SRQ Kicks Off Summer With An Evening Of Engagement and Empowerment at SkillSHARE, June 15


The June 15, 2016 class of SkillSHARE mentors and participants. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

SRQ Media kicked off the summer season with an evening of connection, engagement and empowerment at its SkillSHARE Mentorship Summit.


2017 Leadership Circle member, Erin McLead of The Friendship Centers and guest mentor, Claudia Baeza of Pineapple Yoga with SkillSHARE participant, Melanie Reda. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan 

SRQ Studios came alive with positive energy, enthusiasm and laughter as participants arrived to meet the Women In Business Leadership Circle and special guest mentors. Guests gathered in a circle to share their insights to questions designed to forge communication and connection with each other. From riding motorcycles, to spending time with children, running a new business, to yoga and crossword puzzles, mentors and mentees from incredibly diverse background shared highlights of their passions, what keeps them balanced and what adds meaning to their lives.

Powered by the Women In Business Initiative, SkillSHARE features the basics of mentorship concentrated into mini-sessions that encourage honest interactions and allow for spontaneous connection. Participants meet like-minded professionals, make valuable connections and get straight to the heart of their most burning questions about career and personal development.


The June 15, 2017 class of SkillSHARE mentors and participants shared their insights during icebreaker activity. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

“SkillSHARE is a type of ‘potential incubator’ where women of all ages and walks of life can come and connect with others in a safe environment to brainstorm creative solutions to challenges, learn practical tools to pursue their passions, and explore intelligent risk-taking all in an encouraging and supportive space that celebrates growing to each person’s full potential whether that be personal, professional or both. It is a very powerful thing to see these incredible women realize through the magic of connection and collaboration that the sky is the limit for them and we are so proud and thrilled to be able to facilitate this process,” said Ashley Grant, SRQ Media’s Vice President, Strategic Partnerships.




SkillSHARE mentor, Shannon Rohrer-Phillips of the Visible Men Academy answers mentee’s career oriented questions. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

With new friends, insights and connections, the group eagerly launched into mentoring breakout sessions in which skilled mentors met with participants for four rounds of 15-minute concentrated mini-sessions. Enthusiastic participants were armed with specific questions looking for advice from some of the regions top female entrepreneurs. SRQ’s skilled mentors shared their own experiences on participant’s questions on a myriad of topics from navigating the ladder to success and effectively communicating with team members to maintaining a business and work life balance. Mentors and mentees alike shared their delight in learning from each other and their in-depth conversations.

“Meeting these women, with all different careers and successes inspire me to be like them one day and give me hope for the future of women working together,” said SRQ Marketing Associate and SkillSHARE participant, Dylan Howell.


SkillSHARE mentor, Robin Dumas of Bombshell Hair and SkillSHARE participant, Dylan Howell engage in compelling discussion. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan 

As the evening concluded, the strong connections in the room were undeniable with many praising the format and above all atmosphere of this one of a kind networking event. “How powerful it was to participate in a room filled with dynamic and passionate women who care enough to share their expertise and who are open enough to ask wonderful questions as they seek to grow personally and professionally. I came away from the evening having learned a thing or two from the women I was there to mentor. Thank you, SRQ, for making SkillSHARE a part of the Women In Business program!” said SkillSHARE mentor and 2017 Women In Business Leadership Circle member, Erin McLeod.


Anna Duchene asks questions to SkillSHARE mentor, Erin McLead of The Friendship Centers. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

“I have been in the business world and interacting with people for over 25 years.  As a newcomer to Sarasota, I was excited to have the opportunity to engage with these ‘roaring women.’ This event was by the far the best resource to develop relationships with amazing female leaders in our area. I was touched by each of their honesty, dedication, and true concern for their businesses and each of our futures.  What a fabulous event and group of down to earth, beautiful inside and out- Powerful ladies.   I am truly humbled!” said SkillSHARE participant, Anna Duchene.


Left to right: Women In Business Leadership Circle members, Nikki Taylor and Angela Massaro-Fain with SkillSHARE guest mentor, Julie Henry. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

The SRQ MEDIA team would like to thank our engaging mentors who created innovative conversations and lasting impressions. To all our enthusiastic participants we thank you for allowing us to be a part of your journey as you continue to learn and grow throughout the community.

The next SkillSHARE Summit will take place on Thursday, February 15, 2018 from 5:00pm-7:30pm. To submit your application to participate in the February 2018 SkillSHARE, please click here to register.

For more information on the SRQ Women in Business Initiatives, visit us online at

Click here for more photos from the June 2017 summit!

Meet the Team: SRQ Welcomes Associate Producer of Client Services Phoebe Ray

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Meet Phoebe Ray, Associate Producer of Client Services. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan

It’s always exciting welcoming a new member to our SRQ MEDIA team. We recently welcomed Phoebe Ray aboard as the new Associate Producer of Client Services. Phoebe will be working closely with our clients to ensure a smooth process from start to finish by coordinating the company’s content marketing channels, advertising traffic, design platform and special marketing programs.

Phoebe graduated from the University of Maine with a double major in Communications and Spanish. After studying abroad in Alicante, Spain, she fell in love with the language and became passionate with culture and travel. After graduation, Phoebe moved to Portland, ME and started her career as a marketing assistant for a local marketing agency. Working for a small company she was able to gain exposure in many different outlets such as project coordination and working directly with clients and vendors.

Looking for a change of pace, Phoebe moved to Tampa, FL and began working in production for an international marketing agency. Currently a new resident to Sarasota, she is excited to be working for a company with such an influence on the local scene.

You can reach Phoebe at or at 365-7702 x 212. Please join us in welcoming Phoebe to the SRQ team!

We are so happy to have you!

Join Us: Tickets SB2 | GOOD HAND Building Capacity in Our Independent Sector, July 20



Join SRQ Media for the conclusion of our 2016-2017 SB2 Season with SB2: GOOD HAND– Building Capacity in our Philanthropic Sector on Thursday, July 20, 2017 from 7:30am–9:00am at The Francis, Downtown Sarasota. Local foundation experts will give us insight on fundraising, innovation and non-profit consultants. Keynote, David Odahowski, President and CEO of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, will discuss the organization’s work giving grant money to qualified non-profit organizations to improve the quality of life for the people of Central Florida. Special guest panelists include: Roxie Jerde, President and CEO, Community Foundation of Sarasota County; Stacey Corley, Vice President of Advancement, Ringling College of Art and Design; Veronica Brandon Miller, Vice President, Goodwill Foundation; Susie Bowie, Executive Director, Manatee Community Foundation; and Heidi Brown, CEO, Jewish and Family Children’s Service.

Thank you  Jaime DiDomenico of Cool Today for supporting and sponsoring this SB2 event as the event sponsor! Thank you to SB2 Series Sponsors: The Resort at Longboat Key, CS&L, SRQ Airport and the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. If you are engaged in work with our local non-profits, you should consider joining us for insight on how our region is transforming its capacity to meet the need and how funders are increasingly looking at non-profit organizational sustainability and infrastructure when awarding grants.

Tickets are $35/per person, which includes a mouth-watering breakfast spread provided by The Francis. Reserve your spot online at SRQSB2.COM.

SRQ’s 2017 Building of the Year Competition is Officially Open!


Calling all builders, architects and design companies —the 2017 SRQ Building of the Year Competition is officially open!

Professionals with projects in Sarasota and Manatee counties are invited to submit their best work in building design by the submission deadline of Friday, July 21, 2017. The competition is open to all buildings either realized or under construction between January 2015 and October 2017. Projects need to be located in the Sarasota and Manatee geography, but companies submitting those projects may be located outside of the region. Our panel of expert judges will review entries based on innovation, function, architecture, aesthetics, place-making and livability to name SRQ’s Building of the Year Platinum, Gold and Silver award recipients.

Select one or more categories for submission:

  • Residential Building / Complex
  • Commercial Building, includes Hotels C. Mixed Use Building
  • Public Building / Public Space
  • Sustainable Building

The BOTY Official entry packet can be found at 

The Call for Entries deadline is Friday July 21, 2017; the late deadline is Friday, August 11, 2017. Winners will be announced in the November 2017 edition of SRQ Magazine!

Best of luck to all of our participants, and may the best building win!

SRQ’s Modern Home Symposium: Gearing Up for the 2017 Modern Home Magazine this July 2017.

The SRQ Modern Home Symposium held March 9, 2017 was an incredible and enlightening evening. Featuring personal case studies and the design philosophies of our region’s finest builders and architects, the symposium’s special guests shared the inspiration behind their work. With a panel of seven architects and builders, we heard a wide range of variety and ideas with background behind some of the area’s most iconic homes.

“It is great to have a substantive discussion about architecture and design,” says Steve Murray, of Murray Homes, “and the important task of building structures to be proud of. Given the heritage of our city with the Sarasota School of Architecture we have the responsibility of perpetuating its legacy by collaborating and sharing the best ideas for the future.”

Every spring, the Modern Home Symposium foreshadows one of our most anticipated annual publications, Modern Home magazine, which publishes as a flipbook to the July 2017 edition of SRQ magazine. Modern Home celebrates the innovation, creativity and inspiration of thought-provoking residential homes on the Gulf Coast by recognizing modern lifestyles, architecture, design and furnishings in the region. We are eager to explore the new, upcoming projects brought to life by our local architects and custom home builders. Pick up the Modern Home 2017 annual edition on newsstands this July!

Click here to check out last years’ Modern Home magazine.

SB2 Reporting Out: GOOD PEOPLE The Tourism Economy, May 18


Left to right: Moderator, Wes Roberts, Panelist, Elliott Falcione, Keynote, Alfredo Gonzalez and Panelists, Jeff Mayers and Rick Piccolo. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 

Last Thursday, SRQ MEDIA’s SB2: GOOD PEOPLE The Tourism Economy breakfast symposium shed light on the current state of tourism regionally and state-wide as marketing budget cuts loom on the horizon.


Opening presenter, Jeff Mayers from The Resort at Longboat Key Club welcomes guests to SBQ: GOOD PEOPLE The Tourism Economy. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 

After opening remarks by series sponsor Jeff Mayers of The Resort at Longboat Key Club, John Horne of the Anna Maria Oyster Bar introduced keynote speaker Alfredo Gonzalez, Vice President of International Sales and Market Development at VISIT FLORIDA to the crowd sharing a tongue and cheek story of Alfredo’s college days working at Bennigan’s. “Alfredo and I actually go way back. You see he spent is college years as a server at Bennigan’s and I think most of us can confidently state that we have dined there at least once. Bennigan’s is now closed. Alfredo I am looking at you,” Horne joked.


Jeff Horne from the Anna Maria Oyster Bar introduces Keynote, Alfredo Gonzalez to the crowd. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 

Gonzalez began his presentation by addressing the elephant in the room; VISIT FLORIDA’s impending budget cut by the state government. He stated, budget cuts will make it more difficult to reach out to potential tourists around the world, but the state’s de facto tourism bureau will maintain strong partnerships overseas and domestically to ensure destinations in the Sunshine State won’t be overlooked. “Last year we had a $75 million budget,” Gonzalez said. “If things don’t go well over the next couple days, that $74 million will drop to about $25 million. That will make things very difficult for us, but nothing is over. In 2010 we had $31 million and we still broke records.”

The Florida Legislature, which just concluded its regular session earlier this month, budgeted just $25 million for VISIT FLORIDA after Governor Rick Scott requested $100 million. Gonzalez noted a new budget won’t go into effect until July, and, so far, Florida has seen tremendous visitation, with about 30.2 million visitors recorded coming into the state in the first quarter of 2017.

Gonzalez ended his presentation with a kudos to the Gulfcoast region and our commitment to creating a quality visitor experience. “I would like to congratulate you more than anything else. This destination almost behaves like its not in Florida; you’re so unique in what you have. Keep doing it because we are going to need the help this year. Utilize your uniqueness, utilize your amazing ability to satisfy people’s needs and I tell you regardless of how much money you have or we have—I know if you have this type of product and this type of commitment, there will be no problems. We will see dips, but we will not see chaos.”


Keynote Speaker, Alfredo Gonzalez of VISIT FLORIDA, addresses the current economic state of Florida tourism. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 

Between bites, guests picked up thought provoking insight from some of our region’s powerhouse tourism organizations: Jeff Mayers of The Resort at Longboat Key Club, Rick Piccolo of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, and Elliot Falcione of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. Panelists spoke on the impact of budget cuts but also how this shortfall can be made up in the region.


Left to right: Jeff Mayers, Elliot Falcione, Wes Roberts (center, moderator), Alfredo Gonzalez and Rick Piccolo. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 

“First of all, from a marketing perspective we need to be able to embrace the changes in technology and use the proper vehicles for our messaging. Secondly, I believe we need to be increasingly relevant. Its important that our voice is heard, for people see who we are and continue to come to Sarasota as it is a great destination. Finally, we have such great bones here as far as the beaches. Those of us who live here know the arts and culture and restaurants and community. These great surroundings will never change as long as we don’t lose sight of who we are,” said Jeff Mayers, General Manager of The Resort at Longboat Key Club.

Elliot Falcione, Executive Director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, noted how local marketing efforts have worked to complement exactly what visitors expect in the region as a destination, which is an improvement over past years when surveys showed most couldn’t place Anna Maria relative to Tampa, Sanibel or Boca Grande. “Our brand is now penetrating against competitors really well, and that’s with the second smallest budget on the West Coast of Florida aside from Port Charlotte,” says Falcione.

“From the airport perspective, our infrastructure is in excellent shape,”Rick Piccolo, President and CEO of the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, said setting the area apart from built-out destinations like Miami and Orlando. “This is a boutique community, and I look at the airport as a boutique airport. I tell people we are Whole Foods to Tampa’s Publix and Punta Gorda’s Save-A-Lot.”


Alfredo Gonzalez and Rick Piccolo discuss bringing international carriers to the region. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan.

In addition to SB2 regulars, SRQ MEDIA hosted students from Booker Middle and Booker High School, eager to gain some insight on the hospitality industry. Elliott Falcione, addressed the next workforce generation, by stating: “The best thing you can do moving forward is continue to polish your people skills. Where I have been successful is relationship building, communicating and knowing the resources that I have available to get things done. We see so many students coming out of college that do not have those personality traits that really integrate with our industry.”


Booker High School Principal, Dr. Rachel Shelley and her students at SB2 GOOD PEOPLE: The Tourism Economy. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 

We couldn’t have learned the incredible things from this engaging discussion without our series sponsors: CS&L CPAs, The Resort at Longboat Key Club, Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and SB2 GOOD PEOPLE keynote sponsor: Anna Maria Oyster Bar. Thank you for supporting 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 The Resort at Longboat Key Club. Photo Credit: Wyatt Kostygan. 

Click here to read the article about SB2: GOOD PEOPLE in SRQ DAILY. A gallery of images from SB2: GOOD PEOPLE: The Tourism Economy is available online. The 2016-2017 SB2 season will conclude on Thursday, July 20 with SB2 GOOD HAND: Building Capacity In Our Independent Sector featuring Keynote Speaker David infrastructure, President & CEO of the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation. To purchase tickets, visit

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.