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Business Observer Monday, Aug. 1, 2005 17 years ago

40 Under 40 Honorees

The Gulf Coast Business Review honors our 40 young professionals under the age of 40 in the Sarasota/Manatee counties for 2005.
by: Adam Hughes Staff Writer

Nathan Bailey

Company/Title: SouthTech Solutions, vice president, construction solutions

Education: B.A., business administration and accounting, Bethel College, Newton, Kan. CPA, licensed by state of Florida

Professional achievements/honors: Shareholder SouthTech Solutions; company growth from three contractor clients to more than 100 in three years; received top award "Excellence in Customer Service" in 2004 from Intuit for support of master builder software.

Professional goals: To become industry leader in growth, efficiency and systems consulting for contractors.

Mentor or business hero: Father

Formula for Success: Integrity and setting priorities.

Hometown: Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada

Place/Date of Birth: Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Canada, April 10, 1976

First job: Paper route; after college, auditor Kerkering, Barberio and Co., CPAs

Years on Gulf Coast: Five

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: Family, weather, work.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: Beaches and opportunities in growing community.

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: Improvements to waterfront land for public use and recreation.

Marital Status/Family: Married

Community involvement: Member of Young Professionals Group; Sarasota Home Builders Association; Manatee Home Builders Association; Gulf Coast Builders Exchange; Suncoast Community Church

Hours worked per week: 50

Hobbies: Basketball, outdoor activities, time with friends and family

Favorite book: "Count of Monte Cristo"

Book on nightstand: Bible

Favorite Web sites: ESPN;

Greatest fear: Missing the chance at a new experience because of being too busy.

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Good friend

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Take my wife on a photo safari in Africa.

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Listen more and talk less.

Knickole Barger

Company/Title: Youbar Builders Inc., vice president, office manager; and Knick's Tavern Inc., vice president and manager.

Education: B.S., Florida State University, business management, minor in finance and accounting. Chestire Management continuing education classes: workman's compensation application, project scheduling, estimating and value engineering for project managers.

Professional achievements/honors: National and Florida notary, certified general contractors agent.

Professional goals: To take my certified general contractors licensing exam, scheduled to do so at the end of this year.

Mentor or business hero: My father, Paul Knick Barger

Formula for Success: Success is when you are able to have everything you need in life, a few things that you don't need and love what you do to make it all possible.

Hometown: Sarasota

Place/Date of Birth: Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Jan. 28, 1980

First job: Martinizing drycleaning, afternoon manager in high school.

Years on Gulf Coast: 25.5 yrs.

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: Born here and love it!

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: The city of Sarasota's (slogan) says it best: "A smalltown feeling with urban amenities." Sarasota has this feeling of safety that I think the entire community encompasses. There are opportunities in our area that some towns don't contain.

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: I am not ready to change yet! But I do want everyone to remember the reason he moved here in the first place. Development is great for our future. I am worried that we will unintentionally become a big city, like so many other destinations.

Marital Status/Family: Single

Community involvement: Member, Sarasota Chamber of Commerce; Ungala Gala Executive Committee, raffle fund-raiser chair; executive board member and secretary of the Southside Village Business Association; member of the National and Florida Restaurant Association; co-chair Cystic Fibrosis Annual Golf Tournament; Siesta Key Co-Ed softball summer league participant; Taste of Southside Village 2006 committee member; and a Florida notary.

Hours worked per week: About 75.

Hobbies: Softball and cooking

Favorite book: "Catcher in the Rye"

Book on nightstand: "The Reader"

Favorite websites: (for business);

Greatest fear: Being in a situation when I don't know what to do next. I seem to be the problem solver for most all situations; my fear is not having a solution, even if it is short-term.

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Multi-talented, motivated and happy.

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Go to Costa Rica, it's one place I've never been! I have been to many big cities around the world, the history and architecture are amazing, and I would love to see the natural landscape of something still relatively untouched.

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Have chosen to go directly to grad school after graduating from my four-year college.

Karlie Bennett

Company/Title: Administrative responsibilities for 13-plus companies including: Westwater Construction Inc., administrative director; Sarasota Select Properties Inc., Realtor.

Education: B.A., business administration, minor in sales and marketing in agribusiness, University of Florida; licensed real estate agent in Florida.

Professional achievements/honors: I am an officer of Westwater Construction Inc. Since I obtained my real estate license in March 2004, I have had more than $7 million in real estate sales. I have also purchased my first piece of investment real estate as well as started my own company.

Professional goals: Being an integral part of the growth, sales and continued success of Westwater Construction Inc. as well as the other related companies. My ultimate professional goal is retirement.

Mentor or business hero: Terry Conti, who is partnered with Mark Miller, president of Westwater Construction Inc., in many related companies. Terry's philosophy and teaching is based on the power of your subconscious mind and confidence in one's self. Terry teaches that anything can be accomplished by focusing inward on the strength of your subconscious mind whether it be obtaining a new position you interviewed for or healing your body of injury/illness. To overcome obstacles, you must maintain a positive mind and continue to strive for what you want. In addition, Terry teaches that you must be confident in all that you do.

Formula for Success: Motivation + ambition + confidence + family support + fun + integrity = SUCCESS

Hometown: Sarasota

Place/Date of Birth: Sarasota, Oct. 13, 1980.

First job: Membership supervisor with the Sarasota Family YMCA.

Years on Gulf Coast: 24

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: I was born and raised here.

What do you love about Sarasota/Manatee: Sarasota is an amazing place to be. It has afforded me and many others a chance to live the American Dream. I love the beautiful beaches and waterways as well as the historic state parks. There is a great feeling of freedom knowing that at anytime you are no more the 20 minutes from the water, whether it is visiting Siesta Key Beach and staring off into the Gulf of Mexico or eating your lunch on the bayfront during a busy work day. Sarasota has the quaint charm of a small town but many of the amenities and opportunities of a large city.

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: To have less governmental control in our over-regulated construction/development industry. For example, the stronghold that our city and county government has on building and development has made it very difficult for the development of affordable housing. It is virtually impossible for young professionals such as myself to live in the same town where they work daily. The answer to this problem is simple: If only our local leaders would look at economics 101 (Supply and Demand). While the rising prices have been great for our companies (Westwater Construction, Sarasota Select Properties, etc.), I still live here and I want to look out for the quality of life for everyone over the next 50 years.

Marital Status/Family: Single with one Weimaraner.

Community involvement: Member of Church of the Palms; Sarasota Young Professionals Group; Historical Society of Sarasota; Downtown Partnership; Sarasota Chamber of Commerce; Manatee Chamber of Commerce; Homebuilders Associations of Sarasota and Manatee counties

Hours worked per week: 60-65

Hobbies: Hunting, fishing, boating and real estate investing.

Favorite book: "Oh, the Places You'll Go" by Dr. Seuss, given to me by my grandmother on my 11th birthday.

Book on nightstand: "The Power of Your Subconscious Mind" by Dr. Joseph Murphy.

Favorite website: or

Greatest fear: Alligators and sharks

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: "Young and fun" - Jennifer Fernandez

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Take my mom

If I had to do it all over again I would ... Not change a thing.

Elizabeth Bertelsen

Company/Title: Legg Mason Wood Walker Inc., wealth management specialist

Education: B.A., art history and comparative world literature, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Ill.

Professional achievements/honors: Wealth advisory specialist accreditation

Professional goals: Become a certified financial planner

Mentor or business hero: My father, Christian Bertelsen. He is a well-respected value portfolio manager with Global Financial Capital with over 30 years experience managing money. His conservative investment discipline has had a pivotal influence on how I have shaped my business.

Formula for Success: Strengthen my roots in the community by getting involved in causes that resonate with me on a personal level. As my roots grow, so does my business.

Hometown: South Hamilton, Mass.

Place/Date of Birth: Beverly, Mass., April 20, 1967.

First job: Summer retail sales clerk at Talbot's.

Years on Gulf Coast: 12

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: The weather. My family has had a vacation home here for more than 35 years so I have loved this area my entire life.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: The plethora of cultural opportunity from the Selby Gardens to the Ringling Museum.

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: More young professionals involved in local government, either running for local office or serving on city and county advisory boards. I also am concerned that there are not enough land trusts actively buying small parcels of land to help conserve our environment.

Marital Status/ Family: Married to Andre Hoefer

Community involvement: On the board of: All Faith's Food Bank Foundation; Sarasota County Historic Preservation Board; Sarasota Sports Foundation; Leadership Sarasota Executive Committee. Other involvement: Young Professionals Group ambassador; GWhiz Butterfly Ball Committee; Art's Night Party Committee; Leadership Engagement Training graduate; Leadership Sarasota graduate '04

Hours worked per week: 50

Hobbies: Reading, cooking, maintaining two large koi ponds, fused glass artist

Favorite book: "The Prophet" by Kahlil Gibran

Book on nightstand: "The Mermaid Chair" by Sue Monk Kidd

Favorite Web sites: (favorite place to buy Koi);

Greatest fear: That my paramedic/fireman husband will be injured on the job.

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Empathetic

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Like to see New Zealand.

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Have become an estate attorney because it would be a great compliment to what I do now.

Donna Blem

Company/Title: Smith Center for Therapeutic Riding, executive director

Education: B.S., business and accounting, University of South Florida

Professional achievements/honors: Certified therapeutic riding instructor; incorporated the Smith Center for Therapeutic Riding and successfully provided quality services to our community for over 11 years; completed phase I of campaign that raised $1 million to purchase our 76 acres; successfully raised an additional $1.8 million to complete phase II of our campaign to start the construction of our therapeutic riding facility.

Professional goals: To develop the premier therapeutic riding facility in the Southeast that will provide professional hippotherapy and related services to our area's disabled children and adults. Develop a diverse annual funding base that will support the needed services.

Mentor or business hero: Mark Eason

Formula for Success: Strategic planning by establishing a complete vision and then breaking it down into reachable steps. Treating others the way I would like to be treated.

Hometown: Nokomis

Place/Date of Birth: Garden City, Mich., June 26, 1970

First job: I started teaching horseback riding at the age of 15, but my first job after college was the Smith Center.

Years on Gulf Coast: 34

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: Family

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: Quality of people, the various activities and community involvement.

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: Stop the overcrowding.

Marital Status/ Family: Single, youngest of seven

Community involvement: Special Olympics equestrian coach, educate civic clubs on services in our community, host numerous community events, provide education and certifications to local Girls Scouts, Brownies, Pony Club and the 4-H Club.

Hours worked per week: 50

Hobbies: Horseback riding, travel, quality time with family and friends.

Favorite book: "Lucky You," by Carl Hiaasen

Book on nightstand: "Horses of Proud Spirit"

Favorite Web sites:; e-bay

Greatest fear: Confrontation and frogs

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Dedication and perseverance.

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Love to go on safari in Africa.

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Relax and enjoy the process a little more.

Tom Cail

Company/Title: The Cail Group, RE/MAX Properties, Realtor

Education: B.A., Journalism, University of Central Florida

Professional achievements/honors: RE/MAX Chairman's Club 2003, 2004 (earned each year since joining RE/MAX, highest award RE/MAX International bestows upon a sales associate); RE/MAX Hall of Fame 2004 (commissions earned in excess of $1 million); Lakewood Ranch Top Realtor Club; annual top producer with Michael Saunders & Co. 1992 through 2002. My most prized professional achievements are the letters of thanks I receive from satisfied clients.

Professional goals: To grow The Cail Group into one of the top real estate teams within the RE/MAX system and among the top of all real estate teams nationwide

Mentor or business hero: My father and mother

Formula for Success: Always do what is best for the client; always deal honestly and fairly with others; work harder but smarter than the next guy; keep up with and try to stay ahead of the market; know your product; identify your strengths and weaknesses and then concentrate on your strengths and hire the best people you can afford to handle the areas in which you are not as strong.

Hometown: Sarasota

Place/Date of Birth: Boston, Jan. 24, 1967

First job: Detailing automobiles

Years on Gulf Coast: Parents moved here in 1978, lived in Orlando from 1986 through 1991.

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: Moved back in 1991; Sarasota just draws me in, and I wanted to be close to my family.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: The water, the people, the weather. We are fortunate to live in paradise.

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: The airport. Wish we had more direct flights to great destinations. I also wish we'd address the lack of affordable housing; I have friends who can't afford to live here, and that makes me sad. I wish we took better advantage of our waterfront with more access for the public. Island Park should have a small bandshell where people can come out on weekends and listen to live music at sunset, like they do on the Charles River in Boston.

Marital Status/Family: Single, never married; Abby my Golden Retriever.

Community involvement: Foundation Board of Directors Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County since 1992; Board of Directors, Sarasota Sports Foundation; sponsorship of Life of Riley Foundation, Central Sarasota County Little League, Patricia Snyder Children's Fund of Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation; member of The Field Club, Bath & Racquet Club.

Hours worked per week: 50 to 70, depending on time of year

Hobbies: Boating, tennis, reading, entertaining, travel, skiing, listening to music

Favorite book: Anything by Robert Ludlum

Book on nightstand: "Trojan Odyssey" by Clive Cussler

Favorite Web sites: Google; Sarasotamls

Greatest fear: I am deathly afraid of birds!

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Man of my word.

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... See Australia, the Great Barrier Reef.

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Not change a thing. I believe everything I have done, seen and experienced in my life has gotten me to where I am right now. I live in a great town, have a wonderful family and fantastic friends, a great career and a home I love coming home to. Regrets? To steal a line, "I've had a few," but I wouldn't change a thing because it might have changed who and where I am right now.

Rebecca Cassel

Company/Title: President, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Franchise, LLC and One Hour Air Conditioning and Heating Franchise, LLC. These are two portfolio companies for Clockwork Home Services Inc. (formerly VenVest Inc.).

Education: B.B.A., accounting

Professional achievements/honors: Crown Champion Ring (award to those in the HVAC industry who have sold or managed someone who has sold $1 million of Residential HVAC equipment in one year). I am the first woman ever in the industry to receive this award.

Professional goals: I want to change the stereotypical view that homeowners have of plumbers, heating and air conditioning contractors, electricians, roofers and other home service providers. Our company is focused on being the largest, most-dominant home service provider in North America. We background check employees, do drug tests and offer guarantees to the homeowner that he can never lose doing business with us. One of my professional goals is to help build this company to be a $1 billion entity that is publicly traded on the NYSE.

Mentor or business hero: Lon Cassel. I would not be in this industry today nor would I be in the position that I am today without his mentoring.

Formula for Success: Treat others as you want to be treated, make decisions based on what is morally right (not what is popular), hire talented people and empower them, stay focused on the positive and stay true to what you believe in.

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio (but I call Nashville, Tenn., my hometown. My parents moved from Columbus when I was 2.)

Place/Date of Birth: Columbus, Ohio; Feb. 2, 1974

First job: When my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always told him "I want to be rich." Although I didn't know at the time how I would accomplish my goal, I started my career at the age of 10 with babysitting. Then when in high school, I was a cashier/customer service rep for Target.

Years on Gulf Coast: One

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: Relocated from our St. Louis office to continue my career at Clockwork Home Services Inc.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: The beautiful weather and the diversity of people who live in Sarasota.

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: The airport. I travel a lot and the Sarasota/Bradenton Airport is small with limited direct flights.

Marital Status/ Family: Married, with a 3-year-old daughter.

Community involvement: New Gate School functions (daughter's school) and Church of the Palms

Hours worked per week: 60-65

Hobbies: Reading, card games, wine club, watching football and hockey games.

Favorite book: "Pride and Prejudice," by Jane Austen

Book on nightstand: "Built to Last," by James Collins

Favorite Web sites: Google and eBay

Greatest fear: That something would happen to my daughter (with all the horrific things happening to children today, her safety is something I worry about daily.)

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Ambitious

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Travel to France, Italy or Germany.

If I had it to do all over again I would ...Do it exactly the same. I love my life, and the experiences that I have had make me who I am today. If I changed that formula, I may be a different person today. Besides, I don't want to live a life of "I wish I had" or "I should have done..."

Tami Conetta

Company/Title: Ruden McClosky, partner

Education: B.A., Furman University; J.D., University of Florida College of Law

Professional achievements/honors: Board certified by The Florida Bar as a specialist in wills, trusts and estates; concluding my second term as chair of the Florida Probate Rules Committee (a standing committee of the Florida Supreme Court); member of the Executive Council of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar; named 2003 Woman of the Year by the Sunrise Chapter of the American Business Women's Association.

Professional goals: 1) To earn a reputation as an excellent lawyer who cares about her clients; 2) To use my skills to improve our community.

Mentor or business hero: Alan Gassman, my first employer after law school and eventually my law partner, taught me about the actual practice of law - the business of being a lawyer. Law school taught me how to think like a lawyer. Alan taught me how to communicate with clients and opposing counsel, how to develop a client base and how to manage a practice.

Formula for Success: Think like a man and walk like a woman. Law is still dominated by men, but women are making significant inroads.

Hometown: Sarasota

Place/Date of Birth: Akron, Ohio; Aug. 29, 1965

First job: First full-time job ever - lifeguard at the Sarasota YMCA on Euclid; first lawyer job - Gassman & Associates, P.A. in Clearwater.

Years on Gulf Coast: 26

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: No choice - my family moved here in 1979, but I did choose to return to Sarasota. I practiced in Clearwater for eight years after law school, always intending to return to Sarasota when the opportunity arose. Fortunately, it did. Sarasota is the perfect place to live and raise a family.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: It's still a small town at heart, but with the amenities of a big town. I hope it never loses its charm.

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: I'm concerned that my daughter won't be able to raise her family here because of the lack of affordable housing and employment opportunities. We need to address these basic issues so that we remain a thriving and vibrant community, where everyone can live and appreciate all it has to offer.

Marital Status/ Family: Married to Barry Spivey. I have a daughter, Emory, and a stepson, Ian. My mother and grandfather also live in Sarasota.

Community involvement: Vice chair, Early Learning Coalition of Sarasota County; leadership council of United Way Women's Initiative; The Players Theatre Board of Trustees; Sunrise Chapter of the American Business Women's Association

Hours worked per week: 45

Hobbies: Spending time with my daughter and husband, reading, movies and working out. I've become a huge fan of Bikram Yoga.

Favorite book: "To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee.

Book(s) on nightstand: "Freakonomics," by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner and "The Not So Big House," by Sarah Susanka.

Favorite Web sites: That changes as often as the weather, but consistently it's and - I'm a news junky, especially political news (a recovering political science major).

Greatest fear: Making a mistake. I'm a typical Type A Virgo perfectionist!

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Focused

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Take a year off and see as much of it as I could. There is a lot to be learned from other cultures.

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Have gone to the Culinary Institute of America. I'm a total foodie. But otherwise I am very content with who and where I am.

Thomas Doan

Company/Title: Exceptional Dentistry of Sarasota, president and owner

Education: Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of Florida, certificate of General Practice Residency at the New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens, graduate of the Dawson Center for Advanced Dental Study, B.A., biology, minor in fine arts, Vanderbilt University

Professional achievements/honors: Resident of the Year 2000 from the New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens; The Lawrence Diamond Award for Excellence in Periodontology from the New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens; fellowship eligible in the Academy of General Dentistry.

Professional goals: Accreditation in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry and to be one of the top dental practices in the nation.

Mentor or business hero: My father and Anthony Robbins.

Formula for Success: Unconditional generosity, unquenchable thirst for knowledge and the ability to connect with peoples' hearts by opening your ears. Lastly, and I cannot stress this enough, my staff has been a huge factor to the secret of my success as they have applied these core principles to connect with our clients.

Hometown: Sanford

Place/Date of Birth: Saigon, South Vietnam, Dec. 12, 1973.

First job: Interning during high school for a general dentist, an orthodontist and an oral surgeon.

Years on Gulf Coast: Three.

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: The people, the culture and the beautiful beaches.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: It is an international melting pot of culture and the arts.

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: Nothing.

Marital Status/ Family: Married, to Linda and our three dogs, Puffi, Benji and Kobe. We are still working on the children department.

Community involvement: After my second year in Sarasota, I established an annual charity to give back to the community called Project Christmas Smile. I organized and lead a dedicated team of local dentists and their staffs to provide a day of free dentistry at our facility during the Christmas holiday in the hope that no one had to wake up Christmas morning with a toothache. In connection with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, I am also a participant in the Give Back a Smile Program whereby we provide free oral rehabilitation to victims of domestic violence.

Hours worked per week: 36 hours.

Hobbies: Karate, aikido, art, drawing, painting, photography, tennis, philosophy, reading, technology and cars.

Favorite book: "Musashi" by Eiji Yoshikawa, Charles S. Terry.

Book on nightstand: "The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader" by John C.


Favorite Web sites:;

Greatest fear: Apathy.

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Patience.

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Love to visit Japan.

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Not change a thing.

Sheryl A. Edwards

Company/Title: Managing Partner, Edwards & Sells, P.A. Education: B.S., accounting, University of South Florida; J.D., Stetson University College of Law

Professional achievements/honors: Board certified real estate attorney; building Edwards & Sells, P.A. from establishing a solo practice in 1998 to four attorneys and eight staff in 2005; licensed in Florida and New York; former chairperson, Sarasota County Bar Association Attorney Realtor Committee; former chairperson, 12th Circuit Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee; former board member, Florida Association of Women Lawyers. My biggest case was successfully representing a sitting Circuit Court Judge in a real property matter before the Second District Court of Appeal - I do not think I have been so nervous in all my life.

Professional goals: To expand our existing offices in downtown Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch and to establish a new Charlotte County office within three to five years.

Mentor or business hero: My business hero is Martha Stewart. She built an empire, made a mistake, paid the piper and is back on track.

Formula for Success: Working hard, playing hard and being a good person to everybody, everyday, no matter what.

Hometown: Woodstock, Ill.

Place/Date of Birth: Chicago, March 15, 1966

First job: The summer before going to college, I got a job hand packing cucumbers into glass jars in a pickle factory. I knew then that I would need to earn a living with my mind and not my hands.

Years on Gulf Coast: Moved to Sarasota in 1989

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: I was first attracted by the climate, coming from the chilly Midwest but the community feel of Sarasota is what made this my home.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: What is there not to love? This is paradise. We have an unusual combination of perfect weather, great business climate, fantastic community and events and great people

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: Make it warmer in the winter and allow bonfires on the beach.

Marital Status/Family: Married to Michael Edwards, commercial real estate broker, two children - Nick, 8, Sydney, 5

Community involvement: Member, Sarasota Association of Realtors; Attorney/Realtor Committee; pro-bono legal services; assistance in fund-raising at my kids' school

Hours worked per week: All of them

Hobbies: Golf, Fishing, Building or Remodeling Houses

Favorite book: "Angels and Demons," by Dan Brown

Book on nightstand: "Digital Fortress," by Dan Brown

Favorite Web sites: Ebay and Travelocity

Greatest fear: A major hurricane hitting Sarasota. Not only would it devastate our community, it would devastate our real estate-based economy as well.

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Constantly in motion.

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Spend the summer wandering around the United States seeing everything there is to see.

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Have taken more time to smell the roses, backpacked around Europe after college and spent more time with my children when they were smaller.

Patricia Morales Fine

Company/Title: Patricia Morales Fine, M.D., PA; Dairy-Free Gourmet

Education: Medical degree, University of Florida College of Medicine; family practice degree, UF Community Medicine and Family Practice Residency Program

Professional achievements/honors: Performing at the Mahaffey Theatre for the "Latino Hearts on Fire" event featuring the principal dancer of the New York City Ballet (May, 2005); author of "Elegant DAIRY-FREE Entertaining" (2004); named in "Best Doctors of America" (2002); UF Resident and Medical Student Teaching Award (1997); Sandoz Medical Student Award (1994); B.S. with high honors in Biochemistry at UF (1989); President's List, UF (1988)

Professional goals: To earn a living while making a positive difference and remaining true to myself in the process.

Mentor or business hero: My parents are my heroes. They left Cuba for the United States in the early 1960s. My father became an internal medicine physician and realized the American dream. My mother started her career much later in life. After her children were in high school, she completed her education and eventually enjoyed a successful career as a stock broker and real estate agent before her untimely death at 54.

Formula for Success: Perseverance is the essential ingredient in every recipe for success. Each mistake is an opportunity for improvement. If we pursue our passions and visualize our dreams, with conviction, we can achieve the impossible.

Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Miami

Place/Date of Birth: Dayton, Ohio, Feb. 5, 1968

First job: McDonald's at 12. (I biked to work in my thick polyester, brown and yellow uniform; and I was SO proud of my first paycheck).

Years on Gulf Coast: Four

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: Starting a new life with my husband after his graduation from the University of Florida Neurological Surgery Program in 2001.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: Everything! The people, the community cohesiveness, Siesta beach and its "powdered sugar" sand, the elegant gourmet restaurants, the authentic and unassuming ethnic restaurants, the impressive collections at the Ringling Museum, the brilliant colors of the Ca D'Zan at sunset, the view of the Marina at dawn, the tranquility of the Braden River, the plentiful and fragrant frangipani flowers in my neighborhood, the documentaries at the Film Festival, the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere of the Folk Festival, the fancy and the not-so-fancy theaters that allow everyone an opportunity, open-mic-nite at the SKOB and the beat goes on ...

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: Aside from eliminating the red tide? I'd love to improve the accessibility to live music and ethnic folk dance. I'd also love to see regular Flamenco performances at the Columbia Restaurant in St. Armand's Circle. (Why should Ybor City have all the fun?)

Marital Status/ Family: Married for 11 years to Andrew D. Fine, M.D.

Community involvement: Aside from community medicine, I'm involved in community theater both as a performer and regular attendee. I also donate my time and performance at the annual Sarasota Downtown Arts Festival.

Hours worked per week: Between practicing medicine, studying and performing Flamenco, promoting my cookbook and managing our accounts, I have a full work load; but I only practice medicine part-time.

Hobbies: Recipe development for food sensitivities, dancing Flamenco, singing Fado, photography

Favorite book: "Elegant Dairy-Free Entertaining" (it's a shameless plug); Hermann Hesse's "Siddhartha"; Stryer's 3rd Ed. "Biochemistry" textbook

Book on nightstand: Selected Poems by Federico Garcia Lorca

Favorite Web sites: (my site); (my brother's site); (my sister's site)

Greatest fear: Being dependent, becoming crippled or no longer being able to dance.

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Enthusiastically optimistic (just shy of mania).

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Travel to Spain over and over again (for intensive studies in Flamenco).

If I had it to do all over again I would ... I don't live by regrets. But if I were to do it all again, I'd have listened more to my mother (and studied music as a child)!

Susan Barrett Hecker

Company/Title: Williams Parker Harrison Dietz & Getzen, P.A.

Education: Law degree from Stetson College of Law; L.L.M. in taxation from the University of Florida.

Professional achievements/honors: AV rating from Martindale Hubbell.

Professional goals: To enjoy and learn from my work as I strive to be the best attorney that I can be for my clients and for my firm.

Mentor or business hero: There are many people I admire. I am still pondering this one.

Formula for Success: Live in the present moment as much as possible. I find that I understand my clients, friends and family better when I am truly listening to them, and I am more effective (and satisfied) when I am fully engaged in the moment.

Hometown: Palmetto (as of 1995). We live in a wonderful old neighborhood by the Manatee River. We have great neighbors.

Place/Date of Birth: Schenectady, N.Y., March 31, 1967

First job: Susie the clown at children's birthday parties in the neighborhood (age 7, entrepreneur)

Years on Gulf Coast: 15

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: Law school at Stetson, and then a great job at Williams Parker.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: It is so easy and enjoyable to live here. I appreciate the sophistication of work in this community, balanced with a simple lifestyle. I also love the natural beauty of the area and the interesting people who live here. I truly think that we have something very special here. We have a vibrant community that truly cares about improving our living conditions. Some focus on human services and others on the arts, but it's all right here and happening.

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: Since I have a child getting ready for kindergarten, I would like to see some real improvement in the school system in Manatee County, where we live. This will quickly become a focus of my life this fall. I'm sure there are a lot of other things I'd love to tackle as well, but I'd better start here.

Marital Status/Family: Married to Dave Hecker; three children - Adam, 5, Annie, 3, and Sophie, 1. They are my life. Just thinking about my family makes me smile.

Community involvement: President, All Faiths Food Bank Foundation; recently concluded three terms as a board member for the Women's Resource Center of Sarasota County Inc. Both are just wonderful organizations.

Hours worked per week: About 40 or so. Since my first child was born, I have worked Monday through Thursday. Fridays, I'm mom. Some of my particularly understanding clients brave conversations with me on Fridays with joyful sounds in the background, but most try to get to me before Thursday evening if possible.

Hobbies: Playing with my children, yoga, reading and travel. I try to run as much as I can to keep my energy up, but I'd be hard pressed to call that a hobby.

Favorite book: Another hard one. I loved the "Poisonwood Bible," by Barbara Kingsolver. I don't know if it's my favorite, but it's right up there.

Book on nightstand: "The Mermaid Chair," by Sue Monk Kidd.

Favorite Web sites: I don't spend any time on the computer outside of work. However, I do appreciate the Disney and Nick Jr. websites for my children.

Greatest fear: Fear. It's very draining and usually unnecessary.

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Grateful.

If I could travel anywhere in the world ... I would strive to see it all. My family loves to travel. Our children have pretty impressive passports (and they are not yet in kindergarten). I think that travel reminds us that people are good and kind wherever we go, that we are all more alike than different.

If I had it to do all over again ... I would try to figure out this business about enjoying the moment and losing fear a lot sooner. I think I wasted some time figuring that out.

Brandyn Herbold

Company/Title: SKY Sotheby's International Realty, CEO

Education: Attended Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI); attended Manatee Community College

Professional achievements/honors: After six years as an associate with Michael Saunders & Co., became the youngest woman to own an independent real estate firm in Sarasota, forming brandyn & co. in 2002; productivity for the new company quadrupled to $20 million in its inaugural year; formed SKY Real Estate with Chad Roffers in 2004; exceeding $100 million in residential volume in its inaugural year; November 2004, SKY landed the prized affiliation with Sotheby's, a prestigious brand built on a 260-year reputation and a foundation of success.

Professional goals: Continue growing SKY Sotheby's with my partner

Mentor or business hero: Oprah Winfrey

Formula for Success: Surround yourself with a great team of people.

Hometown: Princeton, Ind.

Place/Date of Birth: Princeton, Ind., Sept. 13, 1972

First job: Movie theater

Years on Gulf Coast: 11+

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: Sun, beaches, warm weather

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: The friends I've made, amenities, beaches

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: Medians on Bee Ridge Road; more flights out of Sarasota Airport; four-way stop at intersection of Main and Palm; cap on non-homesteaded property owners

Marital Status/ Family: Married to Sarasota podiatrist Robert Herbold.

Community involvement: Sponsor of Sarasota Polo Club, Junior Achievement, Reading Festival & Florida Winefest, and Junior League; Board member for Women's Initiative United Way

Hours worked per week: Varies. 40-50

Hobbies: Swimming, reading, cooking, being outdoors

Favorite book: "DaVinci Code"

Book on nightstand: Nothing. Too tired to read when I go to bed

Favorite Web sites: and

Greatest fear: Kidney failure

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Magnanimous

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Visit lots of places. Greece, Italy

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Learn to not be so hard on myself.

John Jackson

Company/Title: Earthworks Land Development, Inc., CEO, owner

Education: B.S., finance, University of Tampa; M.B.A., University of Colorado

Professional achievements/honors: Decorated former military officer (Army captain); Desert Storm veteran

Professional goals: Building a world-class sitework construction, land development and aggregate mining business operating on the central Gulf Coast of Florida

Mentor or business hero: I have many mentors and business heroes, and I study their philosophies, but if I must pick one I would say that Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, stands out in the crowd.

Formula for Success: Integrity. Deliver results and follow through on commitments and your long-term customer relationships will follow. Team building - being smart enough to know that you must surround yourself with others who are smarter than you in each required staff function. Experience - some lessons cannot be learned in business school, there is no substitute for real world experience. Mentors - finding someone who has already been down the road you are on can provide unparalleled benefit.

Hometown: Sarasota

Place/Date of Birth: Sarasota, Jan. 8, 1971

First job: Construction laborer for a concrete crew

Years on Gulf Coast: 34

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: Family and friends, beautiful weather, business opportunities, access to Gulf of Mexico

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: The people, economic environment, proximity to beaches, real estate development market

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: Not much

Marital Status/ Family: Single

Community involvement: Salvation Army, Manatee Young Professionals, Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, Manatee Chamber of Commerce, Bailey Family Scholarship Foundation, Southeastern Guide Dogs

Hours worked per week: 60-70, but who's counting?

Hobbies: SCUBA, spearfishing, boating, guitar and travel

Favorite book: "The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom," by Miguel Ruiz

Book on nightstand: "NUTS! Southwest Airlines' Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success"

Favorite Web sites: and

Greatest fear: Torrential rain (slows production)

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: sensible, focused, consistent, trustworthy and fun; I am a 'common sense' manager who leads by example.

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Spend a couple of weeks exploring and diving the Fiji islands and Australia

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Not change a thing; I am very grateful and happy with where I am today and where I am heading.

Albert Joerger

Company/Title: Sarasota Conservation Foundation Inc., founder and president

Education: B.S., economics; MLA Landscape Architecture; Ph.D., environmental information science, all from Cornell University

Professional achievements/honors: Sarasota County Environmental Impact Award Nominee, 2005; William Frederick Dreer Award-Cornell University; won fellowship to conduct independent research investigating Costa Rica's national parks and associated biospheres reserve; first place, Design Competition, New York State Chapter, American Society of Landscape Architecture; four-year fellow, Cornell University

Professional goals: To create an emerald necklace of natural areas and parks along the Gulf Coast for future generations.

Mentor or business hero: Steve Sawhill. He achieved an elegant balance between the private and nonprofit sectors in his career as vice president of McKinsey & Co., president of NYU and president of the Nature Conservancy.

Formula for Success: Relentless focus on the goal.

Hometown: Bucks County, Pa.

Place/Date of Birth: New Haven, Conn., April 28, 1967

First job: Mowing lawns and landscaping at 12, and I operated that business until I left for college. My brother took it over.

Years on Gulf Coast: I've been visiting for 10 years, and I've been living here full time for two years.

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: Our family has owned property here for five generations, and we love the Gulf Coast. My wife and I were stunned that nobody was actively trying to preserve the bays, beaches and barrier islands, so important to the character and natural integrity of Sarasota County. I was assistant state director for The Nature Conservancy in New Jersey. Pauline and I made a decision to move our family here full time and create a land trust to conserve areas with which we have a deep personal connection.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: The bays, beaches and barrier islands.

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: I would increase public funding to ensure public access to our waterways as well as preservation of habitat for wildlife on the Gulf Coast.

Marital Status/Family: Married to Pauline Joerger; two daughters, Schuyler, 4, and Sophia, 2.

Community involvement: Chairman, Land Trust Alliance of Florida; board member, Finger Lakes Land Trust; Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee of Sarasota County; New College Environmental Studies Advisory Council; member, Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, Venice Chamber of Commerce, Ivy League Club, Young Professionals Group.

Hours worked per week: 50-60

Hobbies: Boating, family activities, traveling and gardening.

Favorite book: "The Future of Life," by Edward O. Wilson.

Book on nightstand: "Conservation Finance Handbook; How Communities Are Paying For Parks and Land Conservation" by Kim Hopper and Ernest Cook.

Favorite Web sites:;

Greatest fear: The last great natural places will be lost for future generations.

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Energetic

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Visit Kenya.

If I had it to do all over again ... I would have started Sarasota Conservation Foundation earlier.

Brian Jones

Company/Title: Andrick & Associates, Inc., president

Education: B.A., Mississippi State University Professional achievements/honors: Since taking over the company in late 2001, I have doubled the company's size and revenue taking us to more than $1 million.

Professional goals: To carry on the family business with the respect of my family, friends and peers.

Mentor or business hero: My father, Jim Jones, and step-father, Jeff Andrick.

Formula for Success: Good quality, good service, fair price

Hometown: Corinth, Miss.

Place/Date of Birth: Pittsburgh, Pa., July 28, 1975

First job: Cook at McDonald's

Years on Gulf Coast: Off and on for 20 years

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: Family; part of my family has always lived here

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: As they both continue to grow, they still have that "down-home" feeling

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: I'm pretty happy with both.

Marital Status/ Family: Married to Jill Jones, no kids but a lab named "Jake."

Community involvement: Unfortunately, this is something I haven't been able to do yet. The time I spend away from work, I spend with my family. My stepfather died three years ago, so my wife and I spend a lot of time with my mom and sister.

Hours worked per week: 50+

Hobbies: Golf

Favorite book: "Life's Little Instruction Book"

Book on nightstand: "Jack Nicklaus, My Story"

Favorite Web sites:,

Greatest fear: Failure

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Fortunate

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Let my wife pick.

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Be more involved in my community.

Kendall Taylor Jones

Company/Title: The S2 Report, Editor

Education: B.A. with honors, rhetoric studies, University of Virginia, 1989; J.D., Vanderbilt Law School, 1995

Professional achievements/honors: Three journalism awards. Member of three state bar associations. Won the Best Business Plan Competition at the Owen School of Management in Nashville. With Anand Pallegar, started a digital local business news service, S2.

Professional goals: To expand the breadth and depth of S2 by creating affiliated services and products.

Mentor or business hero: John Tylee, former executive director of the Downtown Partnership of Sarasota. The other (and he will be surprised by this) is Cliff Wildes, CEO of Morgan Beaumont in Bradenton. His approach to business and entrepreneurship is candid and passionate, and his approach to life is positively joyful. He's done great things in business, almost always with humility and generosity... and he's way cool.

Formula for Success: Pay attention to (and heed) the red flags and fearlessly follow your gut instincts. If your gut urges you to take a seemingly crazy risk and no red flags are blocking the way, take the risk! Others will criticize and doubt you, but ignore them. If it's the right risk, you'll know it from the beginning, and it will pay off in the end.

Hometown: Birmingham, Ala.

Place/Date of Birth: Birmingham, Ala., Oct. 1, 1967

First job: Cleaning all the animal cages in the independent neighborhood pet shop my parents owned with another couple.

Years on Gulf Coast: Just over three years

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: I came here to begin a journalism career at the Gulf Coast Business Review, leaving my full-time law practice behind in Atlanta.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: The environment, the water, the palm trees and yes, even the weather. I never forget that other people pay good money to come here on vacation and I get to live here every day!

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: Tradition and history are vitally important for so many reasons, but so often many people in this area cling to the old, the known and the predictable, resisting change in a way that sacrifices positive progress. As a result, other communities are racing past ours in terms of technology, diversity, innovation and creativity. I'd like to help foster an environment that embraces the new and the innovative without losing our region's rich heritage. I think it can be done, but it requires compromise and tolerance by everyone.

Marital Status/ Family: Single, 8-year-old daughter, Reilly, who would tell you that our family also includes a dog, a hamster and a fish.

Community involvement: Co-leader of my daughter's Brownie Troop, volunteer at her school; marketing committee for Leadership Sarasota; served on committees for the Sarasota Film Festival, the Sarasota Young Professionals Group, the Small Business Council, the Butterfly Ball (for G. Wiz), and Planned Parenthood's annual fund-raising event.

Hours worked per week: Rarely less than 50, often as much as 70 or more.

Hobbies: Doing stuff with my daughter, going to the theater, rollerblading and jogging.

Favorite book: It changes constantly. Currently: "Good to Great," by Jim Collins (for business) and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," by Mitch Albom (for perspective).

Book on nightstand: "The Badass Girl's Guide to Poker: All You Need to Beat the Boys," by Toby Leah Bochan

Favorite Web sites:; (I also love Wired magazine)

Greatest fear: That chainsaw part at the end of every haunted house - when I smell the gas and hear that chainsaw motor, I nearly have a panic attack.

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Audacious

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Spend at least a week at Ulusaba, Sir Richard Branson's Private Game Reserve in South Africa.

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Have purchased as much local real estate as I possibly could when I first moved down here.

Nicole Kaney

Company/Title: Whole Foods Market/Sarasota, marketing director

Education: B.A., sociology, University of Florida

Professional achievements/honors: I opened a business called the Silver Lotus in Gainesville during my senior year of college where I developed a clientele of more 200 students. I turned the company over, making 50 times my initial investment and moved to Sarasota where I began working as marketing director for Mattison's Culinary Group. Having Paul Mattison as a mentor, I learned an immeasurable amount of knowledge about business but couldn't pass up the opportunity when Whole Foods Market came to town. In eight months, I've organized the largest opening in Whole Foods history as well as the company's first fashion show. (Yes, a fashion show at a grocery store!)

Professional goals: Effectively blending my career and personal goals. Whole Foods Market allows me to continue my passion for food without having to compromise my time outside of work to do the things I love.

Mentor or business hero: I am not able to name one person, but I very much look up to one in business who can combine capitalism with happiness of your employees and protection of the environment. There are many people in the world I admire but my parents have given me guidance and direction in my life. My father gave me the sense of direction in business and my level headedness. My mother showed me how to have fun, enjoy life, be happy and when to think with my heart, not my head.

Formula for Success: A good heart and intelligence

Hometown: Sarasota

Place/Date of Birth: Rochester, N.Y., July 23, 1979

First job: My parents owned restaurants while I was growing up, and I began waiting tables and hosting at a young age.

Years on Gulf Coast: About 19 years

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: My entire family is here plus the connection with the waters resets me every time I'm near it.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: I love that my whole family is here. I can be at the beach in under 10 minutes and downtown in 5 minutes. I also love the lifestyle here because it is laid back plus it's paradise!

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: I would like to see Sarasota continue to be a green town with a green mission.

Marital Status/Family: Married, Dustin Stroth, three years

Community involvement: Young Professionals Group; Taste of the Nation; UnGala Gala (03-05); Sarasota Film Festival; Downtown After Five; and Sarasota Wine Fest & Auction.

Hours worked per week: I'm fortunate that at Whole Foods Market I only work 40 hours per week. When I owned my business, I was known to work up to 70 hours per week. Are there that many hours in a week?!?

Hobbies: Traveling with my husband, cooking, yoga, spinning, walking my dogs, reading

Favorite book: "The Tao of Pooh"

Book on nightstand: "Lolita in Tehran"

Favorite Web sites:;

Greatest fear: The fear of complacency. I thrive in chaotic environments.

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Dynamic

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Travel to Africa for relief work with the Red Cross and the United Nations.

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Do it all the same!

Rebecca Langford

Company/Title: Florida Studio Theatre, managing director

Education: Georgia State University

Professional achievements/honors: On the development team of "Shakespeare's Greatest Hits," "Brassy Broads," "My One and Only Gershwin," "Too Darn Hot," "G.I. Jive" and "Three Friends, Two Guitars and A Broken Tambourine." I lead the development team for "A Vaudeville Cabaret," featuring songs and sketches from "Vaudeville" and "Laughing Matters," a show of original comedic social and political song and sketch material. "Laughing Matters" featured a significant amount of my own original material. Founded FST Improv in 2000 through FST's adult education program and began FST Improv's performance season in 2003-2004.

Professional goals: To lead Florida Studio Theatre through the next 40 years. Always remaining committed to our mission and serving Sarasota and Manatee counties. To make FST Improv a nationally recognized company. To continue working on shows for the Cabaret and to begin directing in the Mainstage.

Mentor or business hero: Richard Hopkins, FST artistic director

Formula for Success: Seek to understand then to be understood. Always work with clarity, integrity and effectiveness.

Hometown: Morrow, Ga.

Place/Date of Birth: Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 17, 1973

First job: Box office and concessions for Cineplex Odeon Movie Theaters

Years on Gulf Coast: Moved to Clearwater in 1996. Moved to Sarasota in 1998.

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: I originally moved to Florida after my husband's father retired from the World Bank and opened a bar with his sons. I relocated to Sarasota in 1998 while involved in a divorce. My original intent was to spend a year here while I got back on my feet, but I fell in love with Sarasota and FST and have been here ever since.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: The lifestyle. We have tremendous art here, all within a laid back environment (not anxiety-filled like New York or Chicago, etc). You have our stunning beaches and parks. It really is like living in paradise. There isn't anywhere I would rather be.

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: Better traffic management. Don't get me wrong, I can handle lots of traffic. I'm from Atlanta, but with all the construction management of traffic has gotten a little out of control. This past season I had to take three detours to get from 10th and Cocoanut to the theatre on First and Cocoanut. It was bit extreme. Of course, I wish there were more young people, but then again I never feel old. It's a great town. I always tell my friends: "You don't know what you're missing."

Marital Status/ Family: Single, divorced

Community involvement: On the board of the Sarasota County Arts Council; chair of the Cultural Executives Committee for the Sarasota County Arts Council; member of the Young Professionals Group with the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce; member of Theatre Communications Group (National Service Organization); Florida Professional Theatre Association; Former co-chair of the West Coast Theatre Alliance.

Hours worked per week: 60-70

Hobbies: Movies, reading, writing, walking on the beach, pilates, working out.

Favorite book: "Gone With The Wind"

Book on nightstand: "Angels and Demons"

Favorite Web sites:;

Greatest fear: That I won't make a difference.

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: Active

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would travel ... Everywhere.

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Do it better.

Diane Lawson

Company/Title: Sarasota Commercial Management Inc., commercial Realtor

Education: Bachelor's in Business, Eckerd College

Professional achievements/honors: Broker associate, CCIM; vice president, Commercial Investment Division of the Sarasota Association of Realtors

Professional goals: To continue to increase sales by at least 10% per year. To put together an affordable-housing project with county and/or city assistance.

Mentor or business hero: I really don't have a single mentor or business hero. I try to learn something from everyone I encounter.

Formula for Success: LACE - Loyal, Adaptable, Creative, Educated

Hometown: Traverse City, Mich.

Place/Date of Birth: Kalamazoo, Mich., July 9, 1969

First job: Jellystone Park at age 13. Been working ever since. First real job was in accounting/property management with a local real estate company.

Years on Gulf Coast: 17

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: To get out of the cold, white tundra.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: The weather, the opportunities, the fact that we're so close to so much - museums, professional sports, theme and adventure parks, beaches, etc.

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: I'd like to see affordability brought back to the area so that others can enjoy it here as much as I do. I'd also like to see a lively entertainment center with nightlife - clubs, movies, unique shops, etc.

Marital Status/Family: Married to husband, Eric, for 15 years; two children - Julia, 5, and Mackenzie, 1; one dog, Monte, and one cat, Surfina.

Community involvement: Vice president, Crowley Museum and Nature Center; co-chair to the Affordable Housing task force with the Economic Development Corp.

Hours worked per week: Varies, 40-60

Hobbies: My kids are my biggest hobby as well as biking and swimming.

Favorite book: "Atlas Shrugged," by Ayn Rand

Book on nightstand: "Where the Sidewalk Ends," by Shel Silverstein (Julia's)

Favorite Web sites: Webmd;

Greatest fear: Flying

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: (No response)

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Travel through Europe.

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Have finished college right out of high school.

Lisl Liang

Company/Title: SRQ Magazine, president, co-founder, editor-in-chief

Education: B.A., mass communications and environmental studies, American University, Washington, D.C.

Professional achievements/honors: Co-founded SRQ Magazine over six years ago as a start-up media company

Professional goals: Further the opportunities associated with small businesses by serving as a creator/participant in issues affecting small businesses and by working with existing organizations to inspire entrepreneurs to think creatively toward successful business solutions.

Mentor or business hero: Our staff. They confirm every day that optimists have a place in entrepreneurship.

Formula for Success: Be curious. Look for great ideas everywhere, the bigger the better. Be diligent about writing them down. Allow yourself to forget about them - the subconscious does wonderful things when it thinks you're not paying any attention. When the really great ones pop back up, get passionate about them. Identify your destination, and how you're going to get there. Share your enthusiasm with other people. Execute the idea. Fall in love with the process of getting there, but never in love with where you got. Rinse and repeat.

Hometown: I consider my home town to be Sarasota.

Place/Date of Birth: Vancouver, British Columbia, Feb. 6, 1974

First job: Serving up donuts and coffee at the local Dunkin Donuts one summer on the 6 a.m.-to-noon shift.

Years on Gulf Coast: Since 1996.

Motivation to come to Gulf Coast: I was on vacation on a break from Washington, D.C. That break turned into the best business opportunity I could have hoped for.

What you love about Sarasota/Manatee: Sarasota is courageous and spirited. There is no such thing as "being old" in Sarasota, unless you make yourself believe you're old.

What you'd love to change about Sarasota/Manatee: The combative arena of city and county politics, I believe, makes it difficult to really get to the crux of the issue. I would like to see our community adopt discussion models based on an open and positive exchange of ideas where the process is as important as the result.

Marital Status/ Family: After an eleven-year partnership, Wes Roberts, the love of my life, and I were married this past spring. We have a "dog-ter," Sophie, we adopted from the Humane Society three years ago.

Community involvement: Serve on the boards of The Downtown Partnership, Young Professionals Group and the Small Business Council (both councils of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce).

Hours worked per week: 50-60 hours (Does baking signature Banana Chocolate Cookies for the staff count?)

Hobbies: I adore cooking, particularly Indian, lamb, barbecue, homemade ice cream. I'm also a huge tea enthusiast.

Favorite book: I don't really have favorites, because my perspective changes so much.

Book on nightstand: None. I am ridiculously attached to my eight hours of sleep.

Favorite Web sites: (for now wishful thinking, but I love traveling);; and the iTunes music store

Greatest fear: That I will get comfortable and stop taking risks. Challenges make me tick. It's the dynamic that keeps me engaged. I am happiest on the edge.

Describe yourself in one word or phrase: When it can't be done, do it. If you don't do it, it doesn't exist.

If I could travel anywhere in the world, I would ... Be ice climbing in Patagonia.

If I had it to do all over again I would ... Do it exactly the same - mistakes and all. When I was younger, I knew life to be hard, full of contradictions, not a place for someone who wanted to affect change. It hardened me. Failure has enlightened and surprisingly, softened me. Experiencing disappointment has brought me to a very basic human level where you realize that happiness is a choice, not a given. I didn't realize this until recently, but I used to see life as a test. And I was the one taking it. Now, I've found that sweet spot in between the rock and the hard place - the spot where you can be both an idealist and realist, where you can have your cake and eat it too, and where you can take the risks necessary to grow something positive. My goal is to help others to find that same secure place.

Kim A. Livengood

Company/Title: Willow506 Boutique, owner

Education: Graduated Sarasota High School i

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