Sarasota Military Academy Foundation Announces New Executive Director

Business

Rafael E. Robles was recently appointed as the executive director of the Sarasota Military Academy (SMA) Foundation, the nonprofit behind the Sarasota Military Academy, a public charter middle and high school with a college preparatory focus. With more than 28 years of experience in the education and philanthropy sectors, Robles brings extensive leadership and business acumen along with knowledge of development initiatives, donor relations and fundraising to his new position.

SMA Foundation was created to support Sarasota Military Academy’s commitment to academic excellence and success. Funds raised by SMA Foundation will be invested in program and course development, innovative technology and equipment and professional development and coaching stipends at the Academy. In his new role, Robles will lead and manage all aspects of the SMA Foundation under the direction of its board of trustees. He will promote the philanthropic investment in and the strategic growth of the SMA Foundation by establishing a culture of philanthropy, observing fiscal accountability and transparency and raising awareness of the needs of the Sarasota Military Academy in the community. Talent management company MBJ Group led the nonprofit’s search for the position.

“Along with his experience and credentials, Rafael’s calm and professional demeanor is what made him really stand out,” said General Howard Crowell, board chair of the Sarasota Military Academy Foundation. “We are delighted to welcome him, and I look forward to enhancing the nonprofit’s future growth and bringing a greater focus to the Academy and who we are for the community.”

Prior to joining SMA Foundation, Robles led the philanthropic efforts at Loveland Center, Inc. as the chief philanthropy officer and directed the senior leadership transition team in 2017. During his tenure there, he grew the nonprofit’s endowment fund to more than $600,000, executed a comprehensive fund development strategy to increase annual contributed revenue to exceed $750,000 and initiated a restructuring of the annual giving and planned giving programs.

In addition, Robles’ first position upon his arrival to Sarasota from the University of Miami Office of Advancement was as the philanthropy officer at Tidewell Hospice. “Education is my passion and to have the opportunity to galvanize philanthropic support for our next generation of respectful citizens and decisive leaders is a privilege and a joy,” said Robles. “With a multicultural and diverse perspective, I hope to optimize the financial forecast of the SMA Foundation, and in turn, bolster support for the mission of our two campuses — not only today, but into tomorrow.”

An alumnus of Columbia University, Robles earned a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature. He also possesses a certificate in leadership from the University of Virginia and a certificate in French Studies from Dartmouth College. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Southwest Chapter and as vice president of the AFP Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

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