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Prominent Sarasota nonprofit CEO announces retirement

Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation grew significantly under Mason Ayres’ leadership.

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  • | 8:24 p.m. May 16, 2022
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  • Manatee-Sarasota
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Mason Ayres, the president of the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation for early six years — a tenure where he shepherded two of the largest gifts in the foundation’s 47-year history — has announced his retirement.

Ayres retirement is effective Sept. 30, according to a statement. The news release from the foundation didn’t indicate a timeline or strategy for a potential replacement. Ayers, the release states, helped transform the foundation “into one of Sarasota’s most successful nonprofits, raising over $100 million,” including the big gifts. Ayers spent eight years in fundraising for the NCH Healthcare System in Naples and that organization’s foundation prior to joining the SMH Foundation in November 2016.

“Mason’s decision to retire at this time is bittersweet,” Healthcare Foundation Board Chair Deb Kabinoff says in the release. “During his tenure, the organization has grown exponentially and has proven its ability to help SMH maintain its level of healthcare excellence for our community. We respect Mason’s decision and are incredibly fortunate that the organization he is leaving behind is on a trajectory to even greater success in the future. His achievements will not be forgotten.”

Ayres was instrumental in leading the Healthcare Foundation’s largest fundraising campaign in its history to support the creation of Sarasota Memorial’s new Cancer Institute. The Leading with Care cancer campaign launched in 2018 with a fundraising goal of $50 million. With a transformational gift of $25 million from the Brian and Sheila Jellison Family Foundation, the original goal was exceeded and raised to $75 million.

“The health system appreciates what Mason has accomplished at the Healthcare Foundation,” says Sarasota Memorial Health Care System President and CEO David Verinder in the release. “Personally, I value the friendship and partnership we created over the past five years, and I wish him and his family the best.”

Most recently, Ayres spearheaded the team that acquired a $10 million gift to support the creation of the Cornell Family Behavioral Health Pavilion on the SMH-Sarasota Campus. Ayres’ other accomplishments, the release states, include rebranding the organization to better align with the health system’s goals and vision and creating the annual Hospital Gala, which has raised more than $5.4 million in support of the hospital’s greatest needs.

“My time with the Healthcare Foundation has been tremendously rewarding, and working alongside the Sarasota Memorial team has been an honor,” Ayres says. “I am also proud of the amazing relationships we cultivated with our donor community and grateful for their unwavering support of our mission. This decision wasn’t an easy one. However, I am excited to see what my next chapter in life brings.”


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