Community Foundation of Collier County and Women’s Initiative Network Announce 2015 Women of Initiative

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The Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) an endowment fund at the Community Foundation of Collier County, has announced the 2015 Women of Initiative - ten local women leaders who, through their leadership styles, are an inspiration to women seeking to make a difference through philanthropy and civic engagement. Since 1998, 166 women have been honored by the Women’s Initiative Network at the Community Foundation.

The Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) an endowment fund at the Community Foundation of Collier County, has announced the 2015 Women of Initiative - ten local women leaders who, through their leadership styles, are an inspiration to women seeking to make a difference through philanthropy and civic engagement. Since 1998, 166 women have been honored by the Women’s Initiative Network at the Community Foundation.

The 2015 Women of Initiative will be applauded during the annual Women of Initiative luncheon to be held on April 1, 2015 at the Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club. This year’s honorees: Bette Aymar, Eleanor Chabraja, Kirsten Ferrara, Lydia Galton, Sandi Moran, Linda Penniman, Lee Pinto, Sondra Quinn, Bunny Salisbury and Deborah Strand. At the event, a video about each honoree will be shown. Also, the Women’s Initiative Network grantees for 2014-2015 will be announced; last year, WIN grantmaking totaled more than $50,000 to seven Collier County nonprofit agencies working to solve problems facing at-risk women and girls.

“These women are an inspiration to us all,” said Bev Cherry, chair, Women’s Initiative Network Steering Committee at the Community Foundation of Collier County. “Through their leadership, innovation, energy, and dedication of time and talent they have helped change the face of our community.”

Learn more about their exceptional accomplishments:

Bette Aymar - Bette Aymar starts many days giving back to her neighborhood during her morning walk with husband, John, as they pick up litter along their path. Once she’s done making her immediate surroundings better, Bette can be found helping a myriad of nonprofit organizations that she supports as a board member, committee member or volunteer. Since moving to Collier County a little over a decade ago, Bette has demonstrated a tenacity and enthusiasm for approaching donors, sponsors and volunteers that has resulted in many increased gifts for the organizations she serves. These include the League Club, Shelter for Abused Women & Children, Naples Garden Club, Trinity by the Cove’s Naples Art & Antiques Show, Naples Winter Wine Festival, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Naples Zoo, Classic Chamber Concerts, Fun Time Early Childhood Academy, Pelican Marsh Women’s League, and Community Foundation of Collier County. For Bette, no task is too small, no challenge is too big.

Eleanor Chabraja - Eleanor Chabraja’s local volunteer efforts are firmly rooted in support for the Naples Botanical Garden. She serves on the Garden’s Board of directors as its secretary, is co-chair of the Garden’s Education Committee and sits on its Executive Committee. As a member of the organization’s Sustaining Leadership Council, she is one of 30 philanthropically-minded women dedicated to growing and sustaining the Garden, in part by supporting its annual Hats in the Garden event. With her husband, Nick, Eleanor made a $5 million commitment to the Garden’s capital campaign. The 25,000-square-foot Eleanor and Nicholas Chabraja Visitor Center opened this past fall and will welcome hundreds of thousands of guests to the Garden over the years.

Kirsten Ferrara - Describing her Heart and Soul boutique, Kristen Ferrara has called it a business with a big conscience. To that end, she has served as a committee chair or in a volunteer capacity for organizations such as the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples, Cancer Alliance, NCH Magnolia Ball, Naples Winter Wine Festival and the Humane Society of Naples. She was co-chair of the 2014 Old Bags Luncheon benefitting the Shelter for Abused Women & Children, which Kellie Burns selected as the Best New Charity Event for 2014 in the Gulfshore Life Charity Register. Since 2012, Kirsten has also volunteered at the Shelter’s Gentle’men Against Domestic Violence Men’s Tailgate Party, making a personal ask that resulted in donations totaling $58,000 in 15 minutes. On the national level, Kirsten was involved with Smile Train which provides free cleft repair surgeries to those in need while helping to train local doctors and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Lydia Galton - As an editor and marketer, Lydia Galton knows how to assemble all the parts, organize them cohesively, and index them for easy access and sell the results. You’ll often find her guest commentaries in the local newspapers. Most recently, Lydia has been involved with the Collier County Identify Theft Coalition, Injury Prevention Task Force, Opportunity Naples Steering Committee, Collier Citizen Council (founding member) and Greater Naples Leadership Class X Board member and chair of its Community Involvement Committee. She was a Leadership Collier Board member, President of the League of Women Voters of Collier County and president of the Naples Garden Club, helping the group obtain non-profit status, move to the Naples Botanical Garden and launch the Naples Flower Show in conjunction with the garden.

Sandi Moran - The name Sandi Moran is synonymous with the arts in Collier County. Sandi has volunteered with the United Arts Council of Collier County for more than a decade, serving as president and as chair for two Stars in the Arts luncheons and two Celebrate the Arts galas. Ten years ago, Sandi and her husband, Tom, were the founding patrons of Opera Naples; Sandi also chaired the building campaign for the David and Cecile Wang Opera Center. She also finds “art” in cuisine, serving as both Vice-President and former President of the Southeast Region of the Chaine des Rotisseurs International Gastronomy Society, the oldest and largest food and wine society in the world and as a Board member and gala chair for the Culinary and Hospitality Education Foundation of Southwest Florida. Youth are also important to Sandi; she has served on the Naples Alliance for Children’s Gifted Education Committee; is a Trustee and Board member for the Naples Children; and, Education Foundation, and, along with her husband, is co-chair of its 2015 Festival.

Linda Penniman - The breadth of Linda Penniman’s interests include education, social services, conservation and government. Part of her commitment to the local community stems from her membership in the Greater Naples Leadership Class VII, an organization she later served as a Board and Executive Committee member. Her other board involvement has included Naples Better Government Committee, Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology, Moorings Property Owners Association, Collier County Presidents Council, Naples Council on World Affairs, Collier County Alliance, and The League Club Community Involvement Committee. She served on the Naples Planning Advisory Board and the Collier County Coastal Advisory Committee, and has been a Naples City Councilwoman since 2014. In the St. Louis area, Linda was a founder and past chair for a Designer Showcase House, Realtor Housing Assistance Fund Committee and board, Great Spring and Fall Clean Out, Forest Park Forever Women’s Committee, Park Conservancy and Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House. In 2000, she walked 325 miles across Missouri to raise attention for a campaign finance reform measure.

Lee Pinto - Described as someone driven to be an ambassador for people who need help dealing with life’s difficulties, Lee Pinto demonstrates that with her commitment to several social services organizations. For Avow Hospice, Lee launched the Kensington Fore Hospice golf tournament, helped plan the first Butterfly Ball and serves as Chair for 2015, works on its Board and its Community Advisory Board, and is a captain for Avow’s Promise 2 Give capital campaign. She has also served on the boards for Sunlight Home and Kensington Golf and Country Club, been a Stephen Minister and leader at North Naples United Church of Christ, and, as a registered nurse, volunteered with Neighborhood Health Clinic. In the Chicago area, Lee served as a Trustee for the Chicago Zoological Society, Director for the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Foundation, and on the boards of the Brookville Zoo Women’s Board, Special Olympics Chicago and racing Industry’s Charitable Foundation.

Sondra Quinn - A retired museum executive who spent 37 years working in the non-profit sector, Sondra Quinn has served on national and local boards, raised millions of dollars, spearheaded start-up and expansion projects, and received numerous awards for her community contributions. Some highlights of her involvement include past President and hair of several committees for the Naples Garden Club, past President of Bayshore Cultural Arts, current Vice-President and Governance Chair for Cultural and Performing Arts Center (CAPA), and co-founder and past Vice-President of the Community Alliance of Bayshore. Sondra was President of the Naples Area Tri-Delta Alumnae chapter, involved with Greater Naples Leadership, Vice-President and Governance Chair for Windstar on Naples Bay, and on the board of the Naples Art & Antiques Show. She recently served as meeting Chair and on the Judges Council for the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs and is an accredited National Garden Club flower show judge. Among her many recognitions, Sondra has received the Museum Service Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Association of Museums and was named Woman of the Year by the Association of Women in Computing.

Edith “Bunny” Salisbury - As a founding member of the Guadalupe Center’s Advisory Board, three-time event chair, volunteer and major donor, Bunny Salisbury has helped improve the lives and futures of Immokalee’s children since 2006. She helped to form and fund the Tutor Corps Scholarship Program, which has helped more than 100 students attend college, as well as the Tutor Corps Summer Scholarship Fund, which allows students to get a life-changing taste of college life. With her husband, Charles and their daughters, Bunny supports the League Club, Shelter for Abused Women & Children and Naples Botanical Garden through their Salisbury Family Foundation. They also fund the Salisbury Family Professorship in Neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In Baltimore, Bunny was a member of the Women’s Committee of the Walters Art Museum and served on the boards for Roland Park County School and Oldfields School.

Deborah Strand - Veterans in Southwest Florida salute Dr. Debi Strand, who co-founded Collier County Honor Flight. Since its inception in September 2013, the organization has flown more than 225 veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit and reflect at their memorials. Each flight also touches the lives of 50-75 volunteers who escort the veterans on the trip as well as up to 2,500 people who welcome the veterans home at RSW airport. Thanks to her marketing and fundraising efforts, the first flight took place within a month of the organization’s founding. A veteran herself, Dr. Strand served as a dental officer in the United States Navy for three years. She is a current member of Leadership Collier, volunteers with the Collier County Medical Reserve Corps, is an ambassador for the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, past third Vice Commander for the American Legion, past Board member of the Kiwanis Club, and past Charity Board member for the Military Officers Association of Southwest Florida.

About Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) - The Women’s Initiative Network Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation of Collier County was established by women community leaders to develop a sustainable way to meet the economic, educational, physical, emotional, social, and artistic needs of women and girls in Collier County. More than $350,000 has been granted by WIN since 2008.

About the Community Foundation of Collier County - The Community Foundation of Collier County is a tax-exempt, public, charitable fund, established in 1985 with a $300,000 endowment to increase and focus private philanthropy in the area. Today, the Community Foundation oversees more than 500 funds, collaborates with more than 400 nonprofits, holds over $86 million in assets and has distributed more than $77 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and community programs.

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Craig Jones - Marketing Director
Community Foundation of Collier County
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