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Congratulations Leadership Charlotte Class of 2023

June 26, 2023

On Friday, June 23, we celebrated the Leadership Charlotte Class of 2023 at their graduation at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center. The class had a phenomenal year getting a one-of-a-kind education how Charlotte County operates and connecting with the amazing folks who make it all happen. In addition to the education and making life-long connections and friendships, the Leadership Charlotte Class will leave a legacy by making a lasting impact within our local community.

Earlier this month the class held their 70’s/Austin Powers themed spectacular fundraising event … Shagadelic Shindig. The event was a huge success and due to the generous support of our members and community, the Leadership Charlotte Class of 2023 raised over $50,000 which will be given directly back to our community. The beneficiaries of these funds will be Drug Free Charlotte County, Meals on Wheels, and Douglas T. Jacobson Veterans.

Congratulations to the Leadership Charlotte Class of 2023: Rae Ann Antonucci (Restoration Bar), Lisa Baird (CeJay Associates), Tonya Blair (Nix Team at Coldwell Banker Sunstar Realty), Tiernan Cole (Charlotte County Administration Office), Morgan Cook (Charlotte County Board of County Commissioners), Derrick DeHays, Michelle DiBerardino (Charlotte County Clerk of Circuit Court), Kerry Duffy (Peace River Team at Morgan Stanley), Derick Duston (Charlotte behavioral Health Care), Melissa Duston (Panther Hollow Dental Lodge), Jennifer Huber (Florida Power & Light), Amy Huddleston (Charlotte Community Foundation), Warren Jarvis (The Daily Sun), Jami Joannes (Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce), Michelle Maldonado (Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center), Cindy Marsh-Tichy (Coldwell Banker Sunstar Realty), Tany Marshall (American Imaging of Southwest Florida), Forrest Miller (Kuhns Law Firm), Kris Proudfoot (Centennial Bank), Beth Sargent (Premier Sotheby’s International Realty), Gemma Schaefer (Gemma Schaefer Photography), Ashley Turner (Charlotte County Administration Office), Stephen VerVaecke (Morris-Depew Associates), and Caitlyn Waksler (Frohlich, Gordon & Beason Law Firm),

Over the past 34 years, the Leadership Charlotte Program has given over $800,000 back to our local community.

Chamber Activities

Business Card Exchange (member event): 5–7 p.m., Thursday, June 29 at Coldwell Banker Sunstar Realty, 19700 Cochran Blvd., Port Charlotte. Bring a gift to promote your business and bring plenty of business cards. Registration is requested. To RSVP, visit

New Teachers’ Breakfast (member event): 7:30–9 a.m., Monday, July 31 at Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center, 75 Taylor St., Punta Gorda. Charlotte County Public Schools will be welcoming 225 new teachers this year. We are looking for 225 members to sponsor each teacher. $45 to sponsor a teacher. You can provide 225 items for the new teachers goodie bags. Deadline is Friday, July 14. Special thanks to our title sponsor: Lake Michigan Credit Union.

Ribbon Cuttings

Ribbon cuttings are an effective way to meet the business owners (and fellow chamber members) in an informal atmosphere and develop great connections. Plus, you get familiar with their products and services provided. Please take the time to show your support and attend our ribbon cuttings!

My Salon Suite (grand opening): 4–6 p.m., Monday, June 26 (ribbon-cutting to take place at 5 p.m.) at 24075 Peachland Blvd., Bldg. 2, Port Charlotte. Refreshments and tours will be available. Registration is requested.

Special Announcement

Sunrise Kiwanis Shoes for Kids Project: The Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce will once again be a collection site for the Shoes for Kids Project. The Kiwanis Shoes for Kids Project collects new athletic shoes for children (pre-K through High School) in the Charlotte County Public School System. The need for the 2023-2024 school year is 4,100 pairs of new sneakers.

Please consider helping in this much-needed community project. For more information about the project or to make a monetary donation, visit or call 941-336-2411. The Charlotte County Chamber is located at 2702 Tamiami Trial, Port Charlotte for shoe drop-off.

Bob White is executive director of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce.