The Southwest Florida Community Foundation Board of Trustees announces that Sarah Owen has been appointed chief executive officer.
Owen currently serves as CEO of Community Cooperative Ministries Inc., a local nonprofit serving the homeless and hungry across Southwest Florida. Over the past six years she has been instrumental in leading CCMI through an organizational restructure and implementing new sustainable methods of serving the needs of the community through the creation of emergency mobile food pantries, weekend backpack programs for more than 1,500 students and converting the former Soup Kitchen into the Everyday Cafe and Marketplace.
“Sarah was selected from an extremely talented pool of candidates because of her devotion to meeting the future needs of Southwest Florida as well as her fundraising success in the community,” said Dawn-Marie Driscoll, chairman of the board of trustees. “She is a creative problem solver and a respected leader who we are confident will move the community foundation toward continued growth.”
“I look forward to applying the experience gained from advancements made at CCMI toward the Southwest Florida community as a whole,” said Owen. “My goal will not only be to connect donors with their philanthropic aspirations and the evolving needs of the community, but also to help enact sustainable programs and best practices at those we fund.”
A native of Florida, Owen earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Florida Southern College in Lakeland and a master’s degree in education from the University of South Florida. Her career has included working in investor relations and corporate communications for publicly traded companies on the New York Stock Exchange, as well as private companies throughout the Southeastern United States.
She is the founder and co-author of “What’s Next, A Guide for Single Mother’s & Their Children” which is currently being marketed as “Fresh Start for Single Mothers and Their Children.” Owen is also a contributor to various blogs including Tyson Hunger Relief and the U.S. Poverty Blog and a White Paper “America Woke Up Hungry.” She is a past recipient of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce’s APEX award, a Tyson Foods Hunger All-Star, The News-Press’s Person to Watch, a top 10 finalist in Energizer’s Keep Going Hall of Fame, a national Collaboration Prize Recognition winner, National Community Leadership Association Distinguished Leadership Award winner, received the Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have A Dream Award and Business Network International’s PEAK Executive Director of the Year. She was honored by President George H. Bush at a White House Rose Garden Ceremony for her involvement in the “Just Say No To Drugs” campaign.
“Sarah brings energy and passion plus a proven track record of leadership, business knowledge and a compassion of caring,” said Jim Nathan, president and chief executive officer for Lee Memorial Health System and senior advisory trustee for the community foundation. “We are truly honored by Sarah’s willingness to help foster the mission and vision of the foundation and our community will be well served by her talents and dedication.”
Nathan served as a past chair of the foundation and in various capacities over the last 27 years.
“The foundation is one of this community’s most valuable assets,” Nathan added. “Our role is to be worthy of the trust of donors who want to strengthen our community and know that we will invest their contributions wisely and will spend the proceeds in the ways they wish towards worthy community causes. Knowledgeable and effective leadership focused on helping strengthen our community is essential.”
“As I said to Dawn-Marie in our phone conversation this morning, this is an opportunity for all of Southwest Florida and while I and the board are very sorry to see Sarah Owen move on, this is by far the best move that will fit into the bigger picture of Southwest Florida,” said Sam Galloway Jr., chairman of the board of directors of CCMI and senior advisory trustee of the community foundation. “She has been in places to see the true need of this community which is the purpose of the community foundation and the experience she brings to the table is priceless. This is the right time more than ever for Sarah to take the reins and meet the needs of all of our community.”
According to Driscoll, Owen is expected to start her new position by the end of October.