Friday, October 23, 2020

Meet the 2018 Leadership Marco Class


Twelve local professionals and business people have come together for the experience and education of the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce’s four-month long Leadership Marco program. From different industries and backgrounds, each student provides their own insight into the value of the program.

In this issue readers will “meet” six Leadership Marco class members. Coastal Breeze News will share the profiles of the remaining students in the following issue.

Tate Baker

Tate Baker is the managing partner of FLBNA – a Florida based advisory firm helping businesses streamline operations in hospitality, nonprofit, healthcare and beyond. His role is direct business development and building national partnerships with innovative companies offering solutions for small to enterprise sized businesses.

Tate is an active member of Rotary, FRLA, and volunteers with area nonprofits. He enjoys spending his free time traveling and with family. He moved to Southwest Florida in 2009.

Asked why he decided to attend Leadership Marco, Tate responded, that he has “been a part of similar programs before and was impressed by how passionate the Marco Chamber staff and volunteers were about the program.”

Through the program he hopes to gain a better understanding of the Marco Island community and connecting with others interested in serving the community.

“Leadership Marco offers a unique exposure to the island and area leaders, which builds a more informed group for civic engagement and community involvement.”



Jacki Strategos

Jacki Strategos is a Residential Real Estate Agent with Premier Sotheby’s International Realty. She is married and enjoys reading, boating and nature.

A Marco Island resident since 1996, Jacki decided to attend Leadership Marco for the “Valuable insight to professional businesses around our area. Meeting, sharing and growing with leadership-minded individuals.”

From Leadership Marco she hopes to gain, “Knowledge that would be effective to myself and my industry and become better able to serve my customers.” It has been her personal goal to participate in Leadership Marco since the program first began in 2002.

Jacki believes that through the Leadership Marco education, the knowledge and the experience of personal growth will help her and her classmates “to reach out further to the community.”

Donna Sandell

Donna Sandell is a realtor at Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate on Marco Island. She grew up on Timber Creek on small farm in the Flint Hills of Southern Kansas. She lived in the Winfield, Kansas area where she raised her kids and sold real estate until her move to Marco Island.

She is married to Garrett, and has two children, Jeremy and Heidi, and two step sons, Grant and Hunter.  She is the grandmother of two beautiful granddaughters, Addison and Andie.

She and Garrett came to Marco Island for a visit in 2011 and fell under the spell of the island, as so many do, when they drive over the Judge Jolly Bridge. They love the beach, boating and spending time with friends and making new ones. They also enjoy golf, and “appreciate the beauty and weather we moved here for.”

Donna attended Leadership Winfield in her hometown. She has also taken the Marco Island Specialist class offered by the Marco Island Board of Realtors.

Donna says that through Leadership Marco, “I hope to learn more about the history and the future of Marco Island and surrounding area while making some new lifetime friends.” 

“I believe the more we understand and appreciate our community, makes it a better place for everyone to enjoy, whether it be residents or visitors.”



Christine Smith

Christine Smith is the Florida Market Manager for Wintrust Mortgage. She has over 40 years experience in the banking industry and 35 years in leadership roles.

Born and raised in Chicago, Christine spent the last 26 years in Bloomingdale, Illinois. She has been married to husband Gary for 33 years. The couple enjoys dining, entertaining, traveling and have a passion for automobiles and motorcycles. Christine also enjoys golf.

A part-time resident of Marco Island since 2006, as of September 2017, she and husband Gary made it full-time.

Christine states, “Leadership Marco is a wonderful program that has enhanced my knowledge of the area. I have been coming to Marco Island for 25 years but did not have in-depth knowledge about the island.” She adds, “The opportunity to meet leaders such as Craig Woodward, Pat and Ron Rutledge and Val Simon have enhanced my appreciation for what I always knew made Marco Island a special place to live.”

Christine is a member of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce and the Marco Island Area Association of Realtors, where she received the Marco Island Specialist Certification in 2018.

She is a member and Advertising Chair of the Newcomers of Marco Island. She is active with the Naples Area Board of Realtors and the Women’s Council of Realtors – Naples on the Gulf. “These two organizations support of both Dress for Success and Laces of Love are admirable and one that I also support,” Christine says. Since 2012 she has also been the Treasurer of the Hank Gianvecchio Natural Habitat Area Foundation.

Cheryl Stokes

Cheryl Stokes is a Senior Loan Officer with Marketplace Home Mortgage. Her position involves residential lending. She moved to Marco Island in January 2015.

Asked why she decided to attend Leadership Marco, Cheryl stated,  “I believe in participating in your community. This provides a lot of insight into both the island’s history and the island as it is today.”

Through the Leadership class she hopes to meet new friends, learn about the community and add to the volunteer work she is already doing. She points out that participating in Leadership Marco also requires volunteering in future activities. “A community grows and prospers though resident participation.”



Yvette Benarroch

Yvette is the owner of Affordable Landscaping Service & Design, LLC and manages the day-to-day operations of the business. She is a Certified Arborist and Certified Pest Control Operator.

She is currently working on Masters Degree in Marketing from Southern New Hampshire University.

She is married to Al Benarroch, and has two sons, Zachary (13) and Danny (11), and a 21-month-old Golden Retriever named Rocky. Yvette loves playing tennis, ballroom dancing, listening to music, traveling and community service.

Yvette moved to Marco Island in 2003 from Puerto Rico.

Yvette states that Leadership Marco will help her “Learn more about my community and what it has to offer, meet other business owners and community leaders,  and explore how to better serve my community.”

Asked what she hopes to gain from Leadership Marco, Yvette replied, “Strengthen my leadership skills; Take on more leadership roles within the community; Be a role model for my children and the future leaders of Marco Island; and gain more confidence and polish my leadership skills to better serve my community.”

She believes that Leadership Marco benefits the community by helping to educate the future leaders of Marco Island and strengthening and promoting relationships in the community.

She states the program, “Creates appreciation for our beautiful island and everything it has to offer, and creates new partnerships and new friendships among residents and business owners.”

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