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Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties Recognizes Exceptional Staff and Board Leadership at Annual Celebration

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Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties came together on October 24, 2023, to commemorate exceptional board leadership, recognize outstanding staff contributions, and welcome new Board Officers during their Annual Board Reception and Staff Awards event.

It was an incredible evening honoring outgoing Board Chairs, Meghan O. Serrano, Esq. and Neil McCurry, and celebrating the installation of the new 2023-2024 Board Chairs, Ken Freeman, Board of Directors Chair, and Steve Townsend, Foundation Board Chair.

The 2023-2024 Officers of the Board of Directors includes Chair, Ken Freeman, Senior Executive Partner, Gartner.; Chair-Elect David Arch, Chairman and CEO of Blistex, Inc.; Treasurer Jaime DiDomenico, Founder, CoolToday; and Immediate Past-Chair Meghan O. Serrano, Esq., Shumaker. Nishalle U., a senior at Pine View School, was also recently appointed to the Board as the STAR Youth Leader.  

The 2023-2024 Foundation Board of Directors was also announced as Chair Steven Townsend, Entrepreneur; Chair-Elect Alex Armstrong, Armstrong, Fleming & Moore; Treasurer Rob Weiss, Regional Director and Financial Advisor, Provenance Wealth Advisors; and Secretary Robert Scheb, Bowman, George, Scheb, Kimbrough, Koach & Chapman.

Board awards for the 2022-2023 fiscal year were presented to the following recipients;

  • Board Member of the Year Award - Michael Martella
  • Foundation Board Member of the Year Award - Steven Townsend
  • Special Board Recognition Award - Tom Shapiro

The evening also served as a celebration of BGCSDC staff who have gone above and beyond in their roles. Clarence Battle, Front Desk Specialist at the Roy McBean Club was the recipient of the 2022-2023 John Dziedziak Youth Development Professional of the Year Award which recognizes outstanding part-time staff members. The inaugural Safety Award was awarded to Dawn Page, Vice President of Operations for Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties for her years of tireless service to safety and inclusion. A brand-new award was also announced in honor of the late Beau Christensen who was a dedicated part-time summer employee at the Lee Wetherington Club before succumbing to a long, courageous battle with brain cancer last month. The inaugural recipients of the Beau Christensen Character & Courage Award were Venesha Graham, Club Director at the Lee Wetherington Club, and her husband, Matt for their commitment to local youth both inside and outside of the Club.

Inspiring mission moments were shared throughout the evening by current staff member, Geoffrey Gilot, Teen Program Director, Roy McBean Boys & Girls Club; Corporate Partner, Tom Waters, President & CEO of Easterseals Southwest Florida; and former BGCSDC member, 2016 Youth of the Year finalist, and Gussin Endowed Scholar at Duquesne University, Kayla McGann who stated “the Club shaped me into the woman you see standing before you today. Without the Club's support and the confidence my mentors there instilled in me, I would not be where I am today - a recent college graduate embarking on her dream career in Nursing as a new RN at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.”

The reception closed with comments from the 2023-2024 Board of Directors and Foundation Board Chairs. Ken Freeman took to the stage first expressing his dedication to the task at hand and stating; “as I come into the role of Board Chair  I know that the obligation is to continue the journey set forth most recently by -  Tom Shapiro, Jamie DiDomenico, Jonna Keller, Lee DeLieto, and  Meghan Serrano Esq., who along with prior chairs have charted a course for the Club over its 53 years of existence, in times of both celebration and opportunity and as a safe and nurturing environment for youth that offers award-winning programs recognized for their excellence and impact.”

Steve Townsend, Chair of the Foundation Board, then expressed "his deep appreciation for the dedicated efforts of our previous Chairs in steering the organization through some challenging years. Their steadfast commitment to our mission of empowering youth to achieve great futures has played a pivotal role in our achievements. As we embark on the next chapter, I look forward to collaborating with Ken and the Board of Directors to building upon the foundation they have laid."

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