SB2 July 28 Symposium on Transformational Change is a Big Success


From L to R: Keynote speaker Lilly Weinberg, moderator Wes Roberts, panelists Dr. Michael Crosby, Johnette Isham, Dean Eisner and Mireya Eavey, and opening presenter Jaime DiDomenico.
Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

It is no secret that the Sarasota and Bradenton communities pride themselves in supporting nonprofits and their missions. The high occurrence of philanthropically planned discussions and forums throughout the year are an indicator that our community and nonprofits are hungry for innovations in maximizing giving potential and managing the inevitable change that can further grow their outreach.


CoolToday President & CEO Jaime DiDomenico stressed the importance of community giving. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Last Thursday, SRQ magazine hosted a packed-out SB2: Inspiring Transformational Change breakfast symposium at The Francis in downtown Sarasota. As guests filled their plates with a delicious spread of morning favorites, event sponsor Jaime DiDomenico of Cool Today/Plumbing Today/Energy Today welcomed those in attendance and spoke to the importance of company-wide giving. Cool Today is known for giving to a variety of organizations including Goodwill Manasota that foster a strong sense of community and develop our region through the economic and business sector.


Lilly Weinberg of the Knight Foundation delivered the keynote presentation. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Keynote speaker Lilly Weinberg, Director of Community Foundations for the Knight Foundation gave a presentation focused on transformational change within our communities. Part of the Knight Foundation’s mission is to invest in civic innovators who help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity and create a culture of engagement.

Lilly emphasized that talent actually seeks place first and then find their job, therefore place can really determine upward mobility. “We live in America – the American Dream, but that’s dependent on your zip code,” she said.

Weinberg shared her five tips for innovation within our community and the non-profit world.

  1. 1. Take Risks: start with small incremental change
  2. 2. Think big: clearly define your goals, outcomes and then measure
  3. 3. Fail fast or iterate, see what works and then scale
  4. 4. Develop and lean on a diverse cohort and network
  5. 5. Embed learning and communications within your organization


Panelists answer questions at Inspiring Transformational Change. From L to R: Dr. Michael Crosby, Johnette Isham, Wes Roberts (center, moderator), Dean Eisner and Mireya Eavey. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Between bites guests heard from the minds behind some of the region’s most inspiring organizations. Panelists hailed from every sector: Johnette Isham of Realize Bradenton, Dean Eisner of Ringling College of Art and Design’s Board of Trustees, Mireya Eavey of United Way Suncoast and Dr. Michael Crosby of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. Panelists were passionate about the importance of evoking change in the community.


Dr. Michael Crosby of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium dspeaks to accepting change. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

“Changing is not always easy but change is the law of life,” a said Dr. Michael Crosby, President and CEO of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. “If one looks only at the past or even at just at the present, you will miss the future.” This was a consistent theme among panelists when discussing the future of our community and the organizations within it. 

Dean Eisner, Chairman of Ringling College of Art and Design’s Board of Trustees referenced the disconnect between young talent in the area and local businesses seeking that young talent. “Our community has assets we are not deploying as effectively as we could,”  he said. 

To that point, Johnette Isham, Founding Director of Realize Bradenton agreed that success is achieved through community involvement. “I don’t like the word change; I like the word evolution,” she said, it should be an organic process with input from multiple people with a singular purpose. 

When faced with the tough question as to whether nonprofits should hold themselves to the same demanding market-based accountability and professional operations as for-profit businesses, Mireya Eavey, President of United Way Suncoast couldn’t wait to jump in. “I don’t know . . . maybe we all need to be in a little tent and not have office space, but at the end of the day we are a business, and I think we are a very important business, and the work that we do is so important to the companies that live in the communities that we work in, because we are taking care of and the people and we are taking care of the workers.”


Representatives from SB2 Series Sponsor The Resort at Longboat Key Club at Inspiring Transformational Change. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

We couldn’t have learned the incredible things from this motivational discussion without our series sponsors: CS&L CPAs, The Resort at Longboat Key Club, Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and of course our event sponsor Cool TodayThank you for your support of the SB2 series, but most importantly, thank you for the ways you give back and help people in our community each and every day. Your example inspires us.


Representatives from SB2 Series Sponsor CS&L CPAs at Inspiring Transformational Change.
Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

A gallery of images from SB2: Inspiring Transformational Change is available online. The 2016-2017 SB2 season will be launching on Thursday, September 22 with SB2 Good Growth: Economic Indicators. For 2016-2017 SB2 season passes and more information, visit

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