The Power of Changemakers



Institutions can’t get complacent if they want to continue to lead, according to panelists at the most recent SB2 panel, Inspiring Transformation: The Power of Changemakers. Leaders from some of the most high-profile cultural and philanthropic entities on the Gulf Coast spoke at The Francis on Thursday about the importance of continuing to evolve in practices.

“Change is not always easy, but change is the law of life,” says Michael Crosby, president and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. “If one looks only at the past or even at just at the present, you will miss the future.”  

Mireya Eavey, president of United Way Suncoast, says the market requires change. In the philanthropy world, crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and shifts in information technology alter the way money gets raised and organizations have to respond. “The way donors and organizations give money is changing,” she says. Needs also change over time, so nonprofits cannot become complacent, she says.

Dean Eisner, Ringling College of Art and Design Board of Trustees chairman, says institutions need to improve the ways they engage within a community. At the college, efforts like the Collaboratory connect students with businesses in the region, something he hopes means a better retention of graduates in this area. “Our community has assets we are not deploying as effectively as we could,” he says.

But leaders did not forget that as progress comes, it has to be done in a way that doesn’t jar community members. “I don’t like the word change; I like the word evolution,” says Johanette Isham, founding director of Realize Bradenton. Great ideas come and go, she says, but unless you engage the imagination of community members, there will be resistance.

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