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.


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.

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.

Sarah Karon is a resident of Longboat Key who divides her time between the Twin Cities and Florida.   She is a graduate of the University of Iowa and holds a Master’s in Creative Writing from Hamline University.
Sarah has extensive non-profit Board experience including serving on the Board of City of Lakes Waldorf School in Minneapolis from 1994-2004.  During her tenure, she chaired a three-year, $2 million capital campaign to create the K-8 school’s first permanent home. Sarah also served on the WCA Foundation Board in Minnetonka, MN and on the founding Board of Directors of World Without Genocide in St. Paul.   She is a past trustee of St. Paul Academy and Summit School in St. Paul where she chaired the Annual Fund.  In Florida, Sarah has joined WUSF Public Media in Tampa as a member of the Community Advisory Board. Sarah believes, “Literacy is the key to an informed, engaged society, and libraries are places where all kinds of community magic happens.”

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.

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.”


Katherine is currently a junior at Venice High School and hopes to study Political Science in college.  Katherine is a member of the Travel Club, Ceramics Club, and the VHS Chorus and a recent graduate of the STAR leadership program.  She also assisted in a 30-year study on sea turtle migration conducted by the National Park Service while volunteering at Fort Matanzas National Park last summer. Katherine has spent many hours enjoying our local libraries, whether it was learning chess after school at the Venice Library or taking advantage of the many youth programs at Frances T. Bourne Jacaranda Library.  Katherine has also been a proud volunteer at the Venice Library and a member of the new Community Advocacy Team at the Library Foundation.

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.

Ken Goldstone has spent the last 25 years dedicated to education. A resident of Casey Key, Ken is the Chief Operating Officer for Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL, an institution of 15,000 students that prepares individuals for careers in entertainment, media, the arts, and technology. In his capacity, he oversees the marketing, admissions, public relations, branding, communications, internet/ social media strategies, strategic planning and creative direction for the institution’s campus and online interests. Ken is a strategic planning contributor to the Orlando Economic Development Partnership (EDC), serves on the Winter Park, FL Chamber of Commerce’s Council of Leaders, and is board member of the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design. Ken has produced various video projects including documentaries, live concerts, and an episodic series featured on Netflix. Prior to graduating with a degree in Recording Arts from Full Sail, Ken earned a BA cum laude in Theater from Amherst College.

Judy Liersch is a resident of Sarasota who has lived all over the world.  Judy is a native of Montreal but lived in Kobe, Japan, New York City, Washington, DC, Los Alamos, NM and now Florida.  A graduate of Cornell University, she learned about computers early in her life while employed at IBM.  She also worked as a teacher in Japan and a computer programmer for Time magazine in Montreal and New York.
Judy acquired an MBA at Stanford, where she was one of 19 women in a class of 300.  Her MBA led to an interest in public policy and a new U.S. government program in public management, which was seeking qualified women.  Judy spent time as assistant director of government relations for the Department of Energy’s national laboratory at Los Alamos and with the Office of Management and Budget in Washington.   Judy has served on several local non-profit boards including the Women’s Resource Center, Sarasota Orchestra and Community Foundation of Sarasota County.  Judy is a member of the new Community Advocacy Team

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.

Barbara Siemer joins the Library Foundation Board with 16 years of experience on the Columbus/Metro Library Foundation Board of Directors, including serving as its chair.  A resident of Longboat Key, Barbara’s love of libraries grew out of her career as a high school English teacher in Ohio.  She has served on the Board of I Know I Can (college access program), the New Albany (OH) Community Foundation, the Columbus Foundation, the Columbus (OH) Museum of Art, Planned Parenthood and the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.  With her husband Al, Barbara founded the Siemer Institute for Family Stability in 2003 to help families remain in their homes and children in their schools through financial assistance and case management.  In 2011, the Institute expanded nationwide and now operates in 53 of the nation’s largest cities.  Barbara is a graduate of Muskingum College and Case Western Reserve University.  She co-chairs the Board Development Committee at the Library Foundation. Barbara shared, “To me, libraries are the essence of democracy, where everyone is welcome, everything is free, and everything you want to know is available to you.  We need libraries more than ever today.”

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.”

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.