AMANDA BEIGHTS, SENIOR DIRECTOR, LEADERSHIP PROGRAMS
The Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF), of the Greater Naples Chamber, held its graduation of the Youth Leadership Collier (YLC) program on Friday, June 18, 2021 at The Players Club & Spa. Sarah Geroy (YLC '13) was honored with the 2021 Youth Leadership Collier Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award. The award was established to honor Donna MacNiven, founder of Youth Leadership Collier, and to recognize a Youth Leadership Collier Alumnus that exemplifies leadership through their community involvement and professional achievements.
The mission of YLC is to develop ethical leaders committed to active community involvement. Reaching over 500 students to date, Youth Leadership Collier (YLC) empowers students to become effective leaders through hands on experiences and field work, while encouraging students to begin their careers and community leadership in Collier County.
The LCF Board of Directors congratulates the graduates of the Youth Leadership Collier Class of 2021:
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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 (email@example.com) Director of the office of Internships & Cooperative Programs at Florida Gulf Coast University.
What does your role entail at the Supervisor of Elections Office?
As Chief Deputy Supervisor of Elections, I am tasked with overall management of the office from the administrative side – budget, human resources, office administration, to the elections side where I oversee various departments. Together we coordinate and conduct successful elections while ensuring the security and integrity of the voting process.
How did Leadership Collier help you as a leader to be part of building a stronger Collier County?
I initially participated in the Associate Leadership Collier (formerly GAIN) Spring Class of 2010, and after completion just knew that I wanted to participate in Leadership Collier. Leadership Collier introduced me to so many different aspects of Collier County and truly instilled a passion and desire in me to want to help and give back to our community.
What advice would you provide other classmates on how to stay engaged and the importance of doing so?
Stay involved and stay engaged! Try to meet monthly – even if it’s via Zoom. Your LC Classmates are your friends for life. Keep in touch with them and rely on each other. Get your class email list from Amanda Beights and use it!
How do you stay engaged with your class?
"The Silvers" (LC’14 – "the Class that Outshines the Best") truly are the BEST class! We’ve held monthly socials, consistently, for over six years now and have always had great turnout – some of us even take vacations together! I serve as our Class Champion so it’s truly important to me to keep our class connected. We hold a social on the third Thursday of each month. At the beginning of each year I send an email to our class with our social dates and then I ask if anyone would like to host a social in their home. For the past several years we’ve “booked” the entire year of socials within a week of me sending the email! I, of course, send reminders each month and get headcounts for the hosts, etc. It has been an easy and effective way to stay connected!
The upcoming Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF) Alumni Association "Leadership Lunch" will focus on the growing challenge of incivility in our society. Our hope is that this event will be an important step in elevating and prioritizing a community conversation on civility.
By Michael Wynn
President of Sunshine Ace Hardware
Past chairman of the Leadership Collier Foundation.
Why the Leadership Collier Foundation? For almost 30 years, the LCF has been the champion for leadership development in our county. We have promoted respectful advocacy as part of our curriculum. We have practiced civility in our public policy initiatives through our umbrella organization, the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce. We have invested in programs to continually educate our alumni so that they have informed opinions on the issues that matter most to our community.
Who better to take on the challenge of promoting civil discourse and leadership?
It used to be that you could safely debate anything, as long as you didn’t talk about politics or religion. Now, we seem to have arrived at a point where everything is politicized. As a result, we have seen a shift in recent years, where many people speak primarily to those they already agree with. This reinforces existing opinions and ultimately limits the ability to grow and learn.
Unfortunately, this mindset permeates our national politics at a time when we are facing critical decisions for our country’s future. Debate seems to be a formality versus a necessary foundation for uncovering ideas that lead to the best solution.
Many seem to have forgotten that at its core, leadership is influence. However, you cannot influence opinions if you don’t take time to listen to understand the other side. Too often, we listen only so we can reply with a more convincing argument. In addition, a good friend often reminds me that “you cannot influence and antagonize at the same time.” Too many have forgotten that ageless wisdom.
So where do we start?
The Leadership Collier Foundation believes the path starts with self-reflection and changing our own behavior.
Do we truly listen to understand, and do we assume good intentions from others, or do we label others and dismiss their input?
Do we share and promote information that is at its core divisive and condescending?
Through our example, we can help people disagree without being disagreeable.
We understand that our civility work might be a heavy lift. Our society thrives on quick validation and reinforcement of long-held viewpoints. We often fail to separate people from the problem or issue, which can lead to decisions based on personal animosities rather than on the facts that support the best solution. We need to be aware that disagreement and hate are not the same thing.
In their article “The Meaning of Civility,” Heidi and Guy Burgess discuss the fact that many differing interests divide our society. They acknowledge that there will be a long series of confrontations over moral and social issues and “often these issues will have an irreducible win-lose character and, hence, not be amenable to consensus resolution. While continuing confrontation is inevitable, the enormous destructiveness which commonly accompanies these confrontations is not.”
The growing lack of civility impacts all of us. It leads to increased incidents of violence and limits honest debate that results in the best solutions.
It’s time for all of us to make civil discourse a priority. We look forward to continuing this conversation in the months ahead and invite you to contact Amanda Beights, Amanda@napleschamber.org, at the Leadership Collier Foundation to learn more.
About the event:
In Florida's Capital City, The Village Square has built bridges across color, creed and ideology for a decade and a half. As the national division has accelerated, they're increasingly seen as both a thought leader and practical model in addressing the divisions we're wrestling with in hometowns across the country.
Village Square Founder & CEO Liz Joyner will offer a short-course in their sometimes counter intuitive lessons learned, whether you're wanting to have a conversation with a friend who disagrees with you, launch a bridge-building effort at work or just sleep better at night. A good news tickler: she says it's easier to address that you'd think, and that hometowns are just the place to start.
The second annual Naples Children’s Business Fair welcomed an impressive 1,200 attendees to peruse and shop young entrepreneurs’ businesses on Saturday, Jan. 11 at Gulf Coast High School. The fair had participation of 123 youth-run businesses with 211 student participants.
Presented by Barron Collier Companies, the Greater Naples Chamber’s Leadership Collier Foundation hosted the fair in partnership with Collier County Public Schools to give students the experience of entrepreneurship firsthand and sell their original products and services to the public.
“This event is a great opportunity for youth in our community to get early exposure to the kinds of experience many business professionals wish they had had growing up,” said Nikkie Dvorchak, Naples Chamber vice president of events and development. “It was great to see students take their business plans and execute them from start to finish. We were blown away by the quality of their products, marketing, displays and salesmanship. We are already looking forward to how this event will continue to grow next year.”
Throughout the day, attendees had the chance to vote for the “most original business idea,” “highest business potential,” and “most creative business.” Local leaders served as judges and awards were presented in five age groups, with one student awarded the “Sunshine Award” –which granted this year’s winner, Genevieve’s Art, a spot to display and sell her product in a local Sunshine Ace Hardware store.
First place winners also won the opportunity to spend the day with Barron Collier Companies CEO Blake Gable visiting different industries in Collier County and learn what it takes to run a successful business.
Most Original Business: Storm Pet Toys
Benjamin Peterson, Max Varga, Jack Johnson, Macauley Ronninger
Highest Business Potential: VMC Designs
Most Creative: Bree Artiste
Sunshine Award: Genevieve’s Art
Age 6-7 Winners:
1st Place: Taralyn’s Treasures
2nd Place: Emma’s Sweet Art
3rd Place: Boo-Boo Buddies
Dawson Winge, Logan Grove, Janel Elwell
Age 8-10 Winners:
1st Place: John’s Woodworking
2nd Place: Tuti’s Terrific Treasures
3rd Place: S3 Creations
Ella Seidner, Mac Seidner, Devyn Seidner
Age 13-14 Winners:
1st Place – Colony Magic
2nd Place –Water Pros
3rd Place – Ready Cement Go!
Age 11-12 Winners:
1st Place: Stache Your Slime
2nd Place: Jumba’s Cotton Candy
3rd Place: Olivia’s Creation Station
Age 15-17 Winners:
1st Place: Nagen Bakery
2nd Place: Jame’s LeSage Photography
3rd Place: ABC Boba Tea
The Naples Chamber’s Leadership Collier Foundation will work with participants post-event to continue their professional growth, connect them with business leaders and provide support on their entrepreneurial journey.
For more information on the Naples Children’s Business Fair, visit www.napleschamber.org/cbf.
The event was sponsored by Barron Collier Companies, Sunshine Ace Hardware, Arthrex, Naples Daily News, First Florida Integrity Bank, ACI Worldwide, Neapolitan Family, Keiser University, Wintrust Banking Center, Brown & Brown Insurance, Fieldr, Beasley Media, Sugar Shack and Florida Weekly.
The Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF), of the Greater Naples Chamber, has named high school senior Julien Zappulla as its first-ever student board member. The decision to add a student board member was rooted in the desire to hear the student perspective on issues, especially as the Foundation’s work with youth and talent development continues to grow.
“As the LCF continues to advance our work with talent development, having a student voice on our board of advisors has proven to be very valuable,” said Amanda Beights, vice president of LCF. “Julian is not only a graduate of our Youth Leadership Collier (YLC) program but has also been active in the Foundation’s work-based learning initiative. We look forward to continuing this model of student involvement with all of our work moving forward.”
Zappulla, a 2019 Youth Leadership Collier graduate, attends Seacrest Country Day School where he is the captain of the robotics team and a member of the varsity soccer team. Additionally, he sings in the Naples Philharmonic Chorus. Zappulla also spends time mentoring local robotics teams, refereeing robotics competitions and creating STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs at the Boys and Girls Club.
“I am passionate about both the Greater Naples Chamber and LCF because I have a drive to communicate and network with people, and YLC was truly a life changing experience for me,” said Zappulla. “As an LCF board member, I look forward to providing a student perspective in discussions at board meetings and other events.”
Zappulla plans to attend Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts where he hopes to receive a masters in robotic engineering and artificial intelligence. His primary goal through a career in engineering is to advance the intelligence, design, and useful capacity of machinery, emphasizing robotic systems and controls.
To view all members of the LCF advisory board, click here.
Tony McClure (LC ‘15)
Tony McClure, a partner in the litigation department at the law firm of Porter Wright, hales from Ohio. When he relocated with his family to Naples in 2012, not only was he looking to make his mark professionally in his new hometown, he was also searching for opportunities to have an impact and connect with like-minded people.
Leadership Collier was the perfect fit for his pursuits, and the friendships and opportunities that followed have fulfilled him in ways he never imagined were possible when he started the program in 2015.
For Tony, Leadership Collier IS community. He shares, “It’s a group of people from all types of industries and backgrounds coming together to learn more about Collier County and to learn more about each other. That’s what community is all about.”
Tony was hooked from the very first session, and the rewards just kept coming. He said, “The entire day was aimed at allowing us to get to know each other better. By the end of the day, I already had the beginning of so many good friendships – which I still have to this day.”
Tony, whose son has special needs, quickly found a home to apply his leadership skills, passion for community and love for his son, when he joined the Board of Directors for Naples Therapeutic Riding Center (NTRC) in 2015. His son benefits from their therapeutic horseback riding lessons.
Tony is also finding ways to give back to the next generation and the LCF Alumni Association through the Leadership Collier Mentor Program, which pairs Youth Leadership Collier participants with GAIN and Leadership Collier alumni working in an industry where the mentee has an interest. He also serves on the Public Policy Committee of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, as well as the Pro Bono Committee for the 20th Judicial District of Florida.
Tony’s advice to fellow alumni, “Use those friendships you’ve made and build on them. These are people with whom you’ve shared countless memories. Accept this gift and continue to build those great relationships. Your life will be richer for it.”
In addition to these fulfilling leadership opportunities that have come his way as a result of his LC experience, Tony shares that some of his best friends are LCF alumni – two of whom recently married and now have a child. Talk about a richer life?!
Now President of the NTRC Board, this month Tony was invited to share his leadership expertise on board development at the LCF Get Involved Collier Volunteer Expo. Never one to shy away from an opportunity to connect his LCF friends and his passion for special needs, Tony invites alumni to join him in support of NTRC’s signature fundraiser, The Bootstrap Boogie Barn Dance, on November 9th.
In the modern workplace, even the most entry-level positions seem to require some form of related, hands-on experience. That is why Collier County high school and college students are turning to local internships to get a jump-start on their careers.
Jake Goguen, a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University completing a major in biology and a minor in chemistry, spent the summer interning for Arthrex, an orthopedic medical device company headquartered in Naples. His goal? To gain experience in the field of industry research.
Goguen first learned of the Arthrex internship program through his involvement with Youth Leadership Collier (YLC), a weeklong intensive program managed by the Chamber’s Leadership Collier Foundation that seeks to develop ethical leaders committed to active community involvement.
“YLC allowed me to gain knowledge of what opportunities were available in our area and helped point me in the direction of pursuing medicine and opportunities with Arthrex,” said Goguen. “The program also helped prepare me for college, giving me the chance to refine my leadership style, speaking abilities and networking.”
Goguen’s primary responsibility during his Arthrex internship was to conduct shelf life and degradation studies of Arthrex parts. He also played a pivotal role in testing prototypes, new equipment and studies with the Orthobiologics team.
“My internship has been an amazing experience that I would recommend to anyone,” said Goguen. “The Research and Development team that I worked with is extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Their guidance and this experience have really helped me solidify my goals.”
While the internship experience was undeniably impactful for Goguen and his career aspirations, his contributions—along with the contributions of each summer intern across Collier County— supported the company’s overall development and growth.
“Not only do internships benefit students, but they are important for our business as well,” said Alyssa McCoy, recruiter at Arthrex. “Interns provide teams with short-term support, fresh ideas and positivity to assist us with accomplishing our goals.”
In addition to the valuable input interns provide, companies who engage interns can significantly reduce the cost, time and effort when it comes to recruiting and training new hires. For this reason, the Chamber’s Leadership Collier Foundation is committed to cultivating opportunities for local businesses to partner with local students. The mutually beneficial internships equip students with professional, hands-on skills and, ultimately, encourage them to return to Collier County after graduation.
“Starting an internship program can be challenging and time consuming, but it can bring both the students and the company great success,” said McCoy.
Goguen is thankful to have been one of those students.
“My experience has prepared me for leadership positions at FGCU as well as given me a better understanding of the different industries in Collier County that I could potentially enter after graduation.”
After attending medical school, Goguen plans to move back to Collier County where he hopes to conduct research with Arthrex as an orthopedic surgeon. He credits his internship experience in large part for helping him solidify his career aspirations.
“You feel like part of a larger team, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have completed my internship experience in Collier County."
Nikkie Dvorchak (GAIN '17)
As Vice President of Events and Development for the Greater Naples Chamber, Nikkie Dvorchak manages all the monthly and annual Chamber events and giving for the organization. Her work with the Chamber has given her the wonderful opportunity to work with a variety of businesses, community leaders, and talent every day. “When I see the efforts of so many people in Collier and what they do to help each other out, to do good for those in need, to take time to participate on committees, boards, and to volunteer, it truly is a place unlike any other. I am so fortunate to be able to be a part of it,” Nikkie said.
In 2011, Nikkie and her husband made the big decision to move to Naples from Pittsburgh, Penn. “Pittsburgh will always be a huge part of who I am and I love going back to visit, but I love that I can now call Naples home,” Nikkie said. “I had been visiting the area with my family for many years. It was always a dream of mine [to live here]. I decided I didn’t want to wait until I retired but wanted to live my dream now. The people are by far the best part…but of course the beauty, quality of life and endless opportunity are what make Naples really special.”
Nikkie has planted her roots firmly into the Naples community and her commitment to supporting our local area extends well beyond her important work in the Chamber’s offices. She is also a co-chair of the Zoobilee event at the Naples Zoo, where she works to help raise awareness and bring in needed funds for environmental education programs and for conservation initiatives to save threatened and endangered species. Nikkie’s dedication to our local zoo has earned her a position on the Naples Zoo’s Board of Directors beginning in October 2019. She is also a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, serving on the organization’s National Philanthropy Planning Committee. As a GAIN graduate, she also serves on the LCF Alumni Association Events & Outings Committee.
Nikkie’s favorite Chamber event is the Naples Children’s Business Fair, which will be held on January 11, 2020. Nikkie says, “This event gives young entrepreneurs ages 6-17 the opportunity to showcase their product or service to the public. We had amazing participation our first year, and I can’t wait to see it continue to grow this year.” Please support her efforts by attending and participating in the exciting upcoming Chamber events she has worked so hard to plan.
The Leadership Collier Foundation (LCF) of the Greater Naples Chamber announces the Leadership Collier Class of 2020. The class began their program with a kick-off celebration at 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19 at The Naples Players.
Leadership Collier was formed by the 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 nine-month 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.
“Congratulations to the Leadership Collier Class of 2020 as they embark on one of the most rewarding and impactful experiences of their professional careers,” said Chief Stephanie Spell, LCF Board Chairwoman. “While there are so many reasons why our Collier County community is unique and very special, I know for sure that Leadership Collier graduates contribute significantly to our exceptional quality of life here.”
The LCF Board of Directors congratulates the following class members of Leadership Collier 2020:
Chair: Chief Tabatha Butcher, Collier County Emergency Medical Services
First Vice Chair: Brian Goguen, Barron Collier Companies
Second Vice Chair: Mary Beth Geier, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation
Patrick J. Bimonte, Arthrex, Inc.
Julie Blauman, Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida
Samantha Bloom, Oh Snap Media
Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce
Blase Ciabaton, Naples Print Source
Amy Clayton, Fifth Third Bank
Kristen Coury, Gulfshore Playhouse
Jaime Crossan-DeBres, Community Health Partners
Helena Dabrowski, Sunshine Ace Hardware
Tracy Duhaney, Unidine Corporation at Moorings Park
Steven Foster, Wells Fargo Private Bank
Brian Galligan, The Naples Botanical Garden
Bill Grigsby, Wasmer, Schroeder & Co.
Mark Hanke, Greater Naples YMCA
Matthew Johnson, Aviance Capital Partners
Peter Johnson, St. Matthew’s House
Marianne Lambertson, Grace Place for Children & Families
Claudine Leger-Wetzel, Stock Development
Tiffany Lehman, Insurance Source of Naples
Stephanie Lucarelli, The State of Florida
Todd Lyon, NCH Healthcare System
Jessica Manchette, Champions for Learning
Matthew McLean, Collier County, Growth Management Department
Robert Mirakian, United Way of Collier County
Michael Moore, Vanderbilt Beach Resort/Turtle Club Restaurant
Denise Murphy, The Players Club & Spa
Tovah Nadassky, First Florida Integrity Bank
Chad Oliver, Collier County School District
Karie Partington, Collier County Sheriff’s Office
Tony Pernas, Big Cypress National Preserve
Trish Robertson, Supervisor of Elections
Jordan Scardigno, Moorings Park at Grey Oaks
Lorna Scharlacken, Legacy Law Unlimited PLLC
Jennifer Schell, Physicians Regional Healthcare System
Michael Searcy, Searcy Financial Services, Inc.
Jamie Thompson, Barron Collier Companies
Ali Mete Timur, Mekpa N.A. Inc.
Yadira Vintimilla, BMO Wealth Management
Stephanie Wardein, Lee Health
Ken Warriner, City of Naples Airport Authority
Beth Wolff, Neurology Center, Brian D. Wolff, M.D., P.A.
Michelle Zamniak, Hodges University
Click here to learn more about the Leadership Collier Foundation and its programs.