Fourteen local professionals and business people, from a variety of backgrounds and industries, will come together for the experience and education of the Leadership Marco program.
Leadership Marco is a four-month long Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce program that provides a thorough education in Marco Island’s history, infrastructure, government, hospitality industry, educational organizations, media, tourism industry, parks and recreation, law enforcement, real estate and more.
This year’s students tell us why they decided to become a part of Leadership Marco, and share their hopes for what they will gain from this invaluable program.
Melissa Blazier has worked for the Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office since 2006 and currently serves as the Chief Deputy Supervisor of Elections. In her role as Chief Deputy, Melissa oversees the Information Technology, Training & Outreach and Election Services Departments, as well as areas in office administration such as Human Resources and Finance.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, cum laude, from Hodges University. Melissa does not live on Marco Island but has lived in Collier County (Naples) since 1980.
Melissa has been married to her husband Devon for almost 21 years, has a 20-year-old son named Dylan, and three boxer pups named Cash, Duke and Penny.
Melissa participated in the Leadership Collier program in 2014 and since then has wanted to also participate in the Leadership Marco program. Melissa is looking forward to learning all about Marco Island – from the history of the island, to how the island is operating today and what changes may impact the future of the island. She is also looking forward to building long lasting relationships with her Leadership Marco classmates.
Melissa Davidson is the Banking Center Manager for Mutual of Omaha Bank’s Naples and Marco Island locations. She has 30 years’ experience in the banking industry which consists of retail banking, consumer lending, small business lending, and most importantly, growing client relationships.
Melissa was born and raised in Ohio. She has two children, Ryan and Kailee. She moved her family to Southwest Florida in June 2005. Melissa enjoys the beach, boating, spending time with family and friends, golfing, and traveling.
Melissa is active with Junior Achievement of SWFL and Habitat for Humanity of Collier County. She is a member of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, Naples Chamber of Commerce, Naples Area Board of Realtors, and the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors.
From Leadership Marco, Melissa hopes to learn more about the history of Marco Island, make new lifelong friends, meet leaders in the community, strengthen her leadership skills, and become more effective in serving the beautiful community we live in.
She believes that Leadership Marco benefits the community by expanding relationships within the community, promoting personal growth, educating future leaders of Marco Island, and creating an even stronger appreciation of all the beauty the island offers to its residents and visitors.
Justin Duran is an Assistant Practice Manager for Physicians Regional Medical Group. As part of the management team for PRMG, he assists in directing the day to day operations for seven clinic locations. PRMG encompasses 55 physicians and 200+ employees from Marco Island to Naples to Bonita. He actively manages employee development, provider workflow issues and patient relations.
Born and raised in Monte Vista, Colorado, Justin is 2008 graduate of Adams State University earning his degree in Business Administration and Marketing. He then expanded his knowledge and career working for Dish Network in Denver, Colorado as a corporate trainer for seven years before relocating to Florida. Being that Justin is huge Marvel Comics, Disney, Pop Culture and Taylor Swift fan, he enjoys spending all his spare time at Disney World, movie theatres, and many concerts.
As a resident of Naples for two years, Justin is excited to learn about the history of Marco Island and get a more in-depth view of the community. Justin believes Marco Leadership will be beneficial in making connections both professionally and personally, which will allow him to make lasting friendships and open up opportunities to help the community. Justin is grateful for the opportunity to complete Marco Leadership after being recommended by his Practice Administrator Tony Mina, he himself a Marco Leadership graduate in 2018.
Justin hopes to increase his leadership skills and translate those benefits into his daily responsibilities at Physicians Regional Medical Group.
Dave Everitt retired from Deere & Company as President, Agricultural & Turf Division in 2012, having completed more than 35 years with the company. In retirement, Dave stays active serving on Boards of Directors for Nutrien, Allison Transmission, Brunswick and Harsco Corporation. In addition, Dave has serves as Chairman of the Marco Island Yacht Club Board of Directors and has been on the Board 2014.
Dave and his wife Ellie moved to Marco Island full time in September of 2013. Dave and Ellie have been coming to Marco Island since 1983 and built a house on the island in 2007. They enjoy boating with friends and MIYC club members throughout the year, and also travel extensively. Ellie also serves on the Historical Society Board of Directors.
The opportunity to learn more about our community and how various organizations and government offices work together for the benefit of the Marco Island community is a key reason for Dave’s interest in the Leadership Marco program.
Barbara Hess fell in love with Marco Island over 30 years ago when her husband Doug won a corporate trip to the island. They were fortunate enough to move to Marco permanently in 2014. Barbara is a Realtor with a Marco Island Specialist Designation at Keller Williams Marco Island.
After attending SUNY Alfred for Accounting/Business Administration, she was a corporate controller with a large auto dealer group in western New York for several years. Barbara left that job to pursue ownership of her own company, a real estate brokerage with two locations which she sold when she moved to Marco. Barbara and her husband also owned many other business enterprises together, and they still own and operate a retail liquor and wine store in New York. The wonders of the internet allow them to manage their business there, while enjoying their lives on beautiful Marco Island.
Barbara and her husband love boating, fishing, the beach and all of the wonderful outdoor activities and natural wonders our paradise has to offer. Although they miss their three children and three grandchildren, the island is a wonderful place for them to visit!
Barbara decided to attend Leadership Marco after hearing several graduates speak about what a wonderful program it is. She believes that you can never have too much knowledge, especially about your community. She is excited to learn about the inner workings of many agencies that she has never had access to in her daily regimen. Barbara feels that the knowledge she will gain will definitely be an asset to her real estate clients when helping them make decisions, and will help her determine how she can best contribute to our local community. Barbara looks forward to using her newfound knowledge, and to the relationships with those she will meet along the way!
Logan Jones is a CT/radiology technologist at the Marco Island Urgent Care Center (NCH facility) here on the island. He has worked there for 14 years.
Logan has a BS from Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana and Radiography Certificate from Community Hospital, Indianapolis, Indiana. He is also a Captain in the Civil Air Patrol, Naples Senior Squadron (USAF Auxiliary). Duties include Aerospace Education and Mission Scanner.
Logan wanted to do Leadership Marco so that he could learn more about Marco Island. Knowledge gained can be shared with the many visitors that he comes in contact with every working day. This will possibly enhance their visits here to our wonderful subtropical paradise.
Jim Richards, originally from Philadelphia, has been a full-time resident of Marco Island for 20 years. Jim is the co-founder and Chairman of Capio Partners, LLC a patient finance company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Jim has worked in or started companies in the healthcare financial space his entire career.
Jim is currently semi-retired while dedicating his free time to his community on Marco Island. He currently is involved with the following organizations: Center for the Arts (President), Noon-time Rotary, Rotary Foundation, Marco Island Police Foundation, Marco Island Fire Foundation, Society of 25, Marco Island Charter Middle School Foundation, Christmas Island Style, Meals of Hope, Marco YMCA Daily Bread Runs, Our Daily Bread Food Pantry and Mobile Food Pantries.
Interests and hobbies include fishing, boating, sitting on the beach, traveling and being a movie enthusiast.
When invited to join Leadership Marco Jim immediately signed up. While he knows a lot about Marco, he wanted to find out more about the history and workings of this Paradise Island. Information is powerful and Jim wants to give back to the community in every way possible. This is his home and he intends to be here as long as God will allow.
Sally Richards was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She moved to Marco Island in 2006 from Delaware County, Pennsylvania to join previously migrated family members.
Sally has worked at CJ’s on the Bay for the last nine years where she is a Team Leader/FOH Manager. She supervises daily operations and supports staff, while ensuring a great guest experience. Sally enjoys spending time with her family, her two dogs Dexter and Ohana and is very passionate about the Philadelphia E.A.G.L.E.S.
When asked why she was interested in joining Leadership Marco she said, “I joined Leadership Marco to enhance my community involvement and to gain better knowledge of the Island and its history. This program comes highly recommended by those who have been through it.”
Jessica Simon graduated in August 2019 from Florida Gulf Coast University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Health Science. Currently, she is a receptionist at Kramer Huy Law Firm and works at Coastal Breeze News handling classified ads, social media accounts, and the calendar.
Jessica grew up on Marco Island, attending Tommie Barfield Elementary, Marco Island Charter Middle School and Marco Island Academy, before graduating from Lely High School. She has volunteered with the Auction Committees of the American Cancer Society and St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital in Tampa. Jessica also participated in the Joy of Giving every year. She is also a part of Crossing for Cystic Fibrosis where she recently completed an 80-mile paddle from the Bahamas to Florida to raise funds and awareness for the Cystic Fibrosis community.
Jessica is attending Leadership Marco because it is a staple in the Marco Island community. She says, “I wanted an opportunity to learn about the industries that hold our community together while also giving myself an opportunity to explore different career fields that may be available to me in my future.”
Dina Marie Schleifer
Dina Marie Schleifer is from the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. The first part of her career she worked as a cashier for National Tea from the age of 13 to the age of 23 on a part time basis. At the age of 18 Dina began her 32-year career in the operating room as a Physician’s Assistant.
Dina first came to Marco Island in 1977 and the following 10 years traveled between Chicago and her home in Jupiter, Florida.
Finally, after deciding Southwest Florida was the place for her, she found a beautiful lot on Collier Bay and with the help of some awesome people from back in the day, built a home which took from 1987 to 1990 to complete. From 1987 to 2011, she traveled back and forth from Chicago to Marco Island; working at both locations until she moved to Marco Island permanently.
In 2005 Dina began a two-year internship at Island Eyes Investigative Services, Inc. and since 2007 has been a Licensed Private Investigator, Certified Process Server, Certified Drug Technician, Notary Public, and Wedding Officiant. Island Eyes is accredited with the National Home Watch Association and Dina is fluent in Spanish. She became co-owner of Island Eyes Investigative Services, Inc. in 2008.
Island Eyes provides consistent results and superior customer service to their clients; locally and all of the United States including Puerto Rico. The company also services internationally. “Experience * Integrity * Results” is their motto. They provide many different types of services to local businesses and private citizens.
Dina became a member of the Leadership Marco 2019 program because her business partner and significant other encouraged her to do the program. She says, “and after just one session; he was right!” Dina’s goal is to learn as much about the island, the people, businesses, wildlife and so much more.
Dina says, “To all of the ‘Leaders’ who have taken the time to be our educators along the way; I thank you in advance, and to all of the 2019 members, I look so forward to this time together!”
Linda Turner is the Communications Director and the Educational Outreach Coordinator for the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary. Preserving green-space, and protecting wildlife and its habitat on Marco Island is her passion.
Linda graduated from the University of Michigan and is married to Jerry Swiacki. They have five children and ten grandchildren. Linda enjoys traveling, cultural and performing arts, and gardening. She serves as the Environmental Chair for the Calusa Garden Club and is a former member of the City of Marco Island’s Beautification Advisory Committee.
Linda and her husband came to Marco in 1982 for a vacation on the beach. They bought a condo the next day! Twenty years later, they sold their condo, bought their current home and became full-time residents.
Linda says, “I think Leadership Marco offers an opportunity to learn more in depth of what makes Marco Island and its’ surrounding communities tick. I would like to learn what I don’t already know, meet people I would not normally have an opportunity to meet, visit businesses and organizations I have never seen; then see how all of the aforementioned is woven into the fabric of our community’s life.”
She adds, “My perspective of Marco Island is that of a homeowner and volunteer. To broaden my perspective, I would like to gain some insight and appreciation of how businesses function to sustain our economy and serve our community.”
Christine Waldren first came to Marco Island in 1985 for a long winter visit and has been a full-time resident ever since. Her intention was to land in Naples, but like many others, “once I went over the Marco bridge, I was hooked.”
Although originally from Massachusetts, Christine was raised in New Hampshire. She is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a bachelor’s degree in Economics.
Christine is the very proud Mom of two wonderful young adults; both went through school on Marco and graduated from Lely High; and both are graduates of Florida universities.
She is a Realtor with RE/MAX Affinity Plus. She obtained her Florida real estate license in 1987 and began working in real estate in 1988. A full-time realtor, Christine says, “I think my experience of living on the Island for as long as I have, raising children on the Island and my years of Island and real estate experience helps me in assisting my buyers and sellers to make well informed decisions.”
She completed the Marco Island Real Estate Specialist program, holds the GRI designation, a Graduate of the Real Estate Institute course curriculum; and has been a Five Star Professional Realtor since 2009.
Christine has been on the Marco Island area association of Realtors Board of Directors many times in various capacities, and currently is on two Realtor board committees.
She enjoys the beach, cooking, reading, walking, exercise and spending time with her children and friends. Christine says, “I am reminded daily of how fortunate I am to be able to live here.”
Christine says that she is looking forward to participating in the Leadership Marco program, “to expand my knowledge of the Island through the many different categories of Island life that it touches. I am anxious to share that knowledge with the people I come in contact with and to be an advocate for Marco Island. I have heard many wonderful things about the program and I am excited to be a part of it.”
Cameron Woodward joined the law firm of Woodward, Pires, and Lombardo, P.A. as an associate attorney earlier this year after passing the Florida Bar Exam.
Cameron was born and raised in Naples, Florida and attended Stetson University following his graduation from Naples High School. At Stetson, Cameron received a Bachelor’s degree in History with a minor in Business Law before attending law school locally at Ave Maria School of Law. Since joining the firm, Cameron has worked at the firm’s Marco office with his uncle Craig Woodward.
Cameron decided to attend Leadership Marco to make new acquaintances and to learn more about life on the Island. Cameron hopes to gain valuable knowledge and insight into how the island operates and the people that make it run so as to better serve the community as an attorney.
Laurie Zoerb is a full-service realtor for John R. Wood Properties. Laurie truly enjoys assisting buyers and sellers achieve their real estate goals with integrity, passion, experience and commitment. Laurie and her husband, Erik, had the dream of making Marco Island their full-time home as soon as soon as they crossed the bridge in 1996. They purchased a lot in 1997, built their home in 2003 and moved full-time in 2015.
Laurie was a broker-agent in Madison, Wisconsin for over 20 years and attended UW-Madison. She felt Marco was the perfect fit to use her expertise in the place she feels such a strong love and passion. Beach, yoga, boating and golf are pursuits when time permits.
Laurie heard about Leadership Marco shortly after joining the Marco Chamber. She is excited to nurture new friendships and continue the appreciation and additional knowledge gained for the area she loves. Laurie’s profession touches many people and the experience she gains through Leadership Marco will assist her in being a more informed ambassador for our community.