Gulfshore Business Daily: February 7

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Innovation Leadership Forum 2019, presented by Level Up Coaching & Consulting, will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Holiday Inn Ft. Myers Town Center. The event will provide practical information and skills for organizations, executives, entrepreneurs, individuals and teams to grow in personal and professional success. Presenters include Dr. Steve Smith, an organizational development tactician; Ismail Joseph, an expert on the millennial mindset; Tatiana Fortune, senior center director at Collier Senior Resources’ Golden Gate Senior Center in Naples; John Paul, founder and CEO of ICFO Consulting, Inc.; and Dr. Phil Phillips, a transformational leader, speaker, trainer and business consultant. Tickets are $159 per person and include lunch. For more information and to register, visit or call (239) 603-7040.


The Early Learning Coalition of Florida’s Heartland (ELCFH) is accepting applications from business leaders in Charlotte, Desoto, Hardee and Highlands counties for board members representing private-sector businesses. This is an opportunity to positively impact the lives low of income and at-risk children through quality early learning services, a press release states. Applications can be accessed at Applications for gubernatorial appointments on the board of directors are also being accepted.  For information and the application tool, go to the Gubernatorial Appointments website.  Interested applicants may also contact the ELCFH office at (941) 255-1650 for assistance.


Rib City is celebrating 30 years of operation in 2019. Founded in Fort Myers in 1989, Rib City is a family-owned national barbecue chain. There are currently 14 corporate restaurants in Florida with 10 locations in Southwest Florida, and 12 franchise restaurants across the country including Washington, Colorado, Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri and Virginia. Craig Peden, company president, and his father, Paul Peden, have been restaurateurs in Southwest Florida for more than 40 years, having owned and operated a number of restaurants including the Veranda in downtown Fort Myers. The concept of Rib City started out with a small, family-style operation on U.S. 41 in Fort Myers. It began offering franchises in 2004. Going forward, the Pedens plan to expand their franchise business with additional locations nationwide.


Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tiffany Esposito has graduated from the inaugural class of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Business Leads Fellowship Program. Esposito was selected with 34 other chamber executives from across the nation to participate in this fellowship focusing on the connection between education and economic development. The four-month program covered the entire talent pipeline, including early childhood education, K-12, higher education and workforce development. The program gave Esposito access to experts, peers and resources to help address local education and workforce challenges. For a full list of participants in the Business Leads inaugural class, visit


The Florida Diversity Council named David Lawrence Center (DLC) clinician Mariana Perez the 2018 Distinguished Healthcare Diversity Advocate. She received the award, which highlights the importance of diversity and inclusion efforts in the healthcare industry throughout the state of Florida, at the 2018 Florida Healthcare Diversity Summit. Perez is a bilingual licensed mental health counselor from Colombia. She first joined DLC in 2010 as a case manager and has worked her way up to Immokalee clinical coordinator. Perez was recognized as a Distinguished Healthcare Diversity Advocate for her leadership and outreach activities that address the challenges of the diverse, at-risk population in the Immokalee community, a press release states. She has served on a community coalition, staffed health fairs, given talks on mental health and coordinated the DLC float for the Annual Immokalee Christmas Parade. Perez earned the DLC Team Player Award in 2011 and the DLC Employee of the Year Award in 2016.


Betsy Keteltas, senior director of development at Avow, has achieved the designation of Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). Keteltas has met a series of standards set by CFRE International which include tenure in the profession, education, and demonstrated fundraising achievement. The CFRE credential was created to identify individuals who possess the knowledge, skills, and commitment to perform fundraising duties in an effective and ethical manner, a press release states.


LCEC welcomed Sandy Thompson as its new human resources manager. Thompson will provide strategic and operational leadership to ensure that LCEC is continually acquiring, engaging and developing talent to support current and future business performance requirements and operating culture. Thompson comes to LCEC from Illinois, where she has worked in human resources for more than 20 years. Most recently, Thompson served as the director of human resources for the Performance Food Group.


Gourmet Vintner Dinner raises $1.1 million for patient services

The 2019 Gourmet Vintner Dinner, held Feb. 2 at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, raised $1.1 million for patient services provided by Neighborhood Health Clinic, a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization providing Collier County’s working, uninsured residents affordable medical and dental care. During the event, themed “20 Years of Hope and Healing,” guests enjoyed a wine tasting, gourmet dinner, the Save-A-Life fundraiser and live auction. Additionally, Dr. Sean Kelley received the William P. Lascheid MD Award for exemplifying the qualities of the clinic’s co-founder through his treatment of the clinic’s patients. Kelley has treated patients since the clinic opened.

MarineMax Yacht Gala supports Golisano Children’s Hospital

The fourth annual MarineMax Yacht Gala, held Jan. 25 in Fort Myers, raised more than $200,000 to support Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. With a theme of “An Evening under the Stars,” guests enjoyed a waterfront cocktail hour at sunset and strolls aboard a selection of yachts before gathering for dinner. Armando Llechu, chief administrative officer at Golisano Children’s Hospital, served as the keynote speaker, and a silent auction and live auction was held. ABC7 morning co-anchors Jen Stacy and Greg Parker emceed the event. A portion of proceeds will support Kids’ Minds Matter, the mental and behavioral health fund of Golisano Children’s Hospital. For more information, visit or call (239) 343-6950.

2019 Celebrity Martini Glass Auction held Friday

 The 2019 Celebrity Martini Glass Auction (CMGA) will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday at Artis—Naples. This year’s event features glasses signed by former president George H.W. Bush and former first lady and Barbara Bush, Marvel Comic’s Stan Lee, Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale, actor John Travolta and more. The works of art are auctioned live during the annual, by-invitation-only event. The event benefits the Veterans Support Fund, established by the CMGA in partnership with the Community Foundation of Collier County. The God Bless the USA CMGA After-Party will feature Norman Love of Norman Love Confections; Chef Oz, Seminole Casino Hotel; Chef Samir Canaan, Trulucks of Naples; MadMac Macaron desserts and more.

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