JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
United States Sen. Marco Rubio discussed a wide variety of topics during Wake Up Naples, sponsored by Florida Power & Light, at the Hilton Naples on Wednesday, April 7. Photo credit: John Eder/Marker4Photos
For United States Sen. Marco Rubio, infrastructure is more than just roads and bridges. It’s water management systems and broadband, an expansive network to better prepare communities across Florida and the nation for the future.
Infrastructure was among the topics Rubio touched on during a wide-ranging discussion during Wake Up Naples on April 7. Sponsored by Florida Power & Light, the event was a chance for Rubio to provide Greater Naples Chamber members with an update from Washington, D.C. and talk about some of the issues facing the nation.
“The most important question we have to ask all the time is: what direction is our country headed in and what do we need to do to change the course if we’re (headed) in the wrong direction,” he told the crowd of about 80 people at the Hilton Naples. “I think it’s easy to take for granted some of the things that make us special and unique.”
Rubio went on to say that he thinks the two things that make America unique is opportunity and freedom. He said his background as a son of Cuban immigrants has shaped what his views of what it means to have opportunity and freedom.
“It’s the ability to go out and find a good job that allows you to provide for your family and live the life that you wanted. It isn’t about wealth. It isn’t about how many things you own,” he said. “That may be someone’s definition of happiness, but for millions of Americans happiness is basically the ability to live in a safe neighborhood, in a home you own, start a family … retire with some level of dignity. And for my parents, they lived to see all four of their kids have better lives than theirs.”
Rubio touched on several hot button issues during his remarks, including freedom of speech and voter identification laws. He also talked about the Biden administration’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan, and needs of communities across the nation. Rubio said when talking about infrastructure needs it comes down to whether communities are “willing to define infrastructure in responsible ways that are more expansive.”
“If we wanted to do a bipartisan bill, we could,” he said. “It (would be) very meaningful and it would fund a lot of infrastructure and it would create a revenue structure and responsible and would pay for most of it.”
For more information or to register for an upcoming Chamber event, visit www.napleschamber.org/events.
Linking students to careers.
ALEX BREAULT, DIRECTOR OF WORK BASED LEARNING
The Leadership Collier Foundation's (LCF), a 501(c) 3 of the Greater Naples Chamber, mission is the activate the potential of leaders to build a stronger Collier County. We do this through two areas of focus; leadership programs and talent. The talent area of focus is based on local community and employer needs which connects youth to employers through quality work-based learning experiences. Since inception in 2018, we have been able to reach over 5,000 students through meaningful opportunities. This work is managed by our Director of Work-Based Learning, Alex Breault, it is free to students and employers and is funded through annual investors such as Naples Children Education Foundation.
Work-based learning is a talent strategy that provides students with real-life work experiences where students can apply academic and technical skills to develop their employability. 92% of our Chamber members are small businesses with 10 or fewer employees. Our employers continuously tell us that one of their top challenges continues to be talent. It is both difficult and expensive to find skilled talent necessary for them to thrive. By investing more in talent while leveraging our business relationships, we are working to grow, connect, and cultivate our own future workforce.
As the Chamber of Commerce's foundation, along with many of our community partners such as Future Ready Collier, we strive for Collier County students to graduate from high school with a clearer understanding of local opportunities and assist them with the development of necessary employability skills to perform the jobs while meeting the talent needs of our Chamber and community members. We understand that to affect real change in the makeup of our workforce and community, we need to be strongly invested in the education and employer connection for our youth.
To assist the success of students' career readiness, we partner with local educators, staff, and nonprofit organizations serving students to connect employers, including our own Leadership Collier Foundation Alumni, to hands-on learning experiences. Such experiences include but are not limited to guest speakers, mock interviews, work-site tours, informational interviews, industry career fairs, speed networking, mentoring, job shadows, and internships. All of these experiences can be either in-person or virtual.
Through these valuable experiences, students have the ability to apply classroom learning, establish professional connections, have a better understanding of workplace expectations, practice their soft skills all while broadening their awareness of career pathways. Most importantly, they allow students to uncover their true potential. In return, this increases their economic mobility by providing career options they may not have considered before.
Employers also reap the rewards from a more elevated workforce and by volunteering their own time to support work-based learning. They have the ability to create an ongoing talent pipeline, test drive future talent, help shape school’s curriculum, bring fresh perspective and ideas into their workplace, and increase their employees’ productivity through short term support. Our employer goal is to develop new partnerships with business leaders that will serve as work-based learning participants and advocates and connect students and businesses with mutually beneficial work-based learning experiences that create a future talent pipeline for Collier County.
To begin engaging with work-based learning, connect with Alex Breault, our Director of Work-Based Learning, at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about various ways to volunteer and how easily you can help support our future workforce. We look forward to speaking with you!
AMANDA BEIGHTS, SENIOR DIRECTOR, LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS
Naples, FL (March 10, 2021) – The Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF), of the Greater Naples Chamber, announces the Associate Leadership Collier Class of 2021. The class began their program with a kick-off session at Paradise Coast Sports Complex on Tuesday, March 9.
Associate Leadership Collier (ALC) is a program specifically designed for emerging leaders and professionals in Collier County of ages 21-40. Participants will learn about local government, charitable organizations, arts, commerce, law enforcement, tourism, education, health care, and other resources so that graduates can become involved and be an effective contributor in the community.
The LCF Board of Directors congratulates the following class members of Associate Leadership Collier 2021:
CHAIR: Priscylla Oliva-Gomez, Barron Collier Companies
VICE CHAIR: WT Pearson, Pearson Commercial Real Estate Services LLC
VICE CHAIR: Trish Robertson, Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office
Alexis Barkis, Quarles & Brady, LLP
Erika Bishop, Arthrex, Inc.
Cassandra Bliss, Accounting Bliss, LLC
Rachel Blitz, Collier County Public Schools
Kyle Briant , Collier County Clerk of Courts
Delaney Carroll, Wilson Creative Group
Kelly Colligan, Avow
Michael Conroy, PBS Contractors
Courtney Cooper, The Whitcomb Group
Brandon Copper, Davidson Engineering
Alexis Corrente, HBK CPAs & Consultants
Danny Cox, Naples Botanical Garden
Elena Davis, Naples ReDevelopment
Yenifer Diaz, Healthcare Network of SWFL
Audra DiNanno, The Immokalee Foundation
Daniela Garcia, Arthrex, Inc.
Yanelys (Liz) Gomez, Community Health Partners
Madelyn Harper, Collier County Supervisor of Elections
Mike Harris, Halstatt Real Estate Partners
Benjamin Huber, Barron Collier Company
Geoff Hunter, Raymond James & Associates
Justin Jaffry, IBM Corporation
Geena Kandel, Wollman, Gehrke & Associates, P.A.
Jessica Liria, David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health
Catherine Littell, Halstatt Legacy Partners
Zachary Lombardo, Woodward, Pires & Lombardo, P.A.
Angela Lopez, David Lawrence Centers for Behavioral Health
Pedro Lora, Habitat for Humanity of Collier County
Samantha Molina, Collier County Parks and Recreation
Alexandria D. Olson, Greater Naples Chamber
Tom Orr, Collier County Sheriff's Office
Alec Pearson, Grant Fridkin Pearson, P.A.
Robert Peia, Spectrum Concierge
Ashlynn Reeder, HBK CPAs & Consultants
Matt Robertson, Engineering Consulting Services
Darlyn Scott, Collier County Public Schools
Christina Shutter, Cancer Alliance of Naples
Brittney Thoman Jones, Physicians Regional Healthcare System
Abby Villagomez, Guadalupe Center, Inc.
Olivia Wetzel, The Players Club Spa
Franchesca Whiting, Community School of Naples
Geoff Willig, Collier County
About the Leadership Collier Foundation
The Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF), of the Greater Naples Chamber, educates local business leaders about the societal and economic challenges facing the community today through the programs and initiatives it governs: Leadership Collier, Associate Leadership Collier, Youth Leadership Collier, The Emerging Leadership Council and Campaign for Leadership. Through the work of the LCF Alumni Association, graduates continue to build alliances, foster goodwill and civic trusteeship that will strengthen Collier County. The foundation also leads the Chamber’s initiative for work-based learning opportunities for local business and students supporting talent development. For more information, contact Amanda Beights at email@example.com.
About the Greater Naples Chamber
The Greater Naples Chamber is a nonprofit organization of more than 1,200 active members that works to strengthen the local economy and promote the business community. The Chamber accomplishes this through public policy and business advocacy, leadership programs, executive business forums and sessions, and enhanced member benefits and services. The Chamber is dedicated to cultivating economic opportunity for all. For more information, call (239) 262-637 or visit www.napleschamber.org.
ALEX BREAULT, DIRECTOR OF WORK BASED LEARNING
Collier County Public Schools (CCPS), Greater Naples Chamber, StickBoy, and Emerge SWFL recently collaborated to host an interactive and innovative virtual expo for Collier County high school students interested in technology. This expo focused on igniting student interest in careers within the technology industry. Students in the CCPS NAF Academies, heard from a wide variety of tech experts while having the ability to build professional connections.
NAF Academies are small career themed learning communities within current school structures focused on preparing students for college and career success. At Tech Horizons over 100 students in the NAF Academies virtually navigated through 20 speaker tables to converse with industry professionals to not only learn about careers but also deepen their understanding of education, training, and aptitudes needed to be successful in this industry.
Adriana Flores, teacher at Palmetto Ridge High School, stated “The event was a resounding success! Watching the students engage with the speakers and ask questions was such a rewarding experience. Technology continues to be such an asset for the students especially in the times we are dealing with now.”
The Chamber's mission of creating a stronger economy in Collier County involves cultivating a viable workforce within our community. Through Tech Horizons the Chamber set an initiative to broaden student knowledge of technology careers in their community in hopes of retaining talent for local employers. Angelisa Maccou, student at Palmetto Ridge High School, seemed to experience just that. Maccou stated “ It was a positive experience overall, I got to hear a few positions in tech I never considered and learned how my interest in animation could be applied multiple ways in technology and in different companies.”
Tech Horizons incorporated Collier County Public Schools' initiatives by highlighting and supporting their specialties within the technology field. Cari Jones from Elephant Creator and event speaker reflected on her high school experience saying “There are classes and skills being taught at CCPS schools that were not offered when I was in high school. Those classes and events like this give students an advantage in the field and give us employers a peek at where the interest and skills of the next generation are headed."
The importance and impact of Tech Horizons was echoed by Courtney Stahlman, Manager in Career and Technical Education at CCPS. “This year has proven to be a challenge in many ways and work-based learning is no exception. Coming up with innovative ideas on how we can expose students to work-based learning experiences was a must to keep students engaged and informed. We are very excited to bring Tech Horizon’s to students through a virtual means so that they can interact with local technology and design professionals while gaining further insight into not only career pathways, but local opportunities right here in Collier County.”
After unprecedented rates of unemployment throughout the pandemic and transitions to virtual platforms for work, school, and even medical consultations technology has proven to be the new frontier in most aspects of modern day life. “Now is the time to educate students about the types of jobs that will be in high demand 5, 10 or 15 years from now.” expressed Jordan Azis, Founder of Emerge SWFL and Technology Advisor at Stickboy. “Tech Horizons is the perfect opportunity to introduce children to emerging technologies and get them excited about a career in tech.”
Thank you to the following professionals for volunteering your time to engage and inspire students:
Alex Allen, Two39 Group; Jordan Azis, Emerge SWFL; Andy Beights, Beights Tech; Eric Bocock, North Collier Fire; Maribel
De Armas, CCPS; Jigsha Desai, USA TODAY NETWORK; Derek Dyer, GovernmentCIO; Connor Firmender, Endevr; Cari Jones, Elephant Creative; Sanjay Saggere, Collier County Government; David Shapiro, Barron Collier Companies; Ryan Sheehy, Sheehy Strategies; Evgeniya Simmons, Virtual and Augmented Reality of SWFL; Jared Stresen-Reuter, Divine Digital Agency; Zarela Velasquez, Politech; Christian Wartchow, CyberSecure IT Solutions; Mark Yorba, Arthrex; Josh Zachritz, Stickboy; Eric Zimmerman, Supervisor of Elections for Collier County.
For professionals who are interested in engaging with career readiness, contact Alex Breault at the Greater Naples Chamber to learn more. In her role, Breault connects high school and college students to employers through work-based learning experiences. She serves as a resource to students and employers to help nurture future talent from our schools and technical training institutions. This work is possible through generous funders such as the Naples Children Education Foundation.
JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS
The start of the 2021 Florida legislative session is quickly approaching, and legislative watchers can expect a jam-packed 60 days.
Session officially begins on Tuesday, March 2 and runs through Friday, April 30. While lawmakers have been in Tallahassee off-and-on over the past few months for committee hearings, March 2 will mark the first time legislators have been fully gathered as a lawmaking body since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Look for lawmakers to tackle a variety of issues impacting businesses during the two month period, including several issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. One measure quickly moving through the Legislature: A bill to create COVID-19 liability protections for businesses.
The House bill has cleared all of it’s necessary committee stops, and is teed up for a vote of the full House in the coming weeks. House Speaker Chris Sprowls has indicated he would like to have the bill approved by the House and sent to the Senate within the first week. A similar Senate bill has been approved by the first of three Senate committees.
The Greater Naples Chamber supports legislation to provide liability protections to businesses and other organizations for damages related to COVID-19. Here’s where we stand on a variety of topics expected to be front and center during the next two months.
WHERE WE STAND
For more information about the Greater Naples Chamber’s 2021 legislative priorities or to learn more about you can get involved, contact Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, the Chamber’s director of government relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALEX BREAULT, DIRECTOR OF WORK-BASED LEARNING
While educating employers about hiring interns, we typically hear the hesitation in their voices but soon after they hire their first intern, we receive fantastic testimonials like the one from Jenny Gazella.
"When first approached by the Greater Naples Chamber and learning about the NAF Academies internships provided by Collier County Public Schools, I was leery. Did I have time to spend teaching someone the business only to have it be someone who only worked 150 hours?
After meeting with Alex Breault at the Chamber, I decided it couldn’t hurt to at least post an opportunity. I was amazed how fast I had applications and not just that but how professional the students applying were. We ended up hiring Ashley. Ashley is an amazing young woman with big aspirations in the Bio-Chemical field. Nothing related to tourism, however, during her interview she was honest and really looking to better herself all-around. She mentioned how she never thought she would be applying for a position like this but wanted to grow her customer service skills to be able to work with others in her community and learn about handling day to day in-person situations.
We decided to give Ashley a try and I am so happy we did for so many reasons. First, I saw Ashley grow and become more confident in herself as a person and in the position. She was timid at first with the phones and speaking face to face with customers and now she is a natural. Second, Ashley started during a very difficult time for all businesses, in the middle of COVID. She was a great candidate even without the school program but having the program pay for her 150 hours truly helped the business during a difficult time. Third, both Ashley and I felt she was a great asset to the company and after she completed her internship hours we have now employed her. There is not one thing I would change about this amazing opportunity and I am grateful to the Chamber and Collier County Public Schools for all that they do to help students become apart of our community. " -Jenny Gezella, President, Naples Princess
The Collier County Public Schools has grant money available for a limited time only to pay an intern to work for your organization. ($10 an hour for up to 180 hours) To learn more about this opportunity and how an intern can benefit your organization too, contact Alex Breault.
GUEST CONTRIBUTOR, ASHLEIGH DROZ, DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF INTERNSHIPS & COOPERATIVE PROGRAMS, FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY
An internship is more than a job. In fact, for many, a work-based learning experience, such as an internship or cooperative program, can be career-affirming or career-altering. Whether a high school student dipping their toes in the proverbial water before diving into a college major, a university student exploring or gaining experience in their intended field before graduation, or a seasoned professional looking to make a career change, these types of experiences can inspire passion, persistence, or a critical pivot in those who will ultimately be the future of our fields.
So how do we ensure that the opportunities we offer will serve as high quality learning experiences for hungry future interns of all ages? By incorporating a few critical components that will both challenge and support them as they expand their professional horizons. Let’s dig in.
First, work together with your intern to create clear learning objectives related to their professional goals and academic coursework. Successful internships always start with clear outcomes. Sitting down with an intern to discuss who they are and where they are headed means you can create an experience that aligns with their end-goal AND yours. You’ll see much more enthusiasm, energy, and excitement. And if you follow through with projects that line up with these goals? Well, you are also bound to see more satisfaction, productivity, and commitment. That’s a win-win.
Engage student-interns in authentic tasks considered meaningful to the organization. Internships can get a bad rap. We often see interns in the media spilling whole-office coffee runs down the front of their suits, filing mountains of paperwork for weeks on end, or picking up the boss’ dry cleaning (think: The Devil Wears Prada). However, a high quality internship experience should instead encourage the practical application of academic coursework and skills development in a professional setting. The best way to do this usually includes hands-on projects that align with your company’s overall mission and everyday efforts, as well as the intern’s career and academic goals. Not only will an intern gain a strong foundation of work experience, but they will also be much happier with their employer – YOU – if they feel they are making a contribution where it really counts.
Provide student-interns with supervision by and support from an experienced professional in the field in which the intern will be working. On the most basic level, a great internship comes with a designated supervisor who has experience in the intern’s area of focus. This is an important distinction to make on many levels! For example, let’s say you are interested in hiring an intern to work on your organization’s social media. My first question to you would be “who currently oversees your social media?” If your answer is something along the lines of “our in-house social media expert”, we’re golden! If your answer is more like “no one, that’s why we need an intern”… well, you are likely looking for a part-time employee or a contract hire. A student needs someone to learn from who is also accessible, supportive, and available to provide routine feedback, as an internship is meant to be a supplement of a valuable education.
Lastly, ensure a comfortable, safe, and empowering environment as a foundation for a student-intern’s experience. Taking stock of the current culture, resources, and physical space of your workplace is an important step before bringing on an intern. We generally consider the physical safety of our spaces regularly, but it is also important to check in with the inter-workplace dynamics, organizational policies, overall expectations, and technology and facilities available to ensure your student has what they need to be successful. If an intern’s basic professional needs are met, they are much more likely to shine!
These components are bound to get you started on laying the groundwork for a successful internship program, in part before your intern even starts! There is always room to improve and evolve as an internship host or supervisor, but these first few steps are bound to carry you and your team – interns included – through the type of experience everyone will benefit from, now and in the future.
To start your internship experience, contact Alex Breault (email@example.com) at the Greater Naples Chamber to learn more about engaging in work-based learning and how she can help you implement an internship program.
Guest Contributor, Ashleigh Droz (firstname.lastname@example.org) Director of the office of Internships & Cooperative Programs at Florida Gulf Coast University.
ALEJANDRO CASTANO, VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING
The Greater Naples Chamber cultivates economic opportunity for all by providing businesses with the resources and information they need to thrive. As such, the Chamber is proudly offering our FORWARD program, designed by LiveStories to help our community’s businesses recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and access relevant tools to make them successful.
FORWARD is a free online portal that connects local businesses in the Collier County business community to a comprehensive list of resources—grants, loans, credits, offers, and local incentives. It is a one-stop shop for programs and other resources.
The Greater Naples Chamber is committed to helping all businesses, especially small business owners, navigate available resources to help our region's economy get back on track. Together, we move FORWARD.
AMANDA BEIGHTS, SENIOR DIRECTOR, LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS
The mission of the Leadership Collier Foundation, of the Greater Naples Chamber, is to activate the potential of leaders to build a stronger Collier County. Despite the many challenges we faced in 2020, we are proud to have kicked-off our flagship leadership program that allows us to accomplish this mission: Leadership Collier.
Leadership Collier is designed to educate local community leaders about our county’s societal and economic successes and challenges, ultimately leading to how we can engage our leaders to make a positive impact. While this year’s Leadership Collier Class of 2021 may look a little different, our outcomes remain as strong as ever.
Thank you to the employers and chamber members who invest in sending their leaders to apply for, complete, and engage with the Leadership Collier Foundation. For more information on the work and programs of the Leadership Collier Foundation, visit our website below.
AMANDA BEIGHTS, SENIOR DIRECTOR, LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS
Leadership Collier Foundation Welcomes Leadership Collier Class of 2021
Naples, FL (Jan. 05, 2021) – The Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF), an affiliate of the Greater Naples Chamber, announces the Leadership Collier Class of 2021. The class will begin their program with a kick-off celebration at Cambier Park from 5-6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 7.
Leadership Collier was formed by the Greater Naples Chamber in 1988 to develop a network of informed citizens prepared to assume leadership roles in our community. The Chamber believes knowledge is a key element and prime motivator of leadership. Consequently, the primary objective of Leadership Collier is to educate local business leaders about the societal and economic challenges facing the community today.
The program includes 10 full-day sessions. Over the course of 10 sessions participants will fully explore local government, education, economic development, agriculture, arts and more, to work toward the Leadership Collier Foundation’s mission of building a stronger Collier County.
The LCF Board of Directors congratulates the following class members of Leadership Collier 2021:
Chair: Brian Goguen, Barron Collier Companies
Vice Chair: Mary Beth Geier, Richard Schulze Family Foundation
Vice Chair: Anne Frazier, Lee Health
Bill Allen, St. Vincent de Paul, Naples District Council
Theodore Bill, Pelican Wire Company
Jodi Bisogno, Cancer Alliance of Naples
Jessica Brinkert, Moorings Park at Grey Oaks
Meredith Budd, Florida Wildlife Federation
Sean Callahan, Collier County Government
John T. Cardillo, Keith & Bonaquist, P.A.
Dave Carpenter, Supervisor of Elections
Christina Carranza, NCH Healthcare System
Alejandro Castano, Greater Naples Chamber
Charles Chapman, City of Naples
Soren Christensen, Advanced Wealth Advisors
Leroy Christiansen, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners, LLC
Jennifer Clark, Valerie's House
Noel Davies, Quarles & Brady LLP
Deanna Deppen, Shy Wolf Sanctuary Education & Experience Center
Stephanie Driscoll, Collier County Sheriff's Office
Kerri Ervin, Avow
Dave Feightner, Self-Employed - Spectrum Concierge, LLC
Karen Govern, STARability Foundation
Hilary Halford, Collier County Government
Alyssa Haney, First Florida Integrity Bank
Meg Hardt, Arthrex
Mari Hornbeck, Boyette Construction Group
Ann Hughes, Friends of Foster Children Forever
Mia Hyatt, FineMark National Bank & Trust
Tanweer Jamal, John Craig Clothier
Lisa Kahn-Allen, Lisa Kahn Designs
Jacqualene Keay, FineMark National Bank and Trust
Inge Kocher, Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC)
Heather Mazurkiewicz, North Collier Fire Control & Rescue District
Robert Napier, Harrison & Held LLP
Britt Patterson-Weber, Naples Botanical Garden
Thomas Petry, Collier County Public Schools
Tammy Smith, Ave Maria Utility Company, LLLP
Catherine Sovacool, Healthcare Network of SWFL
Sharon Sparrow, St. Matthew's House
David Stallings, Fuller Funeral Home - Pine Ridge Road
Kenneth Thomas, Huntington Private Bank
Julie Van Tongeren, Community Foundation of Collier County
Gwen VanLoo, John R Wood Properties
Kevin Yue, South Florida Water Management District