Our community is only as strong as the tools, resources, and voices that come together to create it. 

As a community connector and convener, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County is committed to listening and relying on the voices of our community to guide our philanthropic work.

Through surveys, reports and conversations, we are gathering insights from local cause leaders to better understand our community, and provide support to nonprofit organizations in multiple ways.

Community Voices was created to bring together experts from nonprofit and community organizations to share insights about our community's evolving needs in a series of panel discussions. 

You may listen to previous discussions or read a blog post recapping key insights and stories shared. This page will be updated as these community-wide dialogues are ongoing.

Listen to Community Voices: 
Virtual Panel Discussions


Adapting the Human Services Model During a Pandemic
August 5, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected our community: loss of employment, food insecurity, and reduced access to essential medical and social services. In response, many of our nonprofit and community partners are discovering ways to adapt, innovate and heal as we chart our path to recovery.
In a virtual panel discussion, four community partners alongside the Community Foundation’s Kirsten Russell, Vice President of Community Impact, dove in to explain challenges encountered by adapting the human service model during a pandemic. Speaking from their experiences on the frontlines, each panelist shared meaningful insights and stories on how the needs in our community are changing, what is on the horizon, and how each of us can offer support.

Meet the Panelists:

Sandra Frank
All Faiths Food Bank
Dr. Kameron Hodgens
CEO/Executive Director
Glasser- Schoenbaum Human Services Center
Dr. Lisa Merritt
Founder & Executive Director
Multicultural Health Initiative
Dr. Janet Taylor
Psychiatrist, Self-Care Expert, Culture Shift Educator
Centerstone of Florida
Community Foundation of Sarasota County Board Member

The Changing Landscape of Education: Adapting and Innovating During a Crisis  
July 28, 2020 

The challenges facing our education sector are revealingFrom overcoming technology barriers to fulfilling the basic needs of our families, the students, parents, teachers, and providers within our community are working hard to create a constant learning environment for our children. With all this effort, the question remains: how can we adapt and innovate to transform these challenges into lasting opportunities that reflect our genuine care and value for education?

In a virtual panel discussion, four community partners alongside the Community Foundation’s Kirsten Russell, Vice President of Community Impact, and Nicole Light, Education Officer, shared valuable insights and lessons learned on how our community can respond and thrive as we approach the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.

Meet the Panelists:

Chris Renouf
Executive Director of Elementary Schools
Sarasota County Schools
Khea Davis
At Risk Specialist
Booker High School
Dawn Page
Vice President of Operations
Boys and Girls Club of Sarasota County
Great Futures Academy
Beth Duda
Director, Suncoast Campaign for
Grade Level Reading
The Patterson Foundation
This Book is Cool!

Supporting Childhood Resiliency During a Crisis and Beyond
October 22, 2020 

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has long supported children and their families. Learn through this interactive virtual discussion how bringing mental health supports to children, students, and parents is helping build a resilient community.

We will discuss collaborative community efforts involving schools, mental health therapists, mindfulness, and neighborhood support groups to understand why trauma-informed care is needed now and even more in the months and years to come.

Meet the Panelists:

Dr. Laura Bakosh
Inner Explorer
Helen Neal-Ali 
SRQ Strong
Steve Royce
Gocio Elementary School
Dr. Kristine Skoglund
The Florida Center
Season of Sharing Community Conversation

Season of Sharing Virtual Update: A Conversation with Community Partners
December 1, 2020  

In a year like no other in recent memory, Season of Sharing remains a time-tested and trusted way for neighbors to support one another. Whatever the crisis, this vital safety net is there to help countless families and individuals with the immediate basic needs necessary to regain stability.

And not a moment too soon.Unprecedented requests for help with rental and mortgage assistance, utility bills, child care, transportation, food vouchers, or other crucial expenses are relying on Season of Sharing like no other time in its existence.

Listen to this conversation with the Herald-Tribune Media Group and community partners as we discuss the latest impact of Season of Sharing and how this community-wide network is responding to the evolving needs brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meet the Moderator: 

Barbara Peters Smith
Opinions Editor
Herald-Tribune Media Group

Meet the Panelists:

Luz Corcuera
Executive Director
Angie DiMichele 
Herald-Tribune Media Group
Christina Russi
Community Liaison
Glasser-Schoenbaum Human Services Center
Community Voices: Arts & Healing

Arts & Healing
March 24, 2021

Learn through this interactive, virtual discussion how local arts organizations are playing an important role in addressing mental, emotional, and social healing as well as connections created in response to the dramatic changes brought about in the last year from COVID-19, economic hardship, and racial injustice.

Speaking from their own experiences, panelists shared the benefits that the arts can provide for health care workers, arts-focused community wellness efforts serving at children and families, and the way local arts organizations are healing themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meet the Panelists:

Christopher Hird
Education Director
Sarasota Ballet
Julie Leach
Executive Director
Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
Kelli Maldonado
Education Director
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Laura Steefel-Moore
Head of Educational Programs
The Ringling

Connecting People and Ideas
October 5, 2021

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County and our nonprofit partners strive to include and support diverse voices and audiences in our efforts to build a more equitable community.

Learn through this interactive virtual discussion with local community leaders about they are centering community voices and the unique mediums they use to highlight the diversity in thought, perspectives, and opinions that enrich our region. We will discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened this work along with the lessons learned and opportunities that lie ahead. 

Meet the Moderator: 

Mercedes Soler
President and Co-Owner, Solmart Media
Board Member, Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Meet the Panelists:

Donna Hanley
Board Member
Project Pride SRQ
Jeannie Perales
Chief Experience Officer
The Bay Park Conservancy
Michele Des Verney Redwine
Executive Director
Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative 

Get Involved

Kirsten Russell 

Vice President, Community Impact