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SRQ DAILY Apr 15, 2023

Saturday Perspectives Edition

Saturday Perspectives Edition

"I am excited, confident and thrilled to welcome our new leader. Lanham's business and philanthropy background is the perfect fit for this region and our organization. "

- Mark Pritchett, Gulf Coast Community Foundation

[Gulf Coast]  Welcoming Our New President and CEO
Mark Pritchett, mpritchett@gulfcoastcf.org

We have big, exciting news! I am thrilled to announce that Phillip P. Lanham, CAP, is Gulf Coast Community Foundation’s new president|CEO. Lanham will join Gulf Coast on June 1 following the national search conducted by the Board of Director’s CEO Search Committee and executive search firm Russell Reynolds. 

Lanham currently serves as the Chief Philanthropy Officer at Greater Cincinnati Foundation, a foundation founded in 1963 that has provided $1B plus in community impact. He has successfully partnered with the Greater Cincinnati area donors, businesses, private foundations and nonprofits to positively impact community issues with a focus on systemic advancement of equity and opportunity. He is widely considered as a strategic, results-driven executive with a 20-plus-year career focused on philanthropy and community impact. Lanham received his undergrad and MBA from University of Cincinnati.

I am excited, confident and thrilled to welcome our new leader. Lanham’s business and philanthropy background is the perfect fit for this region and our organization. Gulf Coast’s organizational priorities, regional initiatives and donor services are expected to grow exponentially under Lanham’s leadership. Lanham brings the talent, passion and excellent experiences to enhance and positively impact our donors and our nonprofit partners. Our team is excited and ready to welcome Lanham to our community, working together to continue to advance our mission, vision and values which we hold close to our hearts.

As I hand over the mantel of leadership, I am grateful for the 15 years I have had with Gulf Coast Community Foundation, eight of those years serving at the helm. We worked extremely well as a team and our organization has been recognized as a National Best Place to Work six times including this past year. Together with our donors, we have surpassed $510 million in grants to support health and human services, civic and economic development, education, arts and culture, and the environment. Together with our nonprofit partners, we have tried to build a beautiful and thriving Sarasota region better than how we found it. And Phillip P. Lanham will be the next great leader to continue our success.

I look forward to spending my retirement in Venice and Colorado, reading the pile of books I have stacked on my bookshelves, and taking up fun challenges that will round out my life, like star gazing with my newly gifted telescope from the team at Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

My Gulf Coast teammates left me with this quote I will never forget: “Only the curious have something to find. Thank you for setting our course to the stars!” It has truly been my honor. So here’s to a stellar future for our new Gulf Coast leader and our Gulf Coast region!

Mark Pritchett is President and CEO of Gulf Coast Community Foundation. 

Photo courtesy Gulf Coast Community Foundation: Phillip P. Lanham.

[Commissioners Deserve Praise on Affordable Housing]  Commissioners Deserve Praise on Affordable Housing
Christine Robinson, Christine@argusfoundation.org

Last month we wrote a column on the importance of considering government fees and how they impact affordable housing. Those fees do not magically get absorbed by a developer; they get passed along to the homeowner in the cost of housing. We asked governments to consider how fees impact affordable housing when they are looking at raising them. 

I am pleased to report the county commission has recently done just that, and they took it one step further and asked staff for the details on how a fee increase will affect affordable housing. An advisory board requested the hiking of a fee in a recommendation to the county commission. Not only was there a pause by some of the members of the county commission, but they asked for a specific explanation on how raising the fees will affect affordable housing.

Using an issue filter of how an action like raising fees will affect another issue, like affordable housing, is not something normally considered in government. Usually, ordinances and resolutions focus on a specific problem without consideration of how it will impact other issues. It is not a system built for understanding the ramification of legislation on other issues. It is a system that solves a specific problem, many times in a vacuum.

Thinking differently about legislation and how it affects affordable housing requires vigilance and constant attention that is very hard to do, especially when you have 50 items on a typical county commission agenda. But the more the county commission talks about it, and uses it as a filter for legislation, the bigger message it sends to staff that they need to operate with an affordable housing filter for all issues as well.

This is an important example for local governments and one that should be emulated by the municipalities. Affordable Housing needs to be the lens through which all legislation is contemplated.

The examination of how a legislative action might affect affordable housing was a great thing, and we hope a habit, that will continue with all future fees and legislation coming from all local levels of government. This needs to be expanded and considered with not just fees, but with regulations and even procedures.

The Argus Foundation congratulates the county commission for its attentiveness to affordable housing and we encourage more watchfulness. Affordable Housing is the number one issue affecting our community. Actions like this from the county commission prove that the commission understands it and is doing everything it can to make sure they don’t worsen the problem. Thank you, commissioners, for your attentiveness to this issue.

Christine Robinson is executive director of The Argus Foundation.


[Higher Education]  SCF Collegiate Schools Expand Opportunities
Carol Probstfeld, presidentsoffice@scf.edu

At State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, we’re proud of our two collegiate schools. One sits on our Bradenton campus and another in Venice, both A-graded public charter schools, with the Bradenton campus recognized as a national blue-ribbon school. Partnered with SCF, yet a different experience from a district school student, State College of Florida Collegiate School’s dual enrollment program presents an opportunity for students to complete an associate degree at the same time they receive their high school diploma. The collegiate schools were founded on the principle that students should be encouraged and afforded the opportunity to pursue college.

Nicolette, a senior at SCFCS Bradenton and a student there since the sixth grade, has taken full advantage of the collegiate school experience. She says, “The collegiate school taught me time management and gave me confidence.” It also inspired her career choice to become a middle or high school math teacher. And preferably in Manatee County so she can stay local.

SCFCS students receive coaching that encourages time management, social skills, independent learning, accountability and devotes individual time to each student in goal-setting sessions. Nicolette has taken these lessons to heart and seized every opportunity to give back to her community and her peers at the school.

In November, Nicolette was awarded from Drug Free Manatee (D-Fy) the 2022 Champions of Prevention for the sector of Youth. D-Fy honored her for her passion in supporting the mission to reduce the impact of drug abuse and addiction in our community through her leadership and willingness to volunteer in prevention activities.  She volunteers at least three hours a month for this program and another two hours for the “Future Me” program at local middle schools that hopes to expand a version of the D-FY program. 

In addition to working part-time, she volunteers to offer math tutoring for students in lower-level grades. In addition, she encourages those who ask, “what would you recommend?” to take advantage of the after-school programs such as art, cooking, anime drawing and Spanish. Knowing everyone, given the school's small size, and having constant resources and mentors to help, is what contributes to her favoring the school.  She is proud of the fact that at age 17, she will be graduating high school and receiving her associate in arts degree the same day. 

Nicolette is one example of the more than 600 students at our Collegiate Schools who demonstrate high student achievement from sixth grade at SCFCS Bradenton and ninth at SCFCS Venice. Most of our graduates persist and continue their higher education journey by obtaining a baccalaureate degree here at SCF or at prestigious schools in Florida and across the country, including our partner institutions that offer scholarships to SCFCS graduates.

At SCF, we believe everyone deserves the opportunity to pursue higher education. Our collegiate schools and student-centered programs fulfill our open-access philosophy that encourages anyone to apply. At SCF, we meet you where you are. We’re everyone’s college.

Dr. Carol F. Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. 

Photo courtesy SCF: Students at SCF Collegiate School

[On Federal]  We Can Solve Our Immigration Problems

Much of the success of the United States is attributable to the successive waves of immigrants on which our country is built. Yet despite several bipartisan attempts, our political leaders have failed to develop a comprehensive immigration strategy and policy at a time of great need.

Core population growth has stagnated.

Our population is aging rapidly as life expectancy is well ahead of what it was decades ago when long term plans for Social Security and Medicare   were developed.

We have chronic shortages of labor which put an upper limit on supply and create inflationary pressures.

We have a broken system on both the legal and illegal immigration fronts.

  • The legal immigration system is incredibly slow and cumbersome and doesn’t address U.S. quantitative and qualitative needs.
  • Because our borders are not secure, undocumented immigrants pour across our borders causing many issues and questions regarding the characteristics and quantity of those entering illegally.
  • On the other hand, we do have an obligation to accept immigrants

fleeing from countries because they are politically oppressed and seeking asylum. 

  • And then there are 10+ million undocumented people already living in the U.S. What do we do with them? 

So, we have at least three big issues to address:

We need immigrants to help our economy grow and to support our aging seniors as well as to provide economic and social vibrancy and diversity. 

We need a secure border to be able to implement an effective and strong immigration policy and protect the country from having people cross the border that could put us at risk.

We need to provide a path to citizenship or legal working status to the tens of millions of productive people working and living in the U.S. without legal status.


Among the various solutions that could address these three broad problems:

  • Streamline our legal immigration policy.
  • Develop criteria/qualifications for those that desire to work and live in the U.S. Significantly expand the annual number of admitted immigrants.
  • Significantly expand the resources of our Immigration and Naturalization Department as well as ICE, Immigration, Customs and Enforcement.
  • Steamline the process to reduce the time it takes to get potential immigrants approved for legal status.
  • Make the Green Card/Work Permit process easier.
  • Expand the number of temporary workers permitted for seasonal jobs.
  • Allow more foreign graduates the opportunity to work here in the U.S. Once the immigrants are admitted, provide courses and programs to help them assimilateeconomically and culturally.

Provide a pathway to citizenship for the ten million people living here in the country without legal status. Other than habitual criminals, let’s get these people documented so they can become fully contributing members of society.

Secure our borders. Some combination of technology, people/organization, and walls/fences is needed.

  • Increase the resources supporting our Immigration and Naturalization functions, particularly those along our borders.
  • Make it clear that while we welcome immigrants through the legal process, we will turn away those attempting to enter the country illegally.

We call on our political leaders in Washington to address these problems now. Polls show the majority of Americans want to see these issues addressed promptly and in an effective and bipartisan way.

Robert GaryScott GrayPaul HylbertLucie LapovskyLynn LarsonEd SabolHerb Soroca and Becky van der Bogert are founders of  Miracle on the Key, a group of four Democrats and four Republicans devoted to civil dialogue as a means to address our country’s opportunities and problems. 

[On Education]  It’s Time to Hit Pause

The recent Sarasota School Board consultant approval process is flawed.

The League of Women Voters of Florida supports Florida’s constitutional requirement to make adequate provision for the education of all children that is ‘uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality.’ Hiring a consultant to help in making this happen can be a strong investment— one that requires transparency, hard work and process. 

The League of Women Voters of Sarasota opposes the hiring of a consultant for without going through a transparent and rigorous vetting and bidding process. Additionally, we support the separation of church and state in our public schools, and paid consultants should be secular and void of advocacy of a specific religion.

Our concern stems from the proposal to hire Vermilion Education for two services: 1. consulting services to the board and 2. a “District Improvement Study.” This study would have a broad mission to evaluate “the proposed policies, programs, curriculum, and sit on external candidate interviews for district administrative, support and classroom positions, among other responsibilities.”

Thus far the process initiated by the Board Chair has lacked transparency, with the initial information on the request being included on the March 21 Work Session Agenda under the Members Comments Section, simply entitled “Vermilion Education Brief.” There were no attachments describing this item on the online agenda available to the public. There was no information provided on the founder and supporters of Vermilion Education, their credentials, or their ties to Hillsdale College. 

In the following School Board Workshop on April 4, the School Board had a Zoom presentation from Jordan Adams, Vermilion's founder, which was not posted on the board's workshop agenda. "Vermilion Education Brief" was only listed under "Member Comments" for the end of the workshop.

For a contract of this magnitude, best practices must be employed including a public and transparent process with rigorous vetting of candidates and competitive bidding. Spending taxpayer funds should require evidence of previous success with public school systems.

Any consultant hired with taxpayer funds to perform the services requested in the proposed contracts should have extensive previous experience conducting comprehensive studies of school districts the size and performance level of Sarasota. 

The scope of activities described in these contracts are more fitted to a multi-phase study that employs a team approach of noted professionals in the fields of curriculum and instruction, human resources, district administration, school administration, business services, evaluation and professional development. Further, the conduct of such studies requires consultant field work in conjunction with district administrators, principals, parent support groups, community supporters and, most importantly, the teachers and professional staff who deliver instruction to our youth. 

The result of this closed and rushed process may lead to alienation of instructional staff and disrupt the educational process for literally thousands of children and result in outcomes inconsistent with Florida’s Constitutional requirement to make adequate provision for the education of all children that is ‘uniform, efficient, safe, secure and high quality’.

Linda Thompson is president of the League of Women Voters of Sarasota County. Cecile Scoon is president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. Jill Lewis-Spector is education action chair for the League of Women Voters of Sarasota County. 

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Comedy Roulette , April 13 – May 17, Various times

FST Improv’s free-form show, Comedy Roulette, is an off-the-wall improvisation potpourri where performers are freed from the traditional do’s and don’ts of improv. Instead, improvisers are encouraged to follow the funny and launch into a new scene or storyline whenever inspiration strikes. Comedy Roulette plays Saturdays in FST’s Bowne’s Lab from April 8 to May 17, 2023. Florida Studio Theatre, 1265 1st St., Sarasota, floridastudiotheatre.org.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Eco Engineers , April 12 – September 3, During museum hours

Eco Engineers are plants and animals that profoundly impact their ecosystem. Through their presence or behavior, eco engineers create microhabitats, or unique areas within an ecosystem. Other species have taken notice of these microhabitats and decided to move in! In this exhibition, explore nine of Florida’s eco engineers and discover why our landscape wouldn’t be the same without them. Eco Engineers is a bilingual (English and Spanish) special exhibition created by our own Museum curators. Included with museum admission. The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton, bishopscience.org.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Beartoe at Oscura , April 15, Doors open at 7 p.m., show begins at 8 p.m.

Oscura presents a night of live music from folk, blues and soul musician Beartoe. All ages are welcome. No cover charge. Oscura, 816 Manatee Ave E., Bradenton, oscura.live.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Friendly City Flea Market at Oscura , April 15, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Visit the Downtown Bradenton Friendly City Flea Market at Oscura. The indoor and outdoor event will feature over 70 artisan vendors and a DJ. There will also be jazz and brunch offerings. All ages are welcome. Admission is free. Oscura, 816 Manatee Ave E, Bradenton, friendlycityflea.com.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Gemstone Bracelet Making at Lakewood Ranch , April 15, 10 to 11 a.m.

Participants will get to choose 22 beads to create their own one-of-a-kind gemstone bracelet. For ages 5-13. Registration is $10 for residents and $20 for non-residents. Summerfield Community Park Pavilion, 6402 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Lakewood Ranch, mlwr.com.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Family Saturday at Selby Gardens , April 15, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Calling all kids and kids at heart. Spend Saturday morning enjoying fun art and nature activities at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota Campus. Held once a month through May, Family Saturdays offer artistic activities for children in the great outdoors. Find us in the Ann Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden, where kids will create their own nature-inspired art with a variety of materials, including tempera paint, crayons, colored pencils, markers, color paper, and more. Multiple creative stations with different projects each month. Free for members, included with general admission for non-members. Marie Selby Botanical Gardens Downtown Sarasota Campus, 1534 Mound St., Sarasota, selby.org.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: Hard Heart Burlesque , April 16, 8 p.m.

Hard Heart Burlesque is back at McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre April 16, 2023 at 8pm for an evening full of strip tease, live vocals and variety acts that will make you feel like spring has sprung. Flowers are in bloom, and so is Hard Heart Burlesque this April. Tickets are $37. McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre, McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre, 1923 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, mccurdyscomedy.com.

[SOON]  MUSIC: Free Joy of Jazz Concert , April 16, 2 p.m.

The Jazz Club of Sarasota presents the free Joy of Jazz Concert on Sunday, April 16. The event will feature big band jazz with the Sarasota Jazz Project. Bring folding chairs and sunblock. Centennial Park Gazebo, 200 W. Venice Ave, Venice, jazzclubsarasota.org.

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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