We invite you to get to know the current Charitable Gift Planners of Southwest Florida Board of Directors.
Our Current Board
Susan Brennan, CWS®
As a Senior Vice President and Senior Relationship Strategist in the West and Central Florida market, Susan Brennan coordinates a team to assist you and your family in pursuing the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the important aspects of your financial life are thoughtfully orchestrated. Through a dynamic discovery process, Susan is able to help build and maintain a thorough understanding of your needs and priorities. Helping you and your family with the successful achievement of your goals and aspirations is our primary focus. Susan has the knowledge, experience and desire to help bring about successful outcomes as your trusted advisor.
Susan has 30 years of expertise spanning a broad range of disciplines including investment management, trust services, private banking, and new business development. Susan was fortunate to be one of the early founders of the PNC Wealth Management office in Sarasota and is extremely proud of its success. Susan earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan State University and an Executive Scholar concentration at the Kellogg School of Northwestern University. She is an Alumni of Leadership Sarasota and a graduate of the Gulf Coast Leadership Institute. Susan earned her Certified Wealth Strategist designation from the Canon Financial Institute.
Susan has served as trustee and advisor on several Tampa Bay boards such as the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Foundation, Giving Matters, The American Heart Association Go Red for Women, Moffitt Cancer Center, as well as the President of the board of Girls Incorporated of Sarasota County. She was named one of the “Top People to Watch” in 2014 by Biz 941 Magazine. Susan was recently award the PEAK award for 2022, one of 25 people across PNC Private Bank nationally, for outstanding performance and customer care.
Kathy Jordan is the Director of Development at WUSF Public Media where she is responsible for planning and implementing fundraising strategies for major gifts and planned giving and serves as a liaison for WUSF Public Media in the Sarasota and Manatee communities.
Prior to joining WUSF Public Media, Jordan was managing director at the Sarasota Film Festival. There she was responsible for planning, scheduling, implementing and managing all business operations for the 10-day international film festival. Prior to moving to Sarasota, Kathy was a film producer and worked for Miramax, DeLaurentiis and Mahagonny Pictures in Los Angeles.
Kathy is a graduate of the University of Texas and volunteers with several community organizations. In addition to the Charitable Gift Planners of Southwest Florida, she sits on the board of the Sarasota Women's Alliance and the Through Women’s Eyes Film Festival. Kathy also serves as the Panel and Policy Chair for the Sarasota County Tourist Development Cultural/Arts Grants Program.
Kimberly Bleach, CFP®, CTFA
Kimberly Bleach is a Managing Director and Private Client Advisor with Bank of America Private Bank in Sarasota, Florida. She works closely with ultra-high-net-worth families and individuals, helping them to create wealth management strategies based on immediate, mid-term and long-term priorities. Her consultative approach underscores the value of listening and engaging in ongoing dialogues to understand each client’s evolving life and legacy goals. Kimberly is committed to providing a boutique-like service experience while delivering the extensive resources of a global institution. She leads a team of specialists who can offer strategies for philanthropy and investment management; trust and estate planning services; and structured credit solutions. The team’s experience includes helping clients design and implement strategies for managing private business interests, restricted stock, farm and ranch holdings, and real estate investments. Kimberly has over 20 years of financial services experience as a private client manager, regional credit advisor and trust officer. She joined Bank of America Private Bank (formerly U.S. Trust) in 2010. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and holds the Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) designation. Kimberly graduated from Stetson University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. In the community, Kimberly has had leadership roles with several organizations. Currently, she serves on the board of Charitable Gift Planners of Southwest Florida and the advisory council of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. Previously, she was board secretary of the Asolo Repertory Theatre and a board member of Pines of Sarasota. Kimberly is a member and past president of the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council. She is an active member of Sarasota Yacht Club, serving on the membership and SYC Cares committees.
Susie Bowie is the executive director of Manatee Community Foundation. She leads her team in working with donors, nonprofits and leaders to strengthen and enhance the community through philanthropy, education, and service. Prior to her leadership role at MCF, Bowie was the Vice President of Philanthropic Education and Marketing at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, where she worked in various roles for 11 years and spearheaded the launch of The Giving Partner and The Giving Challenge, two initiatives that sparked informed charitable giving in the region. She was a Hull Fellow with the Southeastern Council on Foundations and has received awards for her work in public relations and dedication to leadership.
She is a member of Leadership Florida Class XXXII. Susie attended the University of Florida and graduated with honors in 1998 with a B.S. in Environmental Science.
Charla M. Burchett is a partner in the Sarasota office of Shutts & Bowen LLP, where she is a member of the Private Client Services Practice Group.
Richard R. Gans
Richard Gans is a shareholder in the Sarasota, Florida, firm of Fergeson, Skipper, Shaw, Keyser, Baron & Tirabassi, P.A. He received his preparatory education at Cornell University (B.A. 1980) and the University of Michigan (M.A. 1985). Mr. Gans received his legal education at the University of Washington (J.D. 1988) and the University of Florida (LL.M. in Taxation 1992). He was the Associate Editor-in-Chief of The Washington Law Review.
Mr. Gans was admitted to the Bar in 1988 in the State of Washington, and in 1994 in Florida. His Bar Association memberships include: The Florida Bar, Sarasota County Bar Association and Washington State Bar Association. Mr. Gans serves as the probate and trust column editor for The Florida Bar Journal. He is Chair of the RPPTL Section’s Estate and Trust Tax Planning Committee (where, as a committee member, he was primarily responsible for the drafting of Florida’s new disclaimer law, Chapter 739 of the Florida Statutes).
Mr. Gans also serves on the RPPTL IRA and employee benefits, asset preservation, and charitable organizations and planning committees, and is a member of the Section’s Executive Council. Mr. Gans is a member and past President of the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council, and currently serves as a Charitable Gift Planners of Southwest Florida board member. He is Adjunct Professor at Manatee Community College, where he teaches the wills, trusts and estate course in MCC’s paralegal certification program. He speaks Mandarin Chinese.
Mr. Gans is certified by The Florida Bar as a Board Certified Wills, Trusts and Estates Lawyer, and is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC). Mr. Gans is named in the June 2007 issue of Florida Super Lawyers, a distinction awarded only to the top 5% of attorneys in the State of Florida.
Jacqueline House, MBA CFRE
Jacqueline House, Vice President of Communications and Community Engagement for Safe Children Coalition, Inc. is a native Floridian, and South Florida transplant by way of Fort Myers. She arrived in Sarasota and at Safe Children Coalition in October 2020. She brings with her over 10 years of leadership and fundraising experiences with non-profits in child welfare, education, and human services. Her background includes work with Children’s Home Society, St. Thomas University, Goodwill Industries, and Women In Distress of Broward County. She has previously served on various professional and community boards such as the Association of Professional Researchers, the Zonta Club of Miami Lakes, and Quality Life Center of Southwest Florida. She currently serves on the program committee of the Association of Fundraising Professionals -Southwest Florida Chapter. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Central Florida, a Master of Business Administration from Hodges University, and is a Certified Fundraising Executive.
Barbara A. Jones, CPA/CFP®
Ms Jones joined Kerkering Barberio in 1997. She has 20 years of experience in the banking industry in senior management.
Ronald E. Koepsel
Ron Koepsel and his wife, Betsy, live in Sarasota. Ron is a Principal with Sabal Trust Company having joined the firm in 2007 when Sabal opened its newest office in the Sarasota market to provide Wealth and Investment Management services.
Ron is a graduate of Indiana University, received his Law Degree from Northern Illinois University College of Law and is licensed to practice law in both Illinois and Florida.
During his 30 years in the Wealth Management, Estate Planning and Trust Administration areas, Ron has served in a variety of roles providing counsel and expertise to individuals and organizations. He is a member of the Sarasota County Bar Association, Past President of the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council and is a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. He has served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County as well as on the Board of Trustees of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Melodie Rich is a tax partner with Mauldin & Jenkins and has more than 25 years of experience in providing a wide range of both individual and business tax services. She specializes in Estate Planning, including income tax planning for trusts and estates. Melodie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Central Florida. She received her CPA license from the State of Florida in 1994.
Melodie is a strong supporter of the community. She serves many organizations in addition to being the Treasurer of Charitable Gift Planners of Southwest Florida her roles include, Treasurer of Realize Bradenton, Inc.and board member/past President for the Estate Planning Council of Manatee County, Inc.,County, Inc., and past Treasurer of Children’s Guardian Fund and the Literacy Council of Sarasota. She is also a member of the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council, FICPA, and the AICPA. Melodie is graduate of Leadership Manatee and Sarasota and she is a native of Manatee County, where she resides with her husband and two children.
Lee Ann Rodriguez, MA, MBA, DBA
Lee Ann Rodriguez is an accomplished bilingual (English & Spanish) professional with over 20 years of combined experience across the non-for-profit, higher education, government and private sectors. Her expertise consists of resource development, including fundraising, proposal writing and grant management, research administration and strategic planning for operations, programs, and research. Lee Ann’s comprehensive experience and knowledge include philanthropic gifts from individuals and grants from national, community, private and family foundations as well as restricted grants, agreements, subawards and contracts from federal and state agencies.
Lee Ann is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southwest Florida Chapter, and National Council of University Research Administrators in addition to serving as a board member for the Charitable Gift Planners of Southwest Florida. Currently the Director of Philanthropy at Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, Lee Ann is charged with securing the organization’s fundraising revenue required to protect land and water in southwest Florida forever. Among others, her past organizations include New College of Florida, Florida’s public liberal arts honor college, and Para la Naturaleza of the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico, where she received the Citizen Science Champion of Change 2013 award from the President of the United States.
Lee Ann received her Doctorate of Business Administration at the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. At the State University of Puerto Rico she earned three degrees – a Master’s in Business Administration, a Master’s in Translation and a Bachelor’s in Modern Languages.
Declan J. Sheehy
Declan J. Sheehy is currently Director of Philanthropy at New College of Florida. His past roles include Senior Advancement Officer at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, Associate Director of Development at The Ringling and Assistant Director of the Smith Fund at Smith College. He has been involved in the nonprofit world for over 15+ years and has raised significant funds for a number of organizations. Declan has served on the board of Association of Fundraising Professionals for Southwest Florida, Tanglewood Business Partners and co-founded the successful Berkshire County, Mass., Women's Financial Empowerment series and was state president of the Massachusetts Jump$tart Coalition. He is currently state president of Florida Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.
Elizabeth Rabbitt Stephen, CFP®, CTFA
Vice President, Wealth Advisor at Truist Wealth
Immediate Past President,
Elizabeth Stephen, CFP®, CTFA, is Vice President within the SunTrust GenSpring Private Wealth Management in Southwest Florida. Elizabeth has worked in the financial industry for over 14 years in the Sarasota market. She has earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification, Certified Trust Financial Advisor (CTFA), and is an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF). Elizabeth was awarded a full academic scholarship to The Ohio State University, where she majored in Family Financial Management which fulfilled all her CFP coursework and minored in Corporate Finance. She has also successfully completed Florida Graduate Trust School. Elizabeth worked for SunTrust in Sarasota as a Client Advisor from 2010 until 2016 and rejoined the SunTrust team just prior to the merger of equals with BB&T in 2019. During her previous tenure at SunTrust, she was on the Chairman’s Team and ranked as the #1 PWM Client Advisor in 2011 for all of SunTrust. Her role harnesses the combined strength of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and GenSpring Private Wealth Management for high net worth clients.
Elizabeth’s focus is advising on the development and implementation of financial planning strategies to help clients define and meet their financial priorities. She follows a disciplined process of assessing a client’s financial situation, forming and executing an appropriate plan, then monitors and rebalances that plan to continuously meet client objectives.
In addition to her volunteer service on the Board of Directors for the Charitable Gift Planners of Southwest Florida, Elizabeth currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Humane Society of Sarasota County and is the new incoming Chair of their Finance Committee. She is a CFP Board Mentor to women pursuing their CFP and is a voting member of the Braden River Elementary School Advisory Council. In addition, she is an active member of the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance, serving as a member of their Economic Development Committee and was recognized as a Next Gen Honoree in 2018. She is a proud member of the Estate Planning Council of Southwest Florida and the Asolo Professional Advisors network. Elizabeth, her husband, two daughters and two dogs reside in the Lakewood Ranch area.
James B. Tollerton, CLU, ChFC
Jim Tollerton is President of Professional Benefits. A former trust officer, he has been in the insurance and benefits business since 1970. He specializes in executive compensation and benefits, as well as working with other advisors on charitable giving opportunities. A graduate of Florida State, he is a former Trustee of the Ringling Museum, and Board member of Sarasota Memorial’s Community Health Corporation and the FSU College of Medicine. He formerly served on many local non-profit boards and as an elected Board member of Sarasota Memorial. Along with his daughter/business partner, Taylor T. Collins, Jim sponsors the EXCEL (employee appreciation) program at Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
Dan Vigne, CFP®
Vice-President, Senior Wealth Strategist,
Dan Vigne is a dedicated Wealth Strategist with over 25 years of financial experience. Utilizing Northern Trust's proprietary Life Driven Wealth Management process, Dan works with high net worth clients to provide holistic solutions geared at aligning client's financial resources with their personal goals to create an integrated strategy that empowers clients with a complete understanding of how they may achieve their lifetime goals.
Dan received a B.S. degree in Economics from Florida State University and currently holds the designation of Certified Financial Planner. A native Floridian, Dan lives locally with his wife Jennifer and their three children.
A longtime local philanthropy leader with significant experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and community partnerships, Tom Waters joined Easterseals Southwest Florida in 2014 as President and CEO.
Previously, Tom has held leadership positions at nonprofits including Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, Mile High United Way in Denver, Colorado and Community Foundation of Sarasota County. In his current role, Tom leads one of Southwest Florida’s oldest and most successful nonprofits serving children, teens, and adults with developmental disabilities. He is a current Charitable Gift Planners of Southwest Florida board member.
Jay Young is Vice President of Philanthropy at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. As a member of senior staff, Jay oversees all facets of the philanthropy team, working with prospective and current donors to connect them with the causes they are most passionate about to ensure their philanthropic goals are accomplished in our community.
Suellen Field, CFRE
Suellen Field is the Senior Director of Development at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Involved in fundraising since 1986, she received her certification in 1991. She has been active in volunteer organizations such as Junior League of Sarasota and Zonta, and was the first female president of the Rotary Club of Sarasota. Florida State University selected her as fundraiser of the year in 2003 and she was nominated by the Southwest Florida Council of AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals) as national fundraiser of the year, the first time this organization presented a nomination. She has been at Ringling Museum since 1997 and feels fortunate to be able to call Sarasota home. She is a really sweet lady with a wonderful smile. A true southern lady!
Jim Harman is the recently-retired executive vice president of New College Foundation of Sarasota, Florida. He had held that position since 1995, serving briefly as interim president in 2003. Jim has been involved with the non-profit world most of his working life. He served as the chief development officer for five organizations, including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the National Trust for Historical Preservation, and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
In addition, he has served as a management consultant to about 40 associations, educational institutions, and other non-profit organizations.
Jim is a former adjunct instructor in Fund Raising Management at George Washington University and former lecturer on fund raising for the American Society of Association Executives Foundation and other professional organizations.
He has been a board member of several local organizations, including the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Charitable Gift Planners of Southwest Florida and Art Center Sarasota. Jim is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and pursued graduate work there and at the Hague Academy of International Law in Holland. He served with the Army Corps of Engineers as a staff sergeant during the Korean War.
Jim is the father of two sons and two daughters. His wife, Carollee, died in 2005.