Emily H. Benham has more than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit field. Before taking on the role of CEO of the Nonprofit Leadership Center in 2014, Emily was the Interim President for Bayfront HERO (Health, Education and Research Organization), a health legacy foundation formed in 2013 with the net proceeds of the sale of Bayfront Medical Center to a for profit entity. Prior to the sale, she was a member of Bayfront Medical Center’s senior leadership team, and directed its philanthropic arm (Bayfront Health Foundation) for more than 20 years, raising millions of dollars for capital improvements for the hospital. Bayfront Health Foundation’s signature event “Bayfront on Vine” and the record breaking “Extreme Team Challenge” employee campaign became well known nationally throughout the industry as Emily was asked to present frequently on these “best of breed” fundraisers. In 2008 she achieved the Association of Healthcare Philanthropy’s highest level of certification, FAHP.
She is a native of Reading, Pennsylvania, and received her B.A. in Music from Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. She is married to James Connors, Principal Cellist of The Florida Orchestra. They are proud parents of their son Joshua. Emily is also an avid equestrian and competes regionally in dressage with her equine partner, Current Affair.
Tony Carvajal is president/CEO of The Able Trust, a foundation committed to helping persons with disabilities and Florida employers achieve their shared goal…meaningful and sustainable work that produces results. Established in 1990, the organization directs state, private, and corporate funds to targeted grants, programs, and initiatives focused on realizing the power of work and the potential of vocational rehab. The Able Trust works with partners to focus on abilities- not disabilities- and remove barriers to employment across the entire spectrum of needs, including developmental and learning disabilities, physical and mental health challenges, and injury and age-related developments. The organization works with companies, communities, grantees, and individuals to make work possible for the 1 in 6 Floridians dealing with some sort of visible or invisible handicap.
Tony brings more than 30 years of nonprofit management and consulting experience to the role, having helped organizations across the country design and implement plans to address all types of opportunities and disruptions. He recently completed a decade of service as the Executive Vice President (and futurist-in-residence) at the Florida Chamber Foundation where he developed research, programs, and policies designed to ensure competitiveness, prosperity, vibrancy, and resiliency across the state. Since 2000, he has also served as the “Primemover, Problem-Solver & Calmer of Chaos” at Carvajal Consulting and Management. Tony earned a Masters in Public Administration from Florida International University and holds undergraduate degrees in psychology and communications from Florida State University. He has earned the designation of certified association executive (CAE) and is a graduate of the US Chamber’s Institute for Organizational Management (IOM) where he received a specialty certification in non-profit management and administration and also served as an instructor for 10 years.
Eileen Connolly Keesler
Eileen Connolly-Keesler is the President/CEO of the Community Foundation of Collier County. As President, Connolly-Keesler oversees the CFCC mission, To Improve the quality of life in Collier County by connecting donors to community needs and providing leadership on critical community issues. Eileen started on January 1, 2013 after moving here from Neenah Wisconsin. In the past three years the assets have grown from $64 million to $224 Million and the Foundation has over 700 funds.
Connolly-Keesler serves on the Policy Committee for the Florida Philanthropic Network and the Policy Committee for the Council on Foundations and the Board of the Florida Nonprofit Alliance. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the local, the Greater Naples Planned Giving Council, the Naples Chamber of Commerce , CF Leads Connolly-Keesler had been a Rotarian for over 29 years.
Since taking the helm as Chief Executive Officer of the Nonprofit Center in 2005, Rena Coughlin has focused on strengthening the local nonprofit sector by leading nonprofit sector advocacy, helping governments, philanthropic organizations, and citizens understand the importance and power of local nonprofits. Under her tenure, the Nonprofit Center has grown to over 300 nonprofit member organizations, and now provides hundreds of professional development opportunities for over 3,000 staff and board members annually.
Previously Rena led Girls, Inc. of Jacksonville as CEO; before that she and her family lived in Tallahassee, where she enjoyed 6 years as the Special Projects and Alumni Manager for Leadership Florida. Earlier in her career, she lived and worked in Washington D.C. as a legislative aide to Florida Senator Bob Graham. She joined the Peace Corps immediately after graduating from the University of Florida, and worked in Liberia, West Africa as a fisheries extension agent. She lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida with her husband Hank Osborne. She has two grown kids who are awesome. Her free time is spent trying to win at tennis, keeping bees, traveling whenever able, and trying to shrink the perpetual pile of bedside books-to-be-read.
Dave Krepcho is President/CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida; a member of Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger relief organization in the U.S. Second Harvest Food Bank serves a six County area in Central Florida through a network of 550 partner agencies. Last year, Second Harvest distributed enough food for 58 million meals, have trained and placed into jobs 280 graduates of their Culinary and Distribution Center Training programs and generated $100 million worth of SNAP benefits through their award-winning mobile outreach program. Second Harvest’s annual economic impact in Central Florida is $187 million. The organization annually receives Charity Navigator’s Four Star rating.
Dave has 26 years’ experience in food banking in positions such as a national Feeding America Board member, past president of Feeding Florida, chair of the Feeding America eastern region, chaired various national task forces, member of a bi-partisan Washington, DC think tank, serves on the 4ROOTS Board as well as the Florida Nonprofit Alliance. He was the Orlando Sentinel’s Orlando Sentinel’s “2009 Central Floridian of the Year”. Prior to his role at Second Harvest, Dave was V.P. of Business Development at Feeding America. Before he reinvented himself as a food banker, he had a career in the Advertising Agency business and attended Columbus College of Art & Design. Dave is married with two children, seven grandchildren.
Upendo Shabazz joined Allegany Franciscan Ministries in 2010. She oversees the organization’s ministry in Palm Beach, Martin and St. Lucie Counties. A native Floridian, Upendo has served the Palm Beach County community for many years. She was vice president of Community Impact with United Way of Palm Beach County, and spent six years with the Department of Safe Schools for the Palm Beach County School District. She periodically teaches as Adjunct Professor at Barry University School of Social Work.
Upendo has served on United Way of America’s Minority Roundtable Advisory Committee. In 2009, she became a United Way of America Global Resident Fellow. Upendo was featured in the Success South Florida Magazine “40 Under 40 Most Influential Black Professionals of 2006”, “Who’s Who in Black South Florida” for 2007 and 2008, and named one of South Florida’s “25 Most Influential & Prominent Black Women in Business” for 2011. She was a finalist for the 2019 St. Lucie County Economic Development Council Pete Hegener Leadership award.
Kelly A. Smith is the North Florida Region Bank President for Wells Fargo. The North Florida region includes six districts: Big Bend, Bluewater, West Panhandle, Northwest, Tri-Counties and Beaches/Southside. She is based in Jacksonville. A 15-year veteran of the company, Smith has served in a number of positions during her career in the financial services industry. Prior to her current role, she served as region president, a different role for the previously defined North Florida region.
IThroughout her career, Smith has been an active member of her community. She currently serves as the Chair on the board of directors for City Year Jacksonville, and serves on the Florida Nonprofit Alliance, and serves on Florida BankPac with the Florida Bankers Association. Smith earned her bachelor’s degree from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and she is a graduate of the American Bankers Association’s Stonier Graduate School of Banking at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. She was the recipient of a “40 under 40” award in 2015 and was named a “Women of Influence” honoree in 2016 by the Jacksonville Business Journal. She also was named to the list of “Women Who Make a Difference” by the Girl Scouts of the Gateway Council in 2017.
Sabeen Perwaiz is Executive Director of Florida Nonprofit Alliance where she strengthens, promotes and advocates on behalf of Florida’s nonprofit sector. During her tenure, FNA released Florida's first nonprofit economic impact report and nonprofit compensation survey. Prior to joining the organization, Perwaiz was a researcher for Vital Voices Global Partnership, served as Special Projects Manager for Pace Center for Girls, implemented an Early Childhood Education program with Aide et Action in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and led the Earn Up initiative for the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.
Since 2012, Perwaiz has led the all volunteer team for TEDxJacksonville. Perwaiz serves on the steering committee for Women's Giving Alliance and is a member of the Jacksonville Women's Network. She is a graduate of Leadership Jacksonville and Leadership Florida Connect. Perwaiz has been named an Aspen Ideas Scholar, Woman of Influence, 40 under 40 and a National Business Journal Influencer. She has also received a One Jax Humanitarian award. In 2018, Perwaiz was appointed to Florida's Commission on Community Service.
Perwaiz earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and pre-medicine from City College of New York and her master's in International Development from the University of Birmingham in the UK. An avid traveler, Perwaiz has visited over 42 countries and hopes to visit at least 100 in her lifetime. She and her husband, Asghar, are proud parents of their toddler, Raza.
Greg Black has more than a decade of experience representing clients’ interests before Florida’s Legislative and Executive Branches. He joined forces with Brian Jogerst to found Waypoint Strategies. Greg actively represents a wide variety of clients, placing him throughout many policy, regulatory and budgetary interest areas and providing him a thorough understanding of the many issues facing key decision makers. Following his time working as an association lobbyist, Greg was recruited by a mid-size firm specializing in legislative and governmental relations and then a large, Florida-based corporate law firm. He consistently represents associations, non-profits, large national and international companies, Florida-based companies, large landowners and developers, and cultural attractions.
For over 10 years, Greg has actively led or worked on major policy and funding initiatives across all levels of Florida government. Using his knowledge of state government and by continuing to build strong relationships with elected officials, agency heads, and staff, Greg continues to successfully advocate on behalf of his clients. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.
Brian Jogerst has almost four decades in the legislative and political process. By representing a wide range of clients, the firm is actively involved with many legislators on varying issues. He began his legislative career shortly after graduating from high school when he joined the staff of former State Representative Bobby Brantley (R-Seminole County). When Brantley was elected Lieutenant Governor with Governor Bob Martinez, Brian joined the Governor’s Legislative. Brian also served as the Political/Field Director on the Martinez Re-election Campaign where he worked with key political supporters in all 67 counties. After the campaign, Brian returned to the legislative branch and served as a Legislative Assistant to two members of the Florida Senate.
Utilizing his extensive knowledge of the legislative and executive branch, Brian launched his lobbying career in 1992 as Director of Government Affairs for the 240-member Florida Hospital Association. In this capacity, Brian was responsible for developing and implementing the legislative priorities for the statewide association and worked closely with legislators and with the executive branch agencies. Beginning his lobbying practice in 1994, Brian has successfully represented a diverse client base focusing primarily on both state and national health care companies. In addition to his legislative experience, Brian also actively works with candidates running for office to assist with political strategy, issue development, and fundraising efforts.
Leah Donelan McDermott
Leah Donelan McDermott has been working and volunteering in the nonprofit sector for 20 years. She specializes in helping organizations grow their capacity to meet their mission through training, leadership development, strategic thinking and planning, research and processes and procedures implementation. Leah conducts and facilitates trainings on various topics including board roles and responsibilities; board governance and engagement; advocacy; starting a nonprofit organization; volunteer engagement; logic model creation; and trend in the nonprofit sector, among others. She has worked at the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida, American Cancer Society, the Alliance for World Class Education, and many other nonprofits in a consulting capacity.
Hana Ferguson is a marketing + events specialist and co-founder of Ferg Creative, a multi-disciplinary studio with a focus on graphic design, social media marketing, and content creation. Hana has a passion for event planning, project management, social media marketing, and photography. She enjoys creating happy, upbeat, energy-filled work for brands. Prior to becoming full-time freelance, Hana worked with a local non-profit organization, Downtown Vision Inc. where she spent 3.5 years managing the First Wednesday Art Walk and other Downtown community events. She graduated from the University of North Florida in 2014 with a degree in Communications: Public Relations with a minor in Community Leadership. When she’s not working (which is rare), she’s tinkering with her film camera, reading the next best thriller, trying to learn the ukulele for the 1,000th time or figuring out where to travel to next.