SB2 Unites Philanthropic Thought Leaders, Honors Agents of Change

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Foundation leaders, philanthropists and givers of all sorts gathered at the Hyatt Regency yesterday for the latest installment in SRQ Media’s SB2 Luncheon Series, Philanthropic Agenda. Sponsored by local businesses such as Mariash Lowther Wealth Management, Catalist Realty and JFCS of the Suncoast, the event brought together a community of philanthropic-minded leaders (and future leaders in the tables full of students from NewGate Montessori, Out-of-Door Academy and Sarasota Christian School) for a special keynote speaker, panel discussion and the inaugural presentation of The Good Hero Awards.

Joining the crowd from Orlando, Keynote Speaker Mark Brewer, president and CEO of the Central Florida Foundation, kicked things off in earnest with a discussion of growing trends in the philanthropy sector, and how Sarasota fits into those trends. He discussed the impacts of changing demographics, such as a shift in the last six to seven years, seeing the younger generations taking up the mantle and leading family decisions in philanthropic giving. “We see children driving family philanthropy across America,” Brewer says. “They are bringing with them dramatic changes.”

These younger generations also look at problems differently, Brewer says, with a focus on taking a wide-angle look for systemic problems and solutions at the source, as opposed to palliative measures. “No one cares about your capacity,” he says. “They care about your capability.” Part of this growing expectation for social impact results in a growing focus on collective impact—the differences that foundations and philanthropists and their partners can achieve by working together toward a common goal. Sarasota, Brewer notes, has done an exceptional job at making sure nonprofits and the like are “at the table” when it comes to community discussions of social projects, programs and problems.

But one thing Sarasota will have to look out for, Brewer is sure to add, is the danger in divergent demographics, wherein an aging population disengages from the younger and vice versa.

Following the keynote address, a panel of local philanthropy experts took the stage, including Susie Bowie, executive director of the Manatee Community Foundation, Teri Hansen, president and CEO of the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation, Roxie Jerde, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Mark Pritchett, president and CEO of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Brian Mariah, senior vice president of Mariash Lowther. Joining Brewer onstage, they fielded questions from moderator Wes Roberts of SRQ Media and the audience, including students who wanted to know how to deal with indifferent adults. “Find different adults,” quipped Jerde.

Issues at hand ranged from reaching that younger generation to engendering support from transplants with extant ties to elsewhere. “People are charitable first,” says Pritchett, and that charity can be nurtured into full-blown philanthropy in time, as they seek more impact in their new location. “And then they become big change agents in the community,” he says. With regards to outcome-based measurement, Bowie suggested a shift from quantity helped to the quality of that help. “Sometimes if you’re really going to change lives,” she says, “you’re going to change fewer lives.”

With the panel departing the stage, Heidi Brown of JFCS of the Suncoast joined SRQ Media’s Ashley Grant on the stage to bestow the first annual SRQ Good Hero Philanthropic Awards. This year’s inaugural winners were Melissa Wandall for the Mark Wandall Foundation, Arnold Simonsen and Ronda Montminy for their support of the Players Centre for Performing Arts Rosemary studio, Antonia Quiros of Goodwill Manasota, prolific volunteer and philanthropist Phyllis Siskel and, in posthumous recognition, Mark Morin, who served on the board of the State College of Florida Foundation.

In an emotional end to the event, one final award was announced, the Good Hero Corporate Titan Award, given to a local business leader who made a conscious choice to put community above profit and give back in a serious way. Accepting the award to a standing ovation in memory of Steve Seidensticker, son Joe Seidensticker gave a heartfelt thanks and call to action in his father’s name.

“He believed in helping one person at a time, using the assets that he had. He believed that money is not the only way to change people’s lives… …I hope that when we come together next year, we will be honoring a corporate hero that has touched people’s lives purposefully and measurably, using all the talents and assets at their disposal.”

Pictured: Teri Hansen on the mic with Brian Mariash and Mark Pritchett (left) and Roxie Jerde and Susie Bowie (right). Photo by Wyatt Kostygan.

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