Twenty-Four Graduate from Gulf Coast Leadership Institute

VENICE, FL (July 2, 2019) – Twenty-four emerging community leaders from across the region graduated last week from the 2019 Gulf Coast Leadership Institute. The group made up the 14th class to complete Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s long-running leadership-development initiative.

                This year’s Leadership Institute comprised seven training sessions held over two months and led by faculty of the internationally acclaimed Leadership Development Institute (LDI) of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg. Gulf Coast Community Foundation commissioned the training and provided all resources at no cost to participants in exchange for their commitment to use their new skills to benefit our region through community service.

“The support from Gulf Coast for this effort—not just for the people participating, but also for those trusted to deliver the training—is fabulous,” said Dr. Joe Carella, senior faculty member and custom solutions lead at LDI, who served as the lead instructor for Gulf Coast Leadership Institute. “It really sends a message of empowerment.”

                Unlike many civic 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. At the same time, the Institute connects participants from diverse backgrounds into a tight-knit group of skilled, action-oriented leaders.

GCLI Class


The following individuals completed the 2019 Gulf Coast Leadership Institute:

Olympia Baylou, Owner/Founder, Blooming Impressions FL

Nicole Britton, Director of Development, The Twig Cares

Steven Brownlee, Associate Attorney, Williams Parker

Cathy Bryant, Director of Donor Relations, Streets of Paradise

Gregory Cruz, Field Director, GRSG Company

Michele Demperio, Director of Business Development, Sweet Sparkman Architects

Tony Dempsey, President, Sunstate Business Brokers

Joanne Fabec, Financial Advisor, RBC Wealth Management

Alyssa Goudy, Production Manager, The Players Centre for Performing Arts

Cynthia Gravino, Founder and Executive Director, Alum-Worx

Gina Jordan, Senior Vice President and Trust Officer, Caldwell Trust Company

Kathy Jordan, Director of Major Gifts, WUSF Public Media

Shay Kilby, Board Member, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Sarasota County

Beth Kregenow, Program Administrator, Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County

Jessie Lapek, Center Director, Pregnancy Solutions

Mary Ellen Mancini, Director of Development, Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center

Angelique Medvesky, Professor and Academic Chair, State College of Florida – Lakewood Ranch

Coral Pleas, Owner/Founder, Cutting Loose Salon

Neil Rainford, Senior Project Executive, Mullet’s Aluminum Products

Eileen Rosenzweig, President, Sir Speedy Sarasota

Dawnyelle Singleton, Director of Programs and Community Relations, Visible Men Academy

Mark Smith, Director of Marketing, The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art

Bob Stone, Owner, Minuteman Press

Molly Swift, Scholarships/Special Projects Manager, William G. and Marie Selby Foundation

To date, almost 350 community members have participated in Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s leadership-development initiative. Applications for the 2020 Gulf Coast Leadership Institute will be available next January at


Gulf Coast Repeats as a "Best Nonprofit"

Published: For the second-straight year, The NonProfit Times has recognized Gulf Coast Community Foundation as one of the “Best Nonprofits to Work For” in the country.

Foundations, Donors Team to Pay Past-Due Utility Bills

Published: Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, and a generous donor couple partnered to pay past-due utility bills for 32 families in Sarasota County.

Introducing 'Speckles' the Turtle

Published: The giant aluminum sea turtle sculpture gifted by Gulf Coast Community Foundation to the City of Venice now has a name. Thanks to the creativity of a local student, the turtle is affectionately known as 'Speckles.'