Alina Donahue, a 2018 Associate Leadership Collier (ALC) graduate, recently wrote an essay on the most valuable experience she's encountered to date. You guessed it—She wrote all about her ALC program experience. Check it out below:
"I have been fortunate enough to be a part and experience some amazing opportunities within our community. The experience I value the most has to be my time with Associate Leadership Collier (formerly known as GAIN).
When I first contemplated the idea about applying for Associate Leadership Collier (ALC), I didn't think I was ready. I heard about ALC and immediately thought, there is no way I will get accepted. It was very competitive to say the least.
Several weeks after applying, I received the best email ever, "Congratulations! You have been selected to participate in the Associate Leadership Collier, Class of 2018!" I was 27 years old and had just received my first position as a Director of a local hotel. I was extremely nervous. Every single person in my ALC class had one thing that I didn't have, a college degree. In a sense, I was secretly embarrassed about that, though I never showed it.
I'll never forget the first day of session. The meet and greet was scheduled inside the Naples Chamber building, there were about 40 of us. In alphabetical order, we all had to stand up and give a short introduction of ourselves with a fun fact. At the time, my last name was Perez and I was relieved because I had time to think about what I was going to say.
One by one, everyone stood up and did their introductions. You can tell some had done this before. In my class we had directors, lawyers, police officers and soon to be executives! I was petrified. When Amanda said my name, I stood up and I could feel my hands shaking. As I felt the blood rush to my face from nerves I introduced myself as "Alina Perez, Director of Sales for the Bayfront Inn 5th Avenue. I am currently the youngest Director of Sales in SWFL. And a fun fact about me is that I have a strong passion for Human Trafficking and have since joined one of The Shelter's NEXT GEN committee to help with this cause." When I finished those 3 sentences, I felt so relieved. And in that moment, I knew that I would fit right in.
During ALC, I learned so much about our community. Not only did I feel lucky but I also felt privileged to have this opportunity. Every single session was my favorite session. I never took the sessions for granted. Every week I went in with an open mind, ready to learn about our community and how I could help make Naples become that much stronger. I gained a confidence that I had yet to experience before. I became confident in my abilities as a professional and was no longer timid to take a seat at the table with our future community leaders, who also became friends.
I would say that Associate Leadership Collier was the starting line within my professional journey. Whether it's making a new partnership, asking local community leaders for guidance or giving back to our community, I can honestly say that I wouldn't have been able to do this without my experience in ALC."
For more information on ALC, click here.
The Leadership Collier Foundation of the Greater Naples Chamber remains committed to work-based learning, taking steps to ensure students have the resources they need to prepare for college, career and life.
As students across the county shifted to a remote learning, the foundation also worked to transition its signature work-based learning programs to a virtual platform. Through a partnership with Collier County Public Schools, the foundation developed unique programming for students and teachers throughout Collier County. From virtual speakers to mock interviews, the foundation has continued to connect students and educators with the business community.
“Through our partnership we have been able to provide guest speakers, mock interviews, and informational interviews all virtually,” said Courtney Stahlman, the manager of high school career academies at Collier County Public Schools. “We wouldn’t be able to do this without the connections of the Chamber and the dedication of our business community to help provide these opportunities to our students.”
Over the past few weeks, students got resume and workplace etiquette tips from human resource professionals, participated in mock interviews with community leaders and cultivated internships, all through virtual platforms. These opportunities are only possible because of the Chamber’s strong partnership with Collier County Public Schools and their NAF Academies.
These are unprecedented times, especially for our employers. We understand employers are making touch decisions to reduce expenses, including reducing operational hours and staffing. But as you begin to take steps to re-open, we encourage you to consider the role an intern can play in your company.
Interns can help your organization become more productive, raise office morale and provide fresh insights. This summer, we will have a large number of high school students interested in completing an internship and helping your organization bounce back.
If you are interested in hosting an intern, CCPS has received a grant through AT&T Aspire that can help fund your intern at the minimum wage rate of $8.56/hour for up to 150 hours of work!
If you are considering hiring intern(s), below are a few reminders:
Now more than ever, students need our support and encouragement to keep moving toward their future career. Thank you to our community partners for their continued support with our work-based learning initiative as we assist with the career development of students.
Don’t know how to get started? From hiring to managing an intern, we’re here to help. Contact Alex Breault email@example.com for more information.
The ballot is set.
Qualifying for state and local races – including state House and Collier Board of County Commissioners – ended at noon on June 12. The weeklong qualifying period set the candidates for August and November.
Collier County voters will cast their ballots in several competitive races this year. Voters in Collier County Commission District 1 will have the opportunity to pick a new commissioner for the first time in more than a decade, after Commissioner Donna Fiala announced her retirement. Over in Commission District 5, Commissioner Bill McDaniel faces a primary challenge before facing off with a Democrat in November.
Look for the race to replace Rep. Byron Donalds in the Florida House to heat up, with three Republicans and one Democrat vying for the House District 80 seat.
Here’s a breakdown of what to expect when you head to the ballot box this year:
Florida is a closed primary state, which means only registered Democrats and Republicans can vote in their party’s primary. Several races on the ballot, such as the Clerk of Courts race, are considered “open” primaries, because no member of an opposing party or with no party affiliation qualified to run.
The deadline to register to vote is July 20 in the August primary election. Collier residents can visit www.CollierVotes.com for more information on how to update your voter information, including changing your party affiliation, or to request a vote-by-mail ballot.
The ongoing fight against COVID-19 has changed the fabric of our community. Our beaches and parks have closed. Restaurants and small businesses have drastically altered their operations. And keeping our distance meant saying an early farewell to the events and people that help make our economy tick.
As a community, these actions are proving successful. Safer-at-home orders have kept our most vulnerable populations safe, while easing of some regulations at the local and state level have allowed businesses to continue operations. By practicing social distancing and listening to local, state and federal healthcare leaders, we are flattening the curve.
While critical to the health and well-being of our community, these precautions have hammered our economy. About 70% of our membership have seen their revenues reduced dramatically, forcing them to make difficult choices about pay cuts, furloughs or layoffs.
As the voice of business in Collier County, we want the economy to reopen and stay open. In order for that to occur, we must take a measured and methodical approach while we get back to work. Move too quickly, and we risk a second surge in COVID-19 cases and another round of restrictive measures.
In Collier County, we pride ourselves as being of one of the healthiest communities in the world, and now, more than ever, we need to take steps to ensure we stay that way. With that in mind, we would encourage local and state leaders to consider the following:
We also believe this is an opportunity to consider what we want our future economy to look like. While many businesses have struggled during this crisis, others have experienced little impact on day-to-day operations. As we move forward, we must work together to diversify our economy to encourage growth in resilient industries, such as advanced manufacturing, financial services, information technology and healthcare.
Our community has changed, and we need to understand that for us to recover safely, we must take it slow. As tempting as it is to flip a switch and fully turn our economy back on, we appreciate that careful, incremental and deliberate steps are critical to our community’s decision to reopen – and more importantly, stay open.
_Michael Dalby is the president and CEO of the Greater Naples Chamber.
This editorial was originally published in the Naples Daily News on April 27.
The Greater Naples Chamber and the Board of Collier County Commissioners selected Classic Chamber Concerts as the March 2020 Business of the Month.
Each month, the award is presented to an organization that has enhanced the community through financial, volunteer and active involvement in organizations and programs that creates a better quality of life for all citizens in Collier County.
The Board of Collier County Commissioners and Bethany Sawyer, director of membership at the Greater Naples Chamber, presented Classic Chamber Concerts’ Director of Development Elizabeth Lynch with a commemorative plaque on March 10 at the County Commission meeting.
“I would like to extend our sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Greater Naples Chamber and Commissioners Office for this honor of recognition,” said Lynch. “We continue our mission with pride and feel very fortunate to be part of a community who realizes that arts and culture are a necessary part of a truly enriched lifestyle.”
Founded in 1995, Classic Chamber Concerts seeks to provide world-class music for audiences in Southwest Florida; and to educate, encourage, and promote the appreciation and enjoyment of classical music. Along with a six-concert season of classical chamber music, Classic Chamber Concerts’ vision is to inspire young musicians to reach for the stars.
Educational outreach is a key feature of Classic Chamber Concert’s mission. Its world-class artists visit Collier County schools the morning following their performance to conduct a master class. This provides an opportunity for students to play, the artists to listen, and exchange suggestions to improve sound, tempo and overall technique. The experience is followed by a friendly Q&A about life as a professional musician.
This season, Classic Chamber Concerts celebrates its 25th anniversary by honoring Beethoven's 250th birthday. Concerts are held on Monday nights at 8 p.m. at the Sugden Community Theatre or the First United Methodist Church.
To learn more about Classic Chamber Concerts, visit https://naplesccc.org/.
Michael Dalby, President and CEO of Greater Naples Chamber; Katie Sproul, CEO of Halstatt; Amanda Beights, Vice President of the Leadership Collier Foundation
The Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF), of the Greater Naples Chamber, is pleased to present Katie Sproul, CEO of Halstatt, with its inaugural Leadership Legacy Award.
The award was created to recognize and honor an individual who fulfills the mission of the LCF through his or her actions and philanthropic support.
Sproul, a graduate of Leadership Collier Class of 2001, currently serves as the CEO of Halstatt and is a seasoned family business executive with expertise in real estate, agriculture, investment management, private equity, family office best practices and private company governance. She has a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and an MBA from Yale School of Management, and she served as chair of the Greater Naples Chamber from 2010-2012, and chair of the LCF from 2014-2016.
Sproul is passionate about leadership, mentorship and talent development. She sends professionals from her office each year to apply for Leadership Collier programs, and she also encourages a work environment that engages in work-based learning, often hiring interns and hosting job shadows within her business. Sproul was also the LCF’s first Leadership League member, investing annually in the Foundation so it could expand its work.
“Talent is the bedrock of a community,” said Sproul when asked why she believes the LCF’s work with talent development. “It is important to grow and retain our best talent in Collier County, whether you are a business owner or a retired resident. It is that talent that mans our emergency rooms, runs the landscaping companies that keep Collier beautiful, or brings cutting edge technology to our community.”
Sproul formally accepted the Leadership Legacy Award—which was presented by Dr. Aysegul Timur, incoming chair of the LCF’s Board of Advisors—on Feb. 11 at LCF’s Leadership Celebration Luncheon.
For more information on LCF, click here.
Nominations are open for the Greater Awards, presented by the Greater Naples Chamber.
Launched in 2020, the awards recognize Collier County businesses and individuals that exemplify innovation, economic diversification and community enhancement. The awards will be presented in three categories: Small Business, Heart of the Community and Legacy Business. The nomination deadline is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, March 25, and the awards will be presented at the Greater Naples Chamber’s annual meeting on Friday, May 29 at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.
The Small Business category recognizes a business with fewer than 20 employees that has been in Collier County for five or more years. The recipient of the award exemplifies company growth, positive workplace culture, community involvement and a clear vision for the future.
The Heart of the Community category recognizes a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that has been in Collier County for five or more years. The recipient demonstrates a positive impact on the community, a well-directed volunteer team and purposeful goals for the future
The Legacy Business category recognizes a company with 20 or more employees that has been in business for 20 or more years, with its current primary location in Collier County. The recipient is a proven leader in innovation the Naples area, brings positive change and maintains a strong company culture.
For more information, or to nominate a business or organization, visit https://www.napleschamber.org/greater-awards-nomination.html.
For Jamie Andersen (LC ’18), life is coming full circle.
Having grown up in Collier County, attending Pine Ridge Middle School and Barron Collier High School, Andersen left for the early part of her adult life and a career in New York City. She returned in 2015 to a little town that had grown up. Since her homecoming, Andersen has contributed to our community in significant ways, as she inspires others to fulfill their leadership potential.
“I’m so impressed by everything that has transpired in the county. For a population to have the resources we do—to have the arts and culture scene we do, to have access to great education opportunities at Florida SouthWestern State College and Florida Gulf Coast University, to have such a strong business community spearheaded by the Chamber and to have a very patriotic, charitable community—is really special,” Andersen said. “I’m just loving every day being here and raising my family here.”
Andersen is mom to Jimmy (6) and Julia (3).
As alumni of the Leadership Collier Foundation know, our leadership programs encourage participants to get more involved in our community. For Andersen, Leadership Collier also inspired her to deepen her commitment to the Chamber.
Since graduation, Andersen joined the Greater Naples Chamber’s Public Policy Committee, participating in discussions about pressing issues in the area, including workforce housing and growth management. Andersen joined the committee, “to stay engaged on the topics that impact our community and to sustain relationships with other leaders, which will benefit the community in times of need.”
As a member of “The Great 1-8,” the Leadership Collier class that took place in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Andersen experienced such a time firsthand.
“Although it presented a lot of scheduling challenges, people were very gracious in moving around sessions,” Andersen said. “It was wonderful to have that type of community in place in that challenging year.”
For Andersen, the shared experience of Hurricane Irma brought an immediacy to the program, demonstrating why Leadership Collier is so important. It also helped to inspire the class to give back by creating an endowed scholarship fund with the Community Foundation of Collier County to support the Leadership Collier Foundation and future program participants.
Andersen proudly serves as Board Chair for Florida’s Southern Gulf Chapter of the American Red Cross, covering Collier, Lee, Hendry, and Glades Counties.
“The Red Cross is a community asset that depends on volunteers,” Andersen said. “In an area with so many veterans, in an area that faces hurricanes and wildfires, I encourage anyone with an interest in giving back to get involved. This organization means so much to me, and we’re always looking for people to join.”
In addition to her work with the Red Cross, Andersen serves as Vice Chair of the Community School of Naples’ “CSN Fund for Excellence,” a fund supporting the independent school’s annual budget. She also participates with the Business Hall of Fame Advisory Board for Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida. Junior Achievement provides financial literacy education and mentorship for youth in our area. Every year the organization recognizes two outstanding business leaders from Collier County.
“I’m inspired by the businesspeople we recognize and the students that we’re doing this on behalf of. It’s a nice tradition for Collier County,” Andersen said. The event also serves as the main fundraiser for JA.
Spurred by her involvement with the Chamber’s Public Policy Committee, Andersen was selected to sit on the Infrastructure Sales Surtax Oversight Committee. This citizen committee oversees how the money generated by the one-cent sales surtax, approved by voters in 2018, is spent.
“I value the will of the people of Collier County,” Andersen said. “They’ve invested this one-cent sales surtax, and I thought it was very important to make sure we had proper citizen oversight and that their hard-earned taxpayer dollars were used for the intended purpose.”
To expand her community work to a statewide level, Andersen traveled to Tallahassee in February as a representative of the Southwest Florida delegation. It was an opportunity to experience the legislative process firsthand. Andersen and the group met with lawmakers—including Senate Majority Leader Kathleen Passidomo (LC ’91)—to discuss needs and priorities for our area.
When Andersen reflects on leadership, she thinks of a line from consumer advocate and environmental activist Erin Brokovich: Superman is not coming.
“It’s up to us. We’re the leaders of this community,” Andersen said. “If there is something that we want to tackle or needs to be done, there is nobody better to do that than those equipped by Leadership Collier. Go for it!”
The Greater Naples Chamber, in partnership with Collier County Government and Florida Gulf Coast University, is pleased to present the Collier County Business Climate Survey Report for the first quarter of 2020.
About the survey:
The Collier County Business Climate Survey Report, published in partnership between Collier County Government, the Greater Naples Chamber, and Florida Gulf Coast University, provides primary research to the business community, elected officials, and other concerned citizens designed to gauge the state of Collier County’s economy over time as well as impressions and concerns about it in the future.
The Executive Business Climate Survey provides a view of the local economy based on responses from senior executives from a range of industries across the county. The internet survey was sent to 198 executives and business owners in Collier County.
The business climate survey is comprised of three areas of focus. The first area examines Collier County business executives’ impressions of economic conditions and trends with respect to hiring and investment. The second area provides the calculation of an Executive Business Climate Index (EBCI). The third area is comprised of issue-specific questions that change from survey to survey. The current “special topics” section focuses on the firm’s ability to fill their most skilled position and expectations they have for potential candidates.
Key survey results:
Key indicators seem to suggest overall confidence among business leaders’ that the local economy will not experience a decline in the coming year and optimism in business owners’ perception of the direction of the local economy in the last year:
One of the key features of this survey is the calculation of an Executive Business Climate Index. The EBCI provides a summary number which will allow one to quickly gauge whether the business climate in Collier County is improving or declining. The index measured at 66.4 during the first quarter of 2020 on a range of 0 to 100, 100 meaning the business climate is substantially better, and 0 meaning the business climate is substantially worse. Given that this is the first measurement overall, once more quarters are measured trends in the EBCI may be established.
Additional comments from the surveyed executives included cost of living concerns and availability of local and promotion trade work.
The Greater Naples Chamber and the Board of Collier County Commissioners selected Preferred Travel of Naples, Inc. as the Business of the Month for February 2020.
Each month, the award is presented to an organization that has enhanced the community through financial, volunteer and active involvement in organizations and programs that creates a better quality of life for all citizens in Collier County.
The Board of Collier County Commissioners and Bethany Sawyer, director of membership at the Greater Naples Chamber, presented President/CFO Olga Placeres with a commemorative plaque on Feb. 11 at the County Commission meeting.
“As a long-standing business in Southwest Florida, we are honored to have been chosen as Collier County Business of the Month and are proud to support the community that supports us,” said Placeres.
Founded in 1984, Preferred Travel of Naples is the largest travel agency in Southwest Florida with a team of more than 50 advisors specializing in leisure travel from cruises to world adventures. The company’s travel advisors—most of whom have been with Preferred Travel for over 10 years—strive to deliver differentiated travel experiences and personalized service.
Preferred Travel plans travel experiences to places around the world. Some popular destinations include Africa, Austria, Thailand, Spain, Australia, Germany, the Holy Land and more.
In addition to donations and sponsorships supported by Preferred Travel, the company also selects a local charity each year as the beneficiary of its annual travel show. One hundred percent of the ticket sales goes directly to the selected charity. Since 2007, $224,760 has been raised from the travel show ticket sales and donated to charitable organizations in Collier County.
To learn more about Preferred Travel of Naples, click here.