News

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  • Friday, October 05, 2018 6:59 AM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Dorothy Thomas

    Dorothy is the Chair, for CHILD Center for Early Learning and the Organizer, for Campaign for a Children’s Trust of Alachua County.

    Prior to moving to Gainesville, Dorothy practiced law in New York City. After having children, she retired from practicing law and ultimately moved to Gainesville. As her children entered pre-school, she needed a good way to use her free time and began volunteering at SWAG (Southwest Advocacy Group). She eventually became the chair of SWAG, a group whose mission is to bring resources to an underserved, low-income area in southwest Gainesville. Her involvement with SWAG eventually led her to spearhead the creation of the CHILD Center, an early learning center designed to serve low income families. The CHILD Center is a collaboration between SWAG, UF’s Zucker Center, O2B Kids and Head Start, with support from the Early Learning Coalition and Alachua County. Not only does the CHILD Center provide high-quality early learning for children ages 0-5, it has a family engagement program, and is the hub of a model demonstration center whereby UF’s early learning experts have a platform to provide professional development to early learning professionals across the county.

    Dorothy's experiences with the CHILD Center led her to see the great need for a more collaborative and coordinated way to serve our county’s children. After looking at how children are best served across Florida, the idea of establishing a children’s services council (CSC) for Alachua County emerged. The creation of such councils is governed by Florida statute and can only be created by voters. CSCs provide funding exclusively for children’s programing, separate and apart from what is provided in the schools. "A true grassroots campaign has emerged, and we are hopeful that we can create this very type of council in this county by passing a referendum on the November 6 election ballot (Local Issue #1). If successful, our CSC will be called the Children’s Trust of Alachua County." The money/programs will be overseen by a totally independent board, and can fund things like early learning programs, after school programs, home visits to new moms by nurses, literacy efforts, and mental health and wellbeing programs (and much more!).

    You can learn more about SWAG and the CHILD Center at www.swadvocacygroup.org or on Facebook at
    www.facebook.com/SWAdvocacyGroupSWAG and www.facebook.com/CHILD-Center-for-Early-
    Learning.

    You can learn more about the Campaign for a Children’s Trust at
    www.childrenstrustofalachuacounty.org or on Facebook at
    www.facebook.com/CampaignForChildrensTrust/O


  • Thursday, April 12, 2018 12:23 PM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Linda Sherman of CenterPoint Consulting 

    Back in the 80s, Linda Sherman worked in construction manufacturing and professional industries.  She was a decision maker at a time when there were relatively few women in key roles., But it was her willingness to tackle and resolve tough problems through critical thinking that got her to be in such a position at the time.  Later she went on to work with several Fortune 500s in finance, contracts, program and project management. In each of these roles, Linda brought in her own tools and systems.

    However, many of these larger companies relied on unethical tactics.  They held back payments for extended periods of time, demanded additional work without compensation, and they moved up time frames and then penalizing with back charges if the businesses couldn’t meet these unrealistic demands.

    These are just a few examples of the situations Linda witnessed; their tactics drove small businesses to the brink of disaster – and even closure. This realization broke her heart and drove her to quit a 30-year career and a 6-figure paycheck in order to help small businesses be profitable, competitive, and avoid the pitfall and traps larger corporations use.

    Linda now works directly with small businesses where she knows she can make a real difference, teaching people how to implement sustainable, long-term strategies for growth.

    Learn more about Linda and her business at the April monthly luncheon.



  • Monday, March 12, 2018 1:05 PM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Jennifer Siorek has lived in Gainesville since 2009 after moving from Orlando, Florida. She is married to her first childhood friend (they even attended preschool together) and has one daughter who is in middle school. They recently welcomed into their family a beagle puppy adopted from Gainesville Pet Rescue. Jennifer enjoys learning foreign languages, spending time with her family, eating sushi and doing Zumba.

    She has a degree in advertising with a minor in Spanish and has been on the sales team at Advantage Publishing, Inc. (API) since 2016. Advantage publishes HOME magazine, Business in Greater Gainesville and Guide to Greater Gainesville and hosts Taste of Greater Gainesville, an annual non-profit event that benefits four local children’s charities. 

    She has been in advertising sales for 18 years and has worked at such companies as BellSouth Advertising & Publishing in Atlanta, the Orlando Sentinel in downtown Orlando and MediaEdge Communications here in Gainesville prior to joining Advantage Publishing.

    Jennifer volunteers her time serving on the Advisory Council for Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Central Florida, is a committee member of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s annual Kickoff for a Cure event, serves as an Ambassador for the Builders Association of North Central Florida (BANCF) and enjoys volunteering every year at Taste of Greater Gainesville.

    She looks forward to attending GAWN each month and enjoys the friendly and positive networking atmosphere.

    Jennifer may be reached at j.siorek@advantagepublishinginc.com or (352)226-8119.


  • Wednesday, January 31, 2018 11:09 AM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Gwen hails from the Great White North aka Canada eh, where she studied education, travel & tourism marketing. She moved to Ohio & married her husband in 2000. In 2013 she became a US Citizen and moved with her family to Florida. She has 2 sons, a dog, a cat & a gecko. She is a runner & runs the Gate River Run in Jacksonville yearly as a fundraiser for Girls on the Run as a Solemate. Prior to moving to Florida and working for the Hartley Press she worked in the printing industry for Lithographic Services and Western States Envelope Company where she developed a diverse background in print sales, customer service & account management.

    At the Hartley Press they harness the POWER of the printed word to deliver results for you. The Hartley Press offers high quality sheet fed, heat set web, and digital press work. Their specialties are magazines, catalogs, directories, books, newsletters, brochures, calendars and other commercial products. They also do direct-mail postcards & custom printed packaging. An ideal referral for Gwen would be Marketing companies or Marketing departments within a large corporation, Publishers, Ad Agencies and Graphic Design firms.

    Gwen just joined GAWN & is excited to get to know everyone. She loves the energy and camaraderie she experienced on her first visit here.

    Gwen’s goal in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion some humor & some style.

    To learn more about the Hartley Press and their print capabilities please go to www.thehartleypress.com

    Gwen can be reached at gfreeman@thehartleypress.com


  • Thursday, November 09, 2017 7:41 AM | Kristy Moffat (Administrator)

    Hundreds of professionals come through the doors of GAWN each year. Would you like to make sure they know who you are, while supporting the work of GAWN at the same time?

    We have an annual sponsorship option for our members in 2018. Sponsorship benefits include:

    • Recognition and signage at all GAWN events
    • Logo displayed on GAWN website, linking to member company website
    • Promotion via social media
    • Recognition in GAWN communications
    • Sponsor table and associated benefits at 2017 Holiday Showcase
    • Other benefits to be determined

    The cost is $500 for the year, open to paid members only.  We have a limit of four sponsorship spots for now, but may consider adding others later depending on interest.

    We are also accepting vendor applications for our 2017 Holiday Showcase, which will be on Wednesday, December 13 from 11:30-1:30 at Sweetwater Branch Inn. Vendors will share an 8 foot table with another vendor, and have the opportunity to gain exposure and network with attendees. The cost is $50, and includes admission for one person.

    Applications and payments must be submitted by November 30 to be considered. Registration is available on the event page.  Please contact board members Trish Bulko or Kristy Moffat with any questions.

    2018 Sponsorship ApplicationHoliday Showcase Vendor Application

  • Monday, October 30, 2017 1:19 PM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Born and raised in southern New Hampshire, Kerry Spears has always had a love for old homes, beautiful details and classic character. After living in Charleston, SC, she discovered her love only grew fonder for the charm of historical architecture. Kerry decided to pursue a career in interior design and work as a design assistant, where she learned the ins and outs of the business. Through a passion for beautiful homes and an innate skill for aesthetics, Kerry Spears Interiors was brought to life.

    Kerry Spears Interiors is a full-scale interior design firm with a fresh aesthetic and a passion for details. She specializes in finish and decor selections, home renovations and new construction. Each aspect of the project is tailored toward the client and their distinctive lifestyle to create a comfortable, personal and functional space. Between the color on the walls and the fabric on the furniture, she will design a space that is uniquely yours. She works from initial ideas all the way through the completion of the project and considers every detail along the way. Kerry’s signature style fuses traditional interiors with a fresh, modern flair. Her style is ever evolving as she stays on top of trends to incorporate them into her clients’ homes in a timeless way.

    Kerry Spears Interiors also offers e-design services. These are projects done solely through communication over the phone, email and Facetime, allowing projects to be completed anywhere.

    Kerry has worked on projects all over the United States, including Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Wisconsin and New Hampshire. She currently lives in Gainesville, FL with her husband, Reid, and Mini Bernedoodle, Louie.

    Some of Kerry’s completed projects will be featured in Home Magazine Gainesville throughout 2018.

    You can find a portfolio of Kerry’s work and contact information at www.kerryspearsinteriors.com.


  • Tuesday, October 03, 2017 11:41 AM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Ronnie spent a lot of time in Latin America but for the last few years, Gainesville has been her home. It’s her second time around here. "I like Gainesville, and I like having Gainesville be the place I come home to when I return from a trip (I also really like to travel!)."

    Ronnie is about to have a chapter published in an anthology that focuses on women who have spent time in Latin America, Women Travel Alone Together, with a likely publication date in early 2018.

    Like so many of us she multi-tasks constantly, but a lot of her focus these days is on her small business as an editor, writer and translator. As a copyeditor, she has particular expertise in editing the works of journalists, scholars and researchers for whom English is a second language. She has also edited two memoirs by Puerto Rican authors, an environmental education book by a group of authors at Cornell University, and is now editing a book on reggaeton.

    She is always looking for more editing, translating or writing work, not just for the money, which obviously counts, but also because she really enjoys the work! When she edits, writes or translates, she learns a lot about the subject at hand and that brings her a lot of satisfaction.  She is a veteran journalist who was a correspondent and bureau chief for CNN based in Nicaragua and Chile from 1987 through 1996. She got to Nicaragua as a freelancer in 1984. Her work in Latin America included reporting from all the countries in the region.

    She was a Knight International Journalism Fellow in Colombia from 2011 to 2012.  She was also the recipient of a grant from Transparency International in Colombia in 2013. Her projects focused on digital tracking of corruption in that country. She began my career in journalism at the San Juan Star in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Currently, she also teaches journalism classes at the University of Florida, and is also a writer for Americas Duty Free & Travel Retail.

    Ronnie is fluent in Spanish.


  • Wednesday, August 30, 2017 5:56 AM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Dagmar Rittenbacher was born and raised near Vienna, Austria. In 2004, she moved with her daughter to Asharoken (Long Island), New York where she was offered and accepted a job to manage a high-end furniture showroom in New York City.

    She has been in the furniture design business for over 27 years. In 2011, Dagmar Rittenbacher moved to Vero Beach, Florida and started her own company, Creative Designs LLC. She has 27+ years of experience in the luxury European furniture industry, a wealth of technical knowledge regarding furniture materials, hardware, and production techniques, and is fluently bilingual (German and English). 

    Dagmar's extensive experience and education allow Creative Designs to specialize in the lifecycle management [concept, design, order placement, import/export (as required), transportation, installation/reinstallation (as required), and service] of luxuryEuropean furniture.

    In fall 2016, Dagmar earned her Associate Degree in Interior Design Technology from Indian River State College (IRSC) and is enrolled at the University of Florida to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Interior Design. Her goals are to take the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam, to become a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), and to become a licensed Interior Designer in the State of Florida and a certified Interior Designer in the State of New York. In July 2017, she moved to Gainesville, FL. Shortly after her move to Gainesville, she became certified as an Associate Kitchen and Bath Designer (AKBD) by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). She is currently also working for Jackson Stoneworks LLC in Gainesville, Florida, as a Kitchen and Bath designer and is working toward her certification to become a Certified Kitchen and Bath Designer (CKBD) accredited by the NKBA.

    In her free time, she likes to visit her daughter, Jacqueline, in Tallahassee, Florida, and to fly as a passenger in light aircraft when her boyfriend, Patrick, is the pilot in command.


  • Wednesday, July 26, 2017 5:29 AM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Patricia Bulko is a native to Alachua County, growing up just West of Gainesville. She studied organizational management and business at Santa Fe College. She proceeded to work in the area, assisting many companies and fostering partnerships within the community.

     Passionate about business, working with the Chamber was a natural fit. With encouragement from friends and family, Patricia founded Charitable Gains, a social media management agency, in 2016. She currently serves as President & Founder of Make Change App, a free micro-giving platform that empowers everyone to come together with their spare change and support the causes they believe in. 

    Grateful for the amazing group of friends and colleagues she has developed, Patricia continues to make sure that everyone feels welcome to the Gainesville region. In her free time, Patricia loves to go kayaking with her son Joel and to travel with her boyfriend Raydel.


  • Wednesday, June 28, 2017 11:00 AM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Come to our July meeting to see Marilyn Cowart, General Manager of Devon Self Storage our July spotlight winner.

    “Life Just Got Easier”. Moving, making extra room, cleaning out that garage, and summer storage for students can be stressful. Maralyn has been a Storage Manager (counselor) for 19 years of her 21 years here in Gainesville. She has always worked in a capacity to offer Customer Service from newspaper advertising to secretary in a real estate office.

    Devon Self Storage Gainesville offers computerized gate access, a “free” moving truck for new rentals, they sell packing supplies and various sizes of climate and non-climate controlled units. They are a member of the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce as well as being an old-new member of GAWN.

    Maralyn came back to GAWN for comradery and of course the food. It is empowering and uplifting to see women who have the foresight and motivation to go out and “Just Do It!”  She realizes to start your own business you must have hope, ambition, motivation and knowledge of your product. Gainesville is a great place for proprietorship/ownership of a business of your own.

    Maralyn meets lots of people in her line of work because by nature she is a people person. She is a volunteer usher at the Performing Arts Center and Devon Gainesville has offered sponsorship to a couple of the local high schools in town. They have provided Tee-shirts for Gainesville High School and purchased advertisements for the Buchholtz Basketball Shirt.  Donations from the sales go to Peaceful Paths, Alachua County Humane Society and Toys for Tots. 

    Devon Self Storage can be found at www.DevonSelfStorage.com or Devon Self Storage/Facebook or Google and Yelp. 

    "Our business at Devon Self Storage - Gainesville is to make your move/life Easier!"

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