SRQ MEDIA “ROARS” at the Women in Business Leadership and Awards, April 27



From left to right: SRQ Media’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Ashley Grant, 2017 Trailblazer Award Recipient, Nancy Bernardini, 2017 Hear Me Roar Keynote Speaker, Ria Rersad and 2015 Hear Me Roar Keynote Speaker, Pam Van Der Lee. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 


On Thursday, April 27, the mighty roar of SRQ Media’s “Hear Me Roar” Women in Business Leadership and Awards Luncheon echoed from Bradenton all the way to Venice as this year’s winners and finalists were announced to a sold-out crowd at The Francis in Downtown Sarasota.


Guests shopped Jo Malone presented by Saks Fifth Avenue Sarasota during the Pop Up Boutique experience. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 


Guests enjoyed a glass of bubbly while perusing through pop up boutiques representing some of our favorite local retailers, including Barton and Gray, Diamond Vault, Jo Malone and Laura Mercier courtesy of Saks Fifth Avenue Sarasota, New Balance Sarasota, PAINT Nail Bar, Philosophy and Vines, Pineapple Yoga, Scout and Molly’s Boutique and The Ritz Carlton, Sarasota Spa.

Keynote Speaker, Ria Persad speaks on self confidence and enjoying the journey you are on. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 

After Mike McMullan of Seaside Bank kicked off the afternoon and welcomed those in attendance, the multifaceted keynote speaker, mathematician, classical musician and child prodigy Ria Persad, CEO of StatWeather spoke on her empowering journey of determination, courage and her belief in maintaining a ‘happiness perspective’. In addressing the audience, she noted, “The joy in life isn’t in ‘arriving’ – it’s in the journey itself.  We seldom ever ‘arrive’, and that ‘arrival’ doesn’t usually take the shape we think it will.  99.99% of our life is spent in the journey, so let’s enjoy this very moment and time we live in to the very fullest. Our greatest inspiration and our greatest catalysts in life can be from our places of greatest suffering, as we rise up from those places with strength and courage.”


2017 Trailblazer Award Recipient, Nancy Bernardini speaks on the importance of mentorship. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 


In receiving 2017 SRQ Trailblazer Award, honoree Nancy Bernardini, General Manager of Gurwitch Products/President of Laura Mercier and RéVive and leader of the $200 multi million dollar global luxury cosmetics and skincare enterprise, brought the house down and elicited peals of laughter from the crowd with the hilarious opening of her acceptance speech, “I’m supposed to follow an astro-physicist? – I sell lipstick!”, she joked and continued with her connection-centric philosophy, “This day is about you. Celebrating you and your accomplishments and applauding you for your leadership and mentorship. I am a believer in the transformative power of mentorship.  I have had a strong mentor throughout my career and I actively mentor others. My advice to you is to tap into that power. Mentor others, seek out a mentor yourself, connect with others.”


SRQ Media’s CEO and President, Lisl Liang announces the 2017 Leadership Circle. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 


Once the awards ceremony was underway, stellar women leaders from diverse regional industries were revealed by SRQ Media CEO and President Lisl Liang sharing poignant, inspirational, empowering quotes from each woman. Hailing from Tampa, South Carolina and even New York, the 2017 Women In Business judges spent time getting to know each applicant, seeing the world from their perspective and taking hours and weeks of deliberation to render their decisions.


Champion for Children, Graci McGillicuddy receives 2017 Women in Business Award and commemorative pin courtesy of Diamond Vault. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 


And without further ado, announcing . . . this year’s winner and finalists!

Women in Business 2017 Leadership Circle

Erin McLeod, President, The Friendship Centers, winner
Nikki Taylor , President & CEO, Taylor & Company, LLC, winner
Graci McGillicuddy, Champion for Children, winner
Jennifer Vigne, President, Education Foundation of Sarasota, winner
Karen Windon, Deputy County Administrator, Manatee County Government, winner
Anna von Gehr, Senior Director of Development, John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, finalist
Veronica Brandon Miller, Vice President Foundation, Goodwill Manasota, finalist
Liz Brookins, Senior Marketing Coordinator, Willis A. Smith Construction, finalist
Renee Preininger, Realtor, Sarasota Trust Realty Company, finalist
Susan Moseley, President, Moseley Investment Management, finalist
Shannon Rohrer-Phillips, Co Founder, Visible Men Academy, finalist
Debbie Smith, CEO, Two Trails, Inc., finalist


Michael Chokr of Diamond Vault displays the 2017 Hear Me Roar commemorative pins during the Pop Up Boutique experience. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 


When accepting their award, each winner and finalist received a commemorative pin created by SRQ Media in collaboration with Michael Chokr and the Diamond Vault team. Each pin featured a roaring lioness holding a gem in her mouth: a diamond representing Leadership Circle winners and a ruby representing Leadership Circle finalists.


2014, 2015, 2016 and the newly initiated 2017 Leadership Circle ambassadors at the Hear Me Roar Leadership and Awards Luncheon. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan.


Ambassadors from the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Leadership Circles joined the newest inductees as they begin their journey into the Women in Business Initiative as they inspire, collaborate and lead each other and the community in the coming year.


From left to right: Cindi Johnston, SRQ Media’s Executive Publisher, Wes Roberts and Seaside Bank’s Steve Altier at the Hear Me Roar Leadership and Awards Luncheon. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 


A huge thank you to our sponsors who have partnered with us to bring the Women in Business Initiative to life: Seaside Bank, USF Sarasota-Manatee, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Barton & Gray, CS&L CPAs, New Balance Sarasota, Diamond Vault, The Ritz Carlton Sarasota, Sophie’s at Saks Fifth Avenue Sarasota, Muse, Gold Star Limousines, Victoria Blooms, CCAV, PAINT Nail Bar, Scout & Molly’s Boutique, Saks Fifth Avenue Sarasota, Philosophy and Vines, Pineapple Yoga and last but most certainly not least, The Francis. We couldn’t do it without you!


From left to right: Mother Daughter duo, Marjorie Broughton and Nikki Taylor pose with Kimberly Manooshian at the Hear Me Roar Leadership and Awards Luncheon. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 


To view a full gallery of images from the 2017 Hear Me Roar Leadership and Awards luncheon click here. Stay tuned for more Women in Business stories as we enter our new 2017-18 season. To download the 2017 Women in Business Awards Supplement, click here. 

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