President | CEO
Mark Pritchett is responsible for the overall leadership and direction of Gulf Coast Community Foundation, including corporate strategy, oversight of its programs, operations, and investments. Known as a seasoned leader in business, philanthropy, and public policy, he thrives on big challenges, having led Florida’s election reform task force after the 2000 Presidential election and overseeing disputes between home owners and insurance companies after the 2004 and 2005 record hurricane seasons. Mark has advanced nationally recognized initiatives at Gulf Coast in education and workforce development. Prior to joining the foundation in 2008, he held leadership positions with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Florida, and the Collins Center for Public Policy. He earned Bachelor of Science and master’s degrees from the University of Kentucky and a PhD from The Florida State University. Mark loves the Colorado Rockies, riding his bike with Gina Taylor throughout our region, science articles, Chihuly glass collections, European travels, Kentucky bourbon, and UK basketball…not necessarily in that order.
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.
Kelly joined Gulf Coast Community Foundation in the summer of 2018 after having worked for 10 years at Asolo Repertory Theatre as their Production Stage Manager. As a member of our Development team she works closely with our Philanthropic Advisors and our incredible donors to help their philanthropic dollars have the biggest impact possible. She is also responsible for the processing and execution of all of Gulf Coast’s sponsorship grants. 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.
Kelly Carlstein Buehler
Director of Strategic Marketing and PR
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.
Karla Detert joined Gulf Coast Community Foundation in early December of 2018 as Executive and Human Resources Assistant. Karla has over 20 years of HR experience working for large corporations to small businesses. She is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management and is a certified HR professional. Her hobbies include going to live sporting events, concerts, going to the beach or anything outside in the sunshine.
Samantha Eplin joined the Gulf Coast team as the office manager responsible for keeping our local facility moving forward. She is dedicated to raise the bar of service to our customers, donors, nonprofit partners and staff at Gulf Coast. Samantha is passionate about the community and serving local nonprofits. Since 2014, she has worked as a medical office professional at Venice Regional and Regional Cardiac & Vascular Associates. Previously, she was the student director at Lift Church in Venice. Samantha holds a degree in Theology and will soon graduate with her BS in Public Administration. Her favorite activities outside of work are spending time with her family, working with horses and mentoring students in the community.
Senior Vice President for Philanthropy
Kirstin Fulkerson has been an integral member of the Gulf Coast team for 16 years. During this time, she has worked closely with Gulf Coast’s nonprofit partners, donors, professional advisors, and local leaders to transform our region through bold and proactive philanthropy. Kirstin has spearheaded many initiatives that focus on nonprofits, leadership, and emerging community issues. As the senior vice president for philanthropy, she drives all development efforts for Gulf Coast while working closely with Gulf Coast’s family of donors and their legal and financial advisors helping to maximize the impact of their giving. Kirstin has an MBA from the University of South Florida and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Colorado. She enjoys reading, anything outdoors, and, most importantly, spending time with her family.
Senior Community Investment Officer
As a member of the Community Investment team, Jennifer collaborates with nonprofit partners and diverse stakeholders to develop and sustain initiatives that positively impact regional priorities. She 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 Regional Director for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, creating healthier school environments for students and staff across the country. As Director of Partnership Development with Alpha House of Tampa, she strengthened services for pregnant and parenting women experiencing homelessness in Hillsborough County. 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 as well as international and domestic travel.
Matt is thrilled to be part of such a dynamic and growing organization. Serving as a Philanthropic Advisor, Matt works with donors to help meet their philanthropic goals, maximize their impact on our community, and connect them to the important work that Gulf Coast is engaged in.
Matt is originally from the other side of the Gulf of Mexico in Houston, Texas, a city and a region that taught him about the power that individuals and organizations have to improve the lives of its residents. Matt has always focused on building relationships and cultivating partnerships in the community as a way to work towards progress.
He and his family recently moved to Sarasota from San Francisco where he was the Regional Director for the American Jewish Committee, a global advocacy organization. Prior to that, Matt worked at Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, creating opportunities for dialogue, collaboration and service within the interfaith community.
Matt is married to Rabbi Samantha Kahn at Temple Sinai in Sarasota and they have two children. He completed graduate work in Nonprofit Management, and Education in Jerusalem as well as Los Angeles. Locally, Matt teaches leadership to middle school students and volunteers with the synagogue.
Kelsey Kern is an integral part of Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s marketing and communications team, helping to develop content and share stories about the many amazing people and organizations that partner with Gulf Coast to make an impact in our region.
Prior to joining Gulf Coast in 2019, Kelsey was a part of the Creative and Marketing Services team at Feld Entertainment, working with Disney, Marvel, Monster Jam, Supercross, NBC Universal, and Dreamworks licensed brands. She received her degree in Telecommunications from University of Florida and spent the first five years of her career as a TV reporter in Alabama at CBS affiliate WHNT News 19 in Huntsville and here on the Gulf Coast at WSNN in Sarasota.
When she’s not at work, Kelsey enjoys spending time with her boyfriend and family, enjoying the beach, working out at the gym, reading a good book, playing with her dog, or planning her next adventure.
Philanthropic Accounting Coordinator
As a Philanthropic Accounting Coordinator, Jacintha Knox assists Gulf Coast with financial data entry, including the processing of gifts, grants, and donor acknowledgments. With 20 years of nonprofit experience, Jacintha is passionate about working with organizations that support community initiatives through philanthropy and service. She has a personal interest in visual arts, cultural institutions, 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 Metropolitan State University of 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, volunteering at animal organizations, and vegan cooking.
As Philanthropic Administrator, Amber is fulfilling her dream of making positive and lasting impacts on our community by assisting our donors with their philanthropy. In addition, she helps manage and oversees donor grants processing. Prior to joining the foundation in 2017, Amber spent many years working in donor relations, fundraising event management, and data entry. She received her bachelors in Psychology from the University of Tennessee System, with a focus on early childhood education and child development. When not in the office, you can find Amber whipping up a yummy snack in the kitchen, trying out a new craft project, or spending time with family and friends.
Director of Communications | Corporate Secretary
Greg Luberecki directs Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s external communications and brand management. As part of Gulf Coast’s marketing and communications team, he leads media relations, content creation, and publication development, and he works closely with the foundation’s nonprofit partners to help tell the story of their impact in our region. Greg is also active in the community, currently serving on the board of the Friends of the Venice Public Library as well as coaching youth soccer and occasionally volunteering at Venice Elementary School. He is a member of the 2014 class of Leadership Sarasota. Prior to joining Gulf Coast in 2005, Greg lived in the Washington, DC, area, working in editing and web content management for such employers as the Kiplinger Washington Editors and American University. He earned his BA in English from Lafayette College.
Community Investment Associate
Hollie Mowry supports Gulf Coast’s Operations and Community Investment teams in their day to day operations. She has 20 years of experience in the administrative field and a passion for making the world a better place. She holds a Master’s Degree in Musical Theatre and Opera from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and still performs regularly at Venice Theatre. In her free time Hollie enjoys kayaking and traveling the world with her husband and two daughters.
Chief Financial Officer
As Chief Financial Officer, Chris Stobaugh maintains the financial integrity of Gulf Coast Community Foundation through the expert direction of its financial, fund accounting, and investment activities.
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 small children.
Senior Vice President for Administration | Chief Operating Officer
As part of Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s management team, Veronica Thames is a critical partner to the President | CEO in translating Gulf Coast’s goals into its overall operational plan, including department objectives, staff leadership, and performance measures. Veronica also plays a key role on the Community Investment team, creating, planning, and executing bold and proactive initiatives that transform our region. She joined the foundation in 2018.
Veronica is an influential and collaborative leader with proven ability to manage multiple functional areas within a dynamic organization. Prior to Gulf Coast, Veronica served as Vice President of Human Resources at Blake Medical Center, part of Healthcare Corporation of America, for which she had worked since 2006. At Blake she was responsible for key operations and personnel management of a 1,300-employee organization. Her many accomplishments included operating the top-ranked childcare facility in Manatee County and the largest community health and wellness program within HCA nationwide.
Veronica also brings extensive community involvement to her new role in philanthropy. She was a longtime member and former chair of the Sarasota Manatee Healthcare Collaborative, a consortium of employers and educators dedicated to improving workforce development and competitiveness in the region’s healthcare sector. She also served as a board member and volunteer for numerous nonprofit organizations, and she is a 2009 graduate of Leadership Manatee.
Outside of work, Veronica loves spending time wither her family, as well as home remodeling, kayaking, and big gatherings (where she doesn’t have to cook!). Fluent in Spanish, she was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and lived and worked across the United States, from Boca Raton to Los Angeles, before planting roots on the Gulf Coast.
Senior Vice President for Community Investment
Jon Thaxton creates and implements Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s key strategies for transforming our region’s nonprofit community and providing leadership on emerging issues. Jon joined Gulf Coast in 2012 as director of community investment while completing his 12th year of service on the Sarasota County Commission, and 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 grants and resources in projects that will transform our region and improve public policies. His knowledge of the region and the relationships he built as a public servant are tremendous assets to his work. Jon has provided critical leadership on behalf of Gulf Coast in our community’s creation of a system of care for homeless children and families, and he is part of the cross-sector team that is adapting that model to effectively house and support unaccompanied homeless youth and chronically homeless adults. 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 to sustainably redevelop the Sarasota Bayfront.
Jon is also recognized throughout Florida as a leading advocate for protecting the natural environment. A fifth-generation Floridian, he was raised on a 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.
Community Investment Administrator
Since joining Gulf Coast 13 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 Investment 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.