Media professional Ray Collins remembers a moment in an early session of Gulf Coast Leadership Institute when fellow participants Jeff McGrath and Don Hall were debating a point across the room. “Here was an international businessman in his fifties and a twenty-something director of a local grassroots nonprofit, thoughtfully and passionately making their points,” said Collins. “Their eyes were locked and they were fully engaged, each listening to what the other had to say with complete respect. I leaned over to the person next to me and said, ‘This is why I love this program!’”
Collins, McGrath, and Hall were among 24 individuals from across the region who came together to hone their skills in communication, group decision-making, and other leadership abilities in the 2011 Gulf Coast Leadership Institute. The group completed the three-month leadership-development program and celebrated their graduation late last month at Venetian Golf and River Club in North Venice.
“With the important issues in our region needing civil discourse and all sides to be heard, Gulf Coast applauds these leaders as they reach out into the community to make a positive difference,” said Teri A Hansen, president and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation, which created and funds Gulf Coast Leadership Institute. Gulf Coast provided all training and resources at no cost to the selected participants in exchange for their commitment to use their new skills for the long-term benefit of the community.
Participants in this year’s class met for seven sessions from May to July. Through experiential small- and large-group activities, they gained knowledge and skills in areas such as managing conflict, building communities through collaboration, and leading community change. Lora Kosten, PhD, faculty coordinator at USF Sarasota-Manatee at North Port, said, “The Gulf Coast Leadership Institute was the highlight of my summer work. The workshop series helped expand my repertoire of knowledge and inspired me to become involved in community projects. In addition, a special bond was formed among the participants, and this camaraderie holds unlimited potential for the future.”
For Danette Bartolotta, vice president of ROI Media, completing the Gulf Coast Leadership Institute meant joining the ranks of dozens of other North Port community members who have gone through the same training. Gulf Coast Leadership Institute grew out of two successful North Port Leadership Institute classes offered by the foundation in 2006 and 2007. “I have been very fortunate in my experience to work with many of the graduates from this leadership program,” said Bartolotta. “I know I can communicate and collaborate with them on a new level. I am so grateful to join the alumni of this program and hope that one day in the future I will offer the same type of leadership inspiration to others as they have offered me.”
The course was designed and facilitated by faculty from the University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute, which is recognized nationally for its leadership, community, and economic development programs. Since 2006, nearly 150 community members have participated in leadership training commissioned by Gulf Coast and led by the Fanning Institute.
Graduates of the 2011 Gulf Coast Leadership Institute:
· Danette Bartolotta, Vice President, ROI Media
· Judie Bauer, Community Volunteer
· Michael Beaumier, Project Executive, W.G. Mills
· Nancy Blackstone, Self-employed RN, Psychologist
· Richard Cautero, Executive Advisor, Executive Advisory Services
· Ray Collins, Principal, Ray Collins Media
· KC Conti, Broker-Owner, Golf Breeze Realty
· Chris Coviello, Director of Development, Epiphany Cathedral Parish and School
· Pam Day, Executive Director, Designing Women Boutique
· Don Hall, Executive Director, Transition Sarasota
· Todd Kerkering, Emergency Management Planning Chief, Sarasota County Government
· Lora Kosten, Faculty Coordinator, USF Sarasota-Manatee at North Port
· Denise Kowal, Self-employed Landlord
· Michael Longworth, Principal/Partner, Sabal Trust Company
· Steve Martin, CEO/Wealth Advisor, SRQ Wealth Management
· Jeff McGrath, President/Owner, DRTM Ventures
· Dawn Moore, Community Volunteer
· Melissa Perkins, Coordinator of Senior Outreach/Victim Advocate, Center for Abuse and Rape Emergencies
· Patrick Seidensticker, Chief Financial Officer, Libby’s Café & Bar
· Gardner Sherrill, Wealth Advisor, Wells Fargo Private Bank
· Betsy Steiner, Consultant
· Russell Strayer, Project Manager, Strayer Surveying and Mapping
· Todd Sweet, Principal/Partner, TOTeMS Architecture
· Olivia Thomas, Executive Director, Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center
About Gulf Coast
Together with our donors, Gulf Coast Community Foundation transforms our region through bold and proactive philanthropy. Gulf Coast is a public charity that was created in late 1995, and since we began making grants in 1996, we have funded more than $123 million in the areas of arts and culture, health and human services, education, civic and economic development, and the environment. Gulf Coast is the largest community foundation in Florida. Learn more at GulfCoastCF.org.