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SWFL foundation appoints new CEO

Dawn Belamarich
Dawn Belamarich
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Social services and behavioral health executive Dawn Belamarich has been named president and CEO of Collaboratory, the leading community foundation in Southwest Florida. 

Belamarich, most recently the system leader for the behavioral health division at Lee Health, starts her new role Sept. 5, according to a statement. Founded in 1976 and formerly known as the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Collaboratory has made over $100 million in grants and is home to more than 650 philanthropic funds. 

Originally from New Jersey and now a permanent resident of Cape Coral, Belamarich holds a doctorate in business administration and leadership and dual master’s degrees, one in sociology/criminology and one in mental health counseling. She’s previously held executive roles, including CEO, at Recovery Centers of America, a national addiction treatment provider. Belamarich also has a “combination of skills and experience that fit with Collaboratory’s needs moving forward,” the release states, with the organization’s national search committee citing her work building successful small teams. 

“Dawn has a lot of national experience and recognition in her field, as well as in recovery work and coalition building, so she understands the culture here,” Collaboratory Board of Trustees chairwoman Gail Markham says. “She’s used to the processes it takes to bring a community together and where Collaboratory is headed. She is committed to civic engagement, letting every voice be heard and reaching consensus for the best way forward and then facilitating that. Dawn is used to changemaking, and she's got the patience and technical knowhow to see it through.”

Belamarich succeeds former Collaboratory CEO Sarah Owen, who in late March announced her plans to step down after 12 years at the helm of the organization. Under her leadership, Collaboratory’s assets grew to $130 million and “the organization shifted from transactional to transformational giving, creating a new identity committed to coordinating the solving of all the region’s social problems on an 18-year deadline,” the release states. Former Florida Gulf Coast University President Mike Martin had been interim CEO

“I look forward to using my transformational leadership to drive successful outcomes for Collaboratory and continue the groundbreaking work this organization is committed to regionally,” Belamarich says in the statement. “I take pride in a team-first approach and organizational culture, as well as using data to create sustainable community systems all while building relationships and propelling this mission-driven team forward.”



Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.


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