In 2008 Meghan Serrano and her husband came to Sarasota from Boston thinking that they might stay for just a little while.  Fast forward sixteen years and the couple is still here, loving it as much today as they did when they first visited so many years ago.

With an undergraduate degree from Boston College and a law degree from University of Connecticut, Serrano started her career as a prosecutor in Middlesex County.

One area that she focused on while working in criminal law in Massachusetts was juvenile justice. She learned then that there were many diversion programs for kids who had gotten into trouble with the law, giving them the ability to enter to avoid a criminal conviction. Serrano worked with a number of groups focused on helping kids who had gotten into trouble, but also aimed to help kids stay out of trouble. “It seems so obvious but kids tend to get into trouble in the hours after school, when parents are at work,” she says.  “I saw firsthand how many of these programs helped the community simply by having a safe place for kids to go after school.”

Serrano moved to Sarasota in 2009 and began her career in civil litigation at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP where she continues to work as a partner today. Board certified by the Florida Bar in Business Litigation, she helps her business clients try to avoid litigation and litigates when it can’t be avoided. Since she started at Shumaker, the firm has grown tremendously and expanded to other locations. “We have a really solid group of attorneys here,” she says. “I enjoy understanding my clients’ businesses and helping them resolve disputes so that they can get back to running their businesses.”

Following her passion to help children, once she settled in Sarasota, Serrano decided to set her sights on finding a local organization that worked with kids. One of her law partners had worked with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties for a long time and he introduced her to the staff there. She started off by helping out with some committees and decided to join the Board of Directors in 2016. Her dedication to the Club, however, has gone far beyond the boardroom through mentorship, legal counseling, financial support and visionary leadership with one of her greatest accomplishments being the “Times of Crisis” operation manual that she helped design and implement. 

“When COVID first hit, it was right before school vacation,” she recalls. “Normally, our clubs are open for spring break, but the pandemic forced us to shut down. Several local foundations approached the Club about opening in a limited capacity for kids whose parents were first responders–parents who did not have the option to work from home.” Knowing that the Club’s mission is to keep kids safe, Serrano and the team were very focused on ways they could stay open safely, for the families who needed them most.  The situation evolved throughout the pandemic and they responded accordingly.  Serrano became Chair of the Club’s Board of Directors while they were still navigating the pandemic-created challenges, and then Hurricane Ian hit, which totally destroyed part of their Club in North Port. The next challenge she faced was figuring out how to accommodate those kids in the gym, which had survived the storm with minimal damage. “Despite these challenges, I am very proud that we were able to continue to deliver on our mission of helping kids to reach their full potential, and were not totally preoccupied navigating these obstacles,” she adds. 

In addition to her problem-solving in times of emergency, Serrano acts as a mentor for teen Club members and has secured funding to support grade-level reading programs across the six Clubs. “The Club has always been very focused on implementing strong programs for kids while school is in session and during the summer. The summer programs are very focused on academics, and are designed to keep kids busy yet challenged when school is out to prevent the summer slide,” she shares. “In recent years, we focused on kids who needed additional help with reading, and brought in teachers who could assist them during the summer months. This program was a huge success; all of the kids who participated demonstrated gains in reading, and none fell behind.” Because of these proven results, Serrano was thrilled when Shumaker announced its Make a Difference through Literacy Initiative as she knew that this was a specific area where the firm’s goals totally aligned with what was being done at the Club. Shumaker’s donation to the Club was one of the first donations made through this initiative. 

Since she first became involved, the Club has focused on elevating the quality of their teen programs, an area where according to Serrano, the staff has been top notch. “Our Club has won many national awards recognizing the innovation and results of our teen programs, but the best measure of our success in this area is the number of teens who chose to enroll in these programs each year,” she boasts. “There are so many great programs to choose from and the Perlman-Price Young Entrepreneurs Program is just one.” Serrano feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak to teens in the program as a group about legal careers, and mentor kids one on one. “The great thing about living in a community like Sarasota is the ability to be a connector—and to facilitate these connections to reach a wider audience with our teens. We have been able to organize trips for tours of the courthouse, meetings with local leaders, and hearing from people with an amazingly diverse array of careers, all of whom have been happy to give their time and share their experiences with our teens,” she adds.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Serrano’s favorite book, Atticus Finch tells his kids that you never truly understand a person until you consider things from his point of view and you climb in his skin and walk around in it. To Serrano, this is a reminder to stay humble, and to try to fully understand something before weighing in on it. She says that this mantra has served her well in coming into her leadership role at the Club as a relative newcomer.

Looking back at the successes of both families who emigrated here and those whose kids started at the Club and have moved on to become amazing young adults, Serrano feels motivated to continue her work. “Everything I do for the Boys & Girls Club is instantly gratifying and I know I am making a difference,” she shares. “I wish there had been an organization like the Club in my hometown when I was growing up.  That feeling definitely drives my commitment to this organization.” Meghan Serrano was honored as one of SRQ Magazine’s Corporate Good Heroes in December 2023.