FEW Member Since 2016 and Current Board Member
I was born in Paris, France which sounds very romantic but regrettably, no, I do not speak French. I spent my early childhood years in Madison, Wisconsin while my young parents put themselves through graduate school with student loans and food stamps. We moved to a suburb of New York City when I was in middle school at the same time my father took a job with a large law firm in Manhattan. Both my parents worked full time in NYC. When I was a freshman in high school my mother went back to France for a year on a fellowship to get her PhD in French. My two younger brothers and I quickly learned to be self-sufficient and independent.
You and family
I have been married for 34 years to my husband David and have three children ages 28, 26 and 19 – boy, girl, boy. Our dog Khaleesi (“Princess” in Dothraki) is named after the “mother of dragons” in Game of Thrones. I am inspired and touched when people share their life experiences with me. I am a hard worker and motivated by doing good and being of service to others.
I am a Senior Development Officer with AdventHealth Foundation and am responsible for major gifts to AdventHealth Cardiovascular Institute. I have been with the Foundation for eight years. Prior to this position, I worked for 20 years in development and community relations for several not-for-profit organizations and in government.
The favorite parts of my career and current position are working with good people for good causes. In my current role I am particularly blessed to work with respected community and business leaders who serve and/or served on the Foundation board for the Cardiovascular Institute, all-star physicians who perform medical miracles every day, visionary hospital leadership and generous, grateful patients/families who want to advance our life saving mission.
Most meaningful acknowledgements
I take special pride in raising approximately $1.5 million dollars for a new intensive care unit at the hospital that provides cutting edge life support systems for the sickest of the sick patients with advanced heart and lung disease. These philanthropic funds have saved numerous lives. Just last week I received public accolades from a physician leader at a meeting with about 75 attendees for my efforts on behalf of our doctors and patients, followed by spontaneous, resounding applause. I was quite humbled.
Most important career support received
Two things: The most important career help I received was being hired for my current position eight years ago. In fact, it was a member of FEW who believed in and took a risk on me as I was not a traditional candidate. I had worked for 20 years and then took off 8 years to be a full-time mom and community volunteer.
More recently, a seasoned CEO with an organizational consultant business has taken me under his wing and is coaching me on professional development to advance my career. He has encouraged me to develop a business plan and has provided invaluable guidance throughout this process, supporting me to seek opportunities at work to hone my leadership skills.
Your causes, issues and organizations
I am a proponent of women’s health care, especially family planning and reproductive rights, and support Planned Parenthood. My husband and I support the arts and believe in fostering creativity in young people – writers, musicians, actors, artists. We give to our synagogue, several local Jewish organizations, AdventHealth Foundation and our alma matter – the University of Michigan. The FEW board and membership committee are my primary community volunteer commitments at this time.
Two little-known facts
I am half French, and my middle name starts with an “X” – Xelia.
I attended undergraduate school at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. I was enrolled in a progressive program and put together an independent major in management labor relations with a focus on women’s right in the work place, especially “pink collar” workers.
I took graduate level courses at the Institute of Labor Relations and the Business School. I went to the automotive factories in Detroit in the wee hours of the morning and studied “Quality Circles.” This was a formative experience as it brought home the critical importance of teamwork, bottom up management, front line employee input, organizational behavior and right person in the right place at the right time. I learned everyone has a contribution to make; everyone has value.
I would win the lottery, be a philanthropist, and give away money to support good causes, instead of raising money.
Favorite travel experience
This past summer I took what turned out to be a “pilgrimage” trip of sorts to France with my family. I reconnected with my French family – my natural birth father and two half -sisters. My French father shared old letters and photos going back 40 and 50 years that I never knew existed that traced my birth and earliest childhood years – a very emotional and profound experience.
I just started serving my third year as a FEW member. Serving on the board and more recently the membership committee has definitely increased my engagement, “ownership” and investment in FEW. I am enjoying working with and getting to know individual members through our collective FEW efforts and seeing how our individual skills sets and talents prove that “the FEW whole is more than the sum of all parts.”
New FEW Member
I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and lived in Milwaukee suburbs, including Green Bay, until the age of 9 year old. My father’s career as a CPA, controller and eventually Chief Financial Officer for various insurance companies led us to Minneapolis, Minnesota for four years until his career moved us to Boca Raton, FL when I was entering 8th grade. A drastic change in nearly every way, I was sure my move to Florida would be temporary as we had moved every 4 years of my life. Yet, I graduated from Spanish River High School in Boca Raton and launched my education from there to the University of Florida.
You and your family
The best way to describe me is a realistic optimist. I can’t get into science fiction and I can nearly always find the bright side of a situation. I find humor all around me and enjoy laughing. I love people and enjoy hearing about the journeys of others. I moved to Central Florida in May of 1999 and met my husband, Kenneth, at church the following month. We married in 2002 and spent 14 years living in Winter Springs where we welcomed our two sons into the world: Ian, age 13, and Isaac, age 9. In 2016 we built a home in Sanford, FL where we currently enjoy residing. Kenneth and I love fitness and spending time with the boys. We like to build furniture and read on the front porch. I enjoy cooking healthy meals, yoga and, more recently, meditation.
I have been so blessed along my professional journey. In light of the current higher education costs, I appreciate now, more than ever, having earned full academic scholarships to the University of Florida for my bachelor’s degree, graduating Cum Laude, as well as a full scholarship to Vanderbilt University for my master’s degree. Also, graduating at the top of my class and being the sole recipient of the Jay Sanders Award for Academic and Clinical Excellence in Audiology at Vanderbilt University in 1999 was a huge honor.
My second career as a Realtor has been rewarding as well: I’ve received Agent of the year the past two years at Creegan Property Group.
Most helpful career support received
My husband is my greatest supporter. As my journey took me from Audiology into real estate investing into becoming a full-time Realtor, he has been my biggest cheerleader along the way and he continues that role.
Important causes and issues
I’m very passionate about serving children. In so many ways they can be victimized or struggle at the mercy of inadequate leadership in their lives. As a Rotarian I enjoy service projects that support and encourage the healthy growth and development of children locally and globally. In 2018, our family decided to sponsor a classroom at the Rosen Preschool in Parramore and we look forward to doing more for that community of young people.
Surprising things about you
First, most people are surprised to learn that I love Home Depot. I love power tools (saws, drills, sanders) and I love all things home (tile, flooring, rugs, drapery).
Second, while I was backpacking through Europe in my early 20s I jumped off a moving train in Barcelona, Spain, landed on my head, got a “tour” of the Barcelona hospital (and 12 stitches as a souvenir) and lived to tell about it! (More of that story for another day!)
Goal for being known
I hope that people remember me as one who loved deeply. I want to be remembered as someone who listened with care, responded with thoughtfulness and compassion, and lived generously.
”Unless some like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” (The Lorax, Dr. Seuss) This quote really says it all….we have to care to make a difference. I believe everyone should find something they care about a lot and do something to make it better in a small way or a big way…just do something.
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (The Bible, Matthew 7:12). My kids would tell you this is my mantra. I believe it to be a law for life…do the right thing every time is always a good plan.
Favorite shows and books
I am the eternal student. I love documentaries. I love learning about history, science, and anything health related. My favorite book of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee because for me it’s a celebration of courage and compassion. It’s the story of taking action, doing the right thing, from a place of love.
Thoughts about becoming a FEW member
FEW attracted me for a few reasons:
First, I love being a woman and I love spending time with other women. I see us women as a intensely valuable asset to the economy, the business world and our community and I would like to be part of encouraging women to maximize their impact in the world.
Second, FEW is a collection of professional women that seem to really honor and respect each other for their accomplishments and roles. There are a lot of women’s groups out there, but it can be hard to find a gathering of women who carry themselves as professionally and respectfully as the Florida Executive Women do and I want to be part of that.
Lastly, I love the presentations I have seen thus far at FEW luncheons. They are packed with intelligence, learning, community responsibility, and professional growth which I find very valuable and worth my time.