Foundation Announces 2022 Gulf Coast Leadership Institute Class

Gulf Coast Community Foundation has selected 24 participants from across the region for its 2022 Gulf Coast Leadership Institute. Through this annual initiative, the foundation provides intensive, high-quality leadership training designed to identify, develop, and connect a diverse and growing group of aspiring community leaders.

Class members will take part in seven training sessions from May through June conducted by the acclaimed Leadership Development Institute of Eckerd College. Gulf Coast provides all training and resources at no cost to participants in exchange for their commitment to use their new skills to benefit the community.

The 24 participants selected for the 2022 Gulf Coast Leadership Institute are:

Sara Brunow, Muriel O’Neil Education & Engagement Director, Asolo Repertory Theatre

Jennifer Bushinger-Ortiz, Chief Philanthropy Officer, Loveland Center, Inc.

Shelley Cairo, Financial Advisor-Private Client Group, Truist Investment Services, Inc.

Robyn Citrin, Board Trustee/President, Hermitage Artist Retreat

Kelly M. Defebo, CMP, Director of Sales, Visit Sarasota County

Esther Dickmann, Client and Clinical Services Manager, Samaritan Counseling Services of the Gulf Coast

Kelly Duyn, Assistant Director of Education & Community Engagement, Venice Theatre

Cintia Elenstar, Associate Executive Director, UnidosNow

Jonathan Evans, Executive Director, Healthy Teens Coalition of Manatee Co., Inc.

Debbie Frank, Program Director, Friends of Boca Grande Community Center

Michelle Frau, Events and Membership Administrator, Ringling College Library Association

Jill Gomes, Director of Quality, Risk & Compliance, CenterPlace Health

Amy Helms, Human Resources Manager, Senior Friendship Centers

Scott Hinckley, CFRE, Account Director, Allegiance Group

Ben Jewell-Plocher, Education Director, Embracing Our Differences

Ashley Klearman, VP of Development, Hunters Point Pearl Homes and Marina

Heather Koester, President/Business Consulting Strategist, Koester Consulting Group

Michael (Mike) McLaughlin, Senior Vice President for Horticulture, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Laura Randall, CFRE, Senior Director of Development, Visible Men Academy

Travis Ray, Associate Managing Director, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

Clara Reynardus de Villanueva, Director of Development Sarasota-Manatee Campus and Latino Scholarship Program, University of South Florida 

Mary Smedley, Managing Broker, Michael Saunders & Co. Englewood/Boca Grande offices

Amanda Sweet, Event Coordinator, Nathan Benderson Park Conservancy

Kayden Jeanne Stephen Taylor, HOPWA Housing Coordinator, CAN Community Health

This is the 14th year that Gulf Coast Community Foundation has offered the Gulf Coast Leadership Institute. In all, over 300 community members have completed the training provided through this leadership-development initiative. Many continue to work together on civic initiatives and community-improvement projects, as well as participate in periodic learning and reunion opportunities offered to Gulf Coast Leadership Institute alumni.

For more information on the program, visit


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