BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Debbi Benedict – Nokomis, President
A 35-year resident of Sarasota County, Debbi Benedict is a blogger at the Civilized Homesteader where she chronicles her growing edible landscape. Her monthly column, “Palm Trees & Pearls,” debuted in the Herald-Tribune’s Style Magazine in October 2016.
During her event-planning years, Debbie coordinated William G. Selby and Marie Selby Foundation’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and TideWell Hospice and Palliative Care’s Clowning Around Town outdoor art event.
Among the local boards she has served on are the Junior League of Sarasota (president), Sarasota Reading Festival (president), Ringling College Library Association (president), New College Library Association (president), Gulf Coast Heritage Association (president-elect), Friends of Venice Public Library (president), Sarasota County Arts Council (executive committee), and Venice Historical Society (founding treasurer).
She has chaired many events during anniversary years, such as the Junior League of Sarasota’s 40th anniversary, the 30th Mistletoe Ball and 20th Pique-nique sur la Baie for the New College Library Association, the 20th Ringling College Library Association Town Hall Lecture Series and the 25th Orchid Ball for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. She also founded, and chaired for five years, the Junior League of Sarasota Sustainers’ Legacy Luncheon and has chaired the Junior League’s inaugural Kitchen Festival and the Hermitage’s Artful Lobster and Greenfield Prize Dinner.
Steven Adler – Fort Myers, Vice President
Steven P. Adler is the president and owner of Murex Properties, LLC. Prior to his current position at Murex Properties, Steven held the position of senior vice-president with Sun Communities (12/02–3/04) and oversaw the development, marketing, and management of most of the developing properties in the Sun portfolio. Prior to accepting the position at Sun, Steven served as president and CEO of Forest Communities (6/99-12/02), a wholly owned subsidiary of Champion Enterprises. Forest was the development arm of Champion whose mission was to acquire, entitle, build, market and manage new land/lease communities, subdivisions and other housing opportunities. From 1986-1999, Steven was the director of operations and, eventually, president of Uniprop, a private owner and operator of over 15,000 home-sites in 12 states. As COO of Uniprop, he received the first “Community Operator of the Year” award from MHI. Currently serving on MHI’s National Communities Council, Steven has also played an active lobbying role in Florida and has served on the Michigan Manufactured Housing Commission, and several other industry committees. Steven holds an M.S. in resource management and an M.A. in sociology. He is a licensed Florida real estate broker.
David Green – Manasota Key/Bigfork, MT, Vice President
David Green has a 45-year career of marketing and branding leadership with emphasis on strategic planning, passionate execution, motivating consumer communication and team building based on quality relationships and mentoring. As a marketing and branding consultant, he has worked with corporations including Boston Market, Redbox Video, Snap-On Tools and Chipotle Mexican Grill. From 1972 to 2002 he worked for the McDonald’s Corporation, directing and supervising marketing and advertising, climbing to the position of senior global marketing officer. At McDonald’s he brought the Ronald McDonald House concept from a local market activity to an international charity, introduced the “Happy Meal” on both a national and international level and developed long-term partnerships with the Olympics and World Cup Soccer. From 2007 to 2013, he served on the board of Tuesday Morning Inc. He currently serves on the boards of the Sarasota Orchestra and Manasota Key Homeowners Association, and is a marketing consultant for the Jewish Family & Children’s Services of the Sun Coast and the president and founder of Eclipse Jet Owners and Pilot Association. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and attended the Boston University Graduate School of Public Communications. David and his wife Linda live in Bigfork, Montana, and on Manasota Key.
Larry Bold (Emeritus) – Englewood, Treasurer
Larry Bold attended the University of Michigan where he received a B.B.A. in 1961 and an M.B.A. in 1962 and graduated second in his class from the law school at the University of Missouri in Kansas City in 1965. Upon receiving his CPA certificate as he graduated from law school, Larry worked for several accounting firms. He was the sixth attorney with a law firm that eventually became Morris, Larson, King, Stamper and Bold. When he retired from the firm in 1986, it had approximately 45 lawyers.
In 1990, Larry co-founded Utility Resources Corporation, a consulting company that helped large manufacturers all over the United States reduce their cost of electricity and natural gas. This business was sold in 2008.
In 2001, he and his wife Carol White Bold completed building their home on Manasota Key. Larry is an avid motorcyclist, riding 15,000 miles a year, poker and gin rummy player, and a dedicated supporter of the Hermitage.
Michele Redwine – Bradenton, Secretary
Michele Redwine is a diversity education consultant and sculptor and educator with 35 years of executive leadership experience in not-for-profit organizations, public sectors, educational institutions and local government entities. Michele holds degrees in fine arts from Boston University and (EEO) equal employment opportunity studies from Cornell University and has developed a variety of new programs to create a winning tradition of educational excellence. Her aim is to create sustainable change in the area of diversity and facilitate momentum towards creating a fully inclusive institutional culture. She has accomplished initiatives linking education and business in the execution of programs supporting institutional diversity, recruitment, and cultural learning. Her professional life focuses on human resources in the development of community partnerships, leading innovative diversity initiatives, policies, practices, programs and talent management strategies. In her retirement years, she is recognized as a successful artist and sculptor. She is a board member of The Ringling.
Dr. Susan Brainerd – Sarasota
For the past 25 years, Dr. Susan Brainerd has supported the arts institutions in Sarasota both professionally and as a volunteer, patron, and subscriber.
Susan graduated from Smith College as a music major and earned her doctorate in creative arts education from the University of Massachusetts in 1971. After working for eight years as director of arts education for the State Department of Education in New Jersey, she moved from education to fundraising for arts organizations. In New York City she worked for the New York Philharmonic, American Ballet Theater, and the Big Apple Circus. In 1993 in a national search she was recruited to become deputy director for the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.
The 1990s were a time of major transition for the museum, moving from a predominance of state funding to the need to provide major support for the museum locally. Susan led eight years of generating local support through an enhanced membership program developing upper level members; a series of successful fundraising events including two governor’s balls; a year-long celebration of the museum’s 50th anniversary as the State Art Museum of Florida in which most of the art collection was brought out of storage, conserved, and installed in thematic shows with surrounding lectures and symposia; and the $15 million restoration of Ca’ d’Zan.
During this time and in the early 2000s, Susan participated on arts and professional boards and became a strong supporter of the major musical performing organizations in Sarasota. She served as development co-chair of the Sarasota Arts Council and also served on the Arts Committee at Harvard University and as a board member for Harris Bank (now Bank of Montreal) in Sarasota.
After many years of neglecting her love of singing, Susan joined Key Chorale and in 2004, then joined its board and became its development chair. Key Chorale’s fundraising had been led by enthusiastic but untrained volunteers and Susan set about to help it begin a new era with Maestro Joseph Caulkins as director. With new fundraising events, an annual fund plan and the celebration of Key Chorale’s 20th and 25th anniversaries, she identified more singing volunteers and music-loving donors to more than double its budget in order to perform major choral works and collaborate with other arts organizations to broaden its outreach. Maestro Caulkins and Sarasota Circus co-founder Pedro Reis put the icing on the Chorale’s cake with the creation of the popular Cirque des Voix.
In the past few years, Susan has continued her support of Sarasota’s arts in all its varied forms, supported Maestro Caulkin’s initiation of the “Off Key Chorale” for Parkinson patients, and participated on planning boards for a variety of fundraising events.
Susan is delighted to be participating on the board of the Hermitage Artist Retreat and its exciting mission.
Marletta Darnall – Englewood/Chicago
After a brief career as a junior high school teacher, Marletta Farrier Darnall became a full-time homemaker and mother. She took community leadership roles in infant welfare, community service, and parents’ associations; founded an anti-drug and anti-alcohol support network; and served 12 years as a docent for the Chicago Architectural Foundation. In Chicago, Marletta served as president, vice-president, and gala chair for multiple high-profile institutions. She is a member of the Guild of Chicago Historical Society, governing member of Brookfield Zoo and Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Sustaining Fellow of the Art Institute of Chicago. Marletta has been a trustee of Children’s Home and Aid of Illinois since 1987, and in 2007 was the recipient of its Woman’s Board’s highest honor, the Pauline Palmer Award. In 2010, the Schaumberg Child and Family Center was named for her.
Laura Kaminsky – New York
Laura Kaminsky is a composer with “an ear for the new and interesting” whose works are “colorful and harmonically sharp-edged” (New York Times), and whose “musical language is compounded of hymns, blues, and gestures not unlike those of Shostakovich” (inTune). Social and political themes are common in her work, as is an abiding respect for and connection to the natural world. The visual is made manifest in sound, with color and image often serving as inspiration. Her music is “full of fire as well as ice, written in an idiom that contrasts dissonance and violence with tonal beauty and meditative reflection.” (American Record Guide)
Laura has received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Koussevitzky Music Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, Aaron Copland Fund, Chamber Music America, American Music Center, USArtists International, CEC ArtsLink International Partnerships, Likhachev Foundation, Kenan Institute for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission, North Carolina Arts Council, Seattle Arts Commission, Virgil Thomson Foundation, Meet the Composer, and others. She received five ASCAP-Chamber Music America Awards for Adventuresome Programming and the Polish Ministry of Culture National Heritage 2010 Chopin Award. She has been a fellow at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Centrum Foundation, Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, and Millay Colony for the Arts.
Andy Maass – Longboat Key
Andrew “Andy” Maass was an art museum director for 30 years, including 11 years at the Tampa Museum of Art and five years at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, as well as the Tucson Museum of Art and Fresno Arts Center. He retired in 2001 from full-time directing to consulting as an interim museum director (including at the Florida Holocaust Museum and Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale). He is currently an independent curator and juror for art festivals and exhibitions. Andy serves on several not-for-profit arts and human rights boards, including the American Jewish Committee and the Florida Humanities Council. Andy and his wife Ruth have lived in the same house in Longboat Key since 1999. The couple met as freshmen at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and have two children and four grandchildren.
Charlotte Perret – Sarasota
After graduating from the University of Chicago in Russian studies, Charlotte traveled to Europe and stayed in Paris for 16 years where she worked with the Quakers against the US entry into Vietnam and founded an organization that raised money to buy milk for children in Saigon. She remained a peace activist in France, and then in Washington, DC, where she founded and ran Military Families Support Network and worked with the ACLU on the rights of enlistees to refuse obligatory medications after the first Gulf War. Charlotte also served as a conduit between the military and those who became sick during their service. She also worked in the media department of the Center for Defense Information. She received her master’s degree in museum education and worked at several Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC before retiring.
Joy P. Norwood – Sarasota
Joy P. Norwood was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay area and graduated from San Jose State University. Her diverse career path includes starting and owning a design company that manufactured three-dimensional soft sculpture, some of which were featured in the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog; representing a space planning architectural firm company in Silicon Valley; and serving as an independent marketing consulting for a food products company. After moving to Miami in the mid 1990s, Joy accepted a position as director of sales and marketing for Issa Hotels & Resorts of Jamaica. She traveled extensively in the United States, Caribbean and South America.
As an avid cook, Joy was a consecutive, three-time winner of The Fairchild International Mango Festival in Miami, winning in all three categories. She further pursues this interest both through entertaining friends and donating gourmet dinners to raise funds for charitable organizations. Joy is also an ardent gardener. She has designed and executed a one-half acre tropical garden at her home in the museum area, which was featured in the October 2009 Great Homes & Gardens issue of Sarasota Magazine.
Karen Solem – Sarasota
Karen Solem is the president of Spencerhill Associates Ltd., a literary agency. She represents a broad range of commercial and literary fiction. Several of her clients have become New York Times bestsellers and though it’s wonderful to have that kind of recognition she still takes a lot of pleasure in discovering and working with new talent.
She was previously associated with Writers House, where she worked for nearly seven years. Prior to her years as an agent, Karen had 25 years of corporate publishing experience. She was most recently associate publisher and editorial director of Harper Paperbacks at HarperCollins Publishers and, earlier, editor in chief of Silhouette Books for Simon and Schuster.
Karen is a member of the Association of Authors Representatives. She is an avid equestrian and serves on the board of Equine Advocates.
Nelda Thompson – Manasota Key
Nelda Thompson is a native Floridian who made Englewood her home in 1969. In 1978, she and her husband moved the family to Manasota Key, and she has called the island home ever since. Nelda Thompson and Associates, LLC, was formed in 1990 with a focus on selling Manasota Key property. Over the years, Nelda has established a reputation as the most knowledgeable and trusted agent in the area. She’s referred to by many as the “Queen of Manasota Key.”
Shannon Staub – Sarasota County Commissioner
A Sarasota County commissioner for 14 years until her retirement in 2010, Shannon Staub believes that local government is the best government and closest to people. She also encourages citizen feedback and communication. She is a board representative of the Peace River Water Authority. She chairs the Community Health Improvement Program (CHIP) and is a member of the Veterans National Cemetery Committee. Shannon is vice chair of the Environment, Energy and Land Use Steering Committee with the National Association of Counties. She serves on the board of directors of the Englewood Interagency Council as an emeritus member.