News

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  • 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!"

  • Saturday, June 10, 2017 10:37 AM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Read more about Alix here and come to this month's meeting to meet her in person.

    Alix moved to Gainesville five years ago with her husband, daughter and two dogs. She spent the first four and half years managing a women’s clothing boutique before becoming the Studio Manager at Barre Forte.

    In May 2015, Brinn Strange opened Barre Forte as the first barre studio in town, and Alix was hooked after taking just one class that Fall. A year later, she decided to take the Teacher Training to get certified. She's been teaching Barre classes since October, and dove in full-time as Studio Manager in February, as well.

    Barre Forte’s focus is empowering women in every aspect of their lives. So while, yes, it is a fitness studio, it is also so much more. It is a supportive community of women, encouraging one another to meet their best - in and out of the studio - which is something we don’t see enough of. In addition to our 40+ classes/week, which includes Barre classes as well as other formats, they also hold community wellness events and social outings to get to know one another outside of class. Barre Forte loves being involved and supporting the Gainesville community!

    Earlier this year, they partnered with Dance Marathon at UF by hosting a Sorority Challenge to support the Children’s Miracle Network, which was aimed at a younger age group than they typically target.

    "I love hearing how GAWN has worked with other local organizations to improve the Gainesville area, and seeing women get together to socialize and support one another. This is very similar to the culture embraced by Barre Forte!"

  • Wednesday, May 17, 2017 9:57 AM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Save the Displaced Homemaker's Fund.

    The Legislature on May 5th raided the Displaced Homemakers Trust Fund and agreed to eliminate the program as part of something called a conforming bill.  They tied it to Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida.

    The founder of The Centre for Women, the late Senator Helen Gordon Davis, led the way in setting up the Displaced Homemakers Trust Fund 40 years ago to help women acquire skills necessary to gain employment and lead financially independent lives.  Hundreds of women have been helped through this program.

    We reached out to the Governor in 2014 when he vetoed the line item in the state budget for the Displaced Homemakers.  Our funding was eliminated and it was thankfully restored the following year. 

    While the term “Displaced Homemakers” may seem passe’ the need for this type of employment counseling is essential for the vulnerable population we serve.  For 40 years, we have been helping women in transition who need the extra support and counseling that they will not find at a one-stop, workforce development agency.

    They need your help. Please use this link to read more and sign the petition to help save this vital program.

    https://www.change.org/p/rick-scott-displaced-homemakers-campaign-to-champion-for-women


  • Thursday, May 04, 2017 10:05 AM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Nancy is our May Spotlight winner!

    Nancy moved to Gainesville in 1991 to attend the University of Florida and met her husband marching beside her in the Gator football marching band.  After graduating from UF, they moved to Cincinnati, Ohio for 6 years, and in 2001, returned to Gainesville to settle down close to their family.

    Florida Leisure Pool & Spa was launched in 2005. After a decade of owning businesses in the product assembly market and spa manufacturer market, Nancy and her husband began Florida Leisure Pool & Spa here in Gainesville as a family-owned pool and hot tub company specializing in equipment repair. They quickly became known as the local experts in “fixing broken pools and hot tubs” for our neighbors across North Central Florida. Over the past several years, their services have steadily expanded to include weekly pool maintenance, electronic leak detection, pool renovation and remodeling, and most recently new pool construction.

    When she is not working, Nancy’s life is centered around her 13-year old son. Many of her hours have been happily shared with school PTA and Boy Scout community events and activities.

    Nancy is excited to be a new member of GAWN. Nancy says, "Although it’s only been one month, everyone I’ve met is extremely friendly and welcoming, which is certainly the nicest way to network with local female professionals."

    Nancy really enjoys learning about the wide variety of businesses represented across Gainesville.  She says "Starting your own business is very exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. It’s important to not be intimidated of having to wear all the hats, from chasing the big dreams to planning for all the daily details. Always remember that there are many valuable resources available to help you along this exciting journey."

    Come to the May luncheon to find out more about Nancy and Florida Leisure Pool & Spa.

  • Thursday, March 23, 2017 1:15 PM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Gerie Crawford has been a member of GAWN for about 1 year.  She is  currently an Academic Advisor with Saint Leo University and has also been an Adjunct Professor with Saint Leo University for the past 15 years. She has resided in the Gainesville/Alachua County area for most of her life. She also lived in the Ft. Lauderdale area for about 15 years before relocating to this area. 

    Gerie retired in 2016 after 35 years in public service. Her last position was Assistant Director of the Department of Court Services where she managed or co-managed 10 community based supervision programs ranging between 45-95 staff at any given time.

    One of the unique services of Saint Leo University is providing a quality education for the “adult learner”. Those who are interested in furthering their educational experience for career advancement or enhancing their theoretical knowledge base while pursuing opportunities in their career path.

    Gerie says "One of the many things I enjoy about GAWN is the network of contacts and opportunities provided using the concept of building a female business community. I appreciate the mission of GAWN is to encourage members to grow professionally and personally." 

    Be sure to attend next month's luncheon to find out more about Gerie during her 2 minute Spotlight!


  • Thursday, March 09, 2017 4:05 PM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Darin Damron has been an employee owner for Jasper Engines and Transmissions for over eleven years, and his company has been in business since 1942. He has four children,  He is active with the jail ministry in St. John's county, and is a busy father, spouse, coach, leader, and career-man.Darin has an extremely hectic schedule, so he feels blessed to have an understanding and goal-oriented fiancé in Kaci. He doesn't currently live in Gainesville, but has been servicing the area for over three years. Before working with Jasper, he was an automotive shop manager for five years.  Prior to that position, he was a communication sales representative for Knology. At Jasper, three of their unique factors are their people, their customer service, and their commitment to continuous improvement. Their biggest change in the past year has been growth in customer penetration, as they've added three new drivers and two new sales representatives.

    "It is a wonderful thing when like-minded and progressive business professionals can come together to strengthen themselves, each other, and their community and that is what I enjoy the most about GAWN. Personally, I would tell a new business that 80% of your success is how you treat other people and to make sure they consistently stay engaged with their customers and employees. Also, keep score." 


  • Monday, February 13, 2017 12:51 PM | Kristy Moffat (Administrator)

    We will be hearing from Rachael Wacha, owner of City Auto Repair, at our February luncheon.  She will be discussing what it's like to be a female business owner in a male-dominated industry. 

    She'll also discuss our "Bill of Rights" in the automotive world:

    • The right questions to ask
    • How to save money by knowing your rights
    • How to go from helpless to empowered when your vehicle is in the shop

    Rachael was born and raised in Gainesville. She started working for her father at City Auto Repair in 2010. It didn’t take her long to fall in love with the business and follow in her father’s footsteps. She doubled sales in a year and in 2013 was written about in a nationwide automotive magazine, "Ratchet and Wrench." Since then Rachael went from managing the business to owning it in 2016.

    Rachael is the President of the Automotive Service Association in the Gainesville/ Ocala area, and the business is an AAA approved repair facility. She is extremely passionate about educating women in automotive repair, which is why she started hosting free Car Care Clinics, “Lipstick and Dipsticks” for women.

    City Auto Repair is a full service automotive shop. From oil changes, brakes, heating and air conditioning repairs, tires, alignments, and even engine and transmission overhauls, they can do it all. City Auto Repair has been in business since 1981.

    Come join us for a presentation full of knowledge and empowerment!

  • Tuesday, February 07, 2017 9:47 AM | Leslie Merryman (Administrator)

    Brinn moved to Gainesville from Hattiesburg, Mississippi in January 2015, and before that she lived in Central California where she attended Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. Upon moving to Gainesville and realizing that such an active and vibrant community did not have a Barre studio, She knew it was her calling to bring her favorite fitness format — Barre — to the area! Brinn opened Barre Forte in May of 2015. It took a few tears, a lot of sweat, and a TON of support from friends, family, the Gainesville community, and, most of all, her husband Greg who undertook many of the studio renovations. Brinn's background is in communications and English and before moving to Gainesville she taught freshman composition at the University of Southern Mississippi, but she has always had a passion for fitness and for celebrating women. She ran a small space within a larger day spa before moving to Gainesville to embark on opening a studio she could really put her stamp on.

    Barre Forte offers much more than just fitness, it provides a space where women can “meet their best.” We celebrate each other’s successes, hold each other accountable, and get to know one another on a deeper, familial level. Additionally, Barre Forte is extremely invested in the Gainesville community. We hold donation-based classes to help raise awareness and funds for local, women-centered non-profit organizations and take advantage of opportunities to help local women feel stronger: inside and out.

    For those of you just starting out, Brinn encourages you to remind yourself WHY you got into the industry you are in and let your passion fuel the long hours and large risks it takes to own your own business. GAWN has been a tremendous asset to Brinn in offering a safe space to fellowship with other women. "Together we brainstorm ideas, provide valuable referral resources, and offer each other advice (or just an ear to listen). I am extremely grateful for the professional development opportunities GAWN has provided, and I look forward to sharing more about my business with you at our next meeting!"

    Barre Forte

    4994 NW 39th Ave, Gainesville, FL 32606

    (352) 727-7800



  • Tuesday, January 17, 2017 11:51 AM | Kristy Moffat (Administrator)

    Congratulations to Julieanne McGuiness, Director of Operations at Crosslinear Consulting, for winning our January Spotlight Award! She will be speaking at our luncheon this week.

    Julieanne has been in the Gainesville area for eight years and is a graduate of the University of Florida. She volunteers at both The United Way and the Ronald McDonald House and attends Meadowbrook Church in Ocala, where she lives.

    Julieanne has experience working in property management, project management, account management, consultative sales, outbound sales, marketing, and consulting. Having worked in retail, small business, and franchise organizations, she understands how businesses work and grow.

    Julieanne has a passion for helping others achieve their highest level of success and brings a unique level of excitement to her engagements, which in combination with her avid sales focus and understanding of the inner workings of business, help her assist her clients in achieving greatness. 

    Julieanne loves to work with businesses that understand the value of investing in their people, working towards long-term goals, and creating programs for positive success along the way. Strategic Planning, creation of SOP's, defining culture and empowering decision-making at every level of the organization are all areas where Julieanne likes to work, so contact her immediately if you or your organization need help.

    Julieanne can be reached at 352-895-7461 or Julieanne.McGuinness@crosslinear.com.

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