Twenty-Five Graduate from Gulf Coast Leadership Institute

Twenty-five emerging community leaders from across the region graduated last week from the 2018 Gulf Coast Leadership Institute. The group made up the 13th class to complete Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s long-running leadership initiative.

“We are so impressed by this diverse group of aspiring leaders,” said Dr. Mark S. Pritchett, President|CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. “I can’t wait to see the great things they do to transform our region through their community service.”

The 2018 program comprised seven training sessions over a three-month period led by faculty of the internationally acclaimed Leadership Development Institute of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. Gulf Coast Community Foundation commissioned the training and provided all other resources at no cost to participants in exchange for their commitment to use their new skills to benefit their communities.

Participants were selected by Gulf Coast back in March through a competitive application process. The foundation typically receives about three times as many applicants as it has slots available for this highly desired program. “I have attended numerous trainings and retreats as a Fortune 50 corporate executive,” said Brian Mariash, Senior Vice President of Mariash Lowther Wealth Management–Merrill Lynch and a 2018 GCLI graduate. “This was one of the best experiences I have ever had.”

Unlike many leadership programs that aim to educate participants about community institutions and processes, Gulf Coast Leadership Institute is structured to help community-minded individuals develop their own leadership knowledge and capacity so they can more effectively serve their communities. “GCLI exceeded all of my expectations,” said Samantha Gholar, founder and Executive Director of Emerge Sarasota, a minority, multicultural young professionals organization. “While most leadership programs focus heavily on the external, GCLI’s unique internal focus creates a judgement-free and supportive environment for each participant to dig into ourselves in order to truly grow.”

At the same time, GCLI is designed to connect participants into a tight-knit group of skilled, action-oriented leaders. To date, about 325 community members have taken part in this leadership-development initiative. “The number-one thing I got out of GCLI was connections with people in the community that I otherwise would never have met, let alone formed the close bonds that resulted from this class,” said Laurie Birnbach, Director of Business Development at Fox Lea Farm in Venice. “Gulf Coast is building a complex, embedded, and engaged network of some of the best people in our community.”

Jamie Smith, Director of Communications and Marketing at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, summed up her experience this way: “Together with a group of peers who I now consider lifelong friends, I learned how to better understand myself and others. The institute improved my communication and collaboration skill sets, so that I can be an effective leader who leads with compassion.”

The following individuals graduated from the 2018 Gulf Coast Leadership Institute:
•    Laurie Birnbach, Director of Business Development, Fox Lea Farm
•    Kelly Carlstein Buehler, Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator, Blake Medical Center
•    Leroy Butler, Community Engagement Specialist
•    Janet Carrillo, Social Services Manager, City of North Port
•    Eric Collin, President, Firmo Construction
•    Jennifer Fagenbaum, Executive Director, Family Promise of South Sarasota County
•    Samantha Gholar, Founder and Executive Director, Emerge Sarasota
•    Susan Goldstein, Commercial Real Estate Specialist, Michael Saunders & Company Commercial
•    Lauren Kurnov, Educational Consultant
•    Brian Mariash, Senior Vice President, Mariash Lowther Wealth Management–Merrill Lynch
•    Dean Miller, Retired Managing Director, JPMorgan Chase
•    Kim Mullins, Chief Operating Officer, The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee
•    Dino Perakis, Attorney, Fowler Law Group
•    Justin Powell, Vice President, Palmer Ranch Holdings
•    Rae Ramos, External Relations and Programming, Sarasota Museum of Art 
•    Renee Ryckman, Owner, Escape Countdown
•    Kristie Skoglund, Vice President of Clinical Services, The Florida Center for Early Childhood
•    Jamie Smith, Director of Communications and Marketing, State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota
•    Julia Stalnaker, Certified Financial Planner and Financial Advisor, Raymond James–Korszen Financial Group
•    Jake Tate, Financial Advisor, Green Fairways Financial
•    Justin Taylor, Executive Vice President, MRT Lawn and Garden Center
•    Gerhard Toth, Commercial Banking Leader – Southwest Florida, Regions Bank
•    Daniel Tullidge, Attorney, Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen
•    Dan Weiss, President, Counterpart CFO
•    Keenan Wooten, President, Sarasota-Bradenton Kappa Alpha Psi Project Guide Right

Applications for the 2019 Gulf Coast Leadership Institute will be available next January on our website.

For nonprofit board members looking to enhance their board governance knowledge and abilities, we also offer the Gulf Coast Board Institute. Learn more here.


Answering the Call for Help for Families in Need

Published: Learn about resilient nonprofit Blaze of Hope and how they are helping families in a unique and difficult time in their lives.

Uplifting News for Youth Mental Health

Published: Read how two Here4YOUth Initiative grants to JFCS are transforming teenager's lives.