The Board of Trustees of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is made up of community leaders who are representative of the communities that we serve. As Trustees, they are responsible for the mission, direction, and policies of the organization. Trustees represent the Board to the community and they represent the community to the Board - they are our public ambassadors. Trustees approve all grants made by the Community Foundation and ensure that the organization meets all laws and legal requirements.
DEBORAH "DEBI" BRAENDLE
Deborah M. Braendle, a retired executive of the Dow Chemical Company, is currently a consultant with Lyncx, LLC, a Management Consulting Firm located in Bonita Springs, Florida. Lyncx offers consulting to small and mid-sized, or start-up organizations. She is also part owner of a family-owned pet care facility in Bonita.
Deborah began her career in 1974 at Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc., a global pharmaceutical company as Associate Employment Manager. During her tenure with Roche, she was responsible for recruiting exempt and non-exempt applicants for various positions.
In 1982, Deborah accepted the position of Personnel Manager for Essex Chemical Corporation which was purchased by the Dow Chemical Company in 1988. She was responsible for all aspects of human resources activities for multiple plant locations. Her support included union and non-union activities. Deborah was then promoted to Vice-President, Business Services, for Essex Specialty Products, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dow. She was responsible for Human Resources, Training, Public Relations, Customer Service, Facility Management, Purchasing/Material Logistics and Information Services at Essex.
Since moving to Florida, Deborah has served on the Board of the Shelter for Abused Women and Children in Naples, past Chair of the Board of Directors of the Guadalupe Center in Immokalee, and is currently the Chair of the Board of the Bonita Springs Community Fund Advisory Board and a Trustee of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. She is also active in the Bonita Springs community in support of The Children’s Hospital and fundraising activities for Lamb of God Church.
Deborah has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and Community Psychology.
CAROLYN E. CONANT
Carolyn Conant, former Director for the Turner Corporation, joined the Southwest Florida Community Foundation Board in 2013. Carolyn earned her M.A. from the University of Chicago, majoring in Social Science and Urban Studies and her B.A. from Indiana University.
Carolyn is very well known in the community for spearheading various projects, including:
- Cape Coral Pike Ped – Led the volunteer effort whose mission is to interconnect bike lanes, paths and sidewalks in Cape Coral, FL. The project raised funds to interconnect over 90 miles of pathways which will be completed by the end of 2014
- Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency Board of Directors – Was instrumental in implementing ‘new urbanism’ Master Plan for expanded downtown area, revising building codes, grants to small businesses for improvements, etc.
- GreensCape - Co-chair of volunteer landscaping organization that raised funds and landscaped City of Cape Coral medians on Del Prado Blvd. between Cape Coral Parkway and Hancock Bridge Parkway; on Hancock Bridge Parkway from entrance to City to Del Prado Blvd., and memorial medians with fountain at Cape Coral Parkway entrance to city; as well as developing a Master Plan adopted by City of Cape Coral to continue landscaping medians within the city and maintaining them.
Carolyn has received various awards for her involvement in our community including:
- BikeWalkLee 2013 Complete Streets Champion of the Year Award
- Certificate of Appreciation – City of Cape Coral Redevelopment Agency for Holiday Decorations Project
- LeeScape Roadway Enhancement Program Dedication Ceremony for GreensCape beautification project
- Garden Club of Cape Coral Honorary Membership Award for GreensCape beautification project
- Hometown Hero Award for GreensCape by Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce
PATRICIA K. DOBBINS
Patricia Dobbins is the Administrator of the Health Departments in the rural counties of Hendry and Glades and joined the Southwest Florida Community Foundation Board in July 2009. Ms. Dobbins was appointed to this Leadership position after 18 years as the Executive Community Health Nursing Director.
Ms. Dobbins has practiced Professional Nursing for 35 years in a variety of settings. Her practice included working for the Veteran’s Administration; working at both urban and rural hospital settings; as a Nurse Educator for 15 years in a public school district and as an entrepreneur owning her own business.
Ms. Dobbins serves on numerous local, regional, and state boards/committees/task forces/coalitions as an advocate and voice for rural uninsured or underinsured, and rural health disparities. She has served in leadership roles for the Florida Association of Public Health Nurses (FAPHN), the Florida Public Health Association (FPHA), and has received a Public Health Nursing Leadership Award; she is an alumnus of the University of South Florida Public Health Leadership Institute, the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows program, and the National Rural Health Association Fellows program. She has served as an Adjunct Professor at Florida Gulf Coast University and is on the School of Nursing’s Advisory Board. She is also a member of the Florida Rural Health Association; serves as a trustee for the SWF Community Foundation, serves on the Healthy Start Board, Hendry/Glades Mental Health Board, and the AHEC Board.
KEVIN L. ERWIN
Kevin Erwin is a certified ecosystem ecologist specializing in wetland and watershed evaluation, restoration and management. Since 1980 he has served as the President and Principal Ecologist of Kevin L. Erwin Consulting Ecologist, Inc. in Ft. Myers, Florida. His work has focused on large-scale wetland restoration, watershed evaluation and management to improve the functional capacity of wetlands to implement source water protection, mitigate the impacts of climate change and alleviate poverty and water related diseases in more than fifty countries.
Kevin is a guest faculty member of Florida Gulf Coast University’s College of Arts and Sciences. He is currently a member of the Ramsar Scientific & Technical Review Panel filling the thematic expert post on wetland restoration, mitigation and management, a recent member of Wetland International’s Supervisory Council (2000-11), the coordinator of Wetlands International’s Wetland Restoration Specialist Group, a board member of Teen Challenge of Southwest Florida and a member of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation Board of Trustees.
Craig Folk is a CPA and Shareholder in the firm Miller, Helms & Folk. He has a BS from Vanderbilt and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Craig has been in practice in Fort Myers for the past twenty-one years. Prior to joining Miller Helms & Folk, he practiced with Price Waterhouse Coopers in Fort Myers and Arthur Andersen in Miami. Craig has served on numerous boards in the past and is currently on the boards of The United Way of Lee County and The Harry Chapin Food Bank.
A serial entrepreneur, John Gamba has founded, funded, managed and exited 5 Internet companies in his 20 year career. Trained at KPMG Peat Marwick as a management consultant, John later joined US Interactive (nasd: USIT) where he created e-commerce applications for Fortune 500 companies including Citigroup, Intel and Bank One. Later forming an Internet business incubator, John co-founded PACE - the Partnership for Academic and Community Excellence. PACE was a school-to-home telecommunications network that connected thousands of K-12 schools to millions of families in all 50 states. Less than eight years after its founding, PACE was purchased by NTI, Inc. and then sold to Blackboard, Inc. (nasd: BBBB) for $189 million.
A Board Member on several local foundations and charities including The Gamba Family Foundation and Catholic Charities, John is most active here locally as the Vice-Chairman of the Board of AFCAAM - an inner city education Program that provides intensive reading and mentoring services to K-12 students in the Dunbar and Harlem Heights Community of Fort Myers.
Married and a proud father of two boys, John is a competitive Ironman triathlete, industry speaker on social entrepreneurship and engaged in several K-12 educational reform initiatives. John is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
CHARLES “CHARLIE” GREENCharlie has worked for Lee County since 1984 and currently serves as the Clerk of the Circuit Court for Lee County. Charlie is responsible for managing $1.5 billion in County investments and ensures all county expenditures are made according to law and policy. He has been reelected to public office in Lee County without opposition six times.
Charlie was previously President of both the Florida Association of Court Clerks/Comptrollers (2001-2002) and Downtown Rotary Club of Fort Myers (1993-1994). Charlie is a graduate of the University of Florida, with a degree in Journalism.
HON. ARCHIE B. HAYWARD, JR.A native of Fort Myers, Florida, Archie B. Hayward was educated in the Lee County schools—graduating in 1976 from North Fort Myers High School and later obtaining his Associate of Arts degree from Edison Community College. He went on to complete his Bachelor’s degree in 1980 at the University of Florida where he also was awarded the Juris Doctor in 1983.
Licensed by the Florida Bar since 1984, he was also admitted to practice before the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. Since 2000, Archie Hayward has served as a staff attorney with Florida Rural Legal Service where he provided leadership for the Senior Advocacy Project. Prior to this appointment, he operated a solo practice for nine years where he handled court appointed criminal conflict cases for the County Court Administrator’s Office. From 1984-89, he worked with the Public Defenders Office of the 20th Judicial Circuit managing felony, juvenile, misdemeanor, and traffic. In addition to practicing law, Mr. Hayward occasionally serves as an adjunct paralegal instructor with Edison College where he is a member of the Paralegal Advisory Committee. Presently, he serves as a Judge for the Lee County Court.
Ever concerned with his local community, he has worked as a volunteer Child Support Hearing Officer for the County Court Administration Office of the 20th Judicial Circuit. In addition, he is a member and secretary to the Board of Trustees of the Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center and holds memberships in the Lee County Bar Association, Isaac Anderson Bar Association, and Downtown Rotary Club of Fort Myers Incorporated.
Most recently, he was a presenter for Florida Legal Service, Incorporated’s Health/Public Benefits Advocacy Skills Training Workshop. His presentation centered on effective representation for clients involved in a Medicaid hearing.
CHRISTOPHER HILL, CFA
Christopher Hill is a Vice President and Banker for J.P. Morgan Private Bank. He advises ultra high-net worth families, senior executives and foundations and endowments on a variety of matters, including asset allocation and portfolio construction, traditional banking and liquidity alternatives, and estate planning opportunities and execution strategies. He frequently works with the Private Bank’s Global Philanthropic Group to help clients crystallize their charitable objectives and implement programs consistent with their passions.
Prior to joining the Private Bank in 2009, Mr. Hill spent two years in J.P. Morgan's Investment Banking Division in the firm’s Mergers & Acquisitions group. Notable transactions include advising Bristol-Myers Squibb on its $2.4 billion acquisition of Medarex and Integrys Energy Group on the divestiture of portions of its unregulated commodity trading business.
Mr. Hill was awarded a Master of Business Administration degree from the Wharton School and Master of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts & Sciences. He earned his undergraduate degree from Barry University in Miami Shores, FL. He is a CFA charterholder, and member of the CFA Institute and CFA Miami.
He has been a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami for 14 years, where he currently sits on the Executive Board and Board of Directors and serves as Chair of the Volunteer Recruitment/Partnerships Development Committee. In addition, he is a Trustee of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, as well as a member of the Barry University Student Managed Investment Fund Advisory Board.
LARRY ALLEN HOBBS, MD, FACEPJoining the Foundation Board in July 2009, Larry brings with him experience and knowledge received from the medical field since 1985. A native of Illinois, Larry attend the University of Miami-School of Medicine with his internal medicine internship at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida. He was bestowed with the Lange Publications Award for outstanding achievement as a medical student. His residency in emergency medicine was at the University Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida. He is Board Certified in Emergency Medicine and is a Fellow American College of Emergency Physician member. Presently, Larry is with the Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center where he is an Emergency Physician.
Other professional areas Larry is or has been involved with are:
- Medical Director Emergency Department, Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center
- Medical Director Emergency Department, Gulf Coast Medical Center
- President of the southwest Florida Emergency Physicians, P.A.
- Managing Partner, UCC of SW Florida, LLC
- Board of Directors, Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center
- Medical Executive Committee, Southwest Florida Regional Medical Center
- Medical Executive Committee, Gulf Coast Medical Center
- Member of American College of Emergency Physicians
- Delegate to the American College of Emergency Physicians
- Member of the Florida College Emergency Physicians
- Board of Directors, FCEP. Also has served as President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer
- President and on the Board of Governors, Lee County Medical Society
- Member of the Florida Medical Association
- Vice Chair of the Medical Economics, FMA and served as a delegate
Larry is an accomplished musician with his own band and loves golf, boating and sailing with his wife, Debra, and three children, Angelina, Pierce and Spencer.
Howard Leland has been a Vietnam War pilot, an international pilot for Northwest Airlines, and a trainer of new pilots. He currently serves as an Elder and Treasurer for the Church of the Cross in Fort Myers and is an Advisory Board member of Teen Challenge of Southwest Florida. Howard is also a long-time supporter of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.
SARAH OWENPresident and Chief Executive Officer
As President and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Sarah Owen leads a team of community collaborators dedicated to connecting donors and their philanthropic aspirations with the evolving needs in Southwest Florida. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations that create sustainable positive change and providing the funding to make those changes a reality.
Her journey into the non-profit arena came by way of a career in investor relations, public relations and corporate communications. She worked for publicly traded companies on the New York Stock Exchange as well as private companies throughout the Southeastern United States.
On a 3 year adventure with her family in Richmond, Virginia, Sarah discovered her passion for advocacy and community service while working for a not-for-profit that lobbied and advocated for the rights of persons with mental disabilities. Upon returning to Southwest Florida, Sarah was committed to working for a not-for-profit agency and advocating for citizens who could not help themselves. To that end she spent 6 years as the CEO of Community Cooperative Ministries, Inc. (CCMI) a Southwest Florida agency dedicated to creating innovations in the fight against hunger and homelessness.
In addition to her work at CCMI, Sarah co-wrote and founded, “What’s Next? A Support Group for Single Mothers and their Children” a program that is now widely used in churches and communities throughout the Northeastern United States.
Sarah is a “nearly-native” Floridian moving to the state when she was 3 months old. She is married to David Owen and they have successfully launched their two oldest kids out of the house and into college and are enjoying the time they have with their ten year old son.
DARREN ROBERTSHAWNot many hoteliers learn their profession by working in three of the world’s most famous ‘five star’ hotels, but Darren Robertshaw did.
Now Vice President of the Hospitality Group for Trianon Hotel Company, he oversees all aspects of hospitality and is active in development of additional hotel properties.
Prior to coming to Southwest Florida, Darren worked at Ritz-Carlton hotels in Laguna Niguel and Pasadena California, and helped open Ritz-Carlton’s in Seoul, Korea; and Operations Director of the Ritz-Carlton, Naples.
Sandy is President for the Fort Myers office of Northern Trust which he joined in 2006. Prior to that he was with Fifth Third Bank in Naples, Florida, where he served at Vice President and team leader in the commercial real estate division.
He mastered a range of disciplines within the financial arena during his twenty six year career with NBD Bank and in 1993 was selected to fulfill a newly created position as Senior Vice President and Chief Quality Officer.
Sandy received a degree in History from Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey and a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
He serves on the boards of the Boy Scouts of America – Southwest Florida Council, the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida, Habitat for Humanity – Lee County, Hope Hospice, Princeton Club of Southwest Florida, the Uncommon Friends Foundation and the United Way of Lee County; he is also a member of the Lee Cancer Care Advisory Board.
Sandy and his wife, Patty, reside in Bonita Springs
ROBBIE B. ROEPSTORFF
Robbie Roepstorff was born in Florence, Alabama, and has been a resident of Southwest Florida since 1977 and currently resides in Sanibel where she has lived since 1993. Robbie is married to Geoffrey, and they are the parents of Matthew. She has been the President of Edison National Bank since its inception of 1997. Mrs. Roepstorff began her banking career in 1974 and her banking experience is comprised of commercial real estate, retail, residential and daily operational bank management with National and State chartered Commercial Banks. She joined the SWFLCF Board in July, 2010.
Mrs. Roepstorff has extensive community involvement. Some of her many community and philanthropic activities include the following:
- American Heart Association – Director and past President
- American Heart Association Heart Ball 2002 Chair and 2005 Co-Chair
- Bishop Verot High School – Development Committee Member
- Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation - Director
- Edison Pageant of Light – member
- Florida Bankers Association – Past Director
- Florida Gulf Coast University – Chair, Board of Trustees
- Fort Myers Women’s Community Club - member
- Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce – member
- Horizon Council – Voting Member and Past Chair
- Horizon Council Foundation – Investor and Past President
- International Women’s Forum – member
- Lee County’s Industrial Development Authority - Commissioner Appointed
- Lee Memorial Health Systems – 2017 Community Health Visioning Steering Committee, Chair
- Real Estate Investment Society (REIS) – Member and past President
- Sanibel School Advisory Council - Business Representative
- Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce – member
- Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation – Director
- The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools – Director and Chair
- Uncommon Friends Foundation – Advisory Council
Her professional recognitions are as follows:
- Governor Appointment 1997-1999 – Commissioner to the Florida Transportation Commission
- 2002 ATHENA Award Recipient
- 2004 Sanibel-Captiva Chamber Citizen of the Year Award
- 2004 University of North Alabama Alumnus of the Year Award
- 2006 Lee County Business Leadership Hall of Fame Laureate Award (Junior Achievement)
- 2008 Gulfshore Life Magazine’s Men and Women of the Year
- 2008 Paulette Burton Lee County Citizen of the Year
- 2010 Florida Bankers Association "Banker of the Year"
GAY REBEL THOMPSONGay Rebel Thompson is CEO, President, and Chairman of Cement Industries, Inc., a construction products manufacturing company founded by her father nearly 60 years ago in Fort Myers. A fourth generation Floridian, Gay has been involved in the community for many years. She was the first female president of the Downtown Rotary Club and the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce. She has served as Campaign Chair and Chair of the United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades. She is the Board Secretary of the PACE Center for Girls and is a founding member of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation's Women’s Legacy Fund where she currently serves on the Executive Committee. In 2003, Gay was recognized as a Laureate by Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida. She recently completed a six-year term on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Miami Branch.
MYRA H. WALTERSMyra joined the Foundation Board in July 2009. She is a Professor of Speech Communication at Edison State College and Chair of the Department of Speech Communication and Foreign Languages. She has been associated with Edison State College for over 25 years. Her degrees are: B.A. in Political Science/Speech Communication and a M.A. in speech Communication with emphasis in Organizational Communication and also is a graduate of Leadership Lee County.
Presently, Myra volunteers within the community with Bravo Ballet! (a fundraiser to support Gulfshore Ballet School); Junior League of Fort Myers, Sustainer; and the United Way Keel Club Member. In past years, she has been an Auction Committee Member for the Lee County Heart Ball and worked with the United Way Allocations.
Other boards Myra has served on are:
- Past President of the Junior League of Fort Myers
- American Society for Training and Development, Southwest Florida Chapter
- Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida
- Children’s Charities for Southwest Florida
- Board Walk (a not-for-profit training program for United Way Agencies)
Myra is married to Roy D. Walters, owner of Preferred Electric, Inc.
A. SCOTT WHITEScott White joined the Southwest Florida Community Foundation Board in 2005, and serves as Secretary/Treasurer of the Board and chairs the Finance Committee, where his financial knowledge is applied to the investment and grants areas.
Named by the Consumers’ Research Council of America as one of the country’s top financial planners since 2005, Scott is president of Scott White Advisors and is a Certified Financial Planner™, Chartered Financial Consultant and a Chartered Life Underwriter.
A native of Arkansas, Scott attained membership in the honor societies of Phi Alpha Theta and Beta Gamma Sigma while earning his B.A. and M.B.A. at the University of Arkansas. Prior to forming his own practice, he was employed by Prudential Insurance Company of America, Merrill Lynch and Banc One Securities Corporation.
Scott is active as a frequent speaker to non-profit and professional groups, writes articles for various magazines and newspapers, and has served on the National Committee on Planned Giving’s Leave a Legacy committee. He was the founding president of the Planned Giving Council of Lee County and is past president of the Lee County Estate Planning Council. He is a member of the Financial Planning Association’s Southwest Florida Chapter and is a past president of the Southwest Florida Chapter of the American Society of Financial Service Professionals.
He also serves on the board of directors and the executive and planned giving committees for the United Way of Lee County, is a member of the planned giving committee for Lee Memorial Health System Foundation, and is a member of the Rotary Club of Fort Myers.
STEVEN R. WHITLEY, CPARusty is a founding member of Wiltshire, Whitley, Richardson & English, PA, a full-service accounting firm offering a comprehensive range of business and personal accounting services. He is a shareholder, member of the company’s board of directors and partner in charge of tax services.
Raised in Winter Haven, Rusty graduated from Stetson University in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He joined the team of Taylor, Edenfield, Gilliam & Wiltshire, Southwest Florida’s largest accounting firm. Following the business’s acquisition by Coopers & Lybrand, a corporation recognized as one of the world’s “Big 8” accounting firms, Rusty became the partner in charge of tax services for the Southwest Florida operations. In 1989, he and three colleagues formed a partnership and founded WWRE.
Rusty is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants (FICPA). He is a former Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) with the Center for Fiduciary Studies. Rusty has been a seminar leader for accounting professionals and is WWRE’s continuing education coordinator.
He has a strong community commitment and contributes time and expertise to a range of organizations and charitable groups. He became a member of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation Board of Trustees in July 2009. Rusty is a director and past president of the Uncommon Friends Foundation; past chairman of the board of the Charles A. and Ann Morrow Lindbergh Foundation and secretary-treasurer of its support group, the Earth Shine Institute, which he helped establish. He is a past president of the Bonita Springs Speakers Assembly; treasurer of Classic Basketball Inc., the organization that coordinates the annual City of Palms Classic; and is a former member of the finance committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida. He currently serves as a director, and is past president of the Boy Scouts of America, Southwest Florida Council. His volunteer work with scouting, which includes participation as vice president of both the finance and endowment executive committees, began as a troop leader for eight years when his sons were Cub Scouts. Four of the eight scouts in his troop went on to become Eagle Scouts. Rusty was named Distinguished Citizen of the year by the Southwest Florida Council of Boy Scouts in 2005 and was named an Honorary Lifetime member of the Uncommon Friends Foundation in 2007.