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Former Manatee commissioner named chair of Goodwill Manasota

  • Manatee-Sarasota
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Goodwill Manasota has named retired planner and former Manatee County Commissioner Elizabeth “Betsy” Benac chair of its board of directors.

Benac, who served two terms on the commission, from 2012 to 2020, comes to the helm of Goodwill Manasota's board as the organization is expanding its footprint in the region.

Betsy Benac
Courtesy image

Benac was elected three times to serve as chair of the Manatee County Commission and was one of two at-large members representing Manatee County as a whole.

Before retiring, she worked extensively as a planner. She was a regional planner in East Central Michigan before moving to Sarasota in 1983 with her husband; was employed for 11 years by Manatee County, rising to assistant planning director; served as a planning manager in the private sector for Wilson Miller, a company that became Stantec, which handled most of the plans, permits, and designs for Lakewood Ranch communities; and was a senior planning manager for Benderson Development, according to a statement. 

“Our volunteer board members have diverse professional and life experiences to help guide Goodwill on a wide range of operational needs and priorities,” Donn Githens, president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota, says in the statement. "They live and work locally and are dedicated to ensuring that our workforce and the community are being served efficiently and empathetically."

After transitioning into her new role in March, Benac will lead the all-volunteer board of Goodwill Manasota for the next two years. She will work with the board on several priorities, including continuing to integrate staff in Charlotte and Lee counties after the Englewood and Rotunda areas were added last year to Goodwill Manasota, which sells donated items and uses its revenue to provide jobs and training for seniors, veterans and those with disabilities and barriers to employment. The organization also plans to add more territory later this year, beyond its current locations in Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto and Hardee counties as well as parts of Lee and northwest Charlotte counties, according to a spokeswoman. 

Besides serving on the board of Goodwill Manasota, other volunteer positions Benac has held include being a gubernatorial appointee for the Manasota Basin Board; appointee on the Board of Zoning Appeals of Manatee County; director of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce; chair of the Government Review Committee for the Sarasota Chamber; and officer and director on the boards of the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton, the Kiwanis Foundation, and the Girl Scouts of Southwest Florida.



Elizabeth King

Elizabeth is a business news reporter with the Business Observer, covering primarily Sarasota-Bradenton, in addition to other parts of the region. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she previously covered hyperlocal news in Maryland for Patch for 12 years. Now she lives in Sarasota County.

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