica loves spending time wither her family, home remodeling, and kayaking. Veronica was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and has lived and worked across the United States before planting her roots on the Gulf Coast.

Jon Thaxton

Senior Vice President for Community Leadership

Jon Thaxton creates and implements Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s key strategies for transforming our region’s nonprofit community and provides leadership on emerging issues. Jon joined Gulf Coast in 2012 as director of community investment after completing his 12th year of service on the Sarasota County Commission. He was promoted to senior vice president in 2015.

In this role, Jon works with nonprofit organizations, donors, and other community partners to invest Gulf Coast resources in initiatives that will transform our region and improve public policies.

Together with community partners, Jon has provided critical leadership on behalf of Gulf Coast in our community’s creation of a system of care for the homeless, and a food distribution system with a focus on healthy and nutritious foods.  Jon led a multi-disciplinary team of experts that created the Community Playbook for Healthy Waterways, a plan to remove pollutants and restore water quality in our region.  Other transformative projects in which Jon plays a key role include community-driven efforts to extend the multiuse, recreational Legacy Trail in Sarasota County and beyond, and to sustainably redevelop the Sarasota Bayfront.

Jon is also recognized throughout Florida as a leading advocate for protecting the natural environment. A fifth-generation Sarasotan, he was raised on a family farm near Osprey and began working at his family’s real estate company at 14. Jon began his environmental advocacy at Venice High School in 1974 as a founding member of the Ecology Club, and in 1996 he was featured in National Geographic for his efforts to protect endangered species.

Harriet Thompson

Community Leadership Administrator

Since joining Gulf Coast 20 years ago, Harriet Thompson has worked in a variety of administrative positions: assistant to the CEO, helping our donors in Development, and currently providing support to the Community Leadership team. Prior to joining Gulf Coast, Harriet worked in a supervisory capacity for CNA Insurance, located outside of Washington, DC. When not at the office, Harriet can be found on the golf course, playing a friendly game of bridge, or trying to keep up with her “Little Sister” Amanda.