Message from the President – Spring 2023

Hon. Suzanne Van Wyk

Hon. Suzanne Van Wyk

Springtime is so beautiful in Tallahassee that it has its own festival, complete with a parade, live music, food vendors and craft fair. Yards are ablaze with azalea blooms, daffodils and red bud trees. Lawns are growing again (and we’re mowing again)! It is a season of growth and change as we open our windows again, plant spring flowers and prepare for proms and graduations.

It is my great pleasure to serve the Foundation as president this year. My colleagues on the board are as diverse as the communities from which they hail and bring a wealth of experience in various fields to assist the Foundation in faithful execution of its duties. For all of them, I am grateful. This year, I am especially grateful for officers Murray Silverstein, Bob Pardo, Ashley Sybesma and Connie Bookman for their wisdom, guidance and tireless efforts.

I would like to commend Vinny Cuomo, Jim Schwarz, Ian Comisky and Steve Salzer for utilizing their expertise in financial matters to develop a short-term investment policy for IOTA dollars; and, along with Carl Domino, for guiding the reallocation of Foundation investments in the recent volatile markets. Many, many thanks to Jim Schwarz for bringing his expertise in board governance, as well as his patient spirit, to guide the Foundation in the areas of policy making and diplomacy. Our hats are off to board member and delegate from The Florida Bar Jody Hudgins for his banking expertise and his tireless efforts on behalf of the Foundation.

Along with Jody, many thanks to Josh Chilson and Jack Harkness for acting as liaisons to The Florida Bar and actively engaging to improve the mutual relationship. Thanks to our judicial (and former judicial) board members Hon. James E.C. Perry, Hon. Jeffrey Kuntz, Hon. Edwin Scales and Hon. Peggy Quince for their insights. Thanks to Jacksonville board members Hon. Hugh Carithers, Brian Currie and Ray Reid for liaising with their local grantees to improve communications. And, special thanks to Ray Reid for entertaining us with his talent on the piano at all of our meetings!

My thanks to entrepreneur and all-around sports enthusiast George Tinsley for his efforts to engage the business community to support the work of the Foundation.  We are grateful for Maria Gonzalez’s leadership, as well as her efforts with the Family Law Section, which continues to provide us amazing support and annual donations. Thanks to newer board members Mike Tein, Bob Murphy, Hon. Stefanie Moon and Sarita Courtney Baigorri for becoming acclimated and getting involved quickly. Special thanks to Min Cho, who has gone above and beyond in helping to grow our relationship with the Young Lawyers Division and volunteer on a weekend with me at a YLD conference.

In June, we will be saying goodbye to longstanding board member John Cardillo, who has served the Foundation for nine years. He has been a tireless ambassador for, and financial supporter of, the Foundation (as well as the Foundation’s unofficial food critic!). Carl Domino and Kevin McCoy will also be leaving the board, and we wish them the very best in their future endeavors. In July, we will welcome new board members Joseph Kadow and Ayana Barrow, and we look forward to working with them in 2023-24. A more formal welcome is forthcoming in the next newsletter.

The Foundation staff are consummate professionals dedicated to meeting the legal needs of the underserved populations in Florida. In February, we welcomed Robert Heidt as the new Director of Finance and Administration, following the loss of the Foundation’s CFO Lou Ann Powell. Robert is an accomplished professional and is using his organizational skills to improve record management. He is a calm, deliberate hand in an area of increased complexity.

As we prepare for the December 31 retirement of Jasmine Lee-Gaumier, the Foundation’s long-standing controller, we are working to find her successor and are appreciative of Jasmine’s willingness to train and orient her replacement.

Thank you to all who consistently support the Foundation, especially our Children’s Legal Services program. Learn more about  how to donate to this program at the end of the newsletter.

Enjoy the change of seasons, plant something new, and let someone know you are grateful they are in your life!