Alumni Inspirations - January 2019
Senator Garrett Richter (LC '93)
“The most powerful leadership tool you have is your own personal example,” said John Wooden, head basketball coach at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Garrett Richter, former state legislator and President Pro Tempore of the Florida Senate from 2012 to 2016, brings this powerful tool to the table every day as he exemplifies leadership in our community. Richter has used his own personal example to great effect throughout his careers in banking and politics—and that example has had a profound ripple impact here in Southwest Florida, setting a model for others to follow.
Twenty Six years after graduating from Leadership Collier, Richter remains an active leader within the organization, speaking with each of our leadership programs and sharing his wisdom through LCF alumni opportunities like the Leadership Lunch Series and Campaign for Leadership. Richter is an alumnus and past Board of Regents member for Leadership Florida and past chairman of Leadership Collier. He is also a board member of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce.
Richter says “the building of long-lasting, value-driven relationships” was his favorite part of the program back in ‘93.
“Those relationships that I established in Leadership Collier years ago are still a very meaningful part of my life,” Richter said. “I was able to make friends with people, and while we might not agree on public policy issues, we agree on our mutual respect of each other.”
Richter continues to model that mutual respect as the chairman of the Chamber’s Public Policy Committee, where he expertly guides a group of community leaders to address some of the most significant issues—including infrastructure, mental health care, workforce development and affordable housing—facing Southwest Florida.
“For some of the biggest issues, we crossed a starting line with the passing of the 1% sales tax,” Richter said. Beyond members of the Public Policy Committee, Richter sees opportunity in these challenges for all LCF alumni to make a difference.
“Affordable housing and workforce development have numerous solutions, and there is always room at the table for leaders to develop those solutions.”
For Richter, Leadership Collier contributed to another important part of his leadership development—something he calls “Learn, Earn, and Return.”
“Leadership Collier enabled me to accomplish two of those ingredients: learning and returning,” Richter said. “I learned more about our community, about the policy, what drives our policy.”
The experience created a “foundation of awareness and convinced me to run for public office after Dudley Goodlette termed out of the legislature.”
Richter often shares this key advice to anyone who is thinking about running for public office. In his experience, there are two reasons most people run: Because they want to be something or because they want to do something.
“Thanks to Leadership Collier, I had a better ability to decide that I wanted to do something,” Richter said.
Now, the Vietnam veteran is helping others to do something, too.
“We live in a dynamic age, things are always changing, the demographics of our population are always changing. As people slow down in their service, we need the younger demographic to come in and take the reins and get involved,” Richter said. “Our community is such a vibrant community, and the only way to get fresh ideas is to have fresh people at the table.”
Senator Richter, thank you for using your own personal example to create a strong leadership model, based on a foundation of impeccable integrity, for us to follow. We are grateful for your service to LCF, our community, and the state of Florida.
Alumni Inspirations - December 2018
April Donahue (GAIN '13, LC '17)
Sometimes, we think of graduation as an ending. The completion of a goal. The culmination of an achievement. The finale of your LCF program.
For April Donahue, her GAIN graduation in 2013 was truly commencement—a beginning.
Immediately following graduation, April began giving back to the Leadership Collier Foundation and making a stronger impact on our community.
“My GAIN and Leadership Collier experiences were instrumental in driving home the importance of community awareness and the need to seek more information on our community’s strengths and weaknesses,” April said. “I came out of each program with an increased sense of belonging to this area I call home, new friends and colleagues, and a renewed desire to contribute.”
Right away, she started sharing this message with others as a volunteer with the Leadership Collier Foundation Marketing Committee. Five years later, after serving as Vice Chair and Chair of the Marketing Committee, April remains a key contributor to the LCF messages you receive on social and in your inbox.
But, once again, this committee work was only the beginning.
April went on to complete Leadership Collier in 2017.
Utilizing her knowledge of the community and key issues, she advocated professionally and personally over the last year for One Collier, a successful initiative to differentiate funding sources in Collier County to address critical infrastructure needs and community priorities
“In addition to my roles as an LCF volunteer, I try to walk the walk and talk the talk during my daily life – I want to communicate with others how beneficial LCF is to the community and to the individuals who participate,” April said.
April is certainly walking the walk when it comes to work-based learning programs. Not only does she encourage business leaders in our community to work with LCF to provide such opportunities—she has also hosted multiple interns at the Collier County Medical Society.
“LCF is important to me for my own development as a professional, and hopefully, as a contributing member of society. Through my LCF classmates, the LCF alumni network, and the LCF programs, I continue to learn, grow, and discover new ways of giving.”
April continues to give to the next generation of leaders by planning the Healthcare/Human Services session for Youth Leadership Collier. As April looks to the future of LCF, she sees continued growth.
“I think LCF is a premier leadership program, no doubt one of the best (if not THE best) in the nation. Through alumni involvement, partnering with the stellar LCF staff, we can strive for continuous improvement, innovation, and engagement to stay at the top and cultivate the most qualified, dedicated community leaders to help steer us in the right directions.”
If you’ve had to take time away from community commitments or have lost touch with classmates, here’s April’s fast tip for getting back in touch:
“I highly recommend attending Wine Down Wednesdays for easy, casual socializing with the alumni network.”
(Take the advice of our 2018 LCF Alumni Volunteer of the Year and SIGN UP for Wine Down Wednesday today!)
It is our honor to recognize April Donahue as the 2018 LCF Alumni Volunteer of the Year. According to Amanda Beights, April says “Yes!” to nearly every LCF volunteer opportunity. April, we are incredibly grateful for your dedicated service and unwavering commitment to our programs.
Alyssa Haney (GAIN '18)
By day, Alyssa Haney is a talented Marketing Specialist for First Florida Integrity Bank. On weekends and evenings, she generously dedicates her free time to charitable causes in Collier County. The time she invests in volunteering is her biggest gift to our community. She has dedicated more than 3,000 hours to volunteering with the Naples Players, all while serving on several boards, including the United Arts Council. Most recently, she co-organized the Emerging Leadership Council's Season Kick-off event and accompanied one of our nation's heroes aboard an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. This month, Alyssa humbly accepted the Chamber's Excellence in Industry Award for Young Professional of the Year. Watch the video!
How does it feel to have won the Chamber's YP of the Year Award?
I feel so fortunate to reside in Collier County. The combination of affluence and philanthropy which is such an important part of our culture, coupled with the generous role models with which I have had the pleasure of working, have all contributed to my journey as a young professional. In a world where the word "millennial" can have such a negative connotation, it feels great to be recognized for the work that I do for the causes that inspire me. I also feel that with this award comes with a responsibility to be an inspiration to other young professionals.
The Arts are very important to you. As LCF alumni, how can we help support the Arts in Collier County?
Naples is saturated with accessible art! The United Arts Council of Collier County's "Best Bets for the Weekend," is a weekly e-blast that has really great options to enjoy on the weekends when most of us have a bit more free time.
What makes First Florida Integrity Bank such a great place for young professionals to work?
As a young professional, I am so thankful to work for a company where I feel valued for my community contributions. First Florida Integrity Bank follows The Golden Rule, and I am so proud to be a part of an organization where that is encouraged both in the workplace and within the community.
What was your favorite part of the GAIN experience?
My favorite part of the GAIN experience was receiving an in-depth look at how the organizations in our community work together toward greater goals. In addition, connecting with young professionals through Chamber involvement has inspired me to create opportunities to improve my community by working with my peers-turned-friends to plan a handful of new, local fundraisers.
What are your words of wisdom for advice for a young professional in Naples?
Find a cause that inspires you and a mentor to guide you! Always ask yourself if the steps you are taking today are counting toward your goals for tomorrow.