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Civic leaders named to oversee local CFFK fund

Ten Middle Keys business and community leaders are the charter members of a new regional advisory council for the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys (CFFK). The council will help the Keys-wide charitable foundation broaden its mission, grant-making, donor base and public awareness in the Marathon area.

“The new Middle Keys Advisory Council will work closely with the Community Foundation to help expand its impact and outreach in our area, including serving more of our local nonprofits and increasing philanthropy here,” said Marian Buccafurni, CFFK board member and chair of the Middle Keys Advisory Council. “The council is committed to the Community Foundation’s mission and to helping our Middle Keys communities.”

The founding members of the advisory council are:

  • Marian Buccafurni, chair, civic leader and retired business professional
  • Sarah Adams, assistant principal, Stanley Switlick Elementary
  • C.M. Bishop, retired educator and community volunteer
  • Sarah Brawer, counselor, Sarah Brawer, M.A.
  • Leigha Fox, radio personality, Florida Keys Media
  • Kathleen Hendrickson, estate attorney, Kathleen Hendrickson, Attorney at Law
  • Katalin Koler, owner, Sweet Savannah’s Bake Shop and Ice Cream Café
  • Mallory Pinto, real estate professional, Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty
  • Daniel Samess, CEO, Marathon Chamber of Commerce
  • Lavarski Smith, district manager, Coca Cola Florida

The Community Foundation created the Middle Keys advisory council in conjunction with its 25th anniversary this year. Advisory council members, who will meet quarterly, will help build philanthropy in the Middle Keys, raise awareness and advocate for the foundation, advise CFFK on local needs and initiatives, identify potential nonprofits as grant applicants, and advise the CFFK grants committee on funding recommendations. 

“These new council members bring local knowledge from the Middle Keys and vast experience from their professional and volunteer work,” said Jennifer McComb, president and CEO of the foundation. “They play an important role as Community Foundation ambassadors to help increase our grantmaking in the Middle Keys and help increase our donor base and donor funds from the Middle Keys.” 

A new granting fund was recently established at the foundation to support nonprofits in the Middle Keys. Right now, contributions to the Middle Keys Future Fund are being matched dollar-for-dollar up to the first $25,000 by the foundation to provide grants to nonprofits based in and serving Marathon and surrounding Middle Keys communities. Contributions to the Middle Keys Future Fund can be made online at cffk.org/middlekeys. 

More information is at cffk.org. 

Members of the Middle Keys Advisory Council

Marian Buccafurni, Chair
Marian Buccafurni is a civic leader, philanthropist and retired business and legal professional. She is CFFK’s first board member from Key Colony Beach and spends part of the year in Monterey, California, where she is active with the Community Foundation for Monterey County. She is a former board president and a major donor of the Women’s Fund there, which supports opportunities for women and girls. Marian has a diverse business background in the medical, science and legal fields and has focused on philanthropy since she retired in 2000.

Sarah Adams
Sarah Adams is the Assistant Principal of Stanley Switlik Elementary. She has been a resident of Marathon for 25 years, and her large extended family has a long history of living in Key Colony Beach and the Middle Keys. Sarah is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Educational Administration. She is the only recipient of Educator of the Year from the City of Marathon and lives in a Habitat for Humanity house built by Marathon High School students. Sarah is a Rotarian and community volunteer. The most important thing to her is family, especially her two children, Alliyah and Jason. 

C.M. Bishop
C.M. Bishop retired in 2005 after 33 years in education, having served as Principal of Marathon Middle School and Assistant Principal of Marathon Middle/High School, among others. She is an active volunteer and has served as President and Board Member of Marathon Business and Professional Women’s Club, Chair of the MYC Auxiliary, the Marathon Recreation Center, and the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter. She created the Youth Sailing Program for the Marathon Yacht Club Educational Foundation. She and her husband Dennis travel extensively around the world. 

Sarah Brawer
Sarah Brawer is a private practice counselor who has over 20 years’ experience working with individuals, adults, children/adolescents, families, and couples. She specializes in mental health trauma and substance abuse. Sarah’s education includes a Master of Arts Degree in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and Sociology. She is the president and co-founder of Presents in Paradise, a non-profit organization serving local children since 2003. She is also a Take Stock in Children mentor, an active member of the Marathon Rotary Club, and a coordinator of the Florida Keys Trauma Recovery Network. Sarah moved to the Florida Keys in 1999.

Leigha Fox
Leigha Fox is a radio personality at US1 Radio and has used her platform to promote nonprofits and charitable organizations throughout her 20+ year career. Leigha has been a resident of the Keys since 1998 and was Queen of Fantasy Fest in 2002 raising a cumulative $180,000 for A.H. of Monroe County. From 2009-2011, Leigha served as queen of the Conch Republic by volunteering and raising funds for Wesley House Services. Leigha has served as a board member of the Marathon Chamber of Commerce and Secretary and President of the Marathon Rotary Club. She’s very happy to join the Middle Keys Advisory Council with CFFK to continue a lifetime of service.   

Lavarski Smith
Lavarski Smith is the District Manager for Coca Cola, covering the entire Florida Keys. Currently a resident of Duck Key, he has lived in the Keys for 27 years. He attended all levels of school in the Middle Keys, where he met his high school sweetheart, Sopheap Smith. They’ve been married for 12 years and just welcomed their third child. Larvarski also serves as a member of the Marathon Rotary Club and is excited to be part of the new council which supports his core values. 

Kathleen Hendrickson
Kathleen Hendrickson is an attorney practicing solely in estates and trusts. She has practiced law in Florida for most of her nearly 40-year career, except for a period in the 1990s when she resided in New Jersey. She graduated from Pepperdine University School of Law has an LLM in Estate Planning as well. Kathy is a widow with a few, well-loved stepchildren. Her passions include history, genealogy, music of all kinds, and her Havanese dog, Duval Diva.

Katalin Koler
Kate Koler is the owner of Sweet Savannah’s Bake Shop and Ice Cream Café in Marathon. Originally recruited to the Middle Keys in 2004 to run a restaurant, Kate managed the Keys Weekly Newspapers with her husband Jason prior to opening Sweet Savannah’s in 2011. Her community service includes three years as a Board Member of Domestic Abuse Shelter, three consecutive terms as president of Stanley Switlik Elementary PTO, and two years on the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce Board, including a term as President. She and her husband were licensed foster parents and support numerous community and charitable causes, including most recently Mangrove Mike’s Endeavors. Most importantly, Kate is the proud mother of Josh (12) and Joseph (8) and enjoys boating and spending time with friends and family.

Mallory Pinto
Mallory Morton Pinto is a Real Estate Professional with Ocean Sotheby’s International Realty. A long-time local, she enjoys guiding buyers to find their own pieces of paradise as well as working with local investors on both residential and commercial projects. Previously, she purchased a medical compression stocking company with her family, Global Health Connection. Mallory’s involvement in many local organizations keeps her connected Keys-wide through the Business and Professional Women of Marathon Club and Leadership Monroe County (graduate of Class XXVII). Mallory is a newlywed, dog mom, and spends most of her free time hosting fundraisers and community events as well as enjoying weekends on the water soaking in the beauty of the Florida Keys! 

Daniel Samess
Daniel has been the CEO of the Marathon Chamber of Commerce since 2007. Daniel has worked hard to help grow the Chamber from just over 350 to more than 540 members and has since added many programs to promote, educate, inform, and support the chamber’s valued business-members. Daniel and his wife, Liz, came to Marathon in 2004 after completing their graduate studies. They have two beautiful daughters, Ava and Emily. In his spare time, Daniel enjoys fishing, exercising, traveling, and most importantly, spending time with his family.

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