Men & Women of the Year
Meet nine dynamic people we honor for their major contributions to our community.
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VICE PRESIDENT OF DEVELOPMENT AND COMMUNICATION, SOUTHWEST FLORIDA COMMUNITY FOUNDATION; CO-FOUNDER, SOUTHWEST FLORIDA WINE & FOOD FEST
Helping people is what Carolyn Rogers does. Whether it’s directly, by tracking down a new refrigerator for someone in need, or on a bigger scale as a fundraiser, that’s been her calling since she can remember. “When I was a kid, I used to bake cookies and take them down to the local nursing home,” she says. “It’s a selfish thing. I get so much joy from it.”
Which makes it sort of surprising that the Fort Myers nonprofit executive is taken aback when people express the same level of care and kindness to her. When asked what she most admires in another person, Rogers, 50, says “kindness” and then starts crying, remembering the many people who came to her side when she went through a battle with cancer a few years ago. “There were legions of people who came forward to support me,” she says, choking back the tears. When you’ve helped build a children’s hospital, grow a school and start a wildly successful fundraising festival from scratch, you are bound to have a few fans.
Most gratifying professional experience: Going to work at the (Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida), back when it was just an idea. Different career path: Something creative. A graphic designer or photographer. I’m envious of their talents. How to improve Southwest Florida: More access to child care. I know it’s difficult for new mothers to find care for young children. People might not know: I have three older brothers and I’m the only girl. I’m pretty tough as a result. Guilty pleasure: A night at home with my family. Still on her bucket list: I’ve done the most amazing things and met the most amazing people. I can’t imagine it gets better. Though I would like to go to Napa some day.