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Sarasota nonprofit gets big business infusion

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  • | 2:18 p.m. June 4, 2015
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  • Manatee-Sarasota
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SARASOTA — The board of the Van Wezel Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the downtown Sarasota performing arts hall, named six new members and appointed a new chairman and treasurer.

The new and promoted members are heavy on business experience, including the former CEO of Caterpillar Japan; a private equity executive; an AT&T official; and a banker with 40 years experience. Shaun Merriman, president and CEO of Sarasota-based Gateway Bank, was named chairman of the board, according to a release. A 30-year banking veteran and advocate for area businesses, Merriman had been treasurer of the board.

Ali Bahaj, former CEO of Caterpillar Japan, a joint venture with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, will replace Merriman as treasurer, the release adds. During his tenure at Caterpillar, Bahaj negotiated a change in ownership structure from a 50-50 joint venture to a fully owned subsidiary for the company. Bahaj has been involved with the Van Wezel Foundation since June 2014.

New board members include:
• Maryann Armour, a retired early elementary, junior high school and adult basic education teacher;
• Herta Cuneo, who worked in the circus industry;
• Andrew Hall, regional director of external affairs for AT&T's west Florida division, which includes Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties;
• Dave Maraman, BMO Harris Bank regional president for business banking for the sunbelt region, which includes the Arizona and Florida markets. Maraman has been in banking since 1972, and also worked on the regulation side of the industry;
• Elaine McClure, a retired teacher; and
• Joel Schleicher, a private equity executive and founder of Cyber Risk Management, the parent firm for Tampa-based Sunera.

“The Van Wezel Foundation is thrilled to add six new board members,” says Van Wezel Foundation President and CEO Monica Van Buskirk in the release. “With the depth of their experience and business acumen, they add strong support to the existing board of directors at the foundation.”

The Van Wezel Foundation was founded in 1987.


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