Men & Women of The Year 2010

BY October 28, 2010

Dr. Allen Weiss
CEO, NCH Healthcare System

Since taking over as the chief executive of NCH Healthcare System in Naples in 2000, Dr. Allen Weiss has led by three maxims: “quality, operational efficiency and fiscal responsibility.” The Philadelphia native’s commitment to all three can best be seen in his recent campaign to turn NCH into a completely paperless hospital.

“We can’t afford healthcare at the current rate. There’s a 25 percent—some say 30 percent—inefficiency rate among hospitals,” Weiss says. One way he’s combating those costs is by using electronic medical records. “If we can harness the power of electronic medical records, we can become much more efficient.”

Weiss arrived in Naples in 1977, having attended medical school and completed both his residency and internship at Columbia University. After 25 years in private practice, he was asked to lead one of Southwest Florida’s largest employers. “I thought I could make a large difference,” he says. “I’m proud and surprised in the transformation our hospital has achieved in the last 10 years.”

Person he admires most: Abraham Lincoln. He never wavered from the courage of his convictions. Needed to improve the quality of life here: Improve our educational system so that everyone from birth to old age would maximize his or her potential for personal growth, community support and global contributions. What he would change about himself: I would seek more work/life balance. Message to his younger self: Relax. He’d like to share a meal with: Thomas Jefferson. Once when President John F. Kennedy was entertaining a group of Nobel Laureates, he said that this was probably the greatest gathering of intellect in the White House since Jefferson dined there alone. Special movie: Shane. Still on his bucket list: I wonder about one day writing a book about some of the interesting experiences I have had during my life. —Spencer Campbell

Dolph Von  Arx
Chairman, Conservancy of Southwest Florida

The state of the economy is at the forefront of many people’s minds these days, but Southwest Florida’s will soon be on the rise if Dolph von Arx has anything to say about it. The retired CEO of Planters Lifesavers Co. is making strides toward diversifying the local economic base by helping to attract a biomedical committee and working toward boosting the area’s clean technology. “We’re too dependent on developments, real estate and tourism,” he says.

Von Arx has been improving the quality of life in Southwest Florida since he moved here in 1984, with stints as chairman of the Regional Business Alliance of Southwest Florida and board member of the Economic Development Council, as well as contributions to several other art, business and healthcare organizations.

Person he admires most: Sharon, my wife of 52 years. … and within Southwest Florida: Myra Janco Daniels for her vision with the Philharmonic Center for the Arts. Needed to improve the quality of life here:Higher water quality standards, including the western part of the Everglades. Quality he admires most in others: Integrity. What he’d change about himself: Become a better listener. Alternate career choice:I’d be a shepherd. I think it’d be a wonderful, fulfilling life outdoors. Message to his younger self:Spend more time with my three children. He’d like to share a meal with: Teddy Roosevelt, to discuss his remarkable accomplishments in establishing the national park system and conserving our natural resources. People would be surprised to know: I have an obsession with Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream. Special book:The Swamp by Michael Grunwald. His greatest hope for the future:A better educated, more tolerant world.  —Jennifer Freihofer   

Simone Lutgert
Capital Campaign Chair, Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples

Raising money for children is a perfect fit for Simone Lutgert. A self-proclaimed big kid at heart who loves acting silly, she joined the board of the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples, or C’mon, about four-and-a-half years ago and has been an integral part of raising about $20 million of its $25 million capital campaign goal.

Lutgert can’t wait until the museum opens in 2011. “I think it’s going to change the quality of life here,” she says. “It’s going to be like a town square, where parents, grandparents and friends of the family have a place to take kids.”

She has been involved with the Naples Winter Wine Festival since she started dating her husband, Scott Lutgert, a founding trustee, about eight years ago. The couple has a combined total of seven children and seven grandchildren. “I love [the festival] because we can help a lot of different charities,” she says.

Lutgert moved to Naples 14 years ago from Memphis, Tenn. Her charity involvements include Naples Botanical Garden’s Hats in the Garden, the Magnolia Ball and the Women of Means Outreach Program at the Shelter for Abused Women & Children.

People she admires most: My parents instilled in me my values, work ethic and sense of family. Quality she admires most in others: The confidence to be themselves and be honest. What she would change about herself: I would stop being so demanding on myself. Alternate career choice: Interior designer. Message to her younger self: Trust and believe in yourself. Special songs: I Will by the Beatles describes unconditional love for my children and grandchildren; Someone Like You by Van Morrison was our wedding song. Her secret obsession: It’s no secret, but I have an obsession with shoes and clothes. Still on her bucket list: Real retirement. Her greatest hope for the future: I’d like to see people start taking responsibility for themselves.   —Denise Scott


Tom Everist
Chairman and Co-founder, Imagine Solutions Conference

During dinner one night, Tom Everist and Randy Antik asked themselves: “How can we interest private leadership in using its skill-set to solve economic and social problems that affect our society? How do we make them realize that we can truly make a difference?”

Their answer was to create the Imagine Solutions Conference. In 2010, the inaugural event put some of the world’s greatest thinkers in front of 600 Southwest Floridians. Individual groups were inspired enough by the conference to then separately develop an educational curriculum for social entrepreneurship, meet with FGCU President Wilson Bradshaw on solar energy, and research new financial applications in healthcare with Collier Health Services President Richard Akin—all ideas pursued by local conferees. “If we can energize [private leadership], we can vet ideas and understand the ideas that are working and applicable to our area,” says Everist.

Everist is president of The Everist Company, a fourth-generation construction business. He contributes locally to the Naples Winter Wine Festival and the Immokalee Foundation, although his passion is the conference, for which he is chairman and co-founder. The 2011 conference will feature 40 speakers March 21 and 22 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples.

Person he admires most: My wife and confidant, Barb. Quality he admires in others: Curiosity. What he’d change about himself: More patience. Message to his younger self: Be a bigger part of my young children’s lives. Won’t discuss at parties: Professional baseball or football. He’d like to share a meal with: I actually got to meet [inaugural conference speakers] Niall Ferguson, Nicholas Negroponte and Tom Luce. People would be surprised to know: I’m down to a 10 handicap. But wait, I’ve already told everybody that. Still on his bucket list: Holes-in-one are pure luck. But I’ll change my position as soon as I get one. Greatest hope for the future: That courageous leadership once again strengthens the economic and social future of the country.  —Spencer Campbell


Barbara Jordan
Founding member, The Shelter for Abused Women & Children

Barbara Jordan was invited by Joe Biden to the 16th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act. “To be singled out by the vice president,” Jordan says, “it was extraordinary.” She will also testify before a government panel working to prevent and end violence against women.

Her testimony will be largely based on her experience in Southwest Florida, where she serves as a founding member of The Shelter for Abused Women & Children in Naples. She and her husband, John, both experienced domestic violence as children, so the issue has always been a primary focus for the couple. “It’s very hard to get families into a safe environment,” she says. “I was offered a place to assist. I wanted to educate the community and make it a more acceptable issue.”

Originally from New York City, Jordan spent 25 years as an art publisher and gallery owner in Manhattan before moving to the Philadelphia suburbs and working alongside her husband. She moved to Naples in 1999 to retire, but lucky for The Shelter and her other Southwest Florida philanthropic efforts, “I don’t think you’d be giving me this award if I had retired,” she says. 

Person she admires most: Mother Teresa. In Southwest Florida: All the volunteers in the community. Qualities she admires most in others: A great sense of humor and a big, open heart. Message to her younger self: Cherish every moment of every day. Adversity that shaped her character: Both of my parents were disabled. I had a tendency to want to help that’s carried me through life. She’d like to share a meal with: My very best friend who died long ago. Guilty pleasure: Mint chocolate chip ice cream with hot fudge. Her greatest hope for the future: To have special years laughing with my kids and grandkids, and knowing that all the work we’ve done is still going on.  —Spencer Campbell


Joseph R. Catti
President and CEO, FineMark National Bank & Trust

When Joseph Catti became campaign chairman for the United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades counties in 2009, he worked tirelessly to exceed the goal, making personal visits to every agency the United Way funds.

That same dedication is what has helped FineMark National Bank & Trust expand to three branches in just three years under his leadership, making it one of the community’s biggest supporters with hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to local charities.

The Florida native is extensively involved in the Lee County community, serving as a board member or chairman for the finance committee of the Lee Memorial Health System and Lee Memorial Health System Foundation, Florida Gulf Coast University Foundation, Southwest Florida Community Foundation and several other organizations.

He is well-known as a devoted husband and father of four, and his charitable nature goes deeper than just the institutional level; when a single mother of three found herself out of a job recently, Catti stepped in and personally helped her get back on her feet.

Needed to improve the quality of life here: Diversify the economy and create jobs. Qualities he admires most in others:Integrity, loyalty and honesty. What he’d change about himself: Improve my golf handicap. Alternate career choice:Lead guitarist in a rock band. Message to his younger self:Learn to play golf at a young age. Adversity in his life has taught him:Hard work and perseverance pay off. Special book: A Scandalous Freedom by Steve Brown. He won’t discuss at cocktail parties:Other people. He’d like to share a meal with:Jesus. We’d talk about life and how I can be a better person. People would be surprised to know:When I was younger, I was a Junior Olympic power lifter, and I had really long hair. His guilty pleasures: Really good red wine and chocolate. Still on his bucket list:I’d like to shoot in the 80s at Augusta National. His greatest hope for the future:That people will strive to unselfishly help others.  —Jennifer Freihofer


Shot on location at the Philharmonic Center Cultural Complex, featuring art from the Permanent Collection


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