We asked these successful women four questions about what inspires them as they work to make our community a better place to live.
1. Naples is such a special place. If you were entertaining out of town guests, where would you take them for lunch, for an afternoon outing and then to watch the sunset?
2. In this May issue, we are celebrating women. Tell us about an influential woman in your life and the lesson(s) they taught you.
3. And what advice would you share with a young woman just starting her career?
4. Giving back is very important to us at Naples Lifestyle magazine. How do you share your gifts?
Co-trustee, 2021 Naples Winter Wine Festival
1. My favorite place for casual waterfront dining is Gumbo Limbo at the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort, with a relaxed, kick off your sandals type of vibe. Whether it’s with family or friends, it’s hard to find a better place to enjoy fresh seafood, a sea breeze and our world-famous sunsets over the Gulf.
2. A wise Irish woman often said to me, “it’s never too late to say I’m sorry or thank you. Own your mistakes my dear. It will lighten your soul, and give you the opportunity to have a healing conversation.” She reminded me to live each day with grace and gratitude in words and actions. Take nothing for granted and always remember to say thank you. Taken from this world decades too soon, this special woman was my mom.
3. Being strong, focused and successful doesn’t mean you have to forgo kindness and compassion. It’s both disarming and very effective.
4. My husband Don and I are chairing the 2021 Naples Winter Wine Festival, so needless to say, this is going to be a very busy year! Following the record-setting 2020 Festival team is a daunting task, but we know that we will be standing on the shoulders of all the Trustees who have walked this path before us.
Founder and president, Naples Performing Arts Center, Inc.
1. We usually would spend the day shopping at Mercato or Waterside, eat lunch there and then head to the Naples Beach Club for sunset. That is where my husband Chad Oliver and I got engaged, so we love to go back and visit with our friends and family.
2. My mother has been so influential in shaping me into who I am today. She taught me, “if it’s worth doing then do it with 100% of your heart.” Give your all in everything you do! Also, “always measure the weight of my words” and “life is short, so love, forgive and accept people’s differences.”
When I started the Naples Performing Arts Center in 2011, she stood by me, believed in me, supported me and encouraged me to follow my heart and my passion and it would one day be a success. I lost my beautiful mother in 2018. I know she is so proud of me and I hope I leave a legacy for my own children that she left for me.
3. I have the privilege of watching my students graduate and head to college and begin their careers- and the one thing I always tell them is dream big, work hard, believe in yourself and never let anyone steal your joy.
4. Our “I’m a Star” program allows students with intellectual or physical challenges to be Stars. They come every Wednesday and prepare an entire show. It is so rewarding to watch those with challenges, who many people would walk by and never acknowledge, perform on the stage and receive applause and recognition, not just for their talent but for the incredible human beings they are. These students have changed my heart and motivate me to be a better person every time I am with them.
Executive Director, SWFL Children’s Charities
1. There are so many great restaurants in Southwest Florida and we love to entertain and watch the sunset from any one of many beaches and our boat! Flippers on the Bay is a favorite of ours and then off to watch the sunset with family and friends at Lovers Key or Big Hickory Pass.
2. I am truly blessed to have a lot of women mentors in my life. My number one fan has always been my mother. I think the key is to listen and learn from the mistakes of others, and then hope to know who to go to or how to handle them when you make them yourself!
3. Get involved in something you love and volunteer. You will meet other like-minded individuals and grow in new ways you couldn’t have dreamed about. This is also a great way to learn about what you do and don’t like to do and what your strengths and weaknesses are.
4. Giving back is what makes me who I am. I have had jobs in many different sectors, but my love of helping people brings me back to non-profit organizations. I have volunteered with ArtFest Fort Myers, Lee BIA Builders Care, Florida Public Relations Association, Hope Hospice and many more. This is something that my husband and I enjoy doing together. It is a family affair for sure.
President & CEO, Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida
1. My favorite lunch place is Osteria Tulia on Fifth Avenue followed by a stroll through Waterside Shops and of course some shopping. The best place to watch the sunset is from Baleen’s at La Playa or at Gumbo Limbo.
2. My mother has been the biggest influence in my life. She has shown me the importance of putting family first. She taught me to believe in my dreams and anything is possible. She has always been there for me and so many people - to lend a helping hand or just to listen. She showed me how to see the beauty in all things, not to take myself too seriously, and to enjoy life and make it a better place.
3. Be bold! Believe in yourself! You can do It! Be fiercely brave and determined to follow your passions! Remember to give back!
4. Junior Achievement of Southwest Florida is a non-profit supporting training and materials for students in classrooms, after-school, summer and special at-risk youth groups with volunteers, mentors foster work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills.
President, Naples Junior Woman’s Club
- Lunch at Dolce and Salato followed by a stroll through the Naples Botanical Gardens, ending with a dinner/ sunset cruise on the Naples Princess or Miss Naples is a sure way to have an amazing day in Naples.
- The most influential woman would be my maternal grandmother. She had an amazing work ethic that helped her be successful in Slovakia and then ultimately in the US once she settled in New York with her family, my mother included. She was an amazing human too, making sure that no one she met was ever hungry or in need of anything. Passing on the culture of her people to her grandchildren was very important to her. I try to honor her by being the woman she raised me to be- strong, giving, and continue carrying on our Slovakian traditions
- Be fearless in pursuing your options! Don’t get boxed in by what you perceive is expected in your field or what society dictates. Ask questions, do your research, and learn new skills- you are only limited by you.
4. I have the privilege of being the current president of the Naples Junior Woman’s Club, a nonprofit focused on giving back to the community. We have our own scholarship fund that we raise money for throughout the year for Collier County high school seniors. We also partner with other nonprofit organizations in town such as Grace Place and Children’s Advocacy Collier that need volunteers and material donations. As part of the Greater Federation of Women’s Clubs “Book Hero” initiative, we were able to give our time and new book donations to both of those organizations in 2019! Also, Habitat for Humanity and our own Derby Dash 2020 event at the Naples Beach Hotel.
President and CEO, Guadalupe Center
2. I am very fortunate to have had many strong and influential women in my life. My mother taught me the importance of being independent, my sister, Philomena, instilled in me the value of making good decisions and one of my first work mentors, Cynthia Morgan, exemplified that a good leader listens.
3. I feel it is important for anyone starting his or her career to always work hard and never take no for an answer. Young women should never be afraid to make decisions – don’t’ leave it to chance when you could make choices to create the life you want. And most importantly, remember always to advocate for yourself.
4. At the Guadalupe Center, we work with the children of Immokalee, helping them see that they have what it takes inside to overcome the profound challenges of living in an impoverished community. And we do it through education. Starting from as young as six weeks old, we help children through their early childhood build the social, emotional and academic foundation to be Kindergarten ready. Then, we are by their side in those early elementary years, building up strong reading skills – so they can read to learn. And when students enter high school, We give them the skills, resources and confidence to become first-generation college graduates.