News

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  • 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!"

  • 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!

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