SRQ Magazine | In Conversation with Nonprofit Leaders

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BILL SADLO Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County

PHILIP TAVILL Children First

JENNIFER VIGNE Education Foundation of Sarasota County

MARK PRITCHETT Gulf Coast Community Foundation

RICK YOCUM Humane Soceity of Manatee County

COLLEEN THAYER NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)



DEBBIE MASON Tidewell Foundation, Inc.

CHERYL MENDELSON Van Wezel Foundation

IN CONVERSATION WITH THOUGHT LEADERS ON BUILDING OPPORTUNITIES TO PIVOT, SURVIVE AND THRIVE DURING THE PANDEMIC LET’S BEGIN WITH A MACRO VIEW OF HOW THE PANDEMIC, THE ECONOMIC CRISIS AND THE SOCIOLOGICAL ACTIVITY HAVE IMPACTED YOUR AREA IN PARTICULAR. Bill Sadlo, Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County: The whole nonprofit sector was hit extremely hard by this, caught off guard, quite frankly. As far as the youth development sector, we were greatly affected. And I say “we,” as in our kids and our families. We went from a facility-based program where kids went to their schools, were educated by incredible teachers, and came to their Boys and Girls Club after school to enhance those things. They interacted with their counselors at the Boys and Girls Club. And then all of a sudden wham, they went to isolated at home, not seeing their teachers, not seeing

their friends. It really just changed us quickly. The other big difference was we went from doing true youth development programming just to going to essential services and trying to feed our kids while the schools were getting their legs under. And of course, they were great partners in that, the Food Bank, others, all of our partners. We came together and offered those essential things that we like to provide at our clubs. But this time, it was a need. And that was the one thing we were offering when we were closed down the second week in March. Jennifer Vigne, Education Foundation of Sarasota County: It is an absolutely daunting challenge that schools have in front of them of “how do they reopen the schools.” This week with Governor DeSantis mandating that schools reopen

showed just how intertwined our community is and how interdependent we are. If schools don’t reopen, the economy can be hurt by that. And yet at the same time, there’s this incredible fear where we ask, “can we reopen?” So we’re looking at some significant things, whether it’s on the learning losses that students faced when they went to remote learning, whether it’s the potential of losing teachers as we reopen, those are significant components that along with the pervasive digital divide is starting to percolate up. For those kids who are most vulnerable, not having access to technologies while we’ve gone into a virtual world, sometimes you’re still not meeting the needs. Those are significant

challenges that I think all of us in this education field are trying to address. We pivoted to some of the virtual advising, virtual mentoring–replicating the programs that we were doing in our student success centers. We’ve also seen that that’s not enough and that we need to be in place and in person, while absolutely following, CDC guidelines. Our most vulnerable families need us and need that connection. Those are the things that we’re trying to wrestle with and solve. And one other point I want to make when we went into the remote learning we started pushing out social, emotional learning lessons on a weekly basis to the schools. We had a high usage of this, which is phenomenal.



ABOUT THE PARTICIPANTS BILL SADLO, PRESIDENT AND CEO, BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF SARASOTA COUNTY While he became President/CEO in 2011, Bill Sadlo has been involved with Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County since he was a child as a proud Club member. Bill graduated from Sarasota High School in 1987 and acquired his Bachelors of Science in Secondary Education in 1992 from the University of South Florida. A er graduation, Bill sought to devote his career to advancing the mission of the organization that enabled him to succeed. In 2017, Boys & Girls Clubs of America presented Bill with the National Professional Service Award to honor his 30 years of dedication to the movement. JENNIFER VIGNE, PRESIDENT AND CEO, EDUCATION FOUNDATION OF SARASOTA COUNTY Jennifer Vigne is a fi h-generation Floridian who passionately believes education changes lives and is guided by a strong value system whereby all children can learn and succeed. Vigne joined the Education Foundation of Sarasota County in November 2015 as Executive Director and was appointed President in January 2017. She brings more than 25 years of leadership experience in the nonprofit and corporate sectors. Vigne holds a B.S. degree in Political Science from Florida State University, an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from University of South Florida and is a Certified Fundraising Executive. Vigne serves as Vice Chair for the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations (CFEF) and is the Vice Chair of Tiger Bay Club of Sarasota County. Vigne is a Sarasota Women’s Alliance member, past member of the

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That just demonstrated to us that this is another area of need. Philip Tavill, Children First: I’m going to pick up on what Jennifer was saying: the distinction between virtual education and in-person education. We pivoted very, very quickly. We are very proud of our staff in terms of the work that they’re doing with our kids remotely. Most people wouldn’t think that there’s something like a toddler curriculum, but there is. It’s very well defined across several domains, including social and emotional. I want to amplify what Jennifer has said about the digital divide. We immediately surveyed our families to see if they had the hardware necessary, tablets, laptops, whatever it might be, and access to the internet. Well over a third of our families don’t have the tools required. This divide amplifies problems with the students in the greatest need. Most amps go to 10. Ours is on 11 regarding that digital divide. How are we addressing it? Our teachers put together a list of kids [who are high need]. Every week, we put together a drop box to leave on the front stoop and text and say, “here it is.” And then through phone calls and emails. The second thing that I would tell you is that we serve about 550 children in 15 sites across the County. They come, because of sibling groups, from 419 families. One hundred nine parents have lost work, if it wasn’t hard enough, based on our enrollment threshold being the federal poverty level. Our families, particularly that hundred and nine, they’re the first to get hurt. We know from the great recession they’re going to be the last to recover. Our work has been incredibly challenging, not just for those hundred and nine, but all 419 families, ensuring that the supports are there through food distributions, emotional support, behavioral services, and so on. Cheryl Mendelson, Van Wezel Foundation: For the Van Wezel Foundation, part of our mission


is to support arts education and integration. To focus in the area of using the arts, particularly as an intervention, and as a teaching tool. What was important was this idea of collaboration. I’m new to the community from Chicago and have quite a bit of experience in my previous work in early child development and working with people with disabilities. Many organizations here were a little bit siloed, particularly when it comes to the work they do in education. And so a silver lining, I think, is that the pandemic has brought together so many of the arts organizations so we can share our strengths. One of the first things that we did with the Van Wezel Foundation was convene and facilitate a task force of everyone working in arts, education, and integration. We worked to create a repository [of tools and best practices on how] to quickly move to create modules online. And to work in partnership with the school district and with other health and human service organizations that needed to quickly have content to help support families. And to help support teachers and educators. The main focus for us is bringing together the best strengths we already have, not trying to reinvent the wheel. We can be a resource to the organizations that are already doing great work in their space. CONTINUING ON POSITIVE OUTCOMES, WE HAVE HEARD THAT PEOPLE ARE ADOPTING PETS AT RECORD RATES. Rick Yocum, Humane Society of Manatee County: It’s accurate. And quite honestly, the high level of communication and collaboration that the animal welfare organizations before COVID has helped us work through this. I activated my emergency management plan on March 10th. And when I did that, I knew that that was going to impact many other organizations in our community. I immediately communicated with each and

every group of people that we deal with, so that they knew exactly what we were doing. We initially were lowering our clinic capacity to 60% and lowering our shelter capacity to 50%. The community stepped up in a huge way for all of the organizations that foster animals. We stayed open by appointment for adoptions throughout this entire pandemic. So really, the level of communication amongst the animal welfare organizations has been the key to us being able to continue to provide the services that the community needed. IT SPEAKS TO THE NEED TO BE AWARE OF SOCIAL EMOTIONAL HEALTH. Colleen Thayer, NAMI: We’ve heard some pretty dire stats in SRQ Daily recently about mental health, and suicide in particular. You were just talking about the value of having emotional support like animals; I would just say as a side note that the two dogs in my house are getting so much more love and attention than in normal times.We’re a support organization, so we aren’t clinical, we aren’t trying to be clinical, but we are plugged in with everybody who is, so what we’re trying to do is be a resource for people on the mental health side of things. We work to connect people with the right resources, which seems to be definitely on an uptick, but I honestly think that it’s going to really become an enormous issue in six to 12 months when things hopefully normalize a little bit from a pandemic perspective. Then it’s going to be all of the trauma that everybody’s incurred throughout all of this. But for our constituents in particular, for people who live with severe and persistent mental illness, so many volunteers run our groups and our classes. A lot of our volunteers worked in the service industry and got furloughed or laid off. Caring for them is about providing internal support. It’s a lot of communication with people. You know, we sent notes and cards to


our volunteers to check in with them, we’re doing monthly Zoom check-ins. All of this effort to increase our virtual outreach has been very good for our peers in particular because they need to feel connected. WHAT COULD THE FUTURE BENEFITS BE FOR THE ESCALATING VIRTUAL AND REMOTE LEARNING? Colleen: It’s pushed us into a much more tech role that we didn’t think about. NAMI nationwide has been great in communicating with all of the affiliates. There’s a lot of sharing going on. What’s working, what’s not working. We had a peer support group in Sarasota, weekly and in person, and we had a peer support group down in Venice, monthly. We now have that same peer support group online twice a week. So, you know, we’ve technically increased the capacity. Thinking ahead, we’re going to do a combination. We’re going to at some point get some in-person back. But if you’re keeping the Zoom calls, it gives people more of an opportunity to participate. And it doesn’t matter where they are. They don’t have to drive somewhere if they don’t want to. Phil: Social, emotional is a huge part of what we do in early childhood education. You know, for brain development, it’s that window of opportunity where you set the basis for a very young child’s social growth and emotional growth for a lifetime. Over the last few years, we have been able to add two fulltime staff who deal specifically with mental health issues and behavioral health—we have found that the needs are tremendous during this time. Not just for the families, not just for the children, because that’s work that we’ve had ongoing, but we have also found that need amongst our staff. We have roughly 210 employees at Children First. We’ve provided the opportunity for those folks who are our specialists to work with our staff. What triggered that

thought was Colleen’s comment about the weekly meetings. We’ve set up for our staff, virtual support groups to deal with the issues, not just the frustration of, “I haven’t seen my babies in the classroom for this period,” which is very distressing [to them]—they’re so invested in those childrens’ well-being. But also the issues they’re dealing with within their own families at home. So many people feel trapped. This is so different from anything, any of us, unless we were alive during the Spanish flu and are over 100-years-old now, have dealt with. Debbie Mason, Tidewell Foundation, Inc: Tidewell’s long been, as the region’s only hospice provider, the community support base for all kinds of grief. We run 20 plus grief groups every month, reaching all kinds of diverse audiences in the four county region. We pivoted to do those online. It’s very interesting. There’s two kinds of grief going on. There’s grief from people who have lost family members and can’t celebrate their lives. But there’s also people who are experiencing grief at the loss of routine, loss of contribution, loss of meaning in life. It’s very interesting to see what’s going on in society, including the workforce. We at Tidewell Hospice have long been called into the community if there’s a crisis in a school or there’s a crisis in a workplace, or in other organizations, we’ve partnered with hundreds of groups to do that. We set up a 24/7 helpline for people to be able to help with the volume of anxiety and grief. The other piece I’d add to that is isolation. We deal with the most vulnerable population, about 1200 patients a day under our care for Tidewell Hospice. And then if you add to that, our sister organizations that are home health organizations, we have about 3,500 people daily under our care. And many of them are in long-term care centers. They’re locked in literally and isolated from their families because of this.

And that itself is a form of grief as well. I think mental health issues are going to be prolonged and much deeper than we anticipate. I lived in California during the 2017 fires that ripped through our area and learned a lot about psychological recovery skills. We’re going to be bringing in the international experts to train our community on skills for psychological recovery. This is going to be a health epidemic issue for our community. We want to be proactive about addressing that by training mental health professionals about the best psychological responses in post-disaster situations. THINKING ABOUT HOW THE GULF COAST COMMUNITY FOUNDATION TOUCHES SO MANY ORGANIZATIONS, YOU MUST HAVE A VERY BROAD SENSE OF THE MASSIVE CHANGES YOU’VE SEEN. Mark Pritchett, Gulf Coast Community Foundation: We were at the peak of celebrating our 25th anniversary on March 12th, with our “Better Together” event. I decided to cancel it immediately. Then we went into crisis mode as everybody else did here. I had a very strict hierarchy on how to look at this issue. Number one was, take care of my people. I’ve got to take care of my team. I’ve got to make sure they’ve got the tools to do their job, that they’re healthy and that they’re safe. The second priority was first responders, anything we can do to help our healthcare workers, frontline workers, and first responders dealing with the crisis. And then the third would be to deal with the people that lost their jobs, including some of our nonprofits. We knew that unemployment could spike. So those were the three top priorities for us at Gulf Coast. I pulled our team together and said, “look, we’ve got to throw our hurricane response out the window. This is a different kind of crisis.” I got on the phone. I called many partners and many who are on this call today. Right

Sarasota County Commission Human Services Advisory Council, past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Southwest Florida Chapter, past executive member of the AFP Florida Caucus, and is an SRQ Women in Business Leadership award recipient. Vigne is a graduate of Leadership Florida Education Class IV where she serves as class representative, Leadership Manatee, Leadership Sarasota, and a graduate of the Gulf Coast Leadership Institute. Vigne enjoys spending time with her husband of more than 25 years, three children, and their dog Finley. PHILIP TAVILL, CEO, CHILDREN FIRST: Philip Tavill has been the President & CEO of Children First, Sarasota County’s exclusive Head Start provider, since 1996. A er obtaining a baccalaureate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee in 1989, Mr. Tavill has continuously worked in the human services field, both in direct service and management capacities. He returned to Sarasota, Florida in 1990 and was appointed Executive Director of the Loveland Center in Venice in 1991. At Case Western Reserve University, he earned a Master of Nonprofit Organizations from the Weatherhead School of Management and Master of Science in Social Administration from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. CHERYL MENDELSON, CEO, VAN WEZEL FOUNDATION: Mendelson has 20+ years of executive experience across arts and culture, education and health care. Mendelson is leading the Foundation’s vision to build the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center as part of the Bayfront master plan. Previously, Mendelson served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Harris Theater in Chicago’s

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Millennium Park where she played a vital role in the strategic vision for the Theater, building a national reputation as a venue of artistic importance. Additionally, she held senior positions at renowned organizations, including, the University of Chicago, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the nation’s #1 ranked hospital for physical medicine and rehabilitation, and Erikson Institute, a graduate school and research center for early child development, mental health and advocacy. Mendelson is a member of the Gulf Coast CEO Forum, and contributor to PLANit Sarasota. COLLEEN THAYER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NAMI (NATIONAL ALLIANCE ON MENTAL ILLNESS) Colleen is a public relations professional and political advocate. She holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science and master’s degree in Management and Leadership. She is also Accredited in Public Relations and a Certified Public Relations Counselor. Colleen currently serves as the executive director of NAMI Sarasota and Manatee Counties where she is responsible for management of the affiliate along with its education, support, and advocacy programs. Apart from the professional world is her family – husband Chad, two sons and a beautiful daughter. Sarasota, Florida is home where the family also enjoys their wonderful fur-children, Holly Belle and Lulu Belle. RICK YOCUM, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HUMANE SOCIETY OF MANATEE COUNTY Rick has served in his current position since March 14, 2016. Rick comes to the position with extensive animal welfare, public and

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off the bat, I checked in with them to see how they were doing. I told our team that we were going to do an initiative, that we were not going to have a grant application. We’re going to open ourselves to emails. I’m going to ask Teri Hansen at the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation to join us. And let’s raise as much money as fast as we can. They’ll deal with this crisis as quickly as we can. We know it’ll go through different phases, but right now, we’re in the crisis phase, the response phase. Fortunately, we were very successful, not doing a broad campaign, but mostly targeted with our donors, our existing donors. They have been very altruistic, generous. It’s been unbelievable. When you saw portfolios dropped by 50% and people still making big contributions to the causes they believe in, I can’t say enough about the altruism of our donors. LET’S EXPAND ON THE IDEA OF DONORS AND COMMUNITY GENEROSITY. Bill: I’ll jump in on that one. What Mark and his team and the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation did were start to convene a response fund. And they also convened calls every Tuesday. We had health officials on there, not-for-profits, the foundations, and we could all just listen and learn from each other, but then it quickly evolved into “what can we do together to make a difference.” For the Boys and Girls Clubs, that meant that we closed and went to essential services—feeding kids. Well, then the next step was to reopen our club just for essential personnel. We opened up for first responders, the Sheriff ’s department, police, and essential medical personnel. So their children had someplace to go when they were on the front lines, helping all of us out. We were able to go through the whole donor base, and just talk to them, tell them what we’re doing. I also want to talk about what we did in Arcadia. The Louis and Gloria Flanzer


Trust wanted to do something for the Arcadia community, where they’re already the namesake of our club. And we did a tremendous job out there helping All Faiths Food Bank feed people, helping people with their water bills, just so they could stay on their feet because many people fell behind. So I want to thank the Flanzer Trust as well. The real positives are that we were able to stay in touch with our donors and community partners and keep the lines of communication open. Debbie: We were grateful to Mark at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Teri at the Barancik Foundation, the Manatee Community Foundation, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and the Selby Foundation—everybody worked together and made it so easy for us to talk about our immediate pressing needs-the high cost of PPE and being able to find PPE. And then the fact that we were dealing with going into homes and nursing homes and ALS and longterm care centers for 3,500 patients a day imagine how much PPE that is to take care of your frontline workers. And then our frontline workers who had kids who then needed care for in school and childcare facilities were no longer open. Here’s what we think the financial hit is going to be. In the first month, we lost a million dollars. That’s a lot to lose in your first month in terms of impact and cost. We took our annual campaign and instead of making it for unrestricted purposes, we said, “every dollar that comes in will go to COVID related costs” because they’re going to be so significant to us and being a bigger nonprofit, we didn’t qualify for PPP funding from the government. We did qualify for Cares Act funding, but they still don’t even know what you can use that for. So local donors really made the difference for us and being able to connect and quickly tell our story and have foundations and individuals be so responsive. A good example

of that is the fast pivot we had to make using technology. A lot of the facilities were on lockdown. So we quickly pivoted with some grants from the Selby Foundation and others to buy iPads and literally send our teams in with iPads to at least be able to engage with patients and find out what they needed and to respond. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t as good as the hands-on touch that people want and need and are accustomed to getting from Tidewell Hospice and our sister companies, but at least it kept patients getting what they needed, and donors made that happen. So our local donor community, I think deserves not five stars, but ten stars for responding to all of the needs that you have represented on the panel and doing so in such a beautiful way. Phil: Echoing everything that’s been said—the collaboration amongst the foundations, the philanthropic community, rising to the occasion, you know, as Mark said, people, losing 50% of their portfolio value and still being incredibly generous. It allowed us to develop best practices for childcare facilities. There’s no question, and it’s really critical when you look at the small family daycares when you look at the agencies that don’t have a lot of resources and seeing resources being provided so that we can really establish best practices, not just in terms of what those specific standards will be but having the foundations and private donors support needs like PPE. Small places don’t have the resources, and they need them to reopen so that people can go back to work. So that first responders can do what they do. Colleen: Relative to the mental health space, the generosity has been overwhelming. We had gotten a grant for technology, iPads and laptops because our volunteers don’t all have access. Some of the NAMI affiliates in Florida and nationwide and ours, as of a few years ago, they’re all volunteer-driven. So the groups

that they run and the classes they have are all volunteers. They don’t have any staff. They don’t have resources like we are gaining here. We’re out in the communities of Sarasota Manatee—we are not in our offices. So we are trying to figure out and work with our partners in those places because they all have very differing ideas. If we’re in a church or we’re over at mental health community centers, or here where we’re based, everything’s different depending on where you are. We are trying to share resources a lot these days in terms of what works and what doesn’t work—most everyone has had some benefit from that kind of collaboration. LET’S TALK ABOUT FUTURE PLANNING. WHAT’S ON YOUR AGENDA FOR THE MORE DISTANT FUTURE, PAST THE CURRENT CRISIS? Rick: One of the priorities for me throughout this entire pandemic has been to keep my staff focused and engaged and also use this time to plan the future. April 10th, a month after this started, I closed on the purchase of the property directly next to our veterinary clinic. And we now own another half-acre of the property with two buildings that we are developing a plan for. We actually constructed a permanent vaccine clinic in our community room, and added two wellness rooms for exams in that community room. We are currently planning the creation of a dental suite to expand our dental services. All of these things are happening while we’re dealing with the COVID-19 impacts. [My staff ] is a group of people that I want to make sure don’t develop mental health issues. I can’t control what’s going on in the streets, but I wanted to make sure that we kept moving forward. It creates excitement with the staff. The staff is engaged. People are uncomfortable when they get out of their routine. Well, the world is out of the routine right now. Keep-

ing our staff engaged and focused has really had a positive benefit. I made a commitment early on to my staff after going to my board— before the Cares Act, and before the Payroll Protection Program— that I’m not only going to keep everybody on the payroll but, with the blessing of my board, we’re increasing the number of staff we have and we’ve done that. Then the Cares Act and the PPP came, and that was a great thing for us. We made the commitment that we were going to keep our staff working and keep them healthy and so far, it’s worked. Cheryl: I’m happy to follow up with Rick because we are also in growth mode for this community. Pre-COVID, of course, the Van Wezel Foundation board was taking the role in building a new performing arts center as part of the master plan on The Bay. It wasn’t just to build a new performing art center, it was to build a community asset, multiple theaters, 10,000-square-feet of education and lifelong learning spaces, a really important opportunity for the community and the entire Gulf Coast to create a destination that will also drive the economy in the future. So we remain very firmly committed to that vision with hopefully a six-year timeframe. I think we’ve got a unique opportunity to be one of the first performing arts centers in the nation, post-pandemic, to also utilize all of the public health issues we’ve now learned about. New technology is available, and we can design the building in a way that, when we face another public health challenge, we will have designed a building that shows we have learned from the best and the brightest around the globe. Also, we are doing a significant amount of getting ready to launch a very major survey across the entire Gulf Coast to talk to people about what they envision for the future. I think everyone’s really aware that the arts are taking a terrible hit. I respect so many of you on this call who are dealing with

such essential human life activity, and the arts are also essential. They are the power of the human spirit. The reality is that the arts have been a lifeline in many ways during this isolation. Films, books, music, virtual theater, I mean, obviously Hamilton just crushed every single record there ever was in a premiere on Disney. And so I think the arts industry is going to go through a very, very major change in how they deliver. Live theater, live music, is essential. It will be back. We need to figure out, during this interim period, how we keep it a significant part of people’s lives. The foundation is in a unique position to be able to work with all of you, I hope, to think about ways the arts can be an intervention in helping you move forward with the spirit of what has to happen. But we also believe bricks and mortar of building a new few hundred thousand-square-foot performing arts center is an essential piece of the economic recovery of the community. WHO ELSE IS PIVOTING TO BUILD AND GROW NEW OPPORTUNITIES? Debbie: Tidewell just announced yesterday that we’ll be repurposing our Ellenton Hospice House and making it into our first family grief center. We’re taking our children’s Blue Butterfly program, that’s been phenomenally successful at working with grief with children who have lost a parent and, replicating that along with adding adult grief services up in Ellenton. We’ll also be expanding into Port Charlotte and taking our Blue Butterfly program down there to serve children’s grief. Just to give you a sense of the need, about 8,000 children a year in our four county area, lose a parent or caregiver. It’s a staggering number. We know that if those children don’t get mental health assistance, their life trajectory can be very, very different based on psychosocial issues, and actually based on

private experience. He served as President of the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for seven years. In addition, he was a Certified Humane Law Enforcement Officer who trained other officers and investigated animal cruelty cases. He was also the General Sales and Marketing Manager for Warren Distributing Company, one of New Jersey’s largest beer distributors, and was president of the Jefferson Township Board of Education and as an elected official served as the President of the Jefferson Township Council for 20 years. Rick was the recipient of the Manatee County Tiger Bay Club Pat Glass Non Profit Leadership award in 2019. DEBBIE MASON, PRESIDENT, TIDEWELL FOUNDATION, INC. Debbie Mason, CFRE, APR, CPRC, FELLOW PRSA is the President of the Tidewell Foundation, Inc. and Executive Vice President, Chief Philanthropy Officer of Tidewell Hospice. She joined Tidewell Hospice and Stratum Health in October 2019 bringing experience in philanthropy, strategic planning, communications and organizational management. She is responsible for providing leadership and management of Tidewell’s philanthropic services. She served as CEO of the Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County and as CEO of United Way North Central Florida. She founded and sold a full-service public relations, marketing and strategic planning agency and served as Vice President Office of the Chairman and VP Corporate Communications for JM Family Enterprises. Debbie holds the CFRE credential for Philanthropy; is an Accredited Public Relations professional and a Certified Public Relations Counselor and she has earned the distinction of Fellow PRSA with the College of Fellows.

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Debbie earned a BS in Journalism/Public Relations from the University of Florida and a MS in Communications Management from Syracuse University. MARK PRITCHETT, PRESIDENT | CEO, GULF COAST COMMUNITY FOUNDATION. As President | CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Mark S. Pritche is responsible for the overall leadership and direction of Gulf Coast, including corporate strategy and oversight of its programs, operations, and investments. Before being named CEO in 2015, Mark served as Gulf Coast’s Senior Vice President for Community Investment, developing and implementing transformative initiatives to address regional priorities like homelessness, economic diversification, and workforce investment. That leadership focus continues today under Mark’s guidance through collaborative efforts like the foundation’s COVID-19 Response Initiative, which has engaged many donors and corporate partners to invest over $5 million in mitigating the impacts of the pandemic in our region. Mark is known statewide as a seasoned leader in business, philanthropy, and public policy. He thrives on big challenges, having led Florida’s election reform task force a er the 2000 Presidential election and overseeing disputes between home owners and insurance companies a er the 2004 and 2005 record hurricane seasons. Prior to joining the foundation in 2008, he held leadership positions with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Florida, and the Collins Center for Public Policy.

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human brain development. Both of those programs will be expanding. Piggybacking on what Cheryl said, we bring a lot of art and music into patient therapy. So we’ll be expanding the number of art and music therapists we have so that we can enhance the patient experience. We may still have to use technology to deliver that if we can’t be by the patient bedside. I agree with Cheryl—the ability to use the arts to connect with the human spirit is so significant. We’ve actually got a lot of expansion plans in motion. After forty years of serving the community, during our anniversary year, this year, we’ve just launched the Tidewell Foundation to better serve Tidewell and our sister company. We have been in the middle of a pandemic, but we certainly haven’t been sitting idle. Bill: You asked about growth, and that’s what Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County are doing right now. We’re celebrating our 50th year. Most people would think that [the pandemic restrictions] would be a damper on our 50th anniversary, but the way we’ve pivoted and changed our program model, I have to steal a quote from Winston Churchill and say, I think this will be “our finest hour�, because of the way we responded to the community. Thanks to all of you and our partners in the community continue to build the new Louis and Gloria Flanzer club in Arcadia, which is under construction. We’re very proud of that. We’ll be doing a massive remodel of our Roy McBean Club, which is built on public housing property in Newtown on 21st Street. And we are committed to expanding in North Port as the City of North Port continues to grow. We have one club down there, the Gene Matthews Club, and we are doing a community assessment of where we need to expand to, whether it be at that site or elsewhere. I think the evolution of all of our organiza-


tions is what’s so important. Fifty years ago, the Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota County started as a place for kids to go after school and just be safe and hang out. We’ve evolved into a complete youth development program with education and healthy lifestyles. And now we’ve evolved, because of the pandemic, our Great Futures Academy, which has educational programs and certified teachers in our clubs, with virtual programming. So I know all of us will continue to change with the times. Colleen: That’s a great example of how everybody works together, you know, we’ve provided our Ending the Silence program to the Boys and Girls Club. And we did it virtually a couple of weeks ago, which was really cool. We’re really excited to expand our groups and classes in Manatee. Additionally, over the course of the next year, with the help of the Barancik Foundation and Gulf Coast Community Foundation, we are building our youth initiative focused on the zero to 25-year-old behavioral health needs in our community —it is important and also daunting. We funded a position that will start with us next month to help families navigate the behavioral health system in our community. We’re going to focus on SMH and at Bayside and with the school system, because that’s where a good chunk of the referrals are coming from and a good chunk of the Baker Acts that are happening are coming out of schools. So the idea is to have somebody who’s experienced with these issues to help families figure out what the next step is. We get calls all the time from families that have had a child Baker Acted, and they are in crisis, and they need a plan for the longterm. Maybe they need to go over to the Boys and Girls Club and connect and get into that system of care. Maybe it’s a young adult who needs housing, which is

another issue. So the idea is to really help families figure out how to do it right and how best to serve them, their kid, or young adult. Jennifer: I want to mention something that the Education Foundation is doing, just in terms of growth, there’s still kids and families that need to have that connectivity. We have invested a lot with our Student Success Centers in several high schools, providing advising and support, helping kids move into their postsecondary plans. It’s really important that we provide continuity of service and given the uncertainty of what public schools will look like, we really felt that it was for us to open LaunchPad4U, a site that is going to be in the Rosemary District that will allow us to really look at what are the emerging needs. It’s really a beta site to help us prototype and to test and to really try different things in the midst of all this uncertainty. Mark: I want to compliment my peers here. You asked a great question, Wes, “what do we have to look forward to?� We’ve heard from everyone on this call, they’re dealing with this crisis, but they are also executing their plans. Debbie is starting a new foundation, Jennifer is doing great work with local college access networking and making sure the kids get access to scholarships, Phillip is always a leader, Rick, and Cheryl, and Bill, all had examples. All my colleagues are innovating, and that makes my job easier because I can get donors excited and our board too when they hear about all this activity. Phil: Short term, one of the things that we’re looking at, which is both dire and uplifting at the same time, is we typically have a waitlist for infant and toddler services of about 150 children, from pregnant moms to threeyear-olds, all living below the federal poverty threshold. We believe that number is going to increase dramatically. There is

going to be a lag between the folks who are losing their work and losing income and then falling into that category where they’ll become eligible for our services. So looking forward, we’re thinking, how do we care for all those new people? We will be applying in the next month or so for 72 additional infant and toddler slots through a federal funding source for early Head Start funding, which will help solve this problem. If it gets awarded, hopefully, that will halve the waitlist. But again, that waitlist is going to increase very dramatically. I’m not sure that we’re going to have a “V” shaped recovery. I’m not sure if we’re gonna have a “W” shaped recovery. I don’t know if we’re gonna have a “Z” shaped recovery. I don’t know what that will look like quite frankly, but our economy is taking a hit, and I there’s going to be a lot of opportunities that we should explore before it becomes forced under duress for enhanced partnerships and collaborations along the whole continuum. It can be something like a consolidation of back-office operations, or full-blown, like we see with Selby Gardens and Historic Spanish Point, in essence, mergers. I believe all the agencies represented in this call are very forward-thinking and are going to look for those opportunities. To take the phrase used by the Gulf coast, how can we be “better together.” Bill: Phillip, your speaking about partnerships just means so much to us. We have people convening discussions, like this one. Our nonprofit leaders stay in touch with each other, and we continue those conversations. I’m proud of how reactive everybody was to a situation, starting in February, that was something you just couldn’t plan for it. But look at the job that everyone did at that time, and now the simultaneous push towards

future improvements. It’s so refreshing to hear, and I commend each and every one of you and your agencies for being able to have that type of forward thinking, even in the most dire times. Rick: There is one sector of society and business that I think stands head and shoulders above all others in having a unified, intelligent, supportive, collaborative effort throughout all this. And that is the nonprofits and the nonprofit sector in Manatee and Sarasota County. I am amazed and stunned at how all of the nonprofits in our community have pivoted, innovated, and kept providing the services that so many people rely on. I am so proud to be a member of this group, and the leadership just blows me away. And SRQ, I’ve told you how much I appreciate you guys always stepping up and doing things to support the nonprofits. I’m so proud to be a part of this group; everybody is so supportive. It’s really unbelievably good. Jennifer: I want to reiterate back to what Mark said before, there’s such pride to be a part of this community, and I never want to forget that it is because of the generosity of people, the donors. Without them, we would be completely nonexistent. We wouldn’t be able to catalyze change. We wouldn’t be able to harness the impact that we’re doing. To me, it is very humbling to see that your phone rings, and you pick up, and it’s donors that just want to help. They ask, “what can I do?” We’ve had the privilege of serving as leaders of these nonprofits, but it is the donors that truly have made the difference in our community. Debbie: You know, Wes, you asked about how our goals were changing. At our organization, we’re very focused because we are the region’s only not for profit hospice provider. We have a mission, and a lot of what we do is around charity care. We haven’t relented in reaching our goal.

IT’S IMPORTANT FOR COMMUNITY LEADERS, AND YOU ALL ARE THAT, TO SHOWCASE THAT ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS CRISIS, THAT IT’S GOING TO BE A BRIGHTER FUTURE FOR EVERYONE. THAT REALLY IS A POWERFUL MESSAGE. Jennifer You know, so often, as nonprofits, what we talk about is sustainability. That’s a common conversation for us. I think that gives us a foundation of resiliency, and if we can embody and model that resilience, then that will help bolster up and strengthen our community. That’s the proof in the pudding. Bill: Jennifer and I were discussing recently, “what is the central role of nonprofits in our community” and I think [through our response to the pandemic] we’ve proven that nonprofits are essential to our community. It has reiterated the importance that so many nonfor-profits are essential services for our community. The future leadership role of notprofits is that we will continue to be essential for our constituents. I don’t think there’s any greater leadership we can have than being there for your people during the toughest times. Phil: Bill, you mentioned Churchill before. Churchill said something to the effect of “the pessimist sees the problem in every opportunity, and the optimist sees opportunity in every challenge.” And I think for all of us, we see the opportunities in these challenges while we deal with very, very dire circumstances, well beyond, we see what we’re doing today to serve our respective populations, but how to be better, more collaborative, resilient, and sustainable. Cheryl: I want to also give a shout out to our boards. You know, the leadership of our boards who have really, really stepped up and offered the guidance and the governance, and the courage, frankly, The courage of our board leaders, to cut through the noise of politics and other things and stay focused on the vision. That has been

critical for our success as leaders to be able to continue to drive the mission and to be able to make these course changes without a lot of bureaucracy. The sense I get is that the majority of the community all want the same thing. And at the end of the day, they want our better selves to rise. Colleen: I agree with what Cheryl was saying. This whole thing is very inspiring. We’re all very intertwined. Everybody is connected throughout this whole thing. And I think that’s a testament to how our community works overall. Politics aside, all of those other things aside, everybody really is focused and seems to have everybody else’s best interest at heart. I think this is why collaborations work here, maybe better than other places. Mark: I just find that the spirit of altruism, of people sacrificing for the greater whole, is the theme that’s running throughout this whole pandemic from the nonprofit community. I’ve seen CEOs and staff take pay cuts to keep their mission afloat. We’ve seen donors, boards, and even staff invest in initiatives that’ll get money out in the community. We’ve seen donors step up with declining portfolios, that whole sense of, you know, the greater good and “What can I do? What can I do?” It’s refreshing. You certainly don’t hear it a lot from the politicians, but you do with people like those that are on this call. So thank you for that opportunity to shine a light on the great goodness we find throughout our community. I think it’s that; people being good to each other, is what’s going well during this terrible time. SRQ The In Conversation program is produced by the BrandStory Division of SRQ MEDIA.

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