Library Foundation for Sarasota County Board of Directors
You can’t judge a book by its cover, but you can tell a lot about a foundation by the people who serve on its board. The Board of the Library Foundation for Sarasota County encompasses a best-selling author of international renown, a former Sarasota County Commissioner, the CEO of a publishing company and a dozen more members with vast experience in philanthropy and civic affairs. This diverse group has a shared passion for making Sarasota County’s libraries extraordinary.
PRESIDENT: LINDA GETZEN
A retired attorney, Getzen is president of Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida, Inc. and vice president of the Sarasota Women’s Alliance. She is a vice president of Church of the Palms-Presbyterian, and a director of the Harold C. and Jacqueline F. Bladel Foundation, Inc. and of Getzen Family Charities, Inc. Getzen grew up in Sarasota and used the Sarasota Public Library regularly. “I strongly believe in giving back to my community to make it a better place,” she says. “Today, public libraries have become so much more than just places to borrow books. By embracing technology and innovative programs, our public libraries reach beyond their walls to connect all people with unrestricted, free and equal access to knowledge and information.”
VICE PRESIDENT: CHARLIE HUISKING
As an award-winning journalist for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune for 33 years, Huisking specialized in reporting on arts and entertainment. Huisking serves on the boards of Asolo Repertory Theatre and a family foundation, the Huisking Foundation, which supports a wide range of cultural and human-service organizations. A Sarasota native, Huisking visited Sarasota’s Chidsey Library several times a week during his childhood. “The library fueled my dreams when I was a young boy, and I want to help our libraries make a difference for future generations,” Huisking says.
SECRETARY: SHANNON STAUB
Staub served as a Sarasota County Commissioner for 14 years, becoming known as the “queen of green” for her focus on environmental, economic and social sustainability. Another of Staub’s key interests is positive youth development. She helped create the STAR (Students Taking Active Roles) program, which has trained over 500 students to participate on civic boards. Staub has been active with Suncoast Communities Blood Bank, Hermitage Artist Retreat, Community Youth Development and the Florida and National Associations of Counties. Passionate about libraries, she has been a member of all of the Friends of the Library organizations. “I have lived most of my life through books borrowed from libraries, from the time I was a toddler to retirement,” Staub says.
TREASURER: CONNIE DAVIS
A retired educator and consultant, Davis joined the Free Library of Philadelphia when she was seven years old, and says “I have been a fan of libraries ever since.” Before moving to Sarasota, she was an assistant school superintendent in Pennsylvania, and served as a vice-president and division director of the Gallup Organization. She is treasurer of the Casey Key Association, and has served on the board of the Casey Key Library Association since 2003. While chairing the Sarasota County Library Advisory Board, she led discussions that led to the creation of the Library Foundation for Sarasota County.
DIRECTOR EMERITUS: JOHN JAKES
Hailed by many literary critics as the finest historical novelist of our time, John Jakes is a master of the family saga. His strong storytelling ability and his penchant for historical accuracy have won him a worldwide audience. More than 55 million copies of The Kent Family Chronicles, eight volumes tracing an American family from the Revolution to the dawn of the 20th century, are in print, as well as another 10 million copies of his “North and South“ trilogy. Six of his novels have been adapted for television. Libraries have been central to Jakes’ life since he was a page at the Chicago Public Library – his first paid job. He has been involved with library Friends groups in Rochester, N.Y. and Hilton Head, S.C. Jakes was a delegate to the White House Conference on Libraries and Information in 1991. He is currently a board member of the Van Wezel Foundation. “Libraries are essential for a healthy community,” Jakes says. “Of course, given the nature of my work, I’m what you might call a heavy user.”
Cardillo, a retired business executive at Lenox Inc. and Johnson & Johnson, has served on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters, Roanoke, VA. She is a volunteer and advocate at Girls Inc of Sarasota, and Job Resource Coach at Church of the Palms-Presbyterian. She moved here from her native state of NJ in 2011. “My mother was an avid reader and my sister and I were so proud to have our first library cards. We continue to delight in reading and realize the blessings and importance of how our library system enables learning and magical experiences,” Cardillo says.
Hannah Carlo is a student member of the Library Foundation for Sarasota County. She is a graduate of the Community Youth Development Star Leadership Training Program, a 14 week long program designed to teach students how they can become positively involved in their community. She is a sophomore at Cardinal Mooney High School and has lived in Sarasota for 14 years. During her spare time, Hannah loves reading a good book, especially thrillers and romances. While this is the first board she has ever been a member of, she is excited to learn more about Sarasota libraries and how they function.
A Sarasota native, Eastmoore has served on the board of the Ringling College Library Association, and her community involvement encompasses the Caritas Food Ministry Pantry, the Junior League of Sarasota, the Boy Scouts of America and the First Presbyterian Church. A physical therapist and home school teacher, she read aloud to her children every day when they were young, so she has a firsthand understanding of the value of libraries. “Libraries support families across generations and encourage an informed and educated citizenry,” Eastmoore says.
Gussin is the CEO of Oceanview Publishing of Longboat Key, an independent publisher with an emphasis on mysteries, thrillers and suspense novels. Gussin spent 33 years in the pharmaceutical/medical products industry, the last 14 as chief scientific officer for Johnson & Johnson. He chairs an advisory committee at the University of Michigan medical school, where he trained, and serves on the boards of Duquesne University and Christus Healthcare, a 55-hospital health care group. He is the CEO of Oceanview Vineyards in New Zealand. The author of one novel, Gussin believes that knowledge is the engine that drives us, and “probably the major opportunity for most people to gain knowledge is through the library. Materials available through the library enhance our performance in school, on the job, and in life.”
Gussin is the author of four thriller novels, and is editor/president of Oceanview Publishing. A former vice president of Johnson & Johnson, she is a physician, and practices primary care as a volunteer at the Senior Friendship Centers for Healthy Aging. She has been involved with boards of numerous universities and professional organizations, including the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, where she served as chair. Gussin was attracted to the Library Foundation because “everyone needs to have access to knowledge in order to succeed in life. Libraries are where that knowledge resides.”
McBean has served on the boards of numerous community organizations, including the Ringling College Library Association, the Child Development Center, the Van Wezel Advisory Board and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. She has also been a volunteer with the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, the Senior Friendship Centers and the Sarasota Reading Festival, and member of the Friends of the Selby Public Library. McBean was an educator in the New York and New Jersey school systems before retiring as supervisor of guidance for New York City Schools. McBean views Sarasota County’s libraries as “an indispensible community resource. I would like to help and also help raise the public awareness of the importance and value of our libraries.”
Lydia McIntire has a distinguished record of public service in Sarasota County. She recently retired from the Women’s Resource Center of Sarasota County, where she served as president for three years, and board member for 10. She is also a former chairman of the Sarasota County School Board. For five years, she was a member of the Ringling College Library Association Board, and chaired the Town Hall lecture series in 2005. She has served on the Friends of Selby Library Board. Having five children and eight grandchildren, McIntire knows how essential great libraries are to future generations.
Isabel Norton has devoted more than 30 years to making Sarasota and Florida a better place to live for all people. She served on the initial board of directors of SCOPE and later chaired its Aging: The Possibilities Initiative. She chaired the Board of Trustees of Ringling College and was co-chair of the Ringling College Library campaign that raised more than $16M to build the new Ringling College Library. Isabel has been Chair of the Board of Florida Prevent Blindness and Chair of the Manatee/Sarasota Suncoast Workforce Board. She is a 1993 graduate of Leadership Florida and was honored, along with Carolyn Johnson, with the Leadership Florida Distinguished Member Award in June 2016. Isabel believes “books are the windows to the whole world and it is critical that we work to provide access to those books and to the other exciting things libraries now have to offer.
A past president of the Friends of the Selby Public Library and the founding co-chair of the Sarasota Reading Festival, Schnell received the Florida Library Association’s 1999 Friends and Trustees Library Award for outstanding service and achievement. Schnell moved to Sarasota 22 years ago after a career in the fashion industry. She has been involved with an array of cultural organizations, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. She is currently a board member of the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and serves on the Council for the Arts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Schnell was eager to serve on the Library Foundation because “libraries serve a vital community function. The future suggests that libraries will be centers of civic engagement.”
Hank Tafaro is an entrepreneur who understands the value of libraries to community life. Hank founded The Hanleigh Companies, an insurance underwriting firm on behalf of certain underwriters at Lloyd’s and other UK and European companies. His clients include most major entertainment groups, professional sports teams and Fortune 500 companies. After selling the firm, Hank created an underwriting consulting group and a new underwriting company. Hank has a long history of civic engagement, having served on the Town Council of Rockleigh, NJ for 12 years and as the town mayor for 8. He has served on many boards and is currently on the Board of the Casey Key Foundation. Hank says “I consider libraries to be the cornerstone of a civilized society, and a key to fight illiteracy in America. But, author Ray Bradbury put it best, ‘Without libraries we have no past and no future.’”
The publisher of the Venice Gondolier Sun from 1979-2010, Vedder is currently vice president of Sun Coast Media. He is past president of the Florida Press Association and a current member of its board, as well as the past president of the Venice Chamber of Commerce, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast, the Sertoma Club of Venice and the Nokomis Parent Teacher Organization. Vedder helped found the Venice High School Foundation and the Rotary Futures, of which he is the current president. He was the fund chair for the Venice Library expansion project, and assisted in the expansion of the Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Library. Vedder received the 1993 Florida Library Outstanding Citizen Award. Last year, the Florida Press Association recognized Vedder’s career achievements by giving him its highest honor, the Lifetime Member Award. He believes that libraries are “critical to the intellectual growth of our communities.”
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: SUZANNE SEITER
Suzanne Seiter CFRE is the first Executive Director for the Library Foundation. Ms.Seiter has led development and marketing efforts for the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Since relocating to Florida in 2007, she has served as a management, marketing and fundraising consultant for a variety or organizations, including the Library Foundation since 2012.
Sue is a graduate of The George Washington University and has been a Certified Fundraising Executive since 1994. She served as a trustee of the Westlake (OH) Public Library as a young mother and loves to read biographies, historical fiction and political commentary.