Category Archives: SRQ Events

Briefs about SRQ Media Event Programs— SB2 Regional Symposia, Bal Masqué, SRQ Home of The Year, Best of SRQ Local and the Annual Hear Me Roar Luncheon.

SMARTgirl Class of 2018 Roars at Annual Mentorship Summit and Luncheon, April 6

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SMARTgirl Class of 2018. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan 

On March 16, SRQ MEDIA hosted the second annual SMARTgirl Leadership and Mentorship Summit at the Hyatt Regency engaging over 60 girls from both Sarasota and Manatee Counties with 28 mentors representing our region’s many diverse industries from graphic design, programming and virtual reality to theatre, marine biology and medicine. The luncheon consisted of a curated mentoring program aimed to engage the young women in soft skills training, mentorship and career imaginings.

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SMARTgirl students from Girls Inc. eager for their workshops at SMARTgirl. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

“SMARTgirl is all about the power of connection and possibility.  In connecting these young girls with mentors who can show them real-life examples of opportunities they may not have been aware of or felt were out of reach, we can help to make their dreams a viable reality and set them on a course of success and fulfillment,” Ashley Grant, Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships of SRQ MEDIA stated.

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SMARTgirl Mentor and Owner of Pineapple Yoga Studio, Claudia Baeza engaging with SMARTgirl student Rezlyn Krueger during Dream Career Incubator Workshop. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan 


The summit kicked off with the Dream Career Incubator workshop where girls were able to ask questions, get advice and gain real world experience about their dream career from our mentors. Hailing from organizations such as Mote Marine Laboratory, State College of Florida, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Humane Society of Manatee County, SIFT Bakehouse, Ringling College of Art and Design, the Sarasota Police Department and Pineapple Yoga, our mentors were eager to share their bank of knowledge with the next generation of women leaders. 

“This event is about helping girls achieve their dreams. Each of us determines our own happiness, and if we are able to help one girl believe in herself and understand she can conquer any challenge ahead to make her dreams reality, then we have helped her on the journey to true happiness,” explained Women In Business Leadership Circle Member and SMARTgirl Mentor, Joy Randels.


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SMARTgirls search for matching beads during Intro to Coding Workshop. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

After a quick snack break, the girls were back in action and onto the Coding Adventure Worksop. Their mission: To plan their dream adventure based by utilizing a series of bead codes for each selection, which included a rocket ship as a mode of transportation and a unicorn as an adventure buddy. Once the girls chose a coding sequence from each category, they created their very own bracelet using the beads to reflect each coding sequence.

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Girls form a superpower group to create team logo, name and mission. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

In between workshops and the luncheon, participants formed teams based on their chosen superpower preferences and collaborated with girls from other groups to develop a name, logo and mission as a team.  The result?  Strategic teamwork, analysis and amazing artwork.

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India White speaks on overcoming obsticles during 2018 SMARTgirl Luncheon. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Between bites of decadent alfredo chicken pasta, participants heard from 3 power house speakers, all emphasizing that we have the power to succeed through empowerment, tenacity and spitfire determination.

Our first speaker, India White, was presented with a huge semi trailer of very sour lemons at a very young age and made the choice, in spite of incredible odds, to become a super achiever. India explained how at the age of 16 she found herself homeless finding refuge at the Sarasota YMCA Homeless Shelter. Refusing to feel sorry for herself, India viewed her circumstances as an opportunity to start fresh and change her life for the better.

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Keynote Speaker, Jennifer Vigne from the Education Foundation of Sarasota County gives a powerful message to the SMARTgirl Class of 2018. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

SMARTgirl Keynote Speaker, Jennifer Vigne from the Education Foundation of Sarasota County gave an uplifting presentation on S—M—A—R—T girl with 5 life principles everyone should live by.

  • S- Start your day with a daily affirmation.
  • M- Make good choices.
  • A- Accept yourself.
  • R- Respect yourself.
  • T- Take time to laugh.
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Careeer Ninja Speaker, Ria Persad of StatWeather reminds SMARTgirls to follow their dreams. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan 

“SMARTgirl embodies who we are as women: resilient and smart, full of hopes and aspirations.  SMARTgirl gives young women access to role models, encouragement and a blueprint for making their dreams come through. SMARTgirl teaches girls to overcome and to be successful in life,” explained CEO of StatWeather and SMARTgirl Career Ninja Speaker, Ria Persad. She went on to encourage each and every girl to follow their dreams whether it takes a few months or 20 years to achieve. She ended her speach with 3 powerful words: ” Never Give Up.”

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Coding expert, Andrea Cannistra displays Dream Adventures on the screen during the luncheon. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan  

To close things out, Andrea Cannistra from atLarge, Inc. took the stage to present the 2018 SMARTgirl Coding Adventures based off of the bracelets particpants had created earlier in the day. Girls raised their hands high in the sky for a chance to come on stage and see their adventure coded right before their eyes.

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SMARTgirl mentors and participants work together during Superhero activity. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

We live in a society that puts pressure on girls at a very young age. 12-year-olds are already going on diets and many believe that they’re valued more for their appearance than abilities. As mentors, community leaders and most importantly, fellow women, we need to break this cycle and help these young women realize that they are more than their looks, more than what society tells them to be. We need to create the standard and guide them along so that they surpass all expectations. I’m honored to have had the opportunity to mentor at SMARTgirl. It wholly reinforced the idea that instead of competing with one another, we need to educate and empower each other. Female empowerment is a force to be reckoned with, said SMARTgirl Mentor Kristen Hogentogler when asked why she thought it was important to mentor.

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Career Ninja Speaker, Ria Persad and SMARTgirl Mentor Shana Nichols pose with students at 2018 SMARTgirl Luncheon. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan 

We would like to thank the Hyatt Regency, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, New Balance of Sarasota and University Park and PSAV for investing in over 60 futures and creating a dynamic day for each of these young women.

We would also like to thank the Sarasota YMCA, Girls Inc., Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota County and Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida as our founding partner organizations for engaging many of the girls who were in the room. 

For a full gallery of photos from the SMARTgirl Luncheon click here.

To view the 2017 SMARTgirl video click here.



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. 

SRQ RUMBLE Reports Out: Has Our Region Failed Our Young Professionals, February 28


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Left to right: Panelists Jacob Grollman, Jag Grewal, Raymmar Tirado, Wes Roberts (center, host), Frank Maggio, Candice McEylea and Doug Grosso battle it out at the SRQ Rumble. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan


SRQ MEDIA transformed the Powel Crosley Estate into an academic arena where strategic arguments, amiable jabs and rhetoric were used to debate a topic some consider “too hot to handle” at the launch of the SRQ Rumble on Tuesday, February 28th. The purpose of SRQ Rumbles is to provide the community with articulate, well-researched, presentations on both sides of the motion structured around transparent and civil public dialogue.


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Rumble event sponsor, Kelly Clark from the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau welcomes guests. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 


After opening remarks from event sponsor Kelly Clark of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, event moderator, Eric Massey discussed the modified Oxford Style debate guidelines and presented the motion stating “Our region has failed our young professionals.” To further develop perspective-taking skills in advancing civil dialogue, teams were randomly assigned and eager to argue their point in what some considered a polite and cultured intellectual blood sport–winner take all in a battle of wits and ideas.


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Event moderator, Eric Massey presents the format of the Rumble and motion for the evening. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 


Criminal defense attorney Jacob Grollman, of Glenn and Hibbert PA, began the debate arguing that the region has indeed failed young professionals. “We continue to discuss this problem but nobody offers any solution,” he stated. Jag Grewal, Commercial Real Estate Broker with Ian Black Real Estate, added that county leaders failed to attract North American Roofing which in turn lost high-paying jobs for the region. To close out the argument for the motion, Raymmar Tirado, Chief Disruption Officer for Clear Idea Labs, implied the departure of numerous Sarasota-trained college grads from the region, further proves that the needs of millennials are not being considered. “All you have to do is ask a young person,” Tirado said. “They do not get involved because it is not advantageous to be involved.”

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Criminal Defense Attorney, Jacob Grollman presents the opening argument in support of the motion. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan.


On the opposing side, Frank Maggio, of Centennial Bank suggested that an infrastructure has been in place for 15 years that empowers professionals, but it’s on young people to become more engaged. “The community is doing what it can to attract and engage young professionals,” he said. “There are many of us that are actually doing something and influencing things.” Doug Grosso, a broker associate with Dwell Real Estate, said many millennials are living in the area, either on their own or with their parents and noted that the Sarasota-Bradenton market lags behind only Orlando and Dallas in terms of business development and job growth. Candice McElyea, owner of ThreeSixOh PR, noted many successful professionals today grew up in the region and chose to stay here because of the opportunities and quality of life. “The people I went to school with, everybody made a name for themselves,” she said.

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Candice McEylea argues that the region has not failed young professionals. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan.


Audience members were able to ask their hard-hitting questions about the motion during the Q & A portion of the evening. Both debate teams were begging for more time to answer each thought-provoking and concise question that was posed.

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Event host, Wes Roberts facilitates audience Q & A. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan.


Onlookers weighed in on who made the best case by either voting “for” or “against” the motion upon arrival and again at end of the debate. The winner of the SRQ Rumble was decided by which side swayed the most votes to their side.

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Cheif Disruption Officer, Raymmar Tirado presents closing argument supporting the motion that our region has failed young professionals. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 


In the end, it was determined that the region has failed young professionals with an 11 percent sway of the crowd as opposed to the 3 percent sway on the other side. SRQ Rumbles serve as a reminder that we can disagree mightily, and then walk away friends through evoking change in our region.

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From left to right: Rumble champions,  Jacob Grollman, Raymmar Tirado and Jag Grewal celebrate their victory. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 


To view a full gallery of images from the February, 28th SRQ Rumble, click here.

The next SRQ Rumble will take place on Thursday, June 22 at the Powel Crosley Estate  on the impact school vouchers would have on public education in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.

Motion: School vouchers will harm public education more than they will help.

Purchase your tickets at: and join us for the next “rumble!” Seats are limited at the location, so reserve yours early.

Winners Recognized at the 2017 HOTY Awards Ceremony

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The March 2017 edition of SRQ Magazine has officially hit newsstands and with it comes one of our most popular features, the annual SRQ Home of the Year Competition. We recently hosted our SRQ Home of the Year winners and contributors at SRQ Studios for an awards ceremony and celebration where we distributed the very first launch copies of the magazine which were snapped up within minutes.


SRQ Sales and Business Development Associate, Suzanne Munroe (right) congratulates Dales Parks of D Parks Architects (left) and photographer Wayne Eastep (center) on their winning project. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan.

This year SRQ Magazine received over 40 entries in the categories of Overall Home Over $2 Million, Overall Home $1-$2 Million, Overall Home Under $1 Million, Renovation/Remodel, Landscape Design/Pool, Sustainable/Green Home, Bathroom and Kitchen. Each year the competition delivers the most stunning examples if architecture, construction, design and landscaping. Contestants submitted their projects along with photos and a written concept statement to present their submission—including significant techniques and materials used and challenges encountered along the way.

Josh Wynne and his team at Josh Wynne Construction (center) win big at the 2017 Home of the Year Awards Ceremony. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Our panel of qualified judges hailed from regions outside the geographic area of the HOTY competition and represented excellence in the areas of architecture and interior design. They reviewed entries based on innovation, functionality and overall design aesthetic to name SRQs Home of the Year Platinum, Gold and Silver award winners. The SRQ Home of the Year Competition is presented by SRQ Magazine and sponsored by Tempus Pro Services, a remarkable company that handles full-scale home automation throughout Florida’s West Coast. Their team is skilled in designing whole home systems that cover everything from digital networking to security, lighting and audio/visual. Thank you for your continuous support of this ever growing competition!

Jacob Broadway from Tempus Pro Services, Home of the Year sponsor, speaks to attendees about the company and the services they provide. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

To view a gallery of photos from this year’s Home of the Year awards ceremony, click here. And to view the amazing homes and survey the incredible talent of the architects, builders and landscape companies in Sarasota and Bradenton, pick up your copy of the March 2017 edition of SRQ Magazine today!

If you can’t get enough of gorgeous homes (like us), you should join us for the upcoming Modern Home Symposium on March 9th at SRQ Studios!  Hear from our community’s most notable forces in design/construction and the inspiration behind some of Sarasota’s most iconic homes. A $5 cover includes one glass of wine or beer and light bites. Please RSVP to

Reserve Your Tickets 2017 Hear Me Roar Leadership and Awards Luncheon, April 27


SRQ Magazine will host the third annual Women in Business Hear Me Roar Leadership and Awards Luncheon on Thursday, April 27, 2017 at The Francis in downtown Sarasota. We will recognize this year’s Women in Business nominees, our judges, keynote speaker, past Leadership Circle ambassadors and the “Hear Me Roar” Trailblazer Award recipient and announce the finalists and winners who will be inducted into this year’s esteemed 2017 WIB Leadership Circle.

To purchase your tickets to the SRQ Women in Business Hear Me Roar Leadership and Awards Luncheon and for more details on the program, visit SRQHEARMEROAR.COM.

An Empowering Evening of Connection and Collaboration at SRQ SkillSHARE, February 9


The February 9, 2017 class of SkillSHARE mentors and participants. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

The SRQ Media Studio hosted a powerhouse group of women from a variety of professions and backgrounds at the February 9 SkillSHARE Mentorship Summit. Women in Business Leadership Circle mentors along with community guest mentors exchanged experience-based guidance with participants in moving rounds of deep dive engagement and dialogue.

“SRQ Magazine was thrilled to host another incredible evening of connection, brainstorming and mentorship at the recent SkillSHARE. Filled with highly engaged professional women from a myriad of fields, the night was filled with connection, valuable insights and a wealth of ‘Aha moments,'” said Ashley Grant, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for SRQ MEDIA.


Strategically paired with highly experienced mentors, participants sought counsel on everything from navigating various career paths and business expansion to maintaining a business and work life balance with four rounds of 15-minute concentrated mini-sessions designed to pick up where the small talk ends.

“As a young professional, I realize that the true benefit of mentorship is the opportunity to challenge your worldview and define what you want from your career and life. To be able to speak with and gain insight from a network of strong female leaders is a lifetime opportunity,” said SkillSHARE mentee Michelle Williams.


We couldn’t help but notice a spark in the room, which was undoubtedly the spirit of connection, collaboration and empowerment. Mentors and mentees alike so delighted in learning and engaging with each other that time was extended during each session to allow for more in-depth and insightful conversations.

“Growth happens when someone has the courage to tell you the truth – what you’re excelling at, where the opportunities are, and most importantly, what you need to stop doing. I’ve been privileged over the years to have many respected women hold up this truth-telling mirror up for me. I’m honored to do the same and help women continue to grow as leaders in business,” said SkillSHARE guest mentor Julie Henry. 


“SRQ Skillshare was a unique night of connecting. The speed element of multiple mentees/mentors kept it fun and fast paced.  As a mentor, it not only felt good to give back, but some of the connections were great for me and exposed me to businesses in the area that I was not yet familiar. SRQ is excellent in finding fun ways to invest in the community,” said mentor Elizabeth Fisher of Selah Freedom


The SRQ MEDIA team would like to thank the extraordinary mentors and passionate participants who created innovative conversations and lasting impressions. Your questions were as thought provoking as they were courageous.

The next SkillSHARE Summit will take place on Thursday, June 15, 2017 from 5:00 pm-7:30 pm. To submit your application to participate in the June 2017 SkillSHARE, please click here to register .

If you would like to learn more and get engaged with the SRQ Women in Business initiative, consider joining us for the 3rd Annual Hear Me Roar Awards and Leadership Luncheon on Thursday, April 27 from 10:30 am-1:30 pm at The Francis. We’ve got an amazing guest Keynote Speaker and Trailblazer Award winner. Get the details and purchase your tickets at SRQHEARMEROAR.COM before they sell out!

Click here for more photos from the February 2017 summit!

Reserve Your Tickets SB2: Rumble, Has Our Region Failed Young Professionals? February 28


SRQ MEDIA invites you to attend the launch of our brand new initiative, SB2: RUMBLE on Tuesday, February 28, 2017, at the Powell Crosely Estate from 5:30-7:00 pm.

Has Our Region Failed Our Young Professionals?
Prepare to have your preconceptions challenged when the rhetoricians take the stage at SRQ’s SB2 Rumbles!

Can You Rock The Sway?
Join us at the Powel Crosley Mansion for lively debates on issues that some consider “too hot to handle” where our modified Oxford-style debate gives us civil discourse designed to sway through both factual information and rhetorical skill. Attendees are asked their position on the topic of the day before and after the debate. The success of the participants is judged on those they sway from their initial positions. SRQ launched SB2 to bring together our two sister-counties with collaborative programming, now, with our Rumbles, we will inspire a return to respectful disagreement, an admiration of the art of rhetoric and a reminder that we should always challenge our own preconceptions in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Tickets: $25/person; Students $15/person, use “YOUNGRUMBLE” for the promo code.

Buy your tickets today at SRQSB2.COM.

Thank you to Leadership Sarasota and Alumni for partnering with SRQ Magazine on the February 28 program.