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Contents december 2021

This page: Our holiday gift guide models Jessie the Corgi (SRQ Magazine Managing and Branded Content Editor Barbie Heit’s Corgi) and baby Bear Kostygan, photography by Wyatt Kosytgan (yes, Bear is related to this guy).

35 under 35 honorees


Honoring bright entrepreneurs and young professionals from our region in our inaugural 35 Under 35 Competition. Compiled by Hannah Peterson | Photography by Wyatt Kostygan.

vernacular design


For a modern abode on the Bayou, the Japanese word “shibusa” became the entire ethos and identity for Hive Architects’ newly-finished project. Written by Brittany Mattie | Photography by Ryan Gamma.

holidays unwrapped


Find eight eye-catching themes and over 50 gift ideas for just about everyone on your holiday shopping list. From boutiques at the tip of Anna Maria Island to downtown Venice and a grab bag of local gems in-between, you’re sure to find a few hot ticketed items to wrap up in paper and tie with a bow. Compiled by Brittany Mattie and Chloe Cuyler | Photography by Wyatt Kostygan.

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Teen competitor Enzo Deferrari Wilson gains fame as the youngest American Ninja Warrior in history. Celestron Telescopes’ Ed McDonough brings childlike wonder for all ages through his lens at The Bishop Museum. Busker and YouTube phenom Dovydas claims St. Armands as his stage.

culture city


Seeing the latest creations from ceramicists Morgan Janssen, Andrew Long and Taylor Robenalt.

giving coast

SPECIAL SECTION EXPLORING MANATEE COUNTY Explore the charm and operations of one of the last small coastal fishing villages–Cortez Village. Celebrate the holidays with eclectic goods from local Bradenton boutiques. Old Florida gets a little fancy at The Porch on Anna Maria Island. Seeking out local produce and artisans at our local farmers’ markets from Anna Maria Island to Downtown Bradenton.


Learning how to raise resilient children in an interview with Forty Carrots’ 2021 Community Speaker Dr. Tina Payne Bryson.


Co-founder and Vice Chair of Save our Seabirds, Ann Anderson sees philanthropy take flight. The pandemic expanded the number of students turning to telehealth services for mental health care.



Cover: Hive Architects’ newest residential project springboards from one word to trigger creativity and ultimately drive the design, photography by Ryan Gamma. Living Bradenton Area Cover (interior): Holiday Macarons

by Macaronage and Potato Pancakes by The Porch, photography by Wyatt Kosytgan. This page: Potato pancakes from The Porch on Anna Maria Island; St. Armands busker and musician Dovydas; and a vignette from the Bradenton gift guide; photography by Wyatt Kostygan.

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HYATT REGENCY SARASOTA Welcome to the Hyatt Regency Sarasota, a fixture in downtown Sarasota since 1975, when it became the first full-service hotel in the area.


LOCATED ON THE INTERCOASTAL WATERWAY with its own 30-slip marina, the 294 room hotel features a large lagoon style swimming pool and over 20,000 square feet of meeting and event space. It is just minutes from the spectacular white-sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico and a short walk to downtown Sarasota’s finest shops and restaurants. It is truly coastal elegance with all the best that Sarasota has to offer.

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the Hyatt Sarasota, but certainly not new to the hotel industry, is General Manager, Wes Santos. Wes is a seasoned leader who began his hospitality career during high school when he was a busser at Hilton Garden Inn in Norwalk, CT. Like many hoteliers, he spent a number of years working through different departments, learning the ins and outs of the hospitality business. After majoring in Hotel & Lodging Management and getting his college degree, Wes went on to work in hotels in several markets across the country. During his tenure as General Manager, he has received various leadership awards, including Marriott’s General Manager of the Year during his first year as GM. His top priorities are coaching and development of his team members. “We have put a tremendous amount of focus on employee retention & cultivating a culture of inclusiveness, teamwork and commitment to our guests,” says Santos. “Our first task was to transform our back of house areas into

an inspirational, welcoming & cultural atmosphere. A world map was added to our employee entrance and every single employee was tasked with ’pinning’ their place of birth. We instantly saw results as this generated conversation amongst team members and created a lot of dialogue between departments that typically would not interact with one another throughout the day.” Another boost to staff morale can be found at the employee entrance. Wes and his team recently contracted local artist, Holland King, to paint a mural that defines the hotel. Aimbridge Hospitality (Hyatt’s management company) values are painted on one side of the mural, while the other side shows off the Hyatt Regency logo, perfectly drawn with a Sarasota sunset in the background. “Our values are something we discuss daily, as it is now ingrained in our culture and mottoes we live by each day” says Santos. The Aimbridge Core Values: 1. Think We, Not Me 2. Be Inclusive, be respectful, be curious. 3. Become better everyday 4. Think like a guest, act like an owner.


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COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE A WHOLE-TEAM APPROACH TO EXCELLENCE Recently, a new plan was introduced to get line level team members more involved in decision making and planning. The Commitment to Excellence Special Council invites employees from different departments of the hotel to meet monthly and talk about what is being done well and what can be done better. The purpose is to aid in developing associates, share best practices and gather feedback from hourly team members—tasks that were once typically handled by management. The council consists of supervisors and associates working together, introducing and sharing ideas to affect positive changes for the hotel, community and personal growth. “The council members are really ambassadors for excellence in the hotel,” says Santos. It’s a plan that benefits both the hotel and the employee, as being part of the committee provides mentorship and growth opportunities within our management. Council members are empowered with community leadership opportunities and greater involvement in planning.

Commitment to Excellence Council Commi ee Members, le to right: Toni Fike, Marie Gaines, Wes Santos, Carmel Koons, Hailey Thri , Riley Austin, Michael Kvenberg, Jessica Heiting, Jeff Janssen, Jamie Ujvari

The ‘’Making Waves’’ Employee of the Month is another new initiative that the Hyatt leadership team is extremely excited about. Each month, they select an employee that embodies team values and is ‘’making waves’’ in their department. The first recipient was Front Office Supervisor, Riley Austin. “We are excited to continue celebrating our associates and have recently celebrated three who have been with the Hyatt for a combined 104 years,” reports Santos. The team will soon be hosting a quarter-century luncheon for 16 team members who are celebrating 25 years or more at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota and presenting them with a letter signed by the COO of Hyatt Hotels. Other team celebrations include Latino and Hispanic Heritage Month, International Housekeeping Week, ‘’A Day in the Life’’ (job shadowing program), Community Day (community involvement programs) and Employee Gatherings that include visiting local restaurants and museums in Sarasota.

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UNFORGETABLE EVENTS Successful Leadership RETURN OF BANQUET EVENTS With it’s 10,000 square-foot ballroom and picturesque boathouse

on stilts overlooking the bay, the Hyatt continues to host unforgettable conferences, weddings, and events. The planning team, led by Director of Events, Carol Danisi does their utmost to make every event a success. “2021 has been the most successful event year that the Hyatt has seen since 2016,” reports Danisi. “It’s nice to see it all coming back,” she says. Much of the success of the Hyatt team can likely be attributed to Aimbridge Hospitality, the third-party hotel management company overseeing the operations at Hyatt Sarasota. Aimbridge has more than 1,500 branded hotel and resort properties in its portfolio and it employs more than 60,000 people across 20 countries. The hospitality group outperformed competitors in the first half of 2021 with revenues that surpassed 2019 and 2020 levels. “Aimbridge is looking to increase their footprint in Sarasota and continues to bring value to our community, shareholders and associates across our hotels,” says Santos.


Like most businesses over the past two years, the Hyatt Regency Sarasota has had to adjust their traditional way of doing business. They learned to do more with less and in turn have found a new respect for colleagues and their responsibilities. “Although the health pandemic has affected all of us, the team at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota has stood tall, side by side and we have grown into a much more cohesive unit,”— A lot has changed in the hotel: there’s a younger vibe in hiring to reflect the growing younger demographic of Sarasota, plans for future renovation, and new leadership in place.


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DELICIOUS ADDITIONS WHAT‘S CURRENT AT CURRENTS Guests and restaurant patrons have been enjoying delectable dining at Currents Restaurant and Bar for years. Executive Chef Ryan and his team are known for their creative expertise in serving up delicious locally-sourced fare. This year, they’ve been serving up brand-new menu items and making special events, like weddings, even more unforgettable with custom catering menus tailored to suit the needs and tastes of their clients. “The Boathouse is a very popular choice for events like weddings because it is one of the only places in Sarasota to hold events on the water,” says Carol Danisi. “We’ve done a complete refresh of our breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings, introducing trendier and healthier options.” Breakfast now features a quinoa chorizo power bowl, almond crusted french toast, eggwhite brie omelet and avocado toast. Lunch additions include the flat iron rice bowl, ale fish & chips and goat cheese salad. And some of the most popular new dinner items are the lobster tortellini, ale brined pork chop, kale caesar salad and pecan crusted salmon. “We are excited to feature more specials and food and beverage activations throughout our hotel. We continuously look for opportunities to provide an elevated experience for our guests,” says Danisi. All of these wonderful new creations would not be possible without the culinary expertise of Chef Ryan Ward. Chef Ryan has been with the Hyatt Regency Sarasota for the past four years. However, he has

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been working in the restaurant business since he was 14 years old. “I started working at our family restaurant as a teenager. At 16, I worked at a small pub as a dishwasher after school and as a prep cook at the White Mountain Hotel in New Hampshire on weekends,” says Chef Ryan. His Hyatt career goes way back to 2008 where he started as a chef at the Hyatt DFW in Dallas, Texas. After graduating from the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont in 2009, he became Sous Chef at the Hyatt in Reston Virginia, where he covered both the restaurant and banquets. In 2013, Chef Ryan won Manager of the Year award at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge, MA and in 2016, he moved to Washington DC where he assisted with preparations for the presidential inauguration. In 2017. Chef Ryan was named Executive Chef at the Hyatt Sarasota where he earned top spots in the Interstate food summit culinary competitions of 2017 and 2019. With all of this recognition, it is no wonder that guests and local residents return time and time again to experience the unique and tasty creations at Currents. For those guests and patrons who choose to relax by the pool on a sunny day, or sit by the firepit at night with a drink in hand, the Hurricane Hut at the Hyatt has just launched it’s very first menu dedicated to cocktails. New to the Hyatt this year is Jamie Ujvari, a young energetic food and beverage manager who is serving up new and exciting cocktails, such as Hit Me Like a Hurricane, Lido Lavender Lemonade, and La Paloma.

Le : Chef Ryan Ward of Currents Restaurant at the Hya Regency Sarasota. Top right: Shrimp Scampi Fe ucini. Bo om right: Short Rib with whipped Yukon potatoes, french beans and mushroom ragout.

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GIVING BACK The Hyatt has always been involved in the community. Year after year, the staff gives their time and energy to volunteer with organizations like SE Guide Dogs, Suncoast Charities for Children and Glasser-Schoenbaum Human Services Center. “We encourage our colleagues to give back,” says Devito. “Most recently, our executive team visited All Faiths Food Bank, where we packed over 2,000 backpacks for children in Sarasota and Desoto counties.” The hotel also donates a number of gift certificates to help nonprofits raise funds for their causes. “For the past two years, everyone was working from within, trying to stay safe and distanced from one another,” says Debbie Devito. “Now, we are once again back out in the community. It’s important for us to be involved in local community events. We want to help wherever we can. This is something we are really looking forward to in the new year.”


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Wyatt Kostygan SENIOR EDITOR

Brittany Mattie




Andrew Fabian, Phil Lederer, Jacob Ogles CONTRIBUTING EDITORS AND ARTISTS

Chris Leverett, Abby Weingarten, Woody Woodman DESIGN CONTRIBUTOR Winona Nasser EDITORIAL + DESIGN INTERNS

Grace Castilow, Chloe Cuyler, Nilyana Rodriguez, Emma Tufano

GET SRQ DAILY The magazine in your hands offers enormous insight into our community, but the most informed in our community follow our constant coverage of Sarasota and the Bradenton Area in SRQ Daily. The electronic newsletter is a must-read in thousands of inboxes. Check our special editions: the Monday Business Edition, the Wednesday Philanthropy Edition, the Friday Weekend Edition and the much-discussed Saturday Perspectives Edition, featuring a diverse range of opinions from the region’s top pundits and newsmakers. SIGN UP ONLINE AT SRQMAG.COM/SRQDAILY






Suzanne Munroe Julie Mayer Magnifico Rob Wardlaw Lisa Diggins CLIENT SERVICES ASSOCIATE


Shpresa Mehmeti

ORIGINS OF “SRQ” The “SRQ” in SRQ magazine originates from the designated call letters for the local Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. “SR” was the original abbreviation for the airport before the growth in total number of airports required the use of a three-letter code. Letters like “X” and “Q” were used as filler, thus the original “SR” was revised to “SRQ,” much as the Los Angeles airport became “LAX.” As a regional publication committed to the residents of and visitors to both Sarasota and Manatee counties, SRQ captures the place that we call home. LOCAL PUBLISHERS OF SRQ MAGAZINE, LIVING LAKEWOOD, ROCKETKIDS, SRQ TOP DOCTORS MEDICAL RESOURCE GUIDE, SRQ ELITE TOP ATTORNEYS PROGRAM, SRQ HOME & DESIGN, SHE ROARS, LIVING BRADENTON AREA, LOVE LOCAL GUIDEBOOK AND SRQ DAILY.

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SUBSCRIBE TO THE PRINT AND DIGITAL EDITION Join our readers in the pleasurable experience of receiving SRQ magazine in your mailbox every month during season and bimonthly during the summer. To reserve your subscription, provide your information and payment online. You can set up multiple addresses, renewals and special instructions directly through your online account. When you subscribe online, your first print issue will arrive in your mailbox in 6-10 weeks. Subscribe online at SRQMAG.COM/SUBSCRIBE. Contact us via email at Vol. 24, Issue 240 Copyright © 2021 SRQ MEDIA. SRQ: Live Local | Love Locall. Sarasota and Bradenton Area is published 10 times a year. IMPORTANT NOTICE: The entire contents of SRQ are copyrighted by Trafalger Communications, Inc. Column and department names are property of Trafalger Communications, Inc. and may not be used or reproduced without express written permission of the publisher. SUBSCRIPTION: Subscriptions to SRQ are $36 for 20 issues. Single copies are $4 at area newsstands.

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Lifelong celestial sightseer brings childlike wonder for all ages through his field of view. Brittany Mattie | Photo by Wyatt Kostygan


up in the 60s during The Space Race with parents who loved to look up at the moon sparked a genuine intrigue in scoping out the deep sky and solar system. “There was a short-lived TV show in the 60s called Men Into Space that aired every Wednesday night,” shares McDonough. “My dad and I would never miss it, we’d sit down to watch it and I was mesmerized.” His parents saw how much space interested him and surprised 10-year-old McDonough with a Christmas present of a little 60-mm refractor to play around with. At 16, they upgraded him to the real deal: a 6 in. reflector. “At the time, that was the telescope to die for, really,” McDonough recalls. Since then, he’s peered through the looking glass to see many colors and phases of the moon, countless constellations, peering deep into the solar system to faraway galaxies and gazing up at Jupiter and Mars. “But, by far the best, and most unforgettable,view is when you see Saturn and those rings,” he shares. “A lot of people think I painted them on the lens when I let them look in it.” McDonough has gone on to work for Celestron for 25 years. Working for one of the world’s most prominent telescope manufacturers and distributors has its perks. If his 10-year-old self could see his arsenal of powerful yet portable scopes, it’s safe to say he’d find it pretty stellar. One of his go-tos, McDonough shares being his Celestron NexStar 8SE 203mm Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope—encompassing a notably large aperture

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to draw in more light and see deeper into space for observing everything from the Moon and planets to deep-sky objects like stars, galaxies and nebulae. But what’s a great optical instrument for planetary gazing without clear, unpolluted skies? A Florida local for 10 years now, McDonough’s come to learn, you’re hardened to see anything June-September. Things start to clear up in October and by January and February, the night sky is at its peak clarity to observe. By the time we hit May, Florida’s peninsular geography heats up the air in the summer—blocking the human eye from what lies beyond the clouds of thick humidity that form, McDonough shares. Stick to astronomical adventures in the winter and keep a lookout for The Bishop Museum of Science + Nature’s occasional public outings ‘Seeing Stars With The Bishop’ during viewing season with McDonough and the Museum’s Chief Astrologer and Planetarium Manager, Howard Hochhalter, out at Robinson Preserve. Robinson is tucked just enough away into natural remoteness to provide a dark nook with little-to-no light pollution, ideal for solar exploration. “I have probably had over the years thousands of people look through my telescopes, and the reaction you get—adult or kid—is always so worth it,” McDonough says. “I’ll never forget this one time, this woman who must have been in her 80s was looking up at Saturn through my eyepiece. For a minute, that woman became a 10-year-old kid again. The real excitement was so pure—there’s no way to describe it.” SRQ

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This spread: Ed McDonough has front-row seats to the cosmos night show, looking through his Sky-Watcher Evostar 120ED 900mm Apochromatic Refractor lens out by Myakka State Park. “Talking Telescopes” runs every other Saturday in the lobby of The Planetarium astronomy facility at The Bishop Museum (201 10th St. W, Bradenton). Take advantage of learning how to set up and use a telescope through 1:1 demos with expert Ed McDonough.Celestron Showroom: Did you know that The Bishop’s Gift Store is one of only two Celestron telescope showrooms in Florida? Shopping locally allows you the opportunity to look before you buy and it also supports the Museum.

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HITTING THE BUZZER Enzo Deferrari Wilson goes from being an ordinary teen to making American Ninja Warrior history. Chloe Cuyler

LEARNING TO DRIVE. GOING ON A FIRST DATE. These are the firsts ordinary teens experience. Not Enzo

Deferrari Wilson. This 15-year-old is anything but ordinary—becoming the youngest competitor ever on American Ninja Warrior. Enzo, a Palm Harbor native attending NewGate School in Sarasota remotely, has experienced a series of unimaginable firsts in American Ninja Warrior . Fastest rookie and teen competitor on the first episode. Youngest person to make it to Las Vegas and the National Finals. Youngest to hit the buzzer and make it to Stage Two (out of four) of the National Finals. 18 | srq magazine_ DEC21 live local

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Above: Enzo Deferrari Wilson trains till nightfall in his family home’s backyard course.


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How exactly did all these superlatives happen? How does one go from being a normal teen—going to high school and studying—to being a high-flying, record-breaking Ninja Warrior competitor? It all started 10 years ago, when Enzo was just 5 years old. His grandma introduced him to NBC’s hit TV-show American Ninja Warrior and it was love at first sight. “From the moment I saw the show, I was hooked,” he says. “I knew that I wanted to be on it when I grew up.” With that goal in mind, Enzo began his journey to elite athleticism at age 11—training hard at Jungle Gym in Pinellas Park and Obstacle Ninja Academy in Orlando—and soon thereafter competed in his first obstacle course competition in Bradenton. The teenage ninja never predicted that only a decade later, his dream of competing on his favorite show would become a reality. But as the age-limit for the show began to steadily decrease from 21, to 19, and then eventually 15, it became apparent that could happen sooner rather than later. And so it goes, after just four years of pure, unadulterated hard work and dedication, Enzo became the youngest competitor ever to grace the stage of American Ninja Warrior, setting unbelievable records and making memories that he admits still feel surreal. His favorite of which would be hitting the buzzer on the Stage One qualifying round in Las Vegas. “It’s a tough course,” he says. “It takes out some of the best ninjas. So being able to complete that and stand on the platform with the buzzer, looking back at what I had just done— knowing that I had just completed that course—was the craziest feeling of my life.” And if competing against adults on an action-packed, high-flying show, when he’s not even old enough to get a driver’s license, wasn’t already an amazing feat, Enzo is also the founder of O.N.E. (Ocean Needs Everyone), an ocean conservation program dedicated to cleaning our beautiful beaches and spreading awareness about the topic. No matter what age, Enzo reminds us that doubting ourselves from reaching our full potential will only hold us back from hitting our own buzzer. “If being on American Ninja Warrior at 15 proved anything to me,” he says, “it’s that no matter what you dream about doing, anything is possible. If you don’t try, there’s a 100 percent chance you’ll fail.” SRQ

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This page: Check out Dovydas’ latest hit on YT, ‘89 Plus In My Maserati Gast Tank.


Busker and YouTube phenom Dovydas claims St. Armands as his stage. Andrew Fabian

SEVERAL NIGHTS A WEEK, BUSKER AND YOUTUBE (YT) PHENOM DOVYDAS sets up in a crosswalk on St. Armands Circle. His production goes quite a ways beyond the typical acoustic street performer. It includes, in no particular order: electric guitar, pedalboard, synthesizer, drum machine, Bose P.A. system, action cameras, headphones, a videographer (who happens to be his wife), and an assortment of microphones, stands, cables and thingamajigs. To date, he has over a million YT subscribers from around the world and gets recognized in just about every city he finds himself in when he travels. He has a Wikipedia entry, sponsorships and a growing collection of free gear. One could make the assertion that Dovydas is a formal part of St. Armand’s entertainment programming, that he was invited to perform his particular brand of jaw-dropping covers and that someone somewhere is cutting him a check for the large crowds he draws. But none of that is true. “I used to get harassed by the police a bit,” he says, “but I’ve gotten pretty familiar with codes and laws. It gets pretty awkward for them when they try to cite me for a violation that doesn’t exist.” It sure makes for good content on his YT channel, however. For the Lithuanian-born, one-time reality TV talent show contestant (search for “David Smash 2009” on YT), his rise to quasi-fame took a route outside of the traditional music industry machine. “I went on TV, recorded an album and none of that worked. So, I came to America to ‘be a big star,’” he says in a parody of his Eastern European accent. He and his wife make a great living with ad revenue from their millions of views. Yet there remains a disconnect between his internet fame and the real-life city he’s called home since 2012.“Playing on St. Armands has been great for me and I’m grateful to do it,” he says, “but I’d love to organize a proper concert with a stage and permits with the help of St. Armands Association.” In the meantime, like and subscribe. SRQ 22 | srq magazine_ DEC21 live local

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New to SRQ Magazine’s portfolio of community engagement programs, we are thrilled to introduce the 35 Under 35 Competition—a program created to recognize and honor young professionals in our hometown. Our very first class of honorees is made up of young professionals, innovators, creatives, entrepreneurs and philanthropists who have distinguished themselves as leaders within their fields. These individuals are thriving in our region and leading the way for the next generation. PRODUCED BY SRQ MEDIA, HANNAH PETERSON | PHOTOS BY WYATT KOSTYGAN

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Left to right: Brianne Grant, Sean Manown, Bailey Spasovski, Eleni Sokos and Matt Fenske.

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Left to right: Anthony Petralia, Alyssa Simons, Dan MacKinnon, Alissa Silvers and Vickie Brill.

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35 UNDER 35 HONOREES | 2021


PRESIDENT, SUTTER’S QUALITY FOODS Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. As a food distributor, 90 percent

of our company's revenue comes from restaurants and hotels which were largely shut down for a good portion of the year. To weather that storm, we did four key things. We trimmed payroll by incorporating rotating shifts to give employees as much work as we could while giving others planned days off. We leveraged our longstanding relationships with our suppliers to pay them back slowly for expired inventory. We maximized our credit with our bank to keep operations going. And, the riskiest of the four, we expanded our territory 10x during the pandemic. I decided I wanted to be aggressive rather than trimming our footprint and scaling down. I have a really great team and they went to work and made it happen.

sands of calls, emails and messages to help with assistance, primarily unemployment. Our office of two found ways to communicate and deliver results as quickly as possible. Technology demonstrated that our offices are mobile and ready to assist at all times when people need the state the most.


When things get tough, I remember . . . to



have always enjoyed roles of influence and leadership. Growing up I was the quarterback of my football team, the point guard or the basketball team and the pitcher on our baseball team. I always wanted to be counted on to perform and lead others toward victory.

Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. Recently, I served as Chair of

What mistake in your career taught you the biggest lesson? Earlier in my career I al-

keep breathing. It is only momentary.

AVP, FINANCIAL CENTER MANAGER II, FIFTH THIRD BANK How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? Since adolescence I

lowed others to direct my development and career progression. That left me feeling undervalued and in roles that I had long since outgrown. When I decided to take ownership over my personal and professional development opportunities began to open up and I was able to move forward at a much healthier pace.

What’s your favorite podcast or Youtube Channel? The Journal (podcast) by the WSJ.

the FDIC's Chairman's Diversity Council (CDAC). The CDAC is a committee of FDIC employees that seeks to sponsor programs that address diversity and inclusion, and provide a means by which employees may communicate their broad-based diversity and inclusion concerns and issues. I led monthly CDAC meetings and organized monthly diversity events to increase awareness of diverse heritages and cultures. As a result of my efforts to enhance the FDIC's commitment to hiring and retaining employees with disabilities, I was awarded the Annie D. Moore EEO, Diversity and Inclusion Award at the 2020 FDIC Annual Awards Ceremony.

Do you have any ridiculous goals in life?

What is your formula for success?

If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you choose?

What is your formula for success?

Genuinely care about the success of your team more than your own.

What is the first job you ever held?

I peeled peaches for peach cream pie at my parent’s restaurant, Sugar & Spice.

I want to be living off of primarily passive income by the time I’m 50 years old.

What are the top three items on your bucket list? Attend the World Cup. Ski the Alps. Play a round of golf at Augusta.


CHIEF LEGISLATIVE ASSISTANT, STATE OF FLORIDA What mistake in your career taught you the biggest lesson? Relationships are vital in

this industry. It is important to recognize how one’s actions and decision making can affect one or multiple relationships. Consciously or unconsciously, regardless of the amount of planning and consideration given for each action or decision, relationships can be affected.

What is your formula for success?

Every day counts. Each task is worth doing well because even the smallest ones matter as they make the foundation for the future.

How has the pandemic changed your work life?

Constituents relied heavily on the State of Florida during this time. We received thou-

My formula for success is two-fold: 1) Never stop learning and 2) Engage in new experiences. Following this mindset has pushed me to continuously expand my horizons, both personally and professionally.

What's the most spontaneous thing you've ever done? In 2018, I spontaneously decided to

How do you spend your time outside of work? Family time with my wife and kids and watching the Bucs and Rays.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Publix Chocolate Ganache Supreme Cake.

I would mentor and coach young boys into manhood – focusing on the importance of becoming who you were designed to be and how to balance manliness and gentleness to contribute to a better family life and therefore better community.

travel solo throughout India and Turkey for a few weeks. I visited several incredible historical sites such as the Taj Mahal and Hagia Sophia, ate all types of local cuisine from street vendors and made new friends during my adventure.

When things get tough, I remember . . . I’m only as tough as I’ve been tested, you never know how tough you are until you’ve been challenged harder.

If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you choose? I would



dedicate my life to solving our world’s water scarcity issue. Approximately 1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water, and many of the water systems that keep ecosystems thriving and feed a growing human population have become stressed. This is an issue that cannot be ignored.

Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. Our firm has recently been se-

What are the top three items on your bucket list? Live abroad for a year. Obtain a private

What mistake in your career taught you the biggest lesson? Always be thorough with

pilot license. Start a new business.

lected with the rebrand and site redesign/ development for one of the largest publicly traded companies based in Florida. We’ve been working with this client for nearly three years and we’ve grown alongside them.

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35 UNDER 35 HONOREES | 2021 niche to determining how your internal operations function, do your research carefully or problems will arise in the future.

How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? After having freelanced

they were unable to go to other public places. Keeping up with the increase of use while working through the changes in how we met with people due to social distancing led our team to be flexible and creative.

for years, I decided that it was time to take my services to the next level and build a real company with employees, teams, and the right resources to ensure our ability to deliver at a high level. A company is only as strong as its team and I’m extremely fortunate to be surrounded by an amazing team.

If you could ask someone any question in the world (living or from the past), who would the person be and what would your question be? I would like

How do you spend your time outside of work?

Play in a folk band; travel the country in an RV with my family; whitewater raft the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

Outside of my office job, I fly corporate jets. In my down time I love spending time with my fiancé and our dog.

If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you choose? I have to pick two: curing at least one childhood illness and finding a home for every abandoned dog.

What movie, show or cartoon character would you like to play in real life and why? Phil Dun-

phy from Modern Family because I aspire to have his level of light-heartedness and ability to be easy going.


TRAILS MANAGEMENT, SARASOTA COUNTY GOVERNMENT Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. I'm currently involved with

the Legacy Trail extension project, which brings the current Legacy Trail into downtown Sarasota. I am really excited for what this project will mean for the community when completed. I also recently gave birth to my second baby boy, so the most recent achievement I'm most proud of is balancing new roles and responsibilities, while being a working mom.

What mistake in your career taught you the biggest lesson? Not going for an opportu-

nity because of fear of failure. There have been countless times that I didn't apply for a job, or take on a project with fear of not being good enough or fear of making a mistake. I've now learned that even if you get turned down, or something doesn't go as planned, there was a learning opportunity in that moment.

How has the pandemic changed your work life? The pandemic made our work surprisingly busier. We saw a large increase in trail use and people wanting to get outside when

to ask Marjory Stoneman Douglas what her secret was to maintaining such a passion for her interests at such a late age in life.

What are the top three items on your bucket list?


COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE ADVISOR, SVN | COMMERCIAL ADVISORY GROUP Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. My most recent achievement is

actually currently ongoing, as I am the Committee Chairman for the Realtor Association of Sarasota & Manatee (RASM) - Commercial Division’s annual charity golf turnament benefiting Heroes Welcome Home and the RASM Scholarship Fund. I was the Committee Chairman last year as well, but we had to make the difficult decision to cancel the event due to COVID. The event was held this past October and was two years in the making. My responsibility was overseeing a committee collectively responsible for getting donations and sponsorships, coordinating with the golf course, planning day of event logistics and then ultimately putting on a 120+ player golf tournament.

What is your formula for success?

My formula for success is to be attentive, both to clients and to detail. Being attentive to clients means returning calls and emails in a timely manner and ensuring the client has everything they need to make a transaction as smooth as possible, as there are so many things that can go wrong in a commercial real estate transaction.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream.

If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you choose? Affordable housing for all. In my opinion, this starts with allowing denser developments and limiting bureaucracy (which reduces cost and time) on projects that prioritize infill development with walkability, connectivity, live-work-play, etc.

What movie, show or cartoon character would you like to play in real life and why? Bruce

Wayne aka Batman. Billionaire by day, vigilante by night . . . and who wouldn’t want to drive the Batmobile?


FOUNDER & CHIEF CONTENT STRATEGIST, ALYSSA GAY CONSULTING Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. Whether it is a marketing cam-

paign, social media content, blog writing or brand design, the results for the client are always what matter most. Some of that has included bringing one client from $6M to $20M in three months, another client hitting a $30K revenue month, booking solid for six+ months after our influencer grand opening strategies/campaigns, and social media specific results including 73 percent increase in engagement and a 1,874 percent increase in reach.

How has the pandemic changed your work life? Thankfully, the pandemic has only in-

creased our work. Many business owners learned and saw firsthand the need for a strong digital presence, and that has led to growth for AGC.

What's your favorite podcast or YouTube channel? I listen to too many podcasts to

count. The ones always in my rotation are: How I Built This, Entreleadership and Pillows and Beer for some fun.

What is your guilty pleasure?

My guilty pleasures are definitely hair blowouts, shopping and champagne!

What movie, show or cartoon character would you like to play in real life and why? This is

going to sound very on-brand, but I would love to be Peggy Olson from Mad Men. She was a woman who truly forged a new path in the ad industry during a time when women were only looked at as secretaries.

If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you choose?

The problem I would choose to solve would be mentoring other young women when it comes to college and career choices, as well as helping them build businesses. Entrepreneurship is lonely, even more so as a woman, and I would love to create a community of female entrepreneurs to have connection and growth together.

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MEDIA RELATIONS OFFICER, SARASOTA COUNTY GOVERNMENT How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? In a day where accessibility

and authority are more important than ever, people rely on your messaging for safety or security, or to make an educated decision/ vote, or to stay informed/prepared, etc. Lessons learned from Hurricane Irma opened my eyes to areas of opportunity within the media relations fields and since then, I've been implementing new ways to reach media and community members (through Red Tide, COVID-19, redistricting/census, etc.). Collaborating with other media team members and quickly adapting to virtual formats last year/this year at an intense level exposed me to the diverse capabilities of our division and the trust of our leadership. It made me hungry to dive deeper into each skill set and prepare myself to become a leader who listens, collaborates and trusts.

What is your formula for success? Flexibility, collaboration and constructive criticism.

If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you choose? Banning shark fishing and finning and ghost nets. Both are detrimental to our ecosystems and have tremendous negative impacts globally.

What are your favorite ways to unwind over the weekend? Rollerblading the Venetian Waterway section of The Legacy Trail. My fiancé and I have also challenged ourselves to explore a new park or preserve in the county each month.

What are the top three items on your bucket list?

Visit all the National Parks in the United States; hike the Appalachian Trail in its entirety; attend the Formula 1 race at Monaco.

When things get tough, I remember. . . that I’m only one person and it’s okay to ask others for help. I am extremely fortunate to be part of an incredible team of supportive professionals. And my fiancé and family have always kept me grounded.


OWNER, THE VILLAGE HEALTH & WELLNESS What is your formula for success?

I believe that those that have found success have been able to give and receive three things. Those things are respect, fulfillment and elevation. If you can provide

those three qualities unconditionally, then success is inevitable.

world countries and to become a NY Times best-selling author.

If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you choose? For

What movie, show or cartoon character would you like to play in real life and why? Elizabeth Ben-

me, I think I would tackle the way people think about themselves. Life has a way of making you think that you have to identify yourself based on your experiences, your environment and your social circle. That’s simply not true. You have the power to change whenever you get ready. It has to start with how you view yourself.

When things get tough, I remember. . . that

failure is not defeat. It is simply re-direction. Switch your perspective, and you will most likely find a solution that will help you move forward.


Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. I had the incredible opportunity

to serve as the co-chair for USF Sarasota-Manatee’s 25th and 26th annual Brunch on the Bay events, their signature scholarship fundraiser, and helped lead their efforts to raise back-to-back record breaking years of scholarship money, totaling 3/4 of $1 million for college students. Within my career, I’m proud of becoming a university professor in my 20s and taking the leap to pursue my dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. My sister, Candice, and I co-founded our company, Aretios, to train the next generation of leaders so that they can live out their potential and create a brighter future for the world in the process.

What mistake in your career taught you the biggest lesson? Wanting to rush the process.

Instead, I’ve learned the importance of being patient and that building something of great significance and impact takes time. Sometimes we need to grow and develop certain skills before stepping into a role so that when we do get the opportunity, we will be able to handle it skillfully and successfully. Other times, we may feel ready to take the next step but there are other pieces that still need to move into place or even people who need to be a part of the journey that might not be ready yet. The right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing.

Do you have any ridiculous goals in life?

I’m a proponent of dreaming big. Some of my life goals are to build schools for underprivileged children, sponsor wells in third

net in Pride and Prejudice. She was an intelligent young woman and confident enough to chart her own path.

What's the most unexpected lesson you've learned during the pandemic? Learn to live above the noise; as Shaun Nepstead says, “What you dwell on is what you dwell in.”


CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, DEALERS UNITED Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. In advertising school, one of our

assignments was to subscribe to Ad Age and report on what we found to be the most interesting advertising campaign or concept every month. I became relatively obsessed with Ad Age, and hoped that one day a campaign I had a hand in would be published by them. In July 2021, my company, Dealers United, and our dealership-client, Power Ford, were featured in an Ad Age article alongside Facebook. This feature was my dream come true.

How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? I started my career with

Dealers United as a graphic design intern, but in one year I quickly earned the trust of the company and was offered a fulltime Marketing Manager role. Shortly after that, I found myself always wanting to lean into projects that weren’t solely marketing related: I met with our operations team to see if there were better processes for customer retention; I helped plan culture events; I became a consistent factor in our hiring process. With the mentorship of our CEO, Pete Petersen, I became more heavily involved in leadership discussions and in 2018, was offered the C-level and Leadership position I hold today. (I still get goosebumps writing this).

How do you spend your time outside of work? I love being outdoors; being on the water, camping and bonfires, horseback riding and catching the sunset are staples in my life. (Shameless plug: I also remodeled a camper van with my fella last year during the pandemic. Follow our adventures: @thecampercan).

What is your favorite dish to order for delivery? #51C at PhoCali.

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35 UNDER 35 HONOREES | 2021 Do you have any ridiculous goals in life?

I want to own 10 sailboats and Airbnb them out in Key West.

When things get tough, I remember.. . . I’m alive, breathing, somehow here on this spinning rock through space.


What mistake in your career taught you the biggest lesson? I made the mistake of submitting a campaign out of "desperation" for a return on investment and it failed epically. The reason it failed was largely because of the tone of desperation that was attached. It was disconnected from positivity and excitement and that was easily seen by management and investors. I have learned doing things out of desperation will never yield positive results. I have also learned how to be resilient and be able to bounce back from tough outcomes and get back on the right path.

How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? I knew from the moment

I was directing a group of interns at a law firm after my junior year of college. I saw the need for passion and integrity within my field and I knew I possessed a great disposition and sought to continuously learn and grow no matter my successes in life. My desire is to be a marketing mogul and become immersed in my community and serve it to the best of my ability. The best way to do that is by establishing myself as a leader within my community and network and leading by example.


REGISTERED NURSE MANAGER, DOCTORS HOSPITAL OF SARASOTA Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. During my first few months, I

was able to increase my unit’s patient satisfaction scores and that catapulted my unit to the top. Of course, this would not have been possible if I hadn’t had the support from my director and the best leadership team in the entire organization. Even during the recent spike in COVID patients, we never wavered.

How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? I was working as a staff nurse in my unit caring for an elderly woman who had been a patient there for many weeks; she was scheduled to be discharged to a nursing

home in a few days. I wanted to make her last few days with us special. One instance I will remember most was the day we had a fingernail painting party in her room. We all had our nails painted, including her. She was so appreciative and we all had a great time. It was the highlight of her stay and my day. We then modeled them for a photo op and to this day, I still find myself looking at it from time to time. It’s true what they say about a photo being worth a thousand words; but with this photo, it included a thousand smiles and a thousand tears. Not long after that, I began to realize how this experience could shape and influence how I thought and acted as a nurse. That was when I knew I wanted to further my career as a leader in the nursing profession. I thought more about the difference I could make in my nursing unit and in the nursing profession.

If you could ask someone any question in the world (living or from the past), who would the person be and what would your question be? I would love to talk to Elizabeth Blackwell. She was the first woman in America to receive a medical degree. She championed the participation of women in the medical profession and opened up her own medical school for women.

What movie, show or cartoon character would you like to play in real life and why? I would have to say Charlotte from Sex and the City. She is always smiling, optimistic and she always sees the best in people.


PRESIDENT, KNIGHT STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? Upon launching my com-

pany in March, I had the goal to make a simple means of living for the year, thinking that would be a huge accomplishment on its own. Though KSC has only been open for seven months, we’ve tripled our revenue and new opportunities continue to come our way every day.

How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? I’m thankful that I grew

up in a family of leaders. My father was the sheriff and my mother (who inspired me to launch my company) had a marketing firm of her own. Both, in different capacities, led teams. I was always told that if I was going to have a company one day that I would need to be an employee first. Not to just gain the experience in my field to have an agency, but to understand the position any future employees of mine can be in.

How has the pandemic changed your work life?

The silver lining to this pandemic was making the decision to move back to Sarasota County from New York and launch a company. In 2019, I would have never thought that by 2021 I’d be here. Since launch, I’ve had the privilege to work with impressive leaders in this community on impactful projects that are making a difference here.

What is your formula for success? Discover

what you’re passionate about, know your capabilities, then own them. I struggled in school but excelled in internships. My career in New York was the same way. There were areas that I struggled with in my job, but others at which I did very well.


Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. In August 2021, on top of a de-

manding career and role leading a 400+ restaurant company through a global pandemic, I completed my one-year term as president of the Central West Coast Chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association. When I committed to taking on the presidency, I never would have anticipated the global pandemic and the effects it would have on our chapter's more than 100 members. At times I wasn't sure if I'd be able to keep my composure and lead this group of gifted professionals through the fire. However, not only did we make it through an incredibly difficult year together, I also achieved my accreditation in public relations.

What is your formula for success?

Ask questions, never stop learning and surround yourself only with people who genuinely support you, encourage you and respect your boundaries.

What's the most spontaneous thing you've ever done? In early 2020, my sister and I took a

spontaneous trip to Brazil. We’d decided a few weeks prior that we wanted to head south, and we got in touch with one of our cousins who lives in Sao Paolo. We ended up exploring the city during Carnival, spending some time on beautiful Ilhabela and eating the most amazing sushi.

If you could ask someone any question in the world (living or from the past), who would the person be and what would your question be? Alice Paul.

Talk about a woman on a mission. I’d love to know how she’d feel about where we are as a society when it comes to equal oppor-

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35 UNDER 35 HONOREES | 2021 tunities and inclusion, her perspective on the corporate wage gap and her thoughts on eight percent of Fortune 500 companies having female CEOs.


EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF FINANCE, EXCELLENCE PERFORMANCE Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. Building a team to execute a

dream of mine that I have had for the last three years by creating a speaking event for young professionals in the community to learn the skills that my mentors taught me to confidently pursue my dream job. Every significant goal in my life thus far has required the help and expertise of so many individuals. This event is the culmination of years of mentorship and experience so that I may make a significant positive impact in the community. I have had the dream of being a public speaker since I was a little kid.

What’s your favorite podcast or Youtube Channel?

Main Street Business. I listen to this podcast every week. It’s hosted by two tax attorneys and I really enjoy it for the humor. Just kidding, well… sort of. I have learned and extrapolated countless useful strategies from this podcast to implement in my business and for the clients I work with.

If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you choose? I would dedicate my life to solving the problem of lacking self-worth. There are too many individuals out there with great skills, unbounded potential, and yet they are chained by limiting belief systems and a lack of confidence.

What is your favorite dish to order for delivery? Pizza from Café Barbosa. Absolutely amazing.

When things get tough, I remember . . . every

adversity and every challenge has an equally powerful opportunity and solution. The greater the challenge the greater the win, these wins can be utilized as learning opportunities to help me further accomplish my goals and dreams. Diamonds are created out of massive pressure; successful people are developed by overcoming tough situations.


REALTOR, KELLER WILLIAMS ON THE WATER AND CREATOR OF @ALLSARAOSTA Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. I have been really proud of

my new-found success and enjoyment in the real estate industry. Although I have been busy working in other business ventures, I always wanted to have a hand in real estate and what a fun journey it has already been since I started. I am most proud of only having my license for nine months and working to bring 13 transactions to date. Being new to the industry has had its difficulties but great alignment with marketing partners and the gift to gab. I have really taken to running the pace of the mega agents pretty quickly.

How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? Since I was a kid, I have always

been outspoken and had interest in passionate debate regarding growth or becoming better. I realized early in high school that my interests were always linking people, creating new paths and challenging the norms. I knew I I wanted to see positive change and attention to the under-appreciated mediums.

What mistake in your career taught you the biggest lesson? Expectations. I didn't realize

it but for a long period of time I believed so hard in creating expectations and chasing after them. This caused a myriad of issues across multiple business opportunities. I was constantly let down by clients or viewers expectations or my own emotional expectations I had created in my head. The lesson taken from this mental mistake was to truly put myself into the work and let the work speak for itself. The only expectation is the journey and knowing that failure isn’t real, life is and we can only learn from where we have walked.

If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you choose? Mental health is near and dear to my heart. If I could focus on one thing it would be to help young people understand their feelings, emotions and coping mechanisms to grow and become the best individuals they can be and happy just being themselves.


EXECUTIVE CHEF AND CULINARY OPERATIONS MANAGER, BAY VILLAGE OF SARASOTA How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? While working in Manhattan at Morimoto, I was young and hungry for knowledge in my field. I was captivated at the amount of skill, technique and professionalism of all of the chefs, and I wanted to be just like them.

What is the first job you ever held?

I was a dishwasher at Noodles & Company when I was 15 years old living in Illinois.

If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you choose? World Hunger. It upsets me that so many people on this planet struggle every day just for nourishment and clean water.

What's your favorite podcast or YouTube channel?

ChefSteps, hands down. I love learning new techniques and I think that they break everything down so that your average home cook can understand what they are doing.

What movie, show or cartoon character would you like to play in real life and why? I would like to be Scooby-Doo. Scooby has a great group of friends, he eats well and solves mysteries.


CO-OWNER, FLY DANCE FITNESS How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? I knew I wanted to be a lead-

er (Instructor) about two months into taking classes when the studio was owned by the original owner. I became an instructor and after a year of teaching, I knew this is what I wanted to do with my life. I love seeing the hundreds of women who walk in and out of our doors with a smile on their faces, better confidence, with that little sense of swagger to them. I just love it. I love teaching women my own age and older than me. I may be their fitness instructor, but I look up to a lot of them professionally and personally in return.

How has the pandemic changed your work life? The pandemic greatly changed our work life at first but has now become something a little easier to navigate. When hearing news of a possible shut down, Kari Schroeter (my business partner) and I immediately brainstormed ways of getting online as quickly as possible. We found a platform to livestream our classes, ordered a webcam, and created a limited weekly fitness schedule. Teaching online in an empty studio is incredibly hard to do without having anyone to look at or energy to feed off of. If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you hoose? Providing education, tools, resources and mentorships to young girls and women who want to pursue their own passions. Young women need the encouragement to pursue their dreams but it can’t stop there.

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35 UNDER 35 HONOREES | 2021 What is your guilty pleasure? TikTok is definitely it. I start with one funny video and continue to scroll until I can’t anymore.



What movie, show or cartoon character would you like to play in real life and why? Elle

Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. I sell my sculptural and illustrative

Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. Being recognized and soon to

Woods from Legally Blonde. Determined, loyal, incredibly funny, loveable, energetic and outgoing are all adjectives I’d used to describe both her character and myself. Plus I’d get to try out being blonde.


SENOR DIRECTOR OF DONATED GOODS RETAIL, GOODWILL INDUSTRIES MANASOTA INC. Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. Individually, I was recently select-

ed to participate in Goodwill International’s Senior Leadership Program. This program identifies 20 leaders throughout the 161 independent, community-based Goodwill organizations in the United States and Canada. The six-month program includes two week-long resident sessions in Washington DC and is oriented to individuals looking to achieve C-Suite level positions.

How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? It was evident in

2013 my junior summer heading into my senior year that I wanted to be a leader in the non-profit field. Upon traveling from New York to Sarasota to embark upon my Goodwill summer internship, I quickly learned that mission-integration and community impact was a must in any career path I took. Ultimately, the blend Goodwill possessed as a learning organization with focused community upscaling, coupled with result-oriented metrics similar to a Fortune 500 made my choice and career path a ‘no-brainer’.


art through IncendiaryAngel. We recently surpassed 1,100 online sales—and, around the same time, over $1,100 donated to charity for the year of 2021 (five percent of my proceeds are donated to various organizations that help animals, such as our local pet shelter, Satchel’s Last Resort). These are milestones I never dreamed would be achievable when I opened in 2018. I create art inspired by the parts of life that inspire and bring me joy—Florida wildlife, rich colors, happy vegan foods, and memories of childhood summer adventures—and knowing that my pieces are not only bringing smiles to thousands of strangers around the world, but also making an impact in the lives of animals through donations, is everything I’ve ever wanted from a career.

How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? Art had always been

a pastime for me, but seeing other creators turning their passions into businesses on Instagram was incredibly inspiring. As some of my posts gained traction, artists I only ever admired started following me back and engaging with me—complimenting my work and asking about my techniques. This is when I realized how much knowledge I’d amassed over my years of sculpting, and how I had something to say through art that was unique to me. Finding a place amongst other “artrepreneurs” fortified my drive to hone and master my craft, and to give everything I had to making my business a success.

What is your favorite dish to order for delivery? I

What is the first job you ever held?

love the vegan truffled pizza from Lucile Pizza and Wine Bar.

What's the most spontaneous thing you've ever done? I drove from New England to South

If you could ask someone any question in the world (living or from the past), who would the person be and what would your question be? I would

Sports Camp Counselor for youth at risk.

Florida for an internship that ended up being a career.

What's your favorite podcast or YouTube channel? Pardon My Take.

When things get tough, I remember. . . there is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone.


be published by Pizza Today magazine has been a proud moment for me, but mostly I'm proud of myself for starting my own business and being able to share my passion with people.

How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? It's hard to pinpoint an

exact moment, but I would say almost since I started in my humble beginnings of washing dishes at 13 years old, I always thought the cooks were like rock-stars. After working my way up and trying to emulate my idols every step of the way, I knew I wanted to do big things.

How has the pandemic changed your work life?

The pandemic changed my work life initially by giving me the time to conceptualize and start my own business. In the long term, as employees became scarce, it has taught me to think “leaner” as far as staffing and business models are concerned, and to be more empathetic to the needs and mental health of employees we do have.

If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you choose? World

peace. But seriously, I would dedicate it to helping people with mental health issues.

I wouldn’t say I have any ridiculous goals, the most ambitious though would be to own a restaurant group, and then maybe someday a Rolls Royce.

Do you have any ridiculous goals in life?

What movie, show or cartoon character would you like to play in real life and why? I would like to play Tony Soprano, mainly because there are certain qualities he possesses that I do not, or that I wish I could. And also because when I’m home-sick, the houses, the cars, the neighborhoods and people in the show remind me of growing up in Rochester, NY.

love to meet Mileva Marić, Einstein’s first wife and fellow physicist, and ask about her research. It’s thought that she contributed heavily to her husband’s theories, and I want her to get the credit she deserves.


When things get tough, I remember . . . that the

Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. I am very proud to be a part of

challenges I face are only steps on a path I am still walking. Every chapter of my life is part of a greater story that is still being told.


the Junior League Sarasota. The Junior League of Sarasota is an organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women and improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained

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35 UNDER 35 HONOREES | 2021 volunteers. The 2020-2021 league year was challenging for all as we had to shift with the pandemic. We were still able to strongly impact our community and make a solid contribution by doing community projects and various fundraising efforts. As a member of the training committee for the league year, I was able to help provide additional training for the women of the league as an expansion of the league mission to develop the potential of women.

How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? Through a challeng-

ing work experience, I learned early in my career how easily people’s concerns and workplace conflicts can be brushed off and never addressed. I realized true leadership provides strong guidance and structured resolutions through the human relations department of a company. It is within that department I found the opportunity to lead and make a difference.

What is your top professional goal? My top pro-

fessional goal is to be able to speak at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) National Conference with influence and impact so that I can inspire and encourage others to follow their dreams.

What is your guilty pleasure? Anything choco-

late or dessert related, especially truffles from Banyan Tree Chocolate & Cafe.


Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. Motherhood of course takes the

win. I have a 4 year old daughter and 6.5 year old son. But now getting to business, being an entrepreneur surviving all the odds stacked against me since opening the doors in 2005. It has survived the 2007 recession and the recent ongoing pandemic. Only recently in my journaling and looking back did I have the realization that this business was my absolute way of keeping my father's legacy and memory alive. Each round of adversity faced served as a deep reminder this is what I love and how I contribute to this beautiful community in every capacity. Simply being nominated for this is a massive honor I hold dearly and I view that as sincere achievement.

How has the pandemic changed your work life?

It has allowed me to connect truthfully and personally with my community and follow-

ing. Weaving both worlds of my professional and personal life in this harmonious way.

What is the first job you ever held? Working for my father in his retail store as a kid.

What movie, show or cartoon character would you like to play in real life and why? Elsa in Frozen II-

the barriers she broke and the infallible way she followed her true path and spirit to be who she was meant to be (I can't believe I just admitted that out loud haha).

What is your guilty pleasure? Sneakers. I totally

have an obsession.

When things get tough, I remember . . . to breathe, trust that I am enough and that life is beautiful.


LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT, KIMLEY-HORN Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. I recently completed four national

exams and one state exam to become a professional landscape architect. This has been a nine-year process requiring a degree in landscape architecture and work experience.

How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? I haven't necessarily

decided that I want to be a leader in the field. I do work that I enjoy, design spaces that I would want to be in, learn as much as I can from my mentors and pass on that knowledge to others. Hopefully leadership is just a byproduct of being successful in doing what I love.

Do you have any ridiculous goals in life? One

day getting to own and design a boutique beach front hotel.

When things get tough, I remember . . . it's always a rollercoaster. There are just as many, if not more, happy times than difficult. The low makes you grateful for the high.


CEO/FOUNDER AND ARTIST, LISS DESIGN LLC Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. I have been very honored to work with

Project Pride SRQ. I am very proud to have helped them found and organize the first annual One Love charity event and art auction.

What mistake in your career taught you the biggest lesson? Getting too caught up in

perfectionism is a mistake I have made several times in my career. But I’ve learned over these years that nothing is perfect, and that’s what makes it beautiful.

How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? My very first art teach-

er took my parents aside and told them I would never be a good artist—but I loved painting. So I made a decision from that young age that I would never give up on something just because someone says I can’t do it. And it was that decision, and my passion for bringing people together with my artwork that has driven me to be a leader in my field.

What is your formula for success? Live a healthy

What is your formula for success? Keep up with

life. Go out meet new people, support the community and always remember to give back. I’m a big believer in Karma, so I always try to spread love and understanding.

What's your favorite podcast or YouTube channel?

What's the most spontaneous thing you've ever done? My most spontaneous thing actual-

my teammates and put heads together to solve problems. And coffee.

For some reason, I’ve been mesmerized by Australian home renovation channels on YouTube—Three Birds, ABI Interiors and Oak and Orange—the Australians know my style.One day I’d love to bring that style to a home in Sarasota.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I’ve gotten big into painting in the past few years—mostly plants, water and other tropical things I’m drawn to. I’m always up for beach runs and gulf surfing. I’m also constantly planting new things in my yard. These pasttimes are fun, challenging and always leave me in a calm state of mind.

What is your guilty pleasure? A good cheese

board and some wine.

ly led to me meeting the love of my life. I was living in Switzerland and I took an unplanned holiday with my best friend to the USA. While traveling, I met the man who would later become my husband. We fell in love, traveled the world together and settled down in Florida. Proof that even the most spontaneous adventures can lead to life-changing experiences.

If you could ask someone any question in the world (living or from the past), who would the person be and what would your question be? I would like to

meet Salvador Dali, and my question would be "could I just shadow you for a day?" I would love to see how art and design was created back in those times.

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PHILANTHROPY ASSOCIATE, CHILDREN FIRST How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? A defining moment was earn-

ing recognition as an outstanding Master’s in Public Health graduate student among a select cohort and this confidence has supported me well on my career path as a philanthropist and community change-maker.

What is your top professional goal? In the future I would love to take on the ultimate challenge of leading a non-profit organization. I feel deeply connected to Children First’s mission of strengthening children and families together and would love to continue working with and supporting vulnerable populations. If you could ask someone any question in the world (living or from the past), who would the person be and what would your question be? I would

want just one more conversation with my grandmother, Anita. She was suddenly unable to communicate with me after she had a stroke and never wrote a single recipe down. She had the most incredible talent for cooking.

What are the top three items on your bucket list? Sail my own sailboat around the islands in French Polynesia; Float in the Dead Sea; eat at a 3-star Michelin restaurant.

What's the most unexpected lesson you've learned during the pandemic? Before the pandemic I was

known as a “hugger.” With hugs or physical contact not advised during the pandemic, it has been really difficult for me to communicate with and appreciate those in my life.


OWNER, OMAR SITTO FITNESS What is your top professional goal? My top pro-

fessional goal is to scale my business large enough where I am able to create a new division that is centered toward improving the fitness industry, which would include having my own facility to employ independent trainers at. However, what is most important to me is providing them with the proper knowledge as it relates to training their clients, the right space and equipment but also having so many other like minded individuals who are willing and wanting to enrich the lives around them. I think it is vitally important to be able to change this industry for the better.

What is your formula for success? My formula for success is purpose, gratitude and discipline. Having your awareness of your purpose to drive you in the direction you need to go as your "why", gratitude to be able to hold in every present moment you’re in for the appreciate of all good and bad you have going on in your life and the discipline to continue to progress one percent better each day while doing what you need to do. Discipline is above all else—it is my #1 for success. Discipline is doing what needs to be done each day to progress you along in accomplishing your goals. It is sticking to the plan for the future even when you may not see it all at once but knowing with faith and belief you are progressing toward those destinations. You can’t expect to miss the tasks you need to do and still expect to get the end result you wanted. Which is why discipline equals freedom. What’s your favorite podcast or YouTube channel?

My favorite podcast is REAL AF by Andy Frisella. While this podcast is raw, candid and unfiltered—it speaks about many realities in life we must face and how to face them head on. Which is something I hold of great value in my business and personal life.

What is your guilty pleasure? Definitely singing

at any moment and doing a little dance with it when I can. I mean most people like to sing in the car or shower, but I sing all the time at random moments.

What is you favorite dish to order for delivery? I don’t order delivery very often. However, when I do… I typically go with Lucile. They are a vegan pizza, family-owned restaurant. I am vegan and love their weekly specials—they give me a chance to explore my taste buds. When things get tough, I remember . . . tough

times don’t last, tough people do.


CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER, SOKOS SOLUTIONS Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. If an award counts, it was a true

honor for me to receive the very first-ever Manatee Young Professionals "MVP of the Year" Award in 2019. Being recognized among my peers and other community leaders in the Manatee area was humbling. But what actually feels like a tangible achievement for which I was personally responsible was managing the brand relaunch of our company in July 2021. This tremendous effort from our team marked a massive internal milestone.

How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? Sounds cliche—but

I think I was born this way. Both of my grandfathers started their own businesses, and their children both worked hard to buy out their parents. My parents placed tremendous importance on leadership, local involvement and giving back to a community which has given so much to us over the past four+ decades in businesses. Random fun fact, both of my grandfathers started their businesses in 1976 in Manatee County.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

Love to watch TV shows. Right now we love —Ted Lasso, The Morning Show, Yellowstone and Ozark—I am not a gym person so anything that keeps me active without actually exerting too much physical energy—hot yoga, kayaking, hiking. The best part of my day is usually my bike ride “commute” on the Bradenton Riverwalk.

If you could ask someone any question in the world (living or from the past), who would the person be and what would your question be? Anthony Bourdain. Considering all of the people around the world that you met and shared meals with, what’s the one value that everyone has in common?


Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. We are proud to give back with the sales of our artwork to Planned Parenthood, ACLU, National women’s law center, and a few others.

What is your top professional goal? To show my children that being loud and assertive for the right reasons is never a bad thing. What are the top three items on your bucket list?

US road trip with the family. Visit my husband's family country of Macedonia. Ride with real sled dogs. (I’ve got four huskies, but they hate the cold and running.)

What movie, show or cartoon character would you like to play in real life and why? The Little Mermaid. Have you seen all the stuff she has?!

When things get tough, I remember . . . my kids

are watching.

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OWNER AND BUYER, MOTEL THERAPY Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. Since I’m so new to my field, I’d

like to say opening my business this year and doubling my sales projections each month since opening are my proudest achievements thus far. When I chose to quit my job and open a boutique, I had zero connections in the industry, zero retail experience and very little understanding of leasing commercial spaces. I quite literally only had my life savings and a dream. I truly built my business from the ground up, and I say that in the most humble way possible.

What's the most spontaneous thing you've ever done? When I was 18 years old, I packed a

What is your top professional goal? My top professional goal is to achieve a Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry. This entails gaining over 500 hours of Continuing Education and successfully completing an examination covering the comprehensive field of dentistry.

If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you choose? To decrease the

What mistake in your career taught you the biggest lesson? Always saying "yes" to op-

of coffee.

What's your favorite podcast or YouTube channel?

If you could ask someone any question in the world (living or from the past), who would the person be and what would your question be?


enough to do what makes you happy.


Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. After completing the required

eight combined years of college and dental school at the University of Florida, I just didn't have enough of my Florida Gators and decided to push myself to complete an additional year of UF training. In June 2020, I finished a year-long advanced education in general dentistry residency through the University of Florida, adding my third Gator Nation diploma to the wall, coining me the prestigious title of a "Triple Gator." At the beginning of 2021, I was awarded a Fellowship certification for the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, an honor that is awarded to dentists who have excelled in their field at both restorative and surgical aspects of dental implants.

Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. Expanding medical services

As Woman by Natalie Crawford, MD – A podcast to empower women with education, specifically in medicine, and provide support for living an authentic life.

What is your formula for success? Coffee. Lots

amount of fear people have coming to the dentist. Every day I see situations that are much worse than they need to be because of the anxiety that surrounds coming to the dentist. Patients that put off much-needed dental work until they are in pain are far too common.

What's the most unexpected lesson you've learned during the pandemic? Be brave


within my medical group. I was in charge of physically expanding an office suite to an adjoining suite to create space for four additional exam rooms. My practice needed the new space as a result of onboarding a new physician due to increased patient volume. I was responsible for the entire build out-from start to finish including working with all contractors to ensure our space was completed within budget and on time.

suitcase and bought a one-way ticket to Seattle. I decided that I wasn’t going to go to college, but I still wanted to leave my hometown and gain life experience. I ended up living in Seattle for close to four years.

Oh my, if I could spend any amount of time around Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I would melt. I have so many questions for her but I think all of my questions, at their core, would be about women’s rights. The way she stood up for things she believed in, in such a poised and articulate manner, has always served as inspiration for me.


CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER/VP, MRT LAWN AND GARDEN CENTER Share a recent achievement for which you are the most proud. Finishing the second semester of the Juris Master program I am enrolled in with straight A's. With my involvement in local nonprofit boards, governmental advisory boards, owning/operating a consulting business and working my "day job" with my family, I feel proud that I have been able to balance these aspects in my life.

What mistake in your career taught you the biggest lesson? The longer I have been in

my current position within my family business, I am reminded that working 40 hours a week in this position is never enough. To be effective in this position, I have learned that the job is not completed until the job is done, and it is impossible to put a measure of specific time to that.

If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you choose? If I had to choose one right now, it would have to be, help to solve food insecurity and reduce the number of food deserts in our country.

Do you have any ridiculous goals in life? My most ridiculous life goal is to get my pilot's license to fly airplanes. I’ve always enjoyed the thought of being able to have a small plane to fly around and visit small cities throughout all of Florida.

portunities. I've learned I cannot help every organization that comes to me with a job prospect because doing so is not only personally overwhelming, but doesn't allow me to give my all to each client. I have learned it is especially important to do my research on clients and making sure opportunities are fully vetted for each party while not being afraid to say "no".

What is your formula for success? Stay hungry and work hard, always be humble, honest and lead by example. If you could dedicate your life to solving one problem, what problem would you choose? Restruc-

turing the US healthcare system to emphasize the importance of primary health care prevention, starting locally in Florida’s Gulf Coast. For example, as a partner of Sarasota based Align Healthcare, I developed a network of direct primary care physicians focused on delivering membership-based, high quality, affordable healthcare. Another local organization I’ve helped lead, Statra is a technology company with software that assists healthcare entities by aggregating their organizational and patient data into one platform to deliver meaningful, prevention-based care. Most recently, I have begun working with The Natural Nipple (TNN), a Tampa-based Bio-Fem-Tech Company to launch and grow their organization in the US healthcare market. TNN has developed a clinically backed breastfeeding system which promotes preventative care and emphasizes early invention by addressing the primary barrier to breastfeeding.

What movie, show or cartoon character would you like to play in real life and why? Dora the

Explorer because she travels the globe while learning about and experiencing different cultures. SRQ

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What is your formula for success? My formula for success focuses on people and relationships. Whether that is

cultivating positive relationships and impact with the community or with clients, and more importantly, the relationships amongst the team at Alyssa Gay Consulting. When people feel empowered and supported, magic happens.

We specialize in creating buzz-worthy brands, social media, & digital marketing strategies designed to take your business to the next level. Having an active and modern digital presence is integral to


1432 1st Street, Suite A Sarasota, FL 34236 941.295.9325

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your success, but you can’t do it all. You’re working endless hours on your business, managing employees, accounting, taxes, meetings, keeping customers happy, you don’t have time to worry about, let alone, keep up with your digital marketing efforts. You need a partner who can create a buzz-worthy strategy and deliver results. At Alyssa Gay Consulting, we partner with clients, giving them the power and effectiveness of a full-service branding digital marketing firm, but with the personal touch of a boutique agency. Whether you are looking for a new brand identity, a standout social media presence, or want to harness the power of influencer marketing, the team at Alyssa Gay Consulting is here to elevate your brand by creating a buzz-worthy strategy that gets the results you want in your business.

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How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? When I quit my management consulting position to take a risk in making my passion for politics into a full-time career. I was determined to succeed (although what success has looked like over the years has changed) in this field and demonstrate how you can combine passion and professionalism while serving others. I enjoy teaching and sharing how my role can impact those on a daily basis without the bias or mentality that “government doesn’t work.”

The Florida Legislature is made up on the Florida House and Florida Senate. I currently work for Senator Gruters. He was re-elected by constituents in Sarasota and Charlotte counties. I assist in managing his office by working on his legislative priorities and serving the constituents of District 23. This includes policy bills and appropriation requests during each Legislative Session. The Senate can file an unlimited number of policy and appropriation bills. I believe everything happens for a reason. You may not know or understand it at that time, but it will make sense when it is suppose to.


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SARASOTA OFFICE 381 Interstate Boulevard Sarasota, FL 34240 941.378.6309

TALLAHASSEE OFFICE 316 Senate Building 404 South Monroe Street Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100 850.487.5023

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How and when did you know you wanted to be a leader in your field? While working in Manhattan at Morimoto, I was young and hungry for knowledge in my field. I was captivated at the amount of skill, technique and professionalism of all of the chefs, and I wanted to be just like them. There's no great chef without a great team.

Bay Village is Sarasota County’s only “accredited” Life Plan Community offering independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care and home health care to more than 400 residents. The Tides memory care will be open in early 2022. Situated on 15 acres of lush, tropical land Bay Village has long been considered the retirement community of choice. Located at the south end of Sarasota and convenient to theatres, beaches and the best restaurants. "You can always taste when a dish is made with love." Sean Manown


8400 Vamo Road Sarasota, FL 34231 941.966.5611

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What mistake in your career taught you the biggest lesson? The most valuable lesson I learned throughout my career is to protect my emotional and mental health by staying true to myself and speaking up when necessary. Conforming to corporate norms and not using my voice to facilitate change was a mistake I learned over time. Its value is unmeasurable.

"Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are." —Brene Brown Leah is a native of Sarasota, Florida, who started her career in Human Resources in 2009. She is a self-starting, straightforward and well-rounded Human Resource professional with 12+ years of experience in the Human Resource field. She is currently SHRM-SCP certified, a member of the Sarasota Manatee Human Resource Association (SHRA), a member of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), and a graduate of the Leadership Sarasota Class of 2019. Outside of work she enjoys volunteering in the community with the Junior League of Sarasota, and hanging out with her dog, Mattis.

CONNECT WITH LEAH 844.800.4276

MASTER PERSONAL TRAINER Omar aspires to change lives through exercise, leadership and motivation. He brings raw energy, a candid approach and positive mindset to his coaching efforts to relentlessly pursue progression in his clients. His philosophy is addressing fitness among all four aspects of life: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Omar F. Sitto B.S., NASM/NCSF-CPT

LOCATION 2501 Cattlemen Rd. Unit 1212 HOURS Monday to Saturday: 8am–5pm CONTACT 248-277-2479

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MY MANTRA. Effort, Peace, Freedom. A 2016 journey to walk Spain’s famed Camino de Santiago pilgrimage shaped my outlook on how perseverance influences success. The Camino’s three “phases” inspired my personal mantra. Phase 1 is all about doing the work. It takes time and effort to achieve Phase 2, which unlocks inner peace and mental clarity. That’s the foundation for Phase 3, where I have the freedom to innovate and improve, to experience and expand. Sokos Solutions is a women-owned and led, award-winning marketing team that generates momentum by blending fresh, creative brand storytelling with results-driven strategies. We’re hyperlocal, so our strong ties in the community amplify our results. Our clients don’t just float with the current - they make waves.Since day one, our team has helped hundreds of brands rise with the tides. At the helm is Chief Creative Officer, Eleni Sokos. Founded in 2014 as Sokos Social, Eleni and her team of marketing experts are ready to help you generate long-term success and shortterm hype. We work to leverage the most effective opportunities that digital marketing offers, from content strategies to graphic design. Our vision is to create a collaborative space where ideas flow freely and creativity runs deep.


1201 6th Avenue West #508 Bradenton FL 34205 | 941.877.0662


Brianne Grant Sarasota County Government

Dan MacKinnon Keller Williams on the Water

Alissa Silvers Liss Design, LLC

Vickie Brill State of Florida

Andre Hendriex The Village Health and Wellness

Sean Manown Bay Village

Alyssa Simons Children First

Matias Cerda Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)

Lauren Henry Aretios

Stacey Marks Fly Dance Fitness

Omar Sitto Omar Sitto Fitness

Brooke Jensen Dealers United

Brady O'Neil Goodwill Industries Manasota

Eleni Sokos Sokos Solutions

Christopher Colon Latorre Fifth Third Bank Olivier Corizzi Avenue Media, Inc. Megan Eidel Sarasota County Government Matt Fenske SVN | Commercial Advisory Group Alyssa Gay Alyssa Gay Consulting

Sydney Johnson PNB Development Group, LLC Stephanie Kent Doctors Hospital of Sarasota Elizabeth Knight Knight Strategic Communications

Kelli O'Neill IncendiaryAngel Anthony Petralia Tralia Leah Reda Rumble

Bailey Spasovski Pen & Paper Co. Kendall Stone Motel Therapy Nicole Swanson Sarasota Dentistry

Eleni Kouvatsos First Watch Restaurants

Tatyana Sharoubim Stewart T.Georgiano's Boutique

Justin Taylor MRT Lawn and Garden Center

Mitch Lamazov Excellence Performance

Kelsie Shy Kimley-Horn

Domenica Van Dyke Statra

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This page: Ceramic artwork by, MLJanssen@, @momo_didit


culture city

Left to their own devices, three ceramic artists take the medium in wildly different directions. Phil Lederer


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culture city

From pottery to porcelain, it’s almost an archaeological axiom that the secrets of a people can be found in their ceramic arts. Even the tiniest sherd (yep, “sherd”) tells the tales of its maker in form, purpose and composition. Here in Sarasota, our ceramicist stories are as varied as they are beautiful—each one a handmade union of artist and earth, frozen by fire.

Beautiful Tension IN HER LATEST SCULPTURAL SERIES, Morgan Janssen finally confronts an age-old problem with pottery— it just kinda sits there. “They’re not interacted much with once they’re put on display,” she says. “I liked the idea of inviting people to touch.” Enter Janssen’s Cliff Notes, a series of kinetic sculptures designed to be nudged, pushed, rolled and poked with, at least, mild abandon. Rounded and hollow, they look built to wander and dangerous to prod, but weighted slabs affixed to the interior keep each piece lazily wombling back to its original orientation instead of bumbling away. Further confounding the gravitational equation, sculpted brass “tropiflora” easily attach to any piece via internal magnets, making each sculpture—and its movement— customizable and just a bit unpredictable. Irreverent yet inherently fragile, the tension brings a visceral excitement to the ceramic arts not seen since the brief but tragic ceramic shark cage craze of 1965. 50 | srq magazine_ DEC21 live local



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culture city This page: Ceramic artwork by Andrew Long, Claybeard, @claybeard_ceramics

Utilitarian Connection FOR CERAMICIST AND SCULPTOR ANDREW LONG, the medium shines when

returning to its roots, with artists turning forth plates and bowls, cups and mugs— functional artifacts of daily life, each thoughtfully considered and crafted for its purpose. “I like the intimacy of handmade objects,” Long says, and he finds something sacred in the injection of artistry and care they bring to everyday motions like eating or drinking. “It turns a passive activity into an active one,” he says, “where you’re more aware, more engaged in the action.” Fired at 2,300 degrees for increased durability, Long gives each of his pieces an additional artistic signature in the form of homemade glazes that he whips up himself, each specifically designed to react with the high heat. “I like to bring the character of the process through in my work,” he says.

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culture city

This page: Ceramic artwork by TaylorRobenaltCeramics. com,, @ceramic_casualties and @ contemporary_clay_culture

Autobiographic Fantastic TAYLOR ROBENALT SCULPTS HER LIFE’S JOURNEY IN PURE PORCELAIN—and what a year it has been. A year of new life and new beginnings, with Robenalt celebrating her first child and her canine companion having puppies in solidarity— not to mention starting a new job at Ringling College of Art & Design and receiving an artist residency in Greece. The resulting exuberance and optimism pour forth in the porcelain forms of rabbits, raccoons and squirrels, silver-tongued wolves and ruby-lipped women with red cardinals atop their heads. Each piece is handbuilt by Robenalt, who describes the joy of working in this most delicate ceramic material as “like working with butter.” Whimsical and totemic, the series sees the artist further exploring a symbolic narrative that harnesses the fantastic to transcend the specific. “In a weird way, I end up hitting a chord with people,” Robenalt says. “Inevitably, I will sync up with somebody.” SRQ

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This page: Interior and exterior photography by Ryan Gamma (@rgammaphoto).Hive Architects Inc., 1570

Boulevard of the Arts Suite 110, Sarasota, 941-951-6191,, @hive_architects.

Architectural design firm Hive Architects has an inimitable way of creating their clients’ dream homes. After some precursory conversations, Principal Architects and husband/wife power team Joe Kelly, AIA and Gwen Leroy-Kelly, AIA, get to know their clients, their lifestyle goals and site-specific conditions before coming up with a unique name for the project. This given name is to encapsulate the entire scope and theme of their vision, carrying through to the design process and constructing it to life. “The word comes before the design on every project,” they share. “But we don’t reveal the name right away—we let our clients get excited and anticipate the name till the schematic design/ presentation.” There, Joe and Gwen present the word, its definitive meaning and how those descriptive traits will be distilled singularly into the concept. “The word ends up being a springboard that unfolds and expands into the features of the home,” Joe says. “This milestone moment triggers the creativity and drives the design.”

For husband and wife clients from the Midwest— Kate Nord, an entrepreneur in various businesses, and Richard Nord, a landscape architect—they anxiously awaited Joe and Gwen’s reveal for their first-ever modern-style home build. Nestled on the north end of Siesta Key—in the same neighborhood as the ever-beloved Cocoon House designed by the late, great Paul Rudolph in 1948—the Nord’s property extends from Big Sarasota Pass on one side and Bayou Louise on the other. “As with all of our projects, we spent a great deal of time interviewing our clients to better understand the program requirements and qualities of the spaces they envision for their new home,” Gwen says. “Kate and Richard’s goal, we learned, was for the building to reflect their simple, uncomplicated but refined lifestyle while maximizing the use of the site.” A build is worth a thousand words—but this insight led the Hive team to pick just one for this project: “shibusa.” The Japanese word is a concept that “encompasses an enriched, subdued appearance or experience of intrinsically fine quality with economy of form, line and effort.” The meaning and

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timeless aesthetic seemed to perfectly summarize the Nord’s desired qualities and adjectives of a home. And so, Shibusa enveloped the project in every thoughtfully-designed detail. “The simplicity of the horizontal building forms in relation to the vertically-oriented sun screens with constantly changing light and shadow patterns. These elements animate the architecture, transforming constantly from hour to hour and seasonally throughout the year,” Joe and Gwen explain. “The screens primarily serve to create a level of privacy while shading the internal spaces from the harsh Florida sunlight, but also create unique ephemeral qualities that make each moment at the home full of delight and surprise.” Further fitting into the vernacular of the property (a dual meaning in this case), the build’s environmental orientation takes full advantage of the longer views to the water on either end of the property, while also establishing privacy from a large adjacent structure, turning the focus inward to a private garden and lap pool—designed by DWY Landscape Architecture firm. “The building form carefully edits out and subdues the undesirable surroundings while framing views to the internal site features and lush tropical landscape,” they say. “Because of the site’s long and narrow configuration on a peninsula, and the fact that it is connected to water on either end, it was important that the

design capitalized on these characteristics.” The strategy of an L-shaped building allowed them to orient each leg towards specific views and maximize the use of the site. The shorter leg, where most of the public aspects of the program are located, orients itself toward Big Sarasota Pass and encompasses the full width of the narrow site. On the other end, the longer leg, which contains the private elements of the program, takes advantage of the full length of the site and cantilevers out to capture views of Bayou Louise. Meanwhile, the minimalist detailing and material palette are notable features that work seamlessly to complement and reinforce the overall aesthetic. These not only are noticed on the exterior but are further echoed with the internal furnishings and finishes that were customized and specifically selected for each space by Hive’s interior design team. In the end, Shibusa’s simple yet refined personality reflected that of their client’s. “Giving a name gave it life, it spoke to Kate and Richard in an emotional way, made them feel like they’re living in something very unique and specialized to their lifestyle,” Gwen says of Shibusa’s eponymous namesake. Joe nods and adds, “In the end, it had a lot of meaning—it became the identity of the house so much so that the owners never referred to their house as “house” or “home” in conversation. It’s “Shibusa”. SRQ

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Traveled Treasures Previous spread: Hand-made Jewelry by local French jewelry-maker: Gold Wreath Necklaces, $50; matching earrings, $38; Gold Wired Cuff, $30; matching ring, $20; Heishi Bead Hoop Earrings, $38; White Gemstone Beaded Bracelet, $38; Apana by Marie,, @apana. by.marie. Torch blown, shaped and handpainted by Argentinian artisans: Brass Earrings, $72; matching Brass Cuff, $85; Ink + Alloy Teal Seed Stripe Fringe Earrings and Gold Stripe Fringe Earrings, $26/each; Ink + Alloy Green Seed Bracelet, $22; Rocks From the Moon Necklace, $47; Things I Like, 307 W Venice Ave., Venice, 941-488-6266,, @shop_thingsilike. Assouline Travel Series Coffee Table Books: Turquoise Coast; Ibiza Bohemia; Palm Beach; and Tulum Gypset; $95/each; Driftwood Beach Home & Garden, 6838 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key, 941-217-5068,, @driftwoodbeachhome.

Holly Jolly Spa-Care Left: Éminence Organic Skin Care Facial Recovery Oil, $77; Éminence Organic Skin Care Bamboo Firming Fluid, $62; Bloom Organics, 2065 Sies-

ta Dr., Sarasota, 941-362-4194,, @bloom_organics_day_spa. Serum Matriciel Visage, $150; Biologique Recherche Extraits Tissulaires Serum Authentique Phase de Soin, $128; L.Spa, 556 S Pineapple Ave Suite C, Sarasota, 941-906-1358,, @lspasrq. Octopus Oyster Dish, $40; Stardust Blue Sage Smudge Blend, $18; Jade Face Roller, $15; Wild Ginger Apothecary, 6557 Superior Ave., Sarasota, 941-312-5630,, @wildgingerapothecary. Little World of Scent Festive Candle Duo, $40; Voya Get Glowing Illuminating Clay Mask and Voya Castaway Cleansing Facial Wash from Voya Facial Romance Spa Inspired Luxury Facial Set, $100; Shore Rejuvenation, 2088 Hawthorne St., Sarasota, 941-960-6774,, @shorerejuvenationdayspa. Lymphatic Drainage Jade Quartz Roller, $50; Pocket Jade Gua Sha with Ridges, $29; Herbal Eye Pillows, $20; Spa Angeli, 700 Cocoanut Avenue Suite 209, Sarasota, 786-229-4495,, @spaangeli. Activated Charcoal Soap and Vetiver & Elderflowers Soap, $9/each; Handwashing Soap Kit, $26; Good Earth Pure Soaps, PO Box 1954, Tallevast, 941-400-8607,, @goodearthpuresoaps. Pacifica Stoneware Bowls in Pink Marshmallow, $15.5/each; Things I Like, 307 W Venice Ave., Venice, 941-488-6266,, @shop_thingsilike. Natural greenery sprigs courtesy of Kinspoke,,, @kinspoke.

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Star-Topping Sweaters Above: Emory Park Cropped Corduroy Jacket, $54; Island Trader Boutique, 5212 Ocean Blvd, Siesta Key, 941-346-7712,, @islandtraderboutique. Love Tree Open Front Cardigan in Steel Blue, $42; Here Comes the Sun Lilas Lavender Knit Sweater/Set, $64; The Wave Inspired, 1514 Stickney Point Rd, Sarasota, 941-451-2040,, @thewaveinspired. By Together Emma Knit Duster Sweater in Brick, $86; Shore Rejuvenation, 2088 Hawthorne St., Sarasota, 941-960-6774,, @shorerejuvenationdayspa. Gray Knit Poof Beanie, $25; West Coast Surf Shop, 3902 Gulf Dr., Holmes Beach, 941-778-1001, @westcoastsurfshop. Oyster Shell/ Gem Ornaments handcrafted by Sandy Vansant, $22/each; Driftwood Beach Home & Garden, 6838 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key, 941-217-5068,, @driftwoodbeachhome. Macrame Christmas Tree Ornaments by Upavim, $11/each; Conch Shell Home + Design, 425 Pine Ave., Anna Maria Island,, @conchshellami. Snorkeling Chocolate Lab Ornament, $10; Blue-Speckled Manatee Ornament, $12; Island Gift Nook, 227 W Venice Ave., Venice, 941-488-6161, @ islandgiftnook.

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Toast to Times Together Previous page and right: Encore Barbera Del Monferrato, $15; Figuière Méditerranée Rosé, $16; Alto Moncayo Verton Garnacha, $30; Le Pich Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, $58; Controvento Onda Anomala Rosato, $25; Jim Barry Barry Bros Vintage Red Blend, $16; Angular Crystal Wine Decanter $45; Corkscrew, $5; Sarasota Wine Co., 64 S Palm Ave., Sarasota, 941-343-2289,, @sarasotawineco. Coccoa Premium Dessert Box: three strawberries, three brownies, three alfajor cookies and three cinnamon rolls—all covered in white and dark chocolate with customized/themed details added, $35 + $7 delivery; Coccoa Dessert Boxes, @coccoabites. Stuff Every Wine Snob Should Know and Stuff Every Cheese Lover Should Know books, $10/each; Things I Like, 307 W Venice Ave., Venice, 941488-6266,, @shop_thingsilike. CamAromatic Citrus, Pineapple Jalapeno and Sangria Camp Craft Cocktail Infusion Jars, $25/each; Driftwood Beach Home & Garden, 6838 Gulf of Mexico Dr., Longboat Key, 941-217-5068,, @ driftwoodbeachhome. Bottle Stopper, $18; Wine Cork Cheese Spreaders, $22; Oeno Wine Perfect Pour, $8; RSVP RSVP International Wine Glasses Set, $30; RSVP International Green Marble Cheese Slicer, $23; Venice Wine & Coffee Company, 201 Venice Ave. W, Venice, 941-485-1668,, @venicewineandcoffeecompany. Red Marbled Glass Decanter with Heart Topper, $68; Set of three Jewel Tone Cordial Glasses, $42; DOT,, @shop_dot. Holiday-dyed pampas grass, berries, dried lavender and greenery floral arrangement, courtesy of Kinspoke,,, @kinspok

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Corgi Clause and Santa Paws This page: Mud Buster Gentle Paw Washer, $23; Haute Diggity Dog Lick Croix, $13; Hunter Chrome Water and Food Bowls, $12/each; Artisan Made “Year of the Dog” Fortune Cookie Treats, $12; Paw Brothers Grooming Comb, $11; Hug Smart Avocado Waste Bag Dispenser, $10; Honest Paws Calm Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil with Chamomile, $45; Wet Noses, 1465 Main St., Sarasota, 941-388-3647,, @wet_noses_ sarasota. Tall Tails Premium Red Icon Dog Blanket, $25; RedBarn Naturals Bully Braid and Chew, $10-$12; DOGPerfect, 4820 S Tamiami Trl., Sarasota, 941-564-0094,, @officialdogperfect. Haute Diggity Dog Chewie Vuitton Toy and Dog Perignon Bottle, $15$20; Black Leather Bling Collar, $36; Huxley & Kent Black Satin Bow Tie, $10; Pizza Baked Dog Treat, $3 each; Woof Gang Bakery, 1129 S Tamiami Trl., Sarasota, 941-2038334,, @wgbsarasota. Our model: one-year old Jessie the Corgi.

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Tea Time Yuletide Right and below: Bonfire S’mores Tea and Peppermint Patty Loose

Leaf Tea, $7 for 2 oz, $24 for 8 oz; Elevation Tea Company, 250 Center Ct., Venice, or at the Saturday Sarasota Farmers Market,, @elevationteaco. Raw Local Honey, $8; Honeyside Farms, 941-405-0015,, @honeysidefarms. Hand-made and painted locally by ceramicist Anja Palombo: “Cloud and Sea” Ceramic Teapot and matching mugs, $140; Sarasota Green Pottery, 2429 Burlington Ln., Sarasota, 941-266-9979,, @sarasotagreenpottery. Olive Wood 15x6 Cutting Board, $46; Mint Ceramic Tea Cups, $6/each; Wooden Salt Cellar, $29; Cedar Resin Coasters, $50; Olive Wood Tea Scoop, $13; Olive Wood Jam/Sugar Spoon, $6; Round Spoon, $10; Things I Like, 307 W Venice Ave., Venice, 941-488-6266, @shop_thingsilike. RSVP International Mesh Ball Infuser; Honey Pourer; Loose Leaf Tea Infuser, $4.5-$8; Venice Wine & Coffee Company, 201 Venice Ave. W, Venice, 941-485-1668,, @venicewineandcoffeecompany.

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Water Wonderland Below: Stephen Joseph Silicone Baby Plate, $20; Stephen Joseph Bath Mitt, $8, Mayoral Newborn Cielo Blue Swaddle, $16; Good Night Coral Reef and Good Night Boats Bedtime Books, $10/each; Curious Kids Explore the Shore Pop-Up Book, $13; Follow the Moon Home Book, $17; Steiff Plush Penguin, $17; Douglas Green Friends Plush Turtle, $17; Malarkey Kids Teether Tether & Teether Set, $16; Momma Goose Baltic Amber Necklace, $23, Tasty Tie Baby Teething Tie, $17; Ettie & H Kyle Bubble Overalls in Blue, $38; Nana’s A Children’s Shop, 223 W Venice Ave, Venice, 941-488-4108,, @nanaschildrenshop. White Turkish Towel/Blanket, $24; The Wave Inspired, 1514 Stickney Point Rd, Sarasota, 941-4512040,, @thewaveinspired.

Silent Night (fingers crossed) Right: Amuseable Poinsetta, $47; Amuseable Gingerbread House

Large, $62; Cocoa Bear Large $47; Small Lamb Puppet $26; Chew Cube Marble Grey $13; Toy Lab, 1529 Main St., Sarasota, 941-363-0064,, @toylabsarasota. Tutto Piccolo Boy Shirt and Overall Set, $52; Little Bo-Tique, 367 St Armands Cir., Sarasota, 941388-1737,, @littlebo_tique. Children’s Books: Christmas Cheer, $9; Mog’s Christmas $8; Hanukkah Baby $6; Bookstore1, 12 S Palm Ave., Sarasota, 941-365-7900, sarasotabooks. com, @books1sarasota. Our model: six-month-old Bear Kostygan.

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South Pole Splash Left: O’Neill Original Wetsuit Top, $80; Sun

Bum Cool Down After Sun Gel, $10; FCS II Performer Thruster Surf Fins, $100; Sticky Bumps Original Surf Wax, $1.5; US Divers Full Face Snorkel System Set, $70; ZAP M-5 Blem Skimboard, $285; Windflight Surf Shop, 722 Albee Rd. W, Nokomis, 941-484-2794,, @windflightsurf. Waboba Water Ball Small, $10, Waboba Water Ball Large $12, Waboba Beach Football, $15; Safari Incredible Creatures Hammerhead and Blue Crab, $10/each; Waboba Wingman Foldable Silicone Disc, $8; Jazzminton Paddle Game, $10; Nana’s A Children’s Shop, 223 W Venice Ave., Venice, 941-488-4108,, @nanaschildrenshop. Sage Hammerhead Reef Sand Cloud Towel, $48; Pink & Navy, 216 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, 941-567-4000,, @ pinkandnavyboutique.

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Below: Cortez Historic Fishing Village, photography by Wyatt Kostygan.

Winter 2021


Love It Like a Local

A Trip Back in Time

Welcome to Living Bradenton Area! As the Bradenton Area’s tourism department, it is our job to share all that makes our home special. Fortunately for us (and readers like you), that list goes on and on. Our world-class beaches are found on the idyllic barrier islands of Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, offering 16 miles of sugar-white sand and low surf. Here, cozy beachfront cottages, intimate resorts and smaller, low-rise condos dot the shores but never block the views. Just minutes away, the City of Bradenton provides a break from the beach, offering a vibrant arts and culture scene, award-winning dining options, nature preserves and more. Easy to get to (thanks, in part, to Sarasota Bradenton International Airport), but with an off-the-beaten-path feel and an unwavering commitment to preserving Real. Authentic. Florida, the Bradenton Area is worth discovering and exploring again and again. We hope you agree!

Time travels differently in Bradenton, Florida. Whether it is a walk on the beach, a day on the water, or time spent shopping and enjoying, it’s easy to turn an afternoon into an adventure. And not just any adventure, but a trip back in time, to a Florida that is lost to much of the state. It’s fantastic to find a town where strangers still smile at each other, and everyone who wants to can turn themselves into “a local.” It just takes shorts, a comfy short-sleeved shirt, suntan lotion, and, for a real local, a profound appreciation of our responsibility to care for our beautiful natural riches so that their wonder outlives us. Precisely on this track, we explore, in this issue, one of the unique treasures of the Greater Bradenton Area. We have a community within our community, Cortez Fishing Village, one of the last remaining, selfcontained fishing villages in all of Florida. Nothing tastes quite like a fish caught in the gulf, processed and packaged at A.P. Bell’s, and then driven about three blocks to the almost adjacent restaurants that circle the village. Join us as we sit on the sea wall, crunch into a perfectly fried fish feast. Then, with a cold drink in hadn’t, turn your eyes to the water, that defining characteristic of our coastal paradise, and watch as the dolphins swim by and the fisherman head back out to secure their next catch. Each day drifts by like a dream-and if this is a dream, don’t wake me.

E L L I O T T FA L C I O N E Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director

WES ROBERTS SRQ MEDIA | Executive Publisher

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FANCIFIED HOMEWARE Blush Linen Cocktail Napkins, $8/each; Surfing Road Coconut Shell Candle - Bougie, $68; Conch Shell Home + Design, 425 Pine Ave., Anna Maria Island,, @conchshellami. Meyer Lemon Infused Olive Oil, $17; Olive Oil Outpost, 401 Pine Ave., Anna Maria Island, 941-896-3132,, @oliveoiloutpost. Linen Tea Towel, $14; Luffa Soap On A Rope Made With Oatmeal/Shea Butter - Dried Coconut, $9; Painted Songbird Figurine, $12; Garden Mint Coconut Oil and Aloe Vera Hand & Body Lotion, $12; The Bungalow, 2419 Manatee Ave. W, Bradenton, 941-216-4530, Zodiac Perfume Travel Spray Gift Set, $42; Pink & Navy Boutique, 216 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, 941-567-4000,, @pinkandnavyboutique. Holiday-dyed pampas grass, berries and dried lavender arrangement, courtesy of Kinspoke, hello@,, @kinspoke. 80 | srq magazine_ DEC21 live local



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BOHO BEACH BABE Olive & Pique The Debbie Cognac Hat, $68; Rainbow Candle, $34; Macrame Knitted Handbag in Ivory, $42; Charley’s Boutique, 5761 Manatee Ave W, Bradenton, 941-345-4603,, Assorted flavored Macarons, one for $2, six for $11.75, dozen for $22.8; Macaronage, 4816 14th St W, Bradenton, 941-807-2571,, @lovemacaronage. Thread Vertical Card Holder Wristlet and Chapstick holder, $11; Kris Nations Palm Tree Necklace, $40; Silver Girl Wave Earrings, $38, Kris Nations Rainbow Earrings, $24; West Coast Surf Shop, 3902 Gulf Dr., Holmes Beach, 941-778-1001, @westcoastsurfshop. Chindi Placemat in Aquatic and Pottery, $12; Conch Shell Home + Design, 425 Pine Ave., Anna Maria Island,, @conchshellami.


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CAMPFIRE COZIES Peaches & Cream Plaid half Zip Crop Pullover, $42; Charley’s Boutique, 5761 Manatee Ave. W, Bradenton, 941-345-4603,, @charleys. boutique. Pink and Yellow Martini Glasses (comes in a set of four), $70; DOT,, @ shop_dot. The Paws Pet Bandana - Mowgli, $16; Cranberry Martini and Hot Toddy by Camp Craft Cocktail Infuser, $25/ each, Pink & Navy, 216 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, 941-567-4000,, @pinkandnavyboutique. The Hygge Conversation Card Game, $20; Books-A-Million, 4225 14th St W, Bradenton, 941-748-3911,

WEST COAST FLORIDA WATERMAN RipCurl Elite Anti Series Camo Print Rain Jacket, $65; Ulu Lagoon Surf Wax Car Fresheners, $3/each; Speaqua Cruiser H2.0 Bluetooth Speaker in Sea Palm, $30; Corkcicle, 20oz Mermaid Canteen, $40; Pukka Florida Hat, $27; West Coast Surf Shop, 3902 Gulf Dr., Holmes Beach, 941-778-1001, @westcoastsurfshop. Aviate Blue Bandana, $2.5; BruMate Liquor Canteen in Army Green, $26; Pink & Navy, 216 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, 941-567-4000, pinkandnavyami. com, @pinkandnavyboutique. Deep Sea Aqua Glide Open-Heel Diving Fins, $36; Scuba Quest, 3318 Manatee Ave. W, Bradenton, 941-745-2511,, @bradentonscubaquest. PHOTOGRAPHY BY WYATT KOSTYGAN.


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Cortez Village Fishery

Cortez fishing folks are not afraid of hard work, they never have been. And Nathan Meschelle, local commercial fisherman, born and raised in Cortez is no exception. Like the Cortez fisherman that came over one hundred years before him, he’s ready to wake up at 3 am if that’s when the fish are biting. And after a long, hot day working out in the sun, he’s prepared to come back to shore and work some more, cleaning and prepping for the next day. “Being a commercial fisherman is definitely not a job. It’s a way of life,” he says. “Before I go to bed, I’m anticipating my day, the different variables with the weather, what equipment might need to be fixed or repaired—there’s a lot of thought and meditation that goes into it. But when that time comes, when I wake up in the morning, I’m excited, I’m ready to go to work. And when I have my boat loaded with my boxes full, coming home to the dock is probably the best feeling in the world.“ CORTEZ, FLORIDA IS ONE OF THE VERY LAST SMALL COASTAL FISHING VILLAGES. Unlike many areas of

Florida that have been transformed into crowded tourist destinations, it has managed to retain much of its antiquated charm. There are no waterfront condos or luxury homes. Instead, you will find weathered white bungalows, working boatyards and restaurants offering some of the freshest and tastiest fish in Florida. It can be a colorful community with so many people and places to see, or, the most relaxing, laid-back place in the world where you can enjoy the simple pleasures of a modern life that is very similar to what it was over a century ago. A historian who considers herself more of an anthropologist studying humans from hundreds and thousands of years ago, as well as the people of today, Tori Chasey, supervisor of the Florida Maritime Museum, works

to make visitors appreciate and understand the heritage of the village. “Cortezians are the salt-of-the-earth kind of people,” says Chasey. “They’ve always been very hard workers.” Originally occupied by a thriving Native American population, Cortez has provided for its residents for many generations. “Cortezians have always lived off the coast, as we know from the fish bones and other artifacts found in the mounds left behind,” says Chasey. The Cuban Ranchos came next and they were the first seasonal residents. The earliest permanent residents in Cortez were mostly people from Cateret County, North Carolina who migrated south hoping for a new way of life. They were already fishermen looking for a bountiful coast, and since the waters in the area provided well for them, they ended up settling here and becoming prosperous. Many of today’s residents are actually descendants of those original folks from North Carolina.

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This page left to right: Nathan Meschelle, commercial fisherman; fishing boat the docks of AP Bell; mullet, the staple fish of Floirda; diners enjoy a meal with a view of Starfish Co.; and, the docks of AP Bell.

The common bond between the original settlers and today’s residents seems to be the sea life, specifically, a jumping species of fish called mullet. With an abundance of mullet and shellfish, Cortezians have long been able to earn a living and feed their family, while enjoying the simplicity of residing in a picturesque village where everyone knows their name. Karen Bell grew up in this fishing village and is in fact a descendant of the earliest residents from North Carolina. Her grandfather, Aaron Parks, started AP Bell Fish Company back in 1920. Her father took it over in 1963, and when he passed in 2012, Karen started running it. He tried to discourage her from going into the business, but she was determined. “It’s a man’s world with a lot of regulations—it’s tough work,” he said. But Cortez was her home, where her family was and she wanted to continue the legacy. So she shadowed her dad for over 20 years, learned all the ins and outs of the business, and is now running a very successful seafood dealership. “I think the most unique thing about this business is the people,” she says. “Commercial fishermen are very independent and their work is difficult. Being a woman telling a bunch of guys what to do is not your norm, but it works well because I have a lot of respect for them, and in turn, they respect me. We work well together and we sell our product all over the world. I’m super proud of Cortez fishermen. This little community feeds the world.” Bobby Woodson, co-owner of Tide Tables Restaurant and Marina couldn’t agree more. “Cortez is the largest fishing community on the west coast of Florida,” he says. “We can actually see the group of boats come by in the morning and go to Karen’s over at AP Bell where they unload. And we go over daily and get whole fish, bring it back here and cut it right on the dock out behind Tide Tables. So every day we’re getting fresh-caught, local fish, and that’s something that you don’t find anywhere else. It makes a big difference when it’s that fresh.” Woodson has been living and working in the village for over 60 years. He knows that a hard-working, tight-knit community is what it takes to keep a fishing village alive and running well. “I’ve been buying fish from the Bells for 45 years now. So we go a long way back. I know everybody that lives here, they know me. It’s a very special place. There aren’t that many places in the world that are like this anymore,” he says. Visiting Cortez pretty much daily since starting his business in 1984, Brian Bochan, owner of Captain Brian’s Seafood Market and Restaurant depends on the thriving fish market to get his product. Brian credits his success of 37 years to his ties in the community. He gets his fish directly from fishermen, where other markets and restaurants have to rely on distributors. “Being in the fishing industry this long, I know all the fishermen in Cortez, all the bait people, and I’m able to get all the fresh fish I want.” And the fish that Brian primarily wants is mullet. “Mullet is the staple fish of Florida. It’s a readily available, sustainable and healthy fish because it’s a vegetarian fish. Right now, they are big and fat and really delicious.” Brian believes that Cortez and the Florida Gulf Coast waters are special for a few reasons. “We have such a long continental shelf so there are abundant areas to fish. Also, our water temperature makes for a really rich fish. Our clean waters allow the mullets to be packed with nutrients.” While grouper and snapper have gained in popularity over the years, Brian wishes that more folks would try mullet. “It’s a great local fish and it’s a shame that more people haven’t discovered it,” he says. At his restaurant, they cook mullet several different ways: smoked, grilled, fried and in dips. He encourages everyone to visit and give it a go. “If you haven’t fallen in love with mullet already, come on down to Captain Brian’s and try it. We’ll cook it the way you like it.” Whether it’s the mullet, the people or the simplicity of the village, Cortez is certainly a charmed destination. Tori Chasey enjoys watching visitors walk through the doors of the museum and discover everything about the old authentic Florida fishing village, then and now. “Welcome to Cortez,” she says. “If you stay long enough, we’ll consider you a local.” LBA srq magazine_ DEC21 live local | 85


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Old Florida Fancy Endearing and wistful, the term “Old Florida” manages to celebrate the warm glow of a bygone era while simultaneously lamenting the end of said era. But “Old Florida” has no agreed-upon, codified meaning, no standardized set of colors or designs—it’s just some version of Florida in some indeterminate past. Maybe it’s a pastel-colored home on stilts, maybe it’s a mid-century roadside attraction, perhaps it’s embodied in a dockside seafood shack. Or maybe it’s all of those things. But whatever “Old Florida” means, you know it when you see it, as they say. And at The Porch on Anna Maria Island, Old Florida is alive, well and ready to be eaten.

OPENED IN A FAITHFULLY RESTORED CENTURY-OLD STRUCTURE that has served as a home, a restaurant and

a daycare, The Porch first strikes a guest with its charm. From the sandy two-lane road of Gulf Drive, its yellow façade, teal door and crushed shell landscape give it more the feel of a shabby beach shack with a fresh coat of paint than a restaurant with elevated fare. The interior is a cross between fishing shack-chic and history museum, with great attention paid to the island’s history and the building’s original design elements, like all-original windows and remediated hardwood floors. Owners Brianna and Joshua Foster were so committed to maintaining as much of the original building as possible that they even kept the kitchen tiny to avoid

tearing walls down. “We don’t even have room for a freezer back there,” jokes Brianna, “so you know all of our food is made fresh and never frozen.” And it seems the whole concept is carefully tuned to the sensibilities of its context and its beach-going clientele. Those sandy sensibilities call for refreshing beverages, first and foremost. An assortment of spritzes, sangrias and mimosas offer something sweet and cool to beat the heat, but The Porch adds small touches that make these their own. The Pasubio lemonade spritz features an amaro from the Dolomite Mountains of Italy’s Trentino region that, unique among amari, makes use of berries. Still, like many amari, Pasubio has pine and herb undertones to go along with a touch of bitterness and

Left to right:The mix of crispy exterior and creamy interior make these potato cakes unfathomably tasty. Pasubio amaro makes this spritz a little more than a sweet treat. The Porch Chef’s Board features a charcuterie board, including many kinds of cheese, meats, honeycomb, olives and fruit. By staying true to the original building, the Fosters retained its Old Florida charm.

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The Porch, 9707 Gulf Dr., Anna Maria Island, 941-7828683,, @ theporchrestaurant_ami

smokiness. Lavender accents finish the drink and make it an olfactory delight. The rosé sangria takes the trendy wine cocktail and adds blood orange, fresh orange slices and orange bitters for a bright and light iteration of the Spanish staple that feels distinctly Floridian. Appetizers are eclectic but deliciously accessible. The coastal calamari comes tossed in the restaurant’s scratchmade ginger sesame sauce and has all the snackability of a potato chip, which means the mound they come served in is best shared with two or more—lest the sweet sauce inspire a diner to eat themselves into guilt. A chef’s-choice charcuterie board also makes for a great first course and conversation starter on account of the glowing, dripping honeycomb, but the potato cakes will assuredly ruin one’s dinner. Stuffed with creamy mashed potatoes inside a crispy exterior, these bacon-topped treats pack all the savory punch of a bacon and sour cream potato skin but go down much more decadently. Standout salads include a sunshine summer salad that comes with mango slices and a lime dressing, or the blackened Cobb salad, which comes piled high with mixed greens, a hardboiled egg, julienned carrots, grilled corn, half a Hass avocado, enough bacon crumbles to make you forget it’s a salad, and blackened shrimp. The practice of taking the spirit of something familiar and elevating it continues with the fish and chips, available on the restaurant’s lunch menu. The entrée comes with a diner’s choice of one or two 6-ounce hunks of beer-battered mahi mahi, with hand-cut fries on the side. A far cry from the mystery fish sticks found in your nearest frozen aisle, these lean and perfectly seasoned

morsels have all the comfort of a dockside fish fry but with a more palatable dose of protein. Though salmon is hardly a Florida-centric fish, the tamari and maple glazed salmon warrants a nod as well. Served with a wild rice and farro blend, the glaze’s sweet and tropical profile takes the salmon away from its more conventional dressings and puts it in a Hawaiian button-down. But it’s not all fish feasts at The Porch. Cattle ranching in what would become the continental U.S. began in Florida with the arrival of Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto, who is believed to have landed somewhere near the mouth of the Manatee River in the 16th century. So, there is, in fact, something undeniably Floridian about The Porch’s USDA prime steak offerings. An 18-ounce ribeye will challenge the hungriest of homesteaders, but the filet mignon is a tasty little beef cupcake. Seasoned with salt, pepper and a touch of garlic, the outer sear adds a touch of crispiness to a cut cooked perfectly medium-rare. A traditional accompaniment of mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus make this an easy pick for the picky eater. The Fosters could easily have chosen the kitschy route with their restaurant. They could have stuck with a menu of fried-from-frozen everything, trafficked primarily in pitchers of cheap beer and still made a killing. But rather than sell Old Florida like a cheap commodity, they chose to cherish it like an heirloom. It’s in the carefully restored fireplace, the small, oddly shaped rooms, the cheerful but not cheesy colors, the simple foods dressed up for a fancier and honest Old Florida experience. LBA srq magazine_ DEC21 live local | 87


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DESTINATION | FARMERS MARKETS An unsung, hidden treasure on the Gulf Coast of Florida. The Bradenton downtown and coastal areas teem with things to do and places to go including beaches, shops, museums and galleries. But let’s not forget about the farmers’ markets—a gathering where members of the community can come together and support small, local businesses and farms while securing an assortment of organic provisions and original, handmade goods. Here are the ones to stop by this season. Downtown Bradenton Public Market Open from October to May,

this shopping and music event is held on Old Main Street in Downtown Bradenton every Saturday morning from 9am-12pm. Visitors can expect an exciting environment filled with fresh produce, hot coffees, desserts, handmade chocolates, jewelry, candles, soaps and freshcut flowers. And on the neighboring Fourth Avenue West, guests can enjoy art, cra s and live music as Mainly Art hosts its weekly gathering of local artisans and artists showing and selling their works. Parking is free and—because leashed dogs are allowed—bring along your adorable fur-baby and make it a Saturday morning outing for the whole family.

101 Old Main St., Bradenton, 941-9329439,, @bradentonpublicmarket.


Gamble Creek Farms Farm Market Operating five days a week

(Wednesdays - Fridays, from 11am6pm, and Saturdays and Sundays, from 9am-1pm), this market is an earth-lover’s slice of heaven. Gamble Creek Farm is all about sustainability and living a clean lifestyle. Because of this, the Market only offers the freshest, locally grown and 100% organic produce. Shoppers can choose from an extensive range of products including baked goods, plants and even meat and seafood. Gamble Creek Farms Farm Market, being an indoor market, also provides visitors with the luxury of air conditioning as they shop—a welcome feature to combat the inevitable Florida heat. 14950 Golf Course

Rd., Parrish, 941-548-4805,, @gamblecreekfarms.

Beach Market at Coquina Beach

If sand between your toes and sea breeze tickling your nose wasn’t enough reason for you to visit the beach, this market sure is. Beach Market at Coquina Beach is a weekly outdoor market taking place from December to March on Wednesdays and Sundays, April to July on Wednesdays and Fridays and a er a brief closing, reopens for its next season every Sunday in November. Every market is open from 10am to 4pm, no ma er the day of the week. Overlooking the beautiful island beach, this market hosts vendors selling handbags, jewelry, po ery as well as health and beauty products. And while dogs are not allowed in the park, the market is wheelchair and stroller accessible.

Anna Maria Farmers Market at City Pier Park Every Tuesday,

beginning in October and continuing through May, the City of Anna Maria hosts a small farmer’s market at waterfront City Pier Park at the corner of Pine Avenue and South Bay Blvd. Baskets and bins of fresh Southwest Florida produce is always available, along with local baked goods, jams, honey, gourmet foods and more. Market hours run from 8:30am to 2pm. 103 N Bay Blvd., Anna Maria, 941-708-6130 ext 121,

2650 Gulf Dr., S. Bradenton Beach, 941-518-4431, @beachmarketatcoquinabeach.

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MARIS POINTE MORE THAN LOVING CARE. A SENSE OF PURPOSE. At Maris Pointe, our thoughtfully designed community provides a safe and secure place for seniors living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of memory loss, enabling them to continue doing the things they love. Our dedicated Memory Care team members take the time to get to know each resident’s personal life story, strengths, and experiences – helping them find a distinct sense of purpose in each new day. This person-centered philosophy makes our community a close-knit family. At Maris Pointe, Memory Care residents are encouraged to live an enriched lifestyle with a calendar full of activities and events. By focusing on living actively in the present, both residents and team members discover the power of a moment in time and the true fulfillment it can bring. With a full-time lifestyle and wellness director, our community is positioned to provide progressive therapies and programming that create upli ing moments and the reassuring comforts of home. And as a part of the Eagle Senior Living family of nonprofit communities, you can be confident that Maris Pointe will always remain fully invested in the people we serve.

Maris Pointe 1200 Avenida Del Circo Venice, FL 34285 941-485-8885

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As a nonprofit community, we invest in our people – residents, families, and team members – in order to deliver an ideal senior living experience. We offer a comfortable place for seniors to live an authentic, enriched life surrounded by infinite opportunities to grow. Because we believe in the power of bringing people together to bring out the best in each other.

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SHARE WITH OUR READERS A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR ORGANIZATION. SCOTT D. ZELNIKER: I’m the founding partner of the Zelniker Dorfman Carr & Heritage Group. We’re a financial advisory firm with offices in New York and Florida. We run our private wealth management operation out of New York, catering to ultra-high-net-worth families. Here in Sarasota, we work with alternative investments, institutional consulting and new business development. Over in Gainesville, we have a group that runs the sports and entertainment part of our business.

So between us, we have an expertise in a lot of different areas. If you think about it from our seat, as we’re helping people through their finances, there’s really three ways to get wealthy. One is to have a very high salary and put your money away. One is to inherit it, that’s the multi-generational families. And then the third would be through a liquidity event whether it’s through a sale of business, sale of appreciated stock if you do well in the market. But really those are the three ways to get wealthy and when you think about the structure of what we have, we can cater to all three of those.

WE HAVE READERS OF A BROAD RANGE THAT READ OUR MAGAZINE. HOW WOULD YOU SPEAK TO EACH GENERATION? Rule of thumb, we encourage people to contribute to retirement plans as early as possible. Studies show if you invest in a retirement plan in your 20s, through the decade of 20-30 and never put another dollar in, you’ll end up with more money than people that invest from 30-60, and that’s just the power of compounding. If you have $10,000 in a retirement plan and you make 10% on that, you make $1,000. Over time, if your balance grows to $100,000, that

same 10% return gets you $10,000, so the earlier the better. When people ask, “How much do I put in?” We always advise to put in as much as you can. WHAT LEVEL OF INVESTOR DO YOU WORK WITH? Typically on the private wealth side, we deal with $10 million and up relationships. It could be someone that has $10 million liquid today or someone that might be able to bring us a couple million dollars today but has the ability to get to 10. Maybe they’re a business owner with most of their money in the business. Maybe it’s someone


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ABOUT SCOTT D. ZELNIKER Sco has been creating tailored solutions for his clients’ financial lives since 1992, when he began his career in the industry at Merrill Lynch, developing a practice centered on the needs of private business owners. In 2016, Sco and his partner, Peter Dorfman, joined UBS, where they transitioned to the Private Wealth platform to draw on the firm’s vast resources to find optimal solutions for their clients. Sco holds the Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM and Chartered Retirement Plans SpecialistSM designations awarded by the College for Financial Planning. He has been named a Forbes Best-In-State Wealth Advisor in New York for 2020 and 2021. He earned an undergraduate degree in finance from Boston University, and an M.B.A. in finance and business management from Hofstra University. Sco focuses on macro strategic planning, investment oversight, portfolio construction and wealth planning. He also helps provide solutions to his business- owner clients’ needs with an emphasis on exit strategies and liquidity events, as well as their contributions to overall financial and long-term estate planning strategies. With experience in wealth planning, asset management, risk management, business succession planning, philanthropy and family governance, Sco is an integral piece of any professional advisory network. As a Private Wealth Advisor, he coordinates direct access to the global resources of UBS, including the intellectual capital his clients need for complex liquidity events and long-term estate planning across generations. The Zelniker Dorfman Carr & Heritage Group. UBS Financial Services Inc. Private Wealth Management Sarasota City Center, Ste 900, 1819 Main St., Sarasota, sco

that knows they’re getting a big inheritance later. We also have people on the team who specialize in the $2-$10 million space and then we have some younger advisors on the team that specialize in the $500,000 to $2 million space. Under that $500,000 level, there’s not a lot we can do because the situation isn’t that complex yet from an estate planning perspective or from a gifting perspective. So the larger the estate and the more complex, the more need for us. For people that come in below that threshold, we will guide them and send them to another institution where we think that they could be catered to better but we’ll keep that relationship. We want to be in the prospective client’s life because you don’t know when things change. WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO THE YOUNG PERSON JUST STARTING OUT? We tell them to start saving. Sometimes our clients have grandchildren that just started in the workforce and they’ll say, “My grandchild wants to talk to you.” I’ll happily get on a call with them. Typically they’ll say to me, “I have $20,000 in my bank account now and I’d like to start investing.” My question to them is, “Do you have a retirement plan at work?” And if they say yes, I say, “With all due respect, I’d rather see you invest in your retirement plan and not put the money with us at this point.” The advantage to them is that money is going to a tax deferred bucket. If they earn one dollar with us in a taxable account and that one dollar of earnings becomes 70 cents to them because the government is going to take their share. In a retirement plan, that one dollar will compound, and remember we talked about that power of compounding, so it becomes very meaningful for them.

FOR THOSE INDIVIDUALS WHO DO HAVE A RETIREMENT PORTFOLIO WITH YOU, WHAT IS THE CONVERSATION LIKE WHEN IT COMES TO RISK? There are three buckets of peoples’ money. There’s liquidity, there’s longevity, and there’s legacy. So using those three buckets, we’ll say to people, “In your liquidity bucket, you can’t put in a retirement plan because you’re not going to be able to access that money penalty free until 59 and a half. So we want you to have enough money outside of a retirement plan where you could still grow it for retirement, but we want to keep it available to you for your liquidity needs. When we talk about your longevity, money you’re going to need after retirement, that longevity bucket is what we want to grow for that time frame when there’s not a paycheck anymore. Then people reach a third stage where we start talking about legacy. Is the goal to leave all your money to your kids if you have kids? Is your goal to leave some money to the kids, some to charity? Do you have philanthropic intent now versus when you’re no longer here? We try to get people thinking of those three buckets because each one has a distinct strategy as to what we’re going to be doing with it. YOU BRING UP PHILANTHROPY AND DONATIONS. HOW DO PEOPLES’ DONATIONS WORK FOR THEM FINANCIALLY? When clients give a donation, they can really do it in a couple of ways. They can donate cash, they can donate appreciated stock. We know the markets had quite a run here over the last decade or so, so if somebody donates a dollar, that’s good and they will get a tax deduction for that dollar. But if a client donates $10 but their cost basis on the stock is a dollar, they will get a tax deduction on the $10 and they won’t have to pay the

capital gains tax on the sale. Many times, we encourage clients to gift appreciated securities as opposed to gifting actual dollars. There’s a couple of tax advantages for them there. The other thing we ask is ‘do you want to give while you’re alive or do you want to give as part of your estate? Because if you give money as part of your estate, the money that goes to a 501(c)(3) charity after your death will not be subject to the estate tax in your estate but if you give that money during your lifetime, that money won’t be in your estate either but you will get a tax deduction during your life.’ Let’s say there is someone who’s 90 years old on their deathbed. They have a greater benefit of actually writing the check or gifting the securities while they’re alive because they’ll get a tax deduction for it in addition to it being out of their estate. DO YOU HAVE CLIENTS THAT WORRY ABOUT CATASTROPHIC SITUATIONS? Yes, they worry about a myriad of things. Structurally, the way we run our business is we have a quarterly call with every client where we talk about everything. Many are worried about the infrastructure bill. They’re worried about the debt ceiling. They’re worried about interest rates. They’re worried about potential government default. They’re worried about tax rates. They’re worried about social security. I’ve been doing this for 30 years now. When the tech bubble burst it was a very uncertain time. 9/11 was an extremely uncertain time. The debt crisis, the banking crisis in 2008 was a time where there was a lot of fear. March 2020, a very scary time. We didn’t know if we were ever going to leave our homes again. When we start to talk through all of these issues with our clients, we lay out a worst case scenario. For instance, right now, if they

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don’t raise the debt ceiling and the government were to default on debt, what does that mean? Where can you put your money in an event like that? The natural inclination in times of crisis is to put money in the treasury. That’s the safe haven. But that’s the exact security we’re worried about defaulting. You could hold it in dollars but if the U.S. government defaults, what’s the value of the dollar going to be? Some things are too big to worry about and you can’t bet on the end of the world because it’s a million to one shot. If it happens, none of this matters, and if it doesn’t happen, we have to have you positioned for business as usual. WHAT ABOUT PLANNING FOR HEALTH CARE EXPENSES AND LIFE INSURANCE? Health care costs are probably going to be the biggest variable in retirement spending habits. There’s a couple of routes you can go. Some of our clients have enough money to self fund retirements because statistically once you would turn on a long term care policy for instance, your average life expectancy drops dramatically, probably in the three to four year range. So you look at the costs of insurance and then you have to weigh it against whether or not you can self fund. For other clients, there is a conversation about getting supplemental insurance. It’s a variable that people have to account for, sure. Life insurance serves a couple of purposes. The first one is income replacement. When you’re a sole wage earner in the house, you would need to insure the wage earner. Another reason for insurance is to cover the costs of the estate taxes if their estate is big enough that their lifetime exemptions don’t cover what would be taxable. You would then buy insurance that covers that estate tax to your heirs.

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ARE THERE THINGS THAT SURPRISE YOUR CLIENTS THAT MOVE TO FLORIDA TO RETIRE? I’m hearing less and less about people retiring to Florida and more about moving to Florida. People are really re-defining what retirement looks like and retirement seems to mean doing something philanthropic, doing something part time, doing consulting work, maybe dabbling in a new business. I see it all the time. People that are here and retire are excited about playing golf daily and then after two weeks, they say, “All right. How much golf can I play in 85 degree weather every day?” I guess that would be the surprise people have that the thing they thought they wanted to do isn’t necessarily it. SOCIAL SECURITY AT 62- VERSUS 65-YEARS OLD. WHEN SHOULD YOU TAKE MONEY OUT OF RETIREMENT PLANS? There’s no hard fast rule on these things. Every situation is really unique to the person’s net worth, their liquidity needs, and their expectations for the future. As far as social security, we keep hearing about the solvency of it. The reality is, social security, most of the money that gets paid out is being paid in. It’s the surplus that’s running out and AARP says that’s not going to be an issue until 2034 and even then, there’s things that could be done in the meantime. You might get social security but in a lower payout. They might increase your income level that they tax for social security. So there’s ways to keep it solvent. That’s not a big concern of ours. DURING THE PANDEMIC, WHAT SHIFT DID YOU SEE IN THE PEOPLE THAT WAS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT? The pandemic changed everything. It changed peoples’ perception of retirement. Every person I talked

to in that 45-60 range, I don’t care if they’re a doctor, a waitress, it doesn’t matter. Everybody in that age group has basically said, “I’ve had enough.” Because they feel they’ve spent a lot of time working, building up their status in their companies, building up a little nest egg, and then they realized how quickly it can be taken away. It made people reevaluate their work life balance. When it first started, financial markets went down and people had a loss of value on paper. That was pretty dramatic. Fortunately, a lot of that did reverse itself and come back. We took an approach with our clients that we were going to stay the course. We rotated portfolios to get out of areas that looked like they were going to be greatly affected and into areas that looked like the money was going to flow, so we made changes but we stayed the course of the broader plans and coming back to that concept of if the world is going to end it doesn’t matter anyway so you may as well plan for the world to come after it. But the relationship with peoples’ children, not being able to see their children, their relationship with their philanthropy changed because all of a sudden healthcare became such a more prominent part of peoples’ lives and what they see, and I think just the general being home and losing things that people took for granted really changed their outlook. And the way accounts are doing day to day, I don’t think it’s as important to people as it used to be. Human life really has become more important to people. Families, friends and events that people really took for granted means a lot more now. I definitely see that change. SRQ

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or over 50 years, THE SARASOTA INSTITUTE OF LIFELONG LEARNING has provided the means to socially and intellectually expand knowledge about a wide variety of subjects from the arts to contemporary global issues. SILL is a non-profit, all volunteer organization offering weekly lecture series in Sarasota, Venice, Lakewood Ranch, and Longboat Key by nationally known experts and, on Music Mondays, a chance to enjoy musical conversations with great performers. The Global Issues series features twenty-four impressive speakers. A few of the experts who will offer their insider’s view are: Dr. Jeffrey Gedmin will discuss “Germany and Its Future Challenges”; Ambassador Dennis Ross will discuss “U.S. Policy Towards the Middle East”; Dr. David Lampton asks and answers “Was U.S.-China Engagement a Big Mistake: Where Do We Go from Here?”; Peter Bergen’s lecture will focus on domestic extremism in a polarized society; and Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré discusses the “Aftermath of the January 6 Capitol Attack”. The Music Mondays series features twelve talented artists. Among them are Thorwald Jorgenson, one of the world’s leading theremin players; a trio of singers from the NY Gilbert & Sullivan Players; keyboard artist Vijay Venkatesh; and the virtuosity of Geneva Lewis, violinist, and Gabriel Martins, cellist.

MISSION STATEMENT The Sarasota Institute of Lifetime Learning (SILL) is a non-profit organization that offers an expert lecture series to provide information on and discussion of the arts and contemporary global issues. SILL is guided by an all-volunteer board committed to modest pricing and enhanced outreach.


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giving coast


Co-founder and Vice Chair of Save our Seabirds, Ann Anderson sees philanthropy take flight. Brittany Mattie | Photo by Wyatt Kostygan AN ANIMAL LOVER ALL HER LIFE, AND REAL HOOT WHEN SHE ENTERS A ROOM, Ann Anderson was destined to lead the fleet of a conservation

organization like Save Our Seabirds. After the Pelican Man Bird Sanctuary went bankrupt and closed in 2006, Ann was the driving force behind the relocation of Save Our Seabirds to Sarasota in 2008, and has continued to be one of its biggest supporter ever since as the organization’s Co-founder and Vice Chair. Adopted at seven weeks of age, Ann was fortunate to grow up in a happy, stable family in Rochester, Minnesota. “The origins of my philanthropic spirit go back to the beginning of my life,” she says. “I was adopted as an infant by two wonderful people who were empathetic and civic-minded. Their main message was that if one is lucky enough to be financially stable it was always important to give back to the community and to society.” That opportunity presented itself when her husband, Steve, started a biomedical company called CryoLife, Inc. It eventually went on the stock exchange, and Steve sold the company upon retirement at 75. “Once he sold the company, we had the money to do more than just survive,” she shares. “We could be philanthropic.” And having moved around more than the average pair, living in various parts of the country including Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN; St. Petersburg, FL; Lake Jackson, TX; Wisconsin and Atlanta, GA, the pair relished being able to migrate further south, much like Ann’s fellow feather friends, for more sun-filled days. “Falling in love with Sarasota was really what created the pathway to give back to the community,” she says. “I love this community, I wanted to give something back so that it can still have the beautiful aspects that we first appreciated when we started coming down here 20 years ago.” And about 10 years ago, the day before Ann was returning to Atlanta, she read a blurb in the Longboat Key Observer that a woman named Lee Fox was trying to get the Pelican Man Sanctuary on City Island back on its feet after the death of Dale Shields. She needed $30,000 to get it going and to get the Sarasota commissioners to agree to try to reopen it. “I called her and we made it happen,” Ann recalls. “Sarasota has organizations for the arts, for dance, for our beaches and waters and for other well-deserved things, but I noticed there was nothing for birds. Birds are such a beautiful and important part of our life here. I thought that they needed protection and a place where injured ones could be taken for rescue, rehabilitation and release.” Now retired and living on Longboat Key, Ann continues her work on the SOS Board by preserving habitats in the Sarasota area and ensuring the healthful rehabilitation of its many avian residents. “I love when I am in a Zoom meeting with our SOS board of directors. These are fabulous people from around the country who share my passion and are doing all they can to make Save Our Seabirds a success,” she says. “I believe in spite of all of the people who continue to arrive here, we need to continue to preserve the birds and the beauty of our area that originally appealed to us, and to them.” SRQ srq magazine_ DEC21 live local | 95


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giving coast AN SRQ SERIES | PART 1 of 2

The pandemic expanded the number of students turning to telehealth for mental health care. Written by Jacob Ogles | Photography by Wyatt Kosytgan

Riding the Zoom Wave

The pandemic in early 2020 forced snap changes in the way most people worked, learned and fundamentally lived. The change proved swift, jarring and unrelenting. The contoured surges and slumps in COVID-19 infections made a return to normalcy, if such a thing exists any longer, an inconsistent course with occasional reversals.


apy sessions moved from office couches to computer windows. Shifts came with cost. As discomforting feelings of isolation became more widespread, the delivery of mental health services became necessarily more remote. And the more time passes, the more it becomes clear some aspects of modern life may well have changed forever. Students at Ringling College of Art & Design, once abruptly told to leave behind their studios and high-tech tools on campus, have returned to campus. But even now, many classes continue to stream virtually. In the public schools, an effort to bring mental health professionals onto campus had to turn a significant part of its focus to reaching students and their families in their own homes. The pandemic has generated challenges in the field of mental health, including increases in feelings of depression and isolation. But it also spurred a move in a direction of helping people in their own homes instead of a foreign environment. In many cases, there are patients who don’t want to go back. 96 | srq magazine_ DEC21 live local


“This has really allowed us to connect with people in a different way,” said Dr. Kristie Skoglund, CEO for The Florida Center for Early Childhood. So the good news turns out to be that the benefits of telehealth and remote student service have turned up in expected and welcomed ways. The bad news, though, is that the demand for help is greater than ever. The pandemic brought with it stress, disconnection, and too often grief. Telehealth remains new if furtive ground, but the desire for face-to-face therapy remains strong. One thing is clear. The guidance counseling of yesteryear won’t ever change back to exactly what it was. Anxiety has impacted Ella Cruikshank since the third grade. It’s one of the reasons she’s seen a therapist since grade school, which has helped her manage her mental health by engaging with other students. Through her school, she connected four years ago with Dr. Stacie Herrera, who helped her manage her emotions and negotiate mental health challenges. “Mainly I have worked on my anxieties,” Ella says. “I was struggling just going to school.” But the therapy helped her to func-

tion fully throughout her life, while spending about an hour a week in counseling with Herrera. Then the pandemic in early 2020 introduced new stress into the life of people the world over, while bringing the threat of isolation, not only from the school environment she worked so hard to integrate with but away from her mental health support system. Fortunately, even before the pandemic, Herrera invested in telehealth capabilities, at first so her team of clinicians could more readily serve private and charter schools through the county. When COVID-19 and its social distancing protocols separated her from patients, video-conferencing helped restore that connection and a mental health lifeline. Suddenly, Ella could attend therapy again, and the Cardinal Mooney Catholic High student no longer needed a parent to drive her to sessions each week. She could speak with Herrera, not in a medical office but from the comfort of her own bedroom. “It’s easier for me to focus if that makes sense,” Ella says. “In person I get a little more anxious. Over the screen, it’s a little bit easier.” Ella’s case isn’t an isolated one. In fact, educaPHOTOGRAPHY BY WYATT KOSTYGAN.

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Left: Stacie Herrera,

licensed school psychologist of Herrera Psychology, zooming with a patient.

tion organizations say there’s been a significant increase in demand for mental health support. Mandi Coker, a mental health professional for the Sarasota County Schools, said in many ways demand has always been there. In a sense, a series of tragedies has finally allowed, even forced, the schools to meet it. “We are recognizing the needs of students and offering a full continuum of support,” she said. The school system started a process pre-pandemic of bringing more licensed mental health therapists into the schools. That began in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018 and the passage of legislation in that wake, said Debra Giacolone, executive director of Student Services for the Sarasota County Schools. “Sometimes something really tragic happens and something comes out of it,” she said. “In this case, we allocated funding for the first time to support mental health in schools.” The school district contracts with the Florida Center to place therapists in each elementary school on campus and with First Step to provide similar services to middle and high schools. But almost as soon as that pro-

gram could go into full effect, another trauma would strike the world. COVID-19 forced a change in how those therapy professionals interacted with students. Giacolone notes the term guidance counselor in itself has become outdated. Schools still staff up with certified school counselors to guide students through academia. But there’s now clearer differentiation between those helping students keep their college prep offerings on track and those aiding with the mental health of children in a challenging world. That brings its own staffing challenges, and she said the district has dealt with some professional departures in this challenging year. But the professional ranks never dipped to a level of “critical shortage.” Still, philanthropy in the region has made sure to assist when necessary. Jennifer Vigne, president of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, helped with funding for professional development and also has a pilot program specifically supplementing services for students in a foundation-managed mentoring program. But Vigne was quick to point at a number of other efforts in the

region providing broader support. The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Sarasota and Manatee Counties offers specific help to families in the area, much of it geared for those directly impacted by COVID-19. Suncoast Behavioral Health has dispatched nurses and psychiatric professionals to assist. In 2018, Herrera was among many health professionals to offer their students to the traumatized student body in Parkland following the death of 17 students and faculty on campus. She also studied the mental health problems that contributed to a former student arriving on campus with a gun to kill his peers. Data suggested mental health service improvements for schools and initiating therapeutic support for at-risk students could help reduce the risk of another such tragedy, or at least help survivors recover. Dr. Larry Thompson, president of Ringling College of Art & Design, said since the start of the 2021 academic year, the mental health division at the arts school has seen a greater level of demand than any other point in recorded history. “We have a robust counseling department, and 2021 was really bad with people having feelings of being depressed, lonely and isolated,” he said. “It was a really difficult year and we’ve had a much higher number of people seeking out our services. And we know this is still high even as we have had more opportunities for people to feel engaged and socializing.” The arts college faced a number of challenges from the beginning of the pandemic, but at least the school specializes in creativity. Technical problems, even daunting ones, were solved with innovation. Students sent home to school when all classes went virtual feared they could never finish computer-based projects that relied on the mega-processing-speed computers on campus. “I call them Ferrari computers because they work as fast and cost as much as one,” Thompson said. The IT department emulated a technique from NASA allowing students from remote locations to access the Ringling servers from afar the same way engineers in Cape Canaveral can control the Mars Rover from a planet away. But creativity requires human connection as well. Thompson describes the learning process in an arts field as much more collabosrq magazine_ DEC21 live local | 97


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rative than a typical academic letter. Imagine a sculpture student who can watch a teacher and learn the technique to hold a chisel from a professor. Perhaps this can be done through a Zoom window, though even that’s not preferred. But what comes next when the student must think of what to carve? In a studio of peers, one can look around at a dozen peers, each one making their own choices on scale, on shape, on subject. In a history exam, this may seem like looking over someone’s shoulders for answers on a test. At an art school, it’s a chance for inspiration lost to the flatness of a teleconference screen. Today, some liberal arts classes remain offered remotely, but Thompson said studio work resumed. About 30 percent of every student’s curriculum is now done by the internet, even though 100 percent of students are back doing in-person instruction on campus. “Students, in all frankness, will tell you they learn as much from their fellow students as our faculty,” Thompson said. Across the street at New College of Florida, a smaller student body also conducts about a third of classes virtually, and the rest in-person with faculty. At the state’s honors college, it’s largely dictated by the students how much of their work happens through a computer screen and how much gets done in labs and classrooms.

“A lot of students prefer in-person and like to sit with an individual instructor, but the downside is masks,” said Dr. Anne Fischer, program director for counseling and wellness. Protocols remain in place that require face coverings during indoor activities, and that hasn’t changed at New College since the beginning of the pandemic. Those rules won’t always be in place. But nevertheless, there are advantages students have explored. “Some stuff is better online.” It’s easier to set up a time to reach experts, on-campus or around the world, when people just need a Zoom connection. That’s also true with mental health services offered by the school. It’s easier to make appointments with counselors and students when everyone needs to just log on, not meet in an inconvenient location. “It’s something that adds to the availability we have with students,” Fischer said. “From what I understand, the same thing is happening in private practice. I imagine some things will remain online.” Indeed for Herrera, she sees long-term prospects for private counseling through remote therapy. Even as the world slowly returns to one another’s company — with lockdowns lifted, schools in session and immunizations on the rise — Herrera has continued to expand the availability of telehealth. With Telement, a new practice dedicated entirely

to providing mental health services remotely, she has been able to rely on clinicians with different specialties from around the country to help patients receive counseling more conveniently than ever before. “We have the best student clinicians working with students to achieve the best progress,” Herrera says. It’s a delivery method Herrera has seen potential in for years. Telehealth, Herrera said, seemed a key part of any service delivery. Professionals from around the country could help counsel a large population of students struck by a tragedy. And Herrera found school-age students had fewer hang-ups about going through therapy communicating through a dialog window on their phone or laptop. She also pointed to a delta variant surge this summer that hit Florida particularly hard just as the CDC advised the vaccinated could stop wearing masks and schools prepared to return to full in-school learning, a reminder that one can never tell when the need for remote counseling will instantly arrive anew. “We know telehealth reduces barriers,” she said. “It can reduce convenience barriers, and it reduces cost barriers for some families to access mental health. The great news is it’s no longer the same technical challenge.” SRQ

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SPIRIT OF GIVING CHAMPIONS SHARE THEIR STORIES Philanthropically-minded companies and individuals engage with an incredibly vibrant and diverse ecosystem of nonprofit organizations powering good in Sarasota and Manatee.



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at Depot is Sarasota’s leading feline-only free-roaming rescue, adoption, and education center recognized for excellence in ser ving the community and leadership in rescuing and finding homes for more than 18,500 homeless and abandoned cats and kittens since 2003. Cat Depot believes in treating ever y cat with humane kindness, love, and care.

TOGETHER – WE ARE CAT DEPOT! Cat Depot saves lives, finds loving homes, and provides resources and education needed to improve the destiny of homeless cats. Simply put – we help cats and the people who love them. With your help, our priority focus is to keep cats safe and healthy, in their homes, and our lifesaving programs running at full capacity: • RESCUE Cat Depot works daily to rescue abandoned, abused, injured, and free-roaming community/ feral cats and kittens. In 2021, Cat Depot assisted with local and national rescues due to both natural and man-made disasters. • ADOPTION Our goal is to find a good match and loving home for every cat who enters Cat Depot. Nearly 1,200 cats and kittens found forever homes this year through Cat Depot’s adoption program. • COMMUNITY FOOD BANK Cat Depot provides food for over 500 community cats and underserved personal pets each month. • CAT CARE CLINIC In an effort to care for sick and injured cats and their distressed owners, Cat Depot opened an affordable care clinic in November 2014. Over 4,000 cats and kittens receive treatment each year in the Cat Care Clinic. • HUMANE EDUCATION Cat Depot is continually working to offer and develop pertinent educational programs and activities that will meet the needs of both homeless cats and members of the community. Claudia A. Harden Director of Communications and Development



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CHILDREN FIRST AT CHILDREN FIRST, WE BELIEVE EVERY CHILD DESERVES THE OPPORTUNITY TO ACHIEVE THEIR FULL POTENTIAL. Ranked in the top 1 percent of over 1,800 Head Start programs in the country, our agency has provided high-quality early childhood education and family strengthening services to pregnant women, children ages birth to five, and their families for 60 years. As a Head Start Program of Excellence, Children First is one of nine agencies nationwide to receive this coveted designation, and one of just two to be named so four consecutive times. The education, care, and comprehensive services we offer ensure a healthy and strong foundation for success. Through Children First, children develop the social, emotional, and cognitive skills needed to enter kindergarten on track, and receive nutritious meals and an array of services to support their overall health. Every family works with a Family Advocate to set and meet financial, educational, and occupational goals. Advocates provide the encouragement and resources families need to move out of poverty. We support parents as the primary educators for their children and aim to assist parents in learning new skills as they work to accomplish goals and achieve self-sufficiency. An investment in children at their earliest age will pay social, educational, and economic dividends over the course of a child’s lifetime now, and for generations to come. As we celebrate our 60th anniversary, your philanthropy enables us to offer what every child and family deserves—access to the services they need to thrive and opportunities for success.

hildren First’s mission is to strengthen children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being. As the exclusive Early Head Start and Head Start provider for Sarasota County, our agency offers services at 15 locations across North Port, Sarasota, and Venice. We envision a vibrant community that cherishes education, provides opportunities for children and families to grow and thrive, and encourages and empowers families in supporting their children. Our award-winning Families First Institute offers free courses to parents and the public including parenting, budgeting, and career readiness to help families achieve self-sufficiency. Nearly 89 percent of families enrolled at Children First live at or below the Federal Poverty Level. The generosity of our community ensures children and families receive comprehensive services at little or no cost. Thank you to our families, staff, board of directors, volunteers, and supporters!




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EDUCATION FOUNDATION OF SARASOTA COUNTY THE EDUCATION FOUNDATION OF SARASOTA COUNTY BELIEVES THAT EDUCATION IS TRANSFORMATIVE, and we unite the community to prepare each and every student for life. These words frame our story of giving. What started over 30 years ago as teacher grants for classroom supplies has transformed into a comprehensive effort to ensure students graduate prepared to succeed. Today, 45% of high school seniors in Sarasota County Schools graduate without a plan. Yet in our high schools, the counselor-to-student ratio is 1:387. Today, only 42.5% of local workers ages 25 – 64 hold an associate degree or higher, but in 2025, according to the Florida College Access Network, 60% of Florida jobs will require education beyond high school. To ensure students can access one-on-one expert college, career, and life advising, we partnered with Sarasota County Schools to open Student Success Centers in four area high schools and at our community resource center, LaunchPad4U. We staff these centers with expert College Career Advisors who help students develop a plan. Students can access mentoring, college- and career-planning software, workshops, and many other valuable resources that empower them. We give back by honoring our amazing educators through our Ignite Education Teacher of the Year Awards. We empower teachers to transform their classrooms and innovate education through EducateSRQ Teacher and Schoolwide Grants. We convene teacher leaders so they can collaborate and network, solving problems in education. Giving back to our students and teachers is the best investment we can make—and we are committed to preparing students for life.

he Education Foundation’s mission is to enhance the potential of students, promote excellence in teaching, and inspire innovation in education, guided by strategic philanthropy. Our vision is to unite the community to prepare each and ever y student for life. Today, in the face of our fastchanging world, the urgency to empower students and teachers—and to innovate education—could not be greater. Students must progress through their K – 12 journey intentionally, with a college-, career-, and life-readiness mindset. A dynamic nonprofit, we are uniquely positioned to harness the collective power of community and education partners to support students and teachers across the education continuum. We can pivot when challenges appear in education’s changing landscape. With your help, we can deliver more innovative resources that empower our students and teachers. We invite all champions of education to partner with us in supporting our children today and for generations to come.



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umane Society of Manatee County is a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit animal welfare organization and is the lead animal welfare agency in Manatee County. The Humane Society of Manatee County operates the Second Chance Adoption Center located at 2515 14th Street W. and a veterinary clinic / high volume spay and neuter clinic at 2415 14th Street W. in Bradenton. Each year the Second Chance Adoption Center re-homes more than 700 dogs and cats that truly needed a second chance. In September of 2015, Humane Society of Manatee County opened a 10,000 sq. foot state of the art veterinary clinic that includes a high volume spay and neuter clinic, wellness services, x-ray, dentals, dermatology services and vaccines. The veterinary clinic provides high quality, low-to-moderate cost veterinary care for cats and dogs in Manatee County and neighboring counties. HSMC Veterinary Clinic is now a full service veterinary clinic that is open to the public by appointment.

HUMANE SOCIETY OF MANATEE COUNTY PHILANTHROPY ABOUNDS IN MANATEE COUNTY and Sarasota County year after year as donors, supporters and the business community continue to support hundreds of area non-profits. This support has not only allowed the Humane Society of Manatee County to continue our life saving work on behalf of the animals, but has also allowed for an expansion of our veterinar y clinic ser vices. In addition to re-homing more than 700 cats and dogs each year through our Second Chance Adoption Program, Humane Society of Manatee County’s Pet Retention Program works to keep animal companions and their human families together. Pet retention programs include a cat and dog food pantr y, behavioral training assistance and low-to-moderate cost veterinar y ser vices. Two great programs that need your support are the Angel Fund, which provides funding to help financially challenged owners get their animals the veterinar y care they deser ve and need for emergency cases. The Animal Cruelty Victims Fund has been established to fund veterinar y care needed for animals who have suffered from neglect or cruelty and are being cared for by our medical team. Online donations can be made by going to or donations can be mailed to 2515 14th Street W. Bradenton, Florida 34205. Humane Society of Manatee County’s strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency have earned it a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for five consecutive years. 2515 14TH STREET W. BRADENTON, FL 34205 | 941-747-8808 | HUMANEMANATEE.ORG CREATIVE MARKETING SECTION :: SRQ MAGAZINE DEC 2021 IN THE SPIRIT OF GIVING

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IMPACT100 SRQ IS ONE OF MORE THAN SIXTY CHAPTERS WORLDWIDE and joins its sister chapters in embracing the local collective giving model. Formed in 2018, Impact100 SRQ brings together a diverse group of women that annually funds transformational grants to local nonprofits in both Sarasota and Manatee Counties. The model is simple. At least 100 women, each give a $1,000 tax deductible donation, and together they collectively award grants in increments of at least $100,000 to local nonprofits in five focus areas: Arts & Culture, Education, Environment & Recreation, Family and Health & Wellness. Each member’s annual donation multiplies the power of giving and funds the innovative projects that make a high “impact” and a sustainable difference in our community. Impact100 SRQ has just completed its third giving year with 404 dedicated and passionate women who are committed to joining together to solve problems in our community. Since 2019, we have awarded 9 grants totaling an astounding $974,000 delivering durable initiatives that are transforming our community. Although it remains difficult year after year to narrow down our grant applicant finalists from so many deserving nonprofits in the community, the silver lining is that each nonprofit that submits a grant application receives greater visibility among hundreds of generous women who may individually consider lending their time, talent and treasure where needed.



mpact100 SRQ empowers women to collectively fund transformational grants to local nonprofits in Sarasota & Manatee counties. Together, we make a sustainable impact one grant at a time. IMPACT100 SRQ AT A GLANCE: • We invite women of all backgrounds, diverse and dynamic, to join us in awarding life changing grants to local nonprofits. • We are a 100% volunteer organization which allows 100% of member dues to be awarded to local nonprofits. • Each grant awarded is minimum of $100,000. • By leveraging their individual donations, the women of Impact are creating lasting change in the Sarasota/Manatee community while developing member leaders who will continue to be instruments for positive change. • All local 501c3 public nonprofit organizations are invited to complete our Letter of Eligibility form as the first step in our grant application process. • A ripple effect is being felt throughout the community with more women learning about nonprofit needs and addressing them with their time, talent, and treasure. • One Woman – One Vote – One Mission. For women feeling inspired by the Impact100 SRQ mission, now is the time to join. The Membership Drive for the 2022 giving year is open until February 28th, 2022. If you would like to learn more about Impact100 SRQ and how to become a member please go to



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LEE WETHERINGTON HOMES CREATING A COMMUNITY BUILT TO LAST, LIKE A LEE WETHERINGTON HOME. For more than four decades, Lee Wetherington Homes has taken pride in its forward-thinking, quality residential construction that places Suncoast customers’ wants and needs at the forefront. That same level of consideration is displayed through the longtime homebuilder’s reputation of charitable work and commitment to creating a community built to last like its homes. Giving back is a vital piece of the mission Lee Wetherington, the firm’s founder who remains personally involved in customer projects, has strived to fulfill through high-caliber construction. That includes his involvement, since 1991, in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County – even chairing the building committee tasked with funding and constructing three clubs in Sarasota, Venice and North Port. He’s contributed more than $600,000, through the success of Lee Wetherington Homes, to children via the Kids in College Scholarship Fund and the Boys & Girls Clubs Capital Endowment. This passion for charitable giving – among longtime support for programs like United Way of Sarasota County, Harvest House and more – spurred the creation of the Lee Wetherington Foundation, which awards grants focused toward disadvantaged youth that went unassisted by governmental or charitable organizations. The organization seeks to help children build lasting friendships, improve academics and critical skills ranging from leadership to service, entrepreneurial training and college and career prep.


o share the blessings we have received with those in our community who are less fortunate, and help where we can when others cannot.

• Since its inception, the Lee Wetherington Foundation has donated over $2 million in grants to deserving non-profit organizations throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties. • Lee Wetherington, the local homebuilder’s longtime founder who remains involved in customer projects, has supported the Boys & Girls Clubs across the Suncoast since 1991. • Through the success of Lee Wetherington Homes, its founder and firm have built or refurbished Boys & Girls Clubs at various locations in Sarasota and Manatee counties. • Since establishing the Lee Wetherington Foundation in 2002 with an initial gift of $1 million, the fund has expanded its focus on impacting less-fortunate, disadvantaged youth. • Lee Wetherington Homes has championed Harvest House since 2016, when it helped buy nine duplexes now utilized as transitional residences for 18 formerly homeless families. • United Way of Sarasota County has been supported by Lee Wetherington Homes since 1992.

7590 FRUITVILLE RD., SARASOTA, FL 34240 | 941-922-3480 | LWHOMES.COM


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t Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, we are scientists, explorers and stewards of the ocean. We are an independent, nonprofit marine research institution comprising world-class marine scientists committed to the belief that the conservation and sustainable use of our oceans begins with research and education. Through our working labs, various research programs, public Aquarium and outreach & educational programs, we work together to create a better environment for ourselves and our children. The ocean is our passion. Science is our catalyst to help the ocean heal, thrive and continue to be a haven of sustainable life, life-improving science and life-giving solutions.


MOTE MARINE LABORATORY IN 1955, MOTE MARINE LABORATORY & AQUARIUM started as a small, one-room laboratory in a southwest Florida town. Originally focused on sharks, Mote has grown to include more than 200 employees, including more than 30 Ph.D. scientists. Mote conducts groundbreaking research with more than 20 diverse research programs focusing on the challenges facing our oceans today while addressing future impacts. Knowing that our existence is tied to the fate of our oceans, the advancement of this kind of research is vital to unlocking potential solutions to some of today’s most daunting global challenges. The research and conservation efforts have expanded to include restoring hundreds of thousands of coral fragments onto degraded Florida reef; restocking populations of common snook, one of Florida’s most important sportfishes that contributes to our thriving tourism and outdoors economy; rescuing and rehabilitating hundreds of sea turtles and marine mammals entangled in fishing gear or struck by boats; using technology to find solutions to harmful algae blooms; protecting the ever-growing number of sea turtle nests on local beaches; and much more. The oceans support life as we know it, providing the food we eat, the recreation we enjoy, the very air we breathe. Oceans cover about 70% of Earth, and the challenges they face are equally vast. Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is advancing research-based solutions to ensure our oceans can heal and thrive. Help us put leading-edge marine science and ocean conservation into action. 1600 KEN THOMPSON PKWY, SARASOTA, FL, 34232 | 941-388-4441 | MOTE.ORG/GIVE


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ince 2008, Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue has been dedicated to helping neglected, abandoned and mistreated dogs and cats find loving homes. Each year, with the help of countless volunteers and an incredibly suppor tive community, we are able to save thousands of at-risk animals and care for them at our eight-acre, no kill shelter and adoption facility on Lorraine Road in Lakewood Ranch. With your continued help, we can expand our campus and increase our scope of ser vices to save even more homeless animals ever y year. Not only will we be able to help more animals find a home, but we will also be able to help them stay in their loving homes by providing impor tant resources to pet owners, ranging from veterinar y care and training classes to assistance with food and essential supplies.


MEET ROWLIE. She was about two weeks old when she was found critically injured in the parking lot of Rowlett Elementary School in Bradenton. Nate’s Honor Animal Rescue rushed in to help, providing the emergency medical treatment she needed to survive, lots of love and care, and eventually found her a forever home. Rowlie is just one of the thousands of helpless and homeless dogs and cats that we rescue each year. And we can save even more animals when we have the extra room and resources to do so. That’s why we embarked on a $10 million campus expansion plan, called Journey Home, that will double our current life-saving capacity, create an all-new kitty city and serve as a resource for pet owners in the community. The enhanced campus plans include a new 20,000-sq.-ft. adoption center, a 4,000-sq.-ft. behavior and training center, and a 5,000-sq.-ft. intake building that will allow us to house and treat sick and special needs animals being transferred from other shelters where they would have otherwise been euthanized. Other site improvements include an access to care veterinary clinic for our community, a children’s hands-on education room, a dog water play area, and a community event space. We have reached about 73% of our fundraising goal and hope that you’ll join us on this final stretch of our Journey Home. Together, we can expand to better serve our community – humans and animals alike. Our expansion allows for bigger capacity, better facilities and a broader scope of services for pet owners and their beloved pets.



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ntertain, educate and engage the community through high-quality live theatre.


• For nearly a century, the area’s original performing arts organization has served as the foundation creating what’s now known as Florida’s Cultural Coast. • Support the creativity of an entire community by attending The Players Centre’s ongoing 92nd season of shows, which run through March 2022. • Volunteers are needed, ranging from auditioning for a role to assisting with the tech team, box office and more. • Generous donations to the Center Stage Capital Campaign help introduce the nation’s fastest-growing multi-generational community and the entire region to easily accessible arts and culture just minutes from I-75.

THE FUTURE, STARRING YOU. For 92 years, The Players Centre for Performing Arts has united people across the Suncoast by producing high-quality shows that entertain thousands of patrons annually throughout the area. That, at its core, is the purpose of community theatre – a judgement-free, inclusive stage designed to show locals the benefits of arts and culture regardless of personal background or economic status. The key piece is people, ranging from patrons to actors, ushers and other volunteers, who are dedicated to cultivating an inspirational and creative area for all to live, work and play. The Players Centre aims to shine the spotlight on Lakewood Ranch and provide easy, region-wide access to locally produced live theatre. It’s a plan achieved through the Center Stage Capital Campaign – the nonprofit organization’s ongoing initiative to raise $26.5 million to build a two-stage, multi-use facility in Waterside Place. The Players Centre’s new performing arts home, opening in 2025, will impact more than 60,000 people annually through exposure to high-quality shows that promote multi-generational creativity and broaden the reach of the arts into households previously untouched. The community’s future, ultimately, stars you. Visit to learn more about the Center Stage Capital Campaign, attending The Players Centre’s ongoing season of shows and more. THE PLAYERS CENTRE FOR PERFORMING ARTS BOX OFFICE: 941-365-2494 | BOXOFFICE@THEPLAYERS.ORG STUDIO & MAILING | 1400 BLVD. OF THE ARTS, SUITE 200, SARASOTA, FL 34236

• The Center Stage Capital Campaign will fund the construction of The Players Centre’s new permanent home, which features a main stage, black box theatre and extension of The Players Studio. SCAN HERE AND DONATE TO THE CENTER STAGE CAPITAL CAMPAIGN.


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his year, The Sarasota Ballet celebrates its 31st Season of infusing our community with the highest quality and diversity of dance in America. Since Director Iain Webb’s appointment as Director in 2007, the Company has received national and international attention, especially through preserving ballet history and bringing attention to the works of renowned British choreographer, Sir Frederick Ashton. In addition, The Sarasota Ballet School provides professional instruction for students of all ages, and The Margaret Barbieri Conservatory prepares pre-professional level students for a performing career in classical ballet. We invite you to join us this Season as we mark Director Iain Webb’s 15th Anniversary of Company leadership, along with our exciting return to live ballet performance in pursuit of our mission to enrich lives, captivate emotions, and strengthen our community through the art of dance.


THE SARASOTA BALLET SHARING THE ARTISTRY OF BALLET WITH THE SARASOTA COMMUNITY has been integral to The Sarasota Ballet since our very beginning. In 1991, Dance–The Next Generation (DNG) was founded by Jean Weidner Goldstein and was designed as a dance program to directly impact underserved children in the local community. Each year DNG averages an enrollment of around 165 students, from third to twelfth grade, regardless of background, ability, or financial status. The Sarasota Ballet provides tuition free of charge to the families of children in Title 1 schools who are considered at risk of dropping out. Initially the focus was on classical ballet instruction, but the program has since expanded to include jazz, dance composition, and elements of dance. But DNG is more than a dance program. The goal was and remains to nurture the development of the entire individual with emphasis on discipline, self-esteem, and the desire for higher education. In recent years, The Sarasota Ballet has focused on expanding its Community Engagement programs, providing access and opportunity at little or no cost. These programs enable thousands of students, families, and people of all ages to explore the world of dance. The Sarasota Ballet partners with public schools in the Sarasota community to bring dance into schools and provide opportunities for students to attend ballet per formances, allowing thousands of students to experience dance, often for the first time. Also included among The Sarasota Ballet’s Community Engagement initiatives is Joyful Movement Through Parkinson’s, in partnership with the Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s; courses are designed for people living with Parkinson’s disease to help with range of motion, coordination, and mobility. The Sarasota Ballet believes that the gift of dance is for everyone to enjoy.



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FOR OVER 45 YEARS, THE HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION has worked together with Sarasota Memorial Health Care System to ensure a healthy future for our community through meaningful grants. The Healthcare Foundation is currently fundraising for two major healthcare initiatives at Sarasota Memorial: Bringing hope to patients and families facing cancer: The Leading with Care campaign is generating support for the Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute so that cancer patients can receive comprehensive care close to home. The first two phases are complete. The Radiation Oncology Center opened in 2020 and the Oncology Tower on the SMH-Sarasota Campus opened in November. Planning is under way for an outpatient pavilion on the SMH-Sarasota campus and a cancer care center on the SMH-Venice campus. Supporting those struggling with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues: The Healthcare Foundation recently announced a transformational gift to support the creation of the Cornell Family Behavioral Health Pavilion at SMH. Slated to begin construction early 2022, the new facility will enhance, expand and centralize care for people of all ages affected by mental and behavioral health challenges



arasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation is the philanthropic partner that helps Sarasota Memorial Health Care System bring world-class care to our community. Gifts to the Healthcare Foundation provide critical resources in the following areas:

• Patient Care Maintaining the highest standards in patient care is the cornerstone of our health system. • Education Continuing education guarantees healthcare providers receive the most current information available. • Technology Staying on the leading edge of today’s technology means patients benefit from the latest advances. • Research Ongoing clinical research is integral in offering lifesaving and life-improving advances.

1515 S. OSPREY AVE., SUITE B4, SARASOTA, FL 34239 941-917-1286 | SMHF.ORG

• Facilities First-rate facilities are fundamental to the delivery of quality care and medical services.


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THE BISHOP MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND NATURE THE BISHOP MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND NATURE HAS BEEN REHABILITATING WILD MANATEES since 1998 and was a founding member of the Manatee Rescue and Rehabilitation Partnership in 2001. As one of only three Stage 2 rehabilitation facilities in Florida, The Bishop cares for recovering manatees, freeing much-needed emergency space so that seriously ill and injured manatees can be treated in critical-care units elsewhere. Spending time in our Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat allows manatees time to finish the recovery process, grow and prepare for their return to the wild. Florida’s wild manatees are facing more challenges than ever. This year, we’ve lost more manatees than any other year in our state’s history. Manatees need our help and your monthly support as a Bishop Foster Friend will make it possible. A monthly contribution of just $25 will help feed and care for rehabilitating manatees until they are healthy enough to go home. And any gift made today will be matched through Florida Power & Light Company’s charitable arm, the NextEra Energy Foundation, up to $20,000. You can become a BFF to The Bishop’s rehabilitating manatees by giving monthly to support their care and feeding, or, by supporting the manatee rehabilitation program with a one-time gift. However you decide to support the manatees, you will receive special gifts, invitations, and experiences based on your level of giving.



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he Tidewell Foundation provides perpetual philanthropic support to sustain and grow the critically important programs and services provided through the not-for-profit mission of Tidewell Hospice and its family of companies. As the only not-for-profit hospice serving Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee, and Sarasota counties, the success of Tidewell’s 40+ year mission depends on the support of Tidewell Foundation donors. Our services go far beyond hospice, extending to grief counseling for children, music therapy, professional development for nurses, special programs for veterans, and so much more. Driven by compassion, we care for those who need it most. We lift people up, no matter how challenging, one visit, one patient, one family at a time.


ONE RELATIONSHIP AT A TIME, WE CONNECT OUR DONORS’ PASSIONS WITH OUR MISSION. We facilitate the magic of donors’ visions and legacies by creating life-changing opportunities to invest with us. These generous gifts open new possibilities for the world-class care nearly 10,000 patients receive each year, including the 8,000 people served through Tidewell Hospice’s grief services. People of all ages are eligible for grief services at no cost — whether or not their loved one was a Tidewell Hospice patient. Our donor-supported investments have fueled the expansion of Tidewell’s Blue Butterfly program for grieving children and families into underserved communities, as well as our new Tidewell Family Grief Center in Ellenton. This first-of-its-kind facility in our region is providing holistic grief support for individuals, families, and the community. Donors are also helping to provide hands-on training to develop the next generation of hospice nurses and home healthcare aides — roles that have proven essential to Tidewell Hospice’s exceptional care amid the pandemic — along with charity care for our patients who are too young to qualify for Medicare. Beyond these opportunities, our donors play a vital role in the expansion of programs such as Tidewell Honors Veterans, a comprehensive program focused on respectfully celebrating veterans and providing care that recognizes the unique challenges that may exist in military families. Music therapy, which harnesses the healing power of music to alleviate patients’ stress and pain, is another transformative program. Through your generosity, the Tidewell Foundation is advancing care and compassion for all.



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WISHLIST • Send a Kid to Camp: By supporting YMCA Summer Camp, you are providing children the opportunity to have the Best Summer Ever™ where they will create memories that last a lifetime. • Prepare Children for Kindergarten: By supporting YMCA Early Learning programs, you are providing children the opportunity to gain school readiness skills to be prepared for kindergarten and beyond. • Create Healthy Families and Communities: By supporting YMCA Health Innovations programs, you are providing individuals access to life-changing programming that supports health and well-being, fights chronic disease and empowers people to lead healthier lives. • Nurture the Potential of Every Child: By supporting Before and After School Enrichment programs, you are providing children the opportunity to learn in a safe environment that allows them to thrive. • Help Prevent Childhood Drowning: By supporting YMCA Safety Around Water and swim lesson programs, you are providing children access to water safety programming that helps develop life-saving skills that reduce the potential for drowning.

YMCA OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA FOR 54 YEARS, YMCA OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA has been a leading nonprofit committed to strengthening community by connecting all people to their potential, purpose and each other. YMCA of Southwest Florida operates eight YMCA facilities, two charter middle schools, four early learning academies and various camps and after school programs across Southwest Florida from Manatee County to Bonita Springs. By bringing together people from different backgrounds, perspectives and generations, we ensure that everyone has access to the opportunities, relationships and resources necessary to learn, grow and thrive. YMCA programs and services are focused on our primary areas of impact that help people achieve their goals and strengthen communities. As an inclusive, cause-driven organization, YMCA of Southwest Florida is committed to youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Giving back and providing support to our neighbors is the heartbeat of the Y. The Y’s mission is to ensure life-changing programs, services and resources are available to all. In our communities, the Y has the presence and partnerships to not just promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. In partnering with the Y, you can feel confident your gift is making a positive impact.



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All Faiths Food Bank is the only food bank and largest hunger relief organization in Sarasota and DeSoto counties, providing millions of meals each year with nearly 200 agencies and programs throughout the community. All Faiths works not only to fight hunger today but also strives to end hunger – forever – by helping families and individuals gain long-term food security, enjoy better health outcomes, and achieve selfsufficiency. All Faiths is rated 4 stars by Charity Navigator. AS THE HOLIDAYS APPROACH, most of us are eagerly anticipating the joys of the season. But for those who are struggling, the holidays are a stark reminder of ongoing financial challenges and worry. You can make a difference for area children, families, veterans and seniors by helping All Faiths Food Bank turn empty plates into ThankFULL tummies and hearts. With a gift to the ThankFULL campaign, you can make it possible for our neighbors to enjoy a festive holiday celebration complete with a healthy, delicious meal. This year, our goal is to distribute more than 12,500 turkeys and sides, and a total of 3.2 million holiday meals. Let’s make it possible for everyone to be ThankFULL this holiday – please consider sharing the joy of the season by giving today. 8171 BLAIKIE COURT SARASOTA FL 34240 | 941-379-6333 ALLFAITHSFOODBANK.ORG

BIG CAT HABITAT & GULF COAST SANCTUARY A 501C3 NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION, our mission is to provide a safe, loving and permanent home for exotic and domestic animals in need, and to educate our guests on the importance of species preservation to ensure the survival of these magnificent animals for future generations. We are firmly committed to keeping alive the Human-Animal connection in our world and in our community. Big Cat Habitat is able to provide care and support to over 300 animals thanks to the generous donations from our supporters, and from gate admission revenues. All of the funds that we receive directly impact the lives of the animals in our care: from our goats, tortoises and primates to our wolves, big cats and bears! Every animal is provided with special diets, enrichments and habitats that are specifically designed for their species’ needs. We share this community and the world with all these beautiful fauna, and it is important that we each do our part to secure their future existence; therefore we make it our goal to educate children and adults about the importance of conservation for animals and their habitats. 7101 PALMER BLVD. SARASOTA, FL 34240 | 941-371-6377 BIGCATHABITAT.ORG INFO@BIGCATHABITAT.ORG @BIGCATHABITAT IN THE SPIRIT OF GIVING CREATIVE MARKETING SECTION :: SRQ MAGAZINE DEC 2021

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3130 FRUITVILLE ROAD, SARASOTA, FL 34237 941-366-3911 | BGCSDC.ORG To make a difference or leave your own legacy, please visit


2075 BAHIA VISTA ST., SARASOTA, FL 34239 941-355-9335 | CIRCUSARTS.ORG

IMAGINE THE MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE WHEN YOU DISCOVERED A PASSION OR EXPLORED AN OPPORTUNITY. The time your eyes were opened to a world of possibilities. The instant the lightbulb turned on and the vision of your future became clear. The local youth found inside Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties are not unlike our younger selves – full of hope, optimism and potential. And with your help, our Club members can experience that moment every day at one of our six Club locations. We invite you to See Yourself Here and recognize the significant impact your support can have on a child’s life. The leaders of tomorrow are at Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties today. Our area’s youth are destined for greatness, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties is ensuring they have the knowledge and tools they need to become the next generation of community leaders. You can give the gift of a great future this holiday season, and help our community’s future leaders discover their true potential.

The mission of The Circus Arts Conservatory is to engage and educate students using innovative learning programs; to measurably improve the quality of life for individuals in care facilities; and to advance the extraordinary legacy of the circus. This mission underscores The CAC’s commitment to sharing the entertainment, education, and enrichment that Circus Arts provide. GIVING IS A TWO-WAY STREET. When you give, you also receive. The Circus Arts Conservatory is in its 24th year of giving to our community. Acclaimed circus artists give performances Under the Big Top. Thousands of alumni have succeeded in their lives through the unique training of Sailor Circus Academy - The Greatest Little Show on Earth, and the longest running youth circus in America. The CAC is home to the first Circus Arts Magnet Programs for middle and high schools and has a history of teaching science in the classroom using an exceptional arts integrated curriculum. In return, the CAC is blessed with hundreds of faithful donors. Most importantly, our community’s support elevates the CAC as the epicenter of Circus in America. Photography by Daniel Perales.


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FLORIDA STUDIO THEATRE (FST) IS SARASOTA’S CONTEMPORARY THEATRE. Founded in 1973, FST has grown to a village of five theatres. FST is the largest subscription theatre in the state and among the largest in the country, serving more than 230,000 live event attendees each year across its diverse programs. Hip and historical, entertaining and challenging, we are the theatre where everyone is welcome to engage in the art. It is FST’s mission to make theatre accessible and affordable to as many people as possible. In keeping with this mission, FST is committed to keeping our prices low, so that everyone, from all backgrounds and walks of life, can experience high quality, professional theatre. In addition, FST makes theatre accessible through its Scholarship Program, covering enrollment costs for 15% of FST School students every year. Here’s one parent’s story: “We were actually paying for FST theatre classes and then the pandemic hit and I couldn’t afford it anymore,” said Clau C. “I felt so bad that I could no longer provide these classes for my daughter. Then FST called me and offered her a full scholarship. It was such a blessing.” Please consider making a gift to FST this holiday season so we can touch even more hearts through the art of theatre.

1241 NORTH PALM AVENUE SARASOTA, FL 34236 | 941-366-9000 FLORIDASTUDIOTHEATRE.ORG Photo credit: Ryan Morales in “The Wanderers.” Photo by John Jones.



CELEBRATING 35 YEARS OF SERVICE ON THE FLORIDA SUNCOAST, JFCS of the Suncoast continues the Jewish tradition of helping all people, regardless of their religious preference, by offering multi-faceted initiatives that support the individual needs of seniors, veterans, families, and vulnerable youth. This year, JFCS continued to support those deeply affected by COVID-19 in numerous ways. We continued to provide financial assistance to area families having distributed over $600,000 to over 400 families since the onset of the pandemic. We partnered with local churches and neighboring non-profits to distribute 1,800 free meals in Sarasota County and Manatee County. JFCS also collaborated with the Suncoast Women of Action and the Amaryllis Park Neighborhood Association to host a pop-up vaccination event at the Betty J. Johnson North Sarasota Public Library, where over 25 people received their first dose of a vaccine, on Sat., July 24. Recently, we began offering free mental health counseling to veterans and healthcare workers. Lastly, JFCS has launched its Adopt-a-Family and Adopt-a-Senior campaigns to solicit donations for seniors and families who need help during the holiday season. More information about all of our programs is available on our website,


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THE NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL ILLNESS (NAMI) SARASOTA AND MANATEE COUNTIES ONE IN 5 ADULTS IN THE UNITED STATES LIVE WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS and, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that number has drastically increased – with 1 in 3 adults reporting experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression. We expect the need for support to only rise as we hopefully come out of the pandemic sooner rather than later. NAMI peer volunteers bring programs to a wide variety of community settings and are focused on providing safe, welcoming, supportive and non-stigmatizing environments. With the unique understanding of people with lived experience, these programs and support groups provide outstanding free education, skills training and support for individuals living with mental illness, their families and caregivers. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI Sarasota and Manatee Counties mission is to improve the lives of individuals with mental illness, as well as their families and caregivers, through support, education, awareness, and advocacy. Our vision is that Sarasota and Manatee Counties are communities in which people with mental illness can recover and lead productive lives free from stigma.




TRAUMA IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST PUBLIC HEALTH CRISES FACING OUR COUNTRY and is linked to mental health disorders, substance use, health problems, and homelessness. COVID-19 has exacerbated an already troubling situation with abuse rates on the rise and first responders/helping professionals working longer hours under heightened health risks. That is why we recently embarked on our Road to Resilience Capital Campaign to build a retreat center to host day programs, and multi-day retreats for trauma survivors and first responders/ helping professionals. Our goal is to have one location where community members not just survive their trauma, but thrive by participating in evidence-based programs that address the impact of trauma on the mind, body, and spirit, such as support groups, neurofeedback, meditation, equine therapy, art therapy, yoga, and more. Founded in 2018 Resilient Retreat is the leader in traumainformed care for abuse survivors and helping professionals in our community. We cultivate hope because we see the potential in each person so that the mind, body and spirit can thrive. The need for our services continues to grow with a 196% increase in participants served last year. Please join us on our Road to Resilience by scheduling a tour today! www.


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THE FLORIDA CENTER OF EARLY CHILDHOOD WHEN OLIVER, 5, FIRST CAME TO THE FLORIDA CENTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD, he was suffering from a “mirror movement disorder” that caused the one side of his body to mimic the actions of the other. He had limited mobility in his left hand and foot, both of which stayed in clenched positions. Oliver’s parents, Kaitlyn and Scott, enrolled him in The Florida Center’s Starfish Academy preschool where he received occupational and social-emotional therapies throughout his day. After two years of treatment, Oliver has achieved a full range of motion in his hand and almost completely overcome his physical disorder. He has also developed better social skills, coping mechanisms and independence. When you support The Florida Center, you help children like Oliver receive life-changing developmental services enabling them to reach their full potential. Donate today at Over 90 percent of every dollar donated goes back into our programs. The Florida Center’s mission is to help build and foster strong families and expand the potential of young children. • 4620 17TH ST. SARASOTA, FL 34235 • 6929 OUTREACH WAY, NORTH PORT, FL34287 INFO@THEFLORIDACENTER.ORG THEFLORIDACENTER.ORG 941-371-8820

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Learn Coding With a Coach and Your Peers Welcome to theCoderSchool, a place where kids learn to code all year round (and, due to social distancing, kids are learningremote too) Rather than using static onesize-fits-all curriculums, our core program uses an immersion and mentoring approach in a super-small student to teacher ratio (typically 2:1). This allows our Code Coaches® to personalize and customize based on the students, making for a much more engaging experience. Instead of linear learning of concepts from a curriculum, we immerse the kids in coding by building stuff and then building more stuff. —The Coder School of Sarasota

Creativity in Music Celebrating 30 years of music education in Sarasota, the Suzuki Institute offers a full program of music instruction with highly qualified teachers all year-round, with flexible hours. Lessons are available for all ages and skill levels, from beginner to adult, for violin, drums/percussion, guitar, piano, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet and flute. Registration is now open for lessons taught by expert and experienced teachers. —Suzuki Institute School of Music

Getting Your Smile On Freeman Orthodontics is committed to providing you and your family with exceptional orthodontic care in a welcoming, attentive and professional environment. Dr. David Freeman (a Board Certified Orthodontist) and his team are trusted and well known throughout the community for their quality care, treatment results and community involvement for over 16 years. —Freeman Orthodontics

Join The Sarasota Ballet School Community We are delighted to be back in the studio again. We offer continuous registration, so it’s never too late to register your child to take lessons in person or virtually via ZOOM. The Sarasota Ballet School provides professional instruction for students of all ages. We offer the very best in training in beautiful new studios at our Rosemary Square location in the heart of downtown Sarasota. Our programs offer students ages three and above the opportunity to discover the joy of dance. Each class is fun, engaging and builds confidence, technique and develops lifelong skills. Be part of our friendly family community with many students and parents developing new friendships through their love of dance. —The Sarasota Ballet School

Go Wild With Sarasota Jungle Gardens


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We are a family-owned and operated attraction beloved by generations. We educate and delight children, and those young at heart, with the less hurried, non-manufactured, up close and personal interactions with nature. In fact, we are one of the oldest continuously operated attractions in Florida established in 1939. We are rich in history and look to preserve memories of ‘Old Florida’ days gone by while remaining current and exciting for today’s families, locals and tourists alike. —Sarasota Jungle Gardens


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County’s largest, fully accredited private Christian school, has been preparing the hearts and minds of Gods’ children for over 60 years. “By providing a solid academic foundation based on God’s word, BCS shapes young lives to be prepared to take on higher education,” Superintendent Dan Vande Pol says. “Students are poured into by caring Christian teachers while building lifelong friendships from PK3 thru 12th grade.” The college preparatory institution includes many honors-level and advanced placement classes, including the AP Capstone Program. An award-winning fine arts program is available for middle and high school students. The

campus rests on 24 acres with separate elementary, middle, and high school buildings. The McClure Center for Fine Arts & Technology houses the art and music departments, two computer labs, and a library. The year-old Pentecost Athletic Center includes a 60,000 square foot two-story state-ofthe-art gymnasium with new artificial turf football, soccer, baseball, softball, and lacrosse fields. Interscholastic sports are available at middle and high school levels with many championship-caliber teams. The BCS Preschool offers classes for both three and four-year-olds and accepts the VPK voucher provided by Manatee County.


Bradenton Christian School is Christ-centered, with over 920 students enrolled for the 2021-2022 school year. Students from Christian families with different backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures attend BCS for a rigorous academic program while attending weekly chapel with their fellow students and teachers. BCS’s focus has always been on a solid Christian education for families in Manatee County and the surrounding area since opening its doors in 1960.


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nterview with the Forty Carrots Community Speaker Dr. Tina Payne Bryson

Showing Up

DR. TINA PAYNE BRYSON is the author of the Bottom Line for Baby and co-author (with Dan

Siegel) of two New York Times Best Sellers—The Whole-Brain Child and No-Drama Discipline— each of which has been translated into over 50 languages, as well as The Yes Brain and The Power of Showing Up. She is the Founder and Executive Director of The Center for Connection, a multidisciplinary clinical practice in Southern California. Dr. Bryson conducts workshops for parents, educators and clinicians all over the world, and she frequently consults with schools, businesses and other organizations.  The most important part of her bio, she says, is that she’s a mom to her three boys. Dr. Bryson shares with our readers her thoughts on parenting in today’s chaotic world.

SRQ: Tell us a little about yourself and your current book. Dr. Tina Payne Bryson: Most importantly, I’m a mom to three boys who range in age from 15 to 21. I’ve got two away at college and one still at home. I had never planned on writing books. I had never planned on being a licensed clinical social worker or running an interdisciplinary clinical practice for mental health, speech and language, assessment and occupational therapy. My plan was to be a high school English teacher. I was always a very curious person and in grad school, I was really frustrated and my professors, I’m sure, were frustrated with me because I kept asking questions they couldn’t give me satisfactory answers for. One day, I went to a conference and Dan Siegel was the keynote speaker. He talked about the framework of interpersonal neurobiology and about the nervous system and relationships. So basically the mind, brain and relationships and how they all interact to shape who we are. And immediately, I told my mom, I have a professional crush and I have to follow this guy. I have to learn. So as I was working on my PhD, I also started studying with Dan. I was really trying to pull all that together. And then I learned more and more about interpersonal neurobiology and about how understanding our brains and our nervous systems could change how we understood ourselves, how we understood our children’s behaviors and then how we could respond in more effective ways. And so that’s really how it came about. It was me chasing the passion of this science and its applicability that made me really want to share it with people. And so that’s how “The Whole-Brain Child” came about. I was thinking about these ideas of interpersonal neurobiology, applying them in the parenting trenches and teaching my kids about their brains. And I told Dan, I want to write a book about this with you. And everybody wanted to write a book with Dan at this point, but he loved the idea and that’s how it came to be. So we guess we’ve written these four books together and I’m still floored by how much impact they’ve had in the world. We’re so honored to have done that.

I had a similar conversation with Dan in 2017 on this topic. As an outsider, it feels to me like there’s a simplistic way to say it’s nature versus nurture, but there’s less and less openness to tackle issues of where people come from or where they start from. Well, it’s really important that we’re all humble about what we know and what the science is. I absolutely trust science. I’m guided by good science and all science is not equal. The brain

124 | srq magazine_ DEC21 live local | special RocketKids winter 2021 special section

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Interview with Dr. Tina Payne Bryson


is the most complex thing in the known universe. So what we think we know and understand, we can come to understand differently. Also, we really need to make sure that we’re listening to experts who are trained in the field. And a lot of times when people get push back, it’s because they’ve been listening to people who actually aren’t trained in these fields and they’re misinformed. A lot of what I think is the crucial work that Dan and I are doing, is to change the whole culture around how we see and understand kids’ behaviors and how we respond.

How is that culture or the danger of that canceling opportunity affecting, developing young people? For everyone, and particularly for teenagers, being kicked out of your tribe is akin to potential death and demise. Because if you think historically about the evolution of the brain, if we got kicked out of our tribe, we were more vulnerable to getting eaten by the lion. So having social ostracization is really one of the most threatening things that can happen. And so I think as we progress to think about having higher levels of accountability for what we do and say, there are definitely benefits to that. And it does make us more prone to having our nervous systems be in higher states of threat.

In today’s climate, people are hyper antagonistic and aggressive about certain topics. Our kids see it. Is there a better way for us to model? That’s a great question. And add to that the constant input and stimuli through our televisions, radios and devices. We’re constantly being bombarded with these very things. As parents, we are meaning makers for our children. The research is showing that the kids who have done well or haven’t done as well in the last 18 months, given all the circumstances, the biggest determinant was how their parents were doing. Just like when our kids would fall, but wouldn’t get that hurt. They would look at our faces and if we looked upset, they would cry. But if they looked at our faces and we were calm, they might not cry. So they really still, even throughout their young adult years, look to us as to determine, to create, to construct their own meaning based on how we’re responding to things.

How can those parents who are so fused with anxiety recognize what they’re doing and then reduce what they’re passing along to their kids? When you really think about what anxiety is, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not necessarily pathology. The problem is when either the threat doesn’t go away and you’re staying in that kind of chronic reactivity, or when the actual threat is not appropriate for our reaction. We have to differentiate between anxiety that’s appropriate and healthy and anxiety that is not so healthy or appropriate. If we can move ourselves into that place of curiosity and understand that anxiety really is a nervous system that is dialed up too far, then the intervention is what we do to soothe and settle our nervous systems. Neuroception is your nervous system determining whether something is threatening or whether it’s safe. There are ways we can cultivate neuroception of safety and one of the best ways, and I have a short video of this on my website, is to use safety based messaging instead of threat based messaging. This is super simple. It’s just changing your words. So for example, instead of saying, “Wash your hands, I don’t want you to get sick, you’ve got germs all over your hands,” we say, “Wash your hands and you can be safe and healthy.” Or, instead of saying, “Wear a mask so you don’t get sick,” say, “we’re going to wear a mask so we stay healthy.” We just really are switching the terms. We’re holding the same boundaries, we’re having the same expectations, but we’re reinforcing safety-based messaging. When I say to my kid, “Hey, wash your hands, so your hands are clean and we stay healthy” I’m also communicating implicitly to them, I’m in charge here. I’ve got you. If we’re out of control, how are kids supposed to trust us to be in charge and to make sure that they’re safe. Now the best part about that, which I always have to say as a follow-up is when we become unpredictable and we lose it and we yell at our kids and we act in ways that are unpredictable, as long as we make the repair with our children, then it becomes predictable for them that they know, oh yeah, we’re having conflict here, but she’s gonna come make it right. RK For more information on parenting for parents, grandparents and educators, Forty Carrots’ Parenting Program is a wonderful local resource. To request an appointment, email Look for details for the 2022 Forty Carrots Community Speaker Program this summer.

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