2014 Men & Women of the Year

Honoring those who have served the community with such distinction

BY December 3, 2014


John & Delores Sorey


Why we love them: For having vision for Naples’ future, the skills to make it happen and the energy to see it through

Honestly, we’re not sure where they find the time. Between his duties as Naples’ mayor and as executive director of The Naples Players and her jam-packed schedule of fundraising and entertaining, not to mention grandkids, you’d be forgiven for questioning when the Soreys sleep.

“I was always used to working 60 to 80 hours a week before I retired,” John Sorey says. “So I don’t really even give it a second thought.”

After buying, tearing down and building a home on Gulfshore Boulevard in the early 2000s, John and Delores realized he needed something to keep him busy.
“He was either going to get a fast car, another woman or run for office,” Delores says, sitting in his mayoral office. “He made the right decision.”

Being the pragmatists that they are, the Soreys follow the idea that Naples needs to keep its “wow factor.” That’s why they wanted to get involved with the local arts scene (he’s been on the board of The Naples Players for more than a decade and she’s been a board member for Classic Chamber Concerts, the Naples Art Association, the United Arts Council and the Naples Players Guild).

But they’ve taken their leadership to another level with Baker Park. With John spearheading the politics and Delores managing the fundraising (pulling in more than $5 million in one night), what had been almost a pipe dream will be a reality in the coming years.

And don’t expect them to slow down anytime soon. Delores is already ramping up for a second Baker Park gala, and John has his mind on running for four more years as mayor.

“Maybe after all that,” Delores says. “Then it will be time to do less.”

John just shakes his head and chuckles.

—Jonathan Foerster


Sharon MacDonald


Why we love her: She finds the funding to fuel health care in Southwest Florida.

Sharon MacDonald could use a few bucks. And she’s not too proud to ask.

As the chief foundation officer for the Lee Memorial Health System Foundation, she is looking to wrap up a $100 million capital campaign to finance the new 128-bed Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. And she’s getting tantalizingly close.

She was only going to help out temporarily while the board of Lee Memorial Health System Foundation searched for a new chief officer. That was 2002. Now she has two full-time jobs. And she’s done a remarkable job at both, working on a new 24,000-square-foot facility for the cancer center and taking the foundation from a four-person operation raising $1.2 million to a staff of 22, which last year raised a whopping $39 million.

“Of course, there is a blip there because of the Golisano match,” MacDonald says.

“The Golisano Community Match, (of $20 million), was truly amazing.
 … That one gesture rallied the entire community for over a year. People love the idea of their money doubling. And to be perfectly honest, I wish I could find somebody else who would come up with another $8 million match to finish up this campaign because community matches are really powerful.”

When asked what it takes to be a donor, a glint flashed in her eyes. “Anyone can be a donor,” she says. “We’ve had little kids empty out their piggy banks and come make a donation of $3.50. And what people don’t understand is that that is their entire net worth—$3.50. When you look at scale, that gesture was a truly magnificent and large gift.”

—Michael Korb


Cliff Smith


Why we love him: His concept of sup- port crosses county lines for those in need.

If you ask Cliff Smith what his greatest weakness is, he will respond without hesitation. “I’m inflexible.” It’s a stunning admission from a man whose entire career has been based upon working with others to achieve a common goal for the good of the community. After all, Smith has been in South- west Florida for 21 years and in that time has helped raise more than $100 million for United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades and Okeechobee Counties.

“That’s really a testimonial to the giving spirit of this area,” Smith says. “People here want their community to be the best it can be, so they’re willing to volunteer and donate. That’s what our community does. Trust me, I have the best job in the world.”

Much of his time is spent trying to figure out how to best serve the needs of the communities. For example, about eight years ago Smith and his staff had an “a-ha” moment. “Access
to service is probably as important as quality of services,” Smith thought. “So we looked out there and said, ‘Look
at all of these great programs. But
are people really getting to them?’ A majority of the agencies are clustered around Fort Myers. And, of course, that isn’t where everyone lives. Some places are fairly far.” So they pulled the agencies together and came up with the United Way Houses: 19 buildings scattered in the smaller towns within Smith’s territory that any agency can use free of charge.

“So now an agency could have 19 satellite offices,” Smith says, smiling (he’s always smiling). “For example, in Cape Coral, right across from City Hall we have a building that has 30 agencies in it. More than 2,000 people come to get help from that one location every month. Not all of them are there five days a week, so they share offices and we move people around. It’s really great.”

We told him that didn’t sound like a concept from someone who’s inflexible. “No seriously,” Smith says. “My doctor’s never seen anything like it. I can’t even touch my toes.”


—Michael Korb


Mariann MacDonald


Why we love her: She won’t hesitate to tell you like it is, but when it comes to her giving she flies happiest under the radar.

The best compliment Mariann MacDonald ever received came upon her retirement, from a co- worker at the company she built from scratch in a shell of building operating on old princess phones.

“He said, ‘I finally realized: Mariann is a cross between Mother Teresa and Attila the Hun.’” She and a colleague did secure the company by raising $400 million in six months, after all.

The Long-Islander traded swabs, elbow-high gloves and 400 lab rats for Percocet, Percodan and 40-plus employees, but not before mastering nearly every position in her 30 years with chemical conglomerate DuPont—and beating Stage 3 breast cancer. She had a mastectomy and a year of Friday chemo sessions, but each Monday she was back at work. “I had every color wig you can imagine,” MacDonald says. “ ̓Cause I was gonna deal with this and I was still gonna look like Mariann. … My crew and my team did not know who was coming in. They would say, ‘Ooo, we like Dolly Parton better than Linda Ronstadt.’”

She rose to manager of research, production planning, inventory control, distribution, finance, purchasing, manufacturing. And when DuPont auctioned their generic division, MacDonald and her colleague bought it.

Her big revelation came in their success’ extent to their employees. “There’s one person who sent me an email and thanked me,” she says, “and said, ‘This is the first time in my life, I’m 50 years old, that I bought a new car. I went out and I bought one of those little Lexus convertibles’—this is up north— ‘and the top is down all year round.’”

MacDonald “eased into” retirement by finally undergoing reconstruction surgery at Penn Medicine, and keeps
a full plate as a member of its hospital and medical school boards; past board president of Susan G. Komen Southwest Florida; and, chiefly, chair of the NCH Hospital Board. She and her husband have gifted over $8 million toward the system’s pediatric enterprises.

Her heart belongs to the kids, she says. Maybe one in particular; of all the titles she’s held, her favorite comes from her 5-year-old granddaughter: “Nanny.”

—Cayla Stanley


Linda Malone


Why we love her: She may be a lady, but she’s not afraid of a challenge.

Kevin is 6 years old. He has no siblings and his single mother speaks almost no English. And before he met Linda Malone, he had never been to the dentist.

When Malone learned Kevin was complaining of a sore mouth, she directed his mother to the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF) pediatric dental clinic. He needed visits every week for two months.

“That’s just a little tip of the iceberg story,” Malone says. “Every child we help has a story like that.”
Malone is a longtime supporter of the

Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples and several other local causes. But no contribution has been greater than that to NCEF. A founding trustee of the Naples Winter Wine Festival, she has held nearly every position it has to offer, hosted one of its vintner dinners every year since its founding and been the only person to chair it twice.

“I think it’s so important to have even young children have experiences as they are growing that will develop the empathy, compassion, caring, giving back,” she says. “That happened in my home, and that was certainly the genesis, the seeds that were planted in my head.”

So is the Oklahoma native fixin’ for a third run as festival chair?

“Once every seven years is probably enough,” she says. “But I learned a long time ago to never say ‘never’ and never say ‘always.’”

—Cayla Stanley


Anne Welsh McNulty


Why we love her: She doesn’t limit her benevolent brains and brawn to Southwest Florida.

“We used to kid at the beginning because somebody said, ‘Oh, it’s like Charlie’s Angels!’ And I said, ‘Yes, other than the fact that there is no Charlie and we’re not angels.’”

Anne Welsh McNulty is talking about co-chairing the 2014 Naples Winter Wine Festival, of course, with part
ners in crime Adria Starkey and Linda Malone.

“It was partly because I was unsuccessful in convincing a couple to do it,” McNulty admits, but the creative solution turned out to be an effective one—and a blast.

Before taking on its festival, McNulty chaired both the grant committee and the foundation for the Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF)—a charity whose impact on the community convinced her Naples was worth moving to. She and her late husband attended the 2003 festival and bought their house the next week.

“It’s not enough to just open doors,” she says of the foundation’s focus on equal opportunity. “You want to make sure people can walk through them.”

But throwing “the most fun” of any of the vintner dinners, organizing the experience lots of a lifetime and pushing Beautiful Minds, NCEF’s ever-important initiative for mental health, are far from the only balls McNulty has in the air.

The former Goldman Sachs managing director sits on the board of overseers at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where she received her MBA. She chairs the investment committee at Villanova University, where she graduated from as valedictorian. She is a trustee for the Aspen Institute, Metropolitan Opera of New York and National Museum of Jewish American History. And she honors her late husband through the John P. McNulty Prize, which awards young leaders worldwide addressing significant community challenges with funds to further their projects.

“I come from a big Irish Catholic family, ” McNulty says, “and my grandmother used to tell us, ‘Make yourself useful.’”

—Cayla Stanley


Dorothy Fitzgerald & Elaine Hawkins


Why we love them: They’ve made the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest even better than before.

One thing to know about Dorothy Fitzgerald and Elaine Hawkins: They’re talkers. And they’re passionate about children’s health care. So if you ask them why they decided to co-chair the 2014 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest (SFWFF), be sure you’ve got some time to spare. Don’t get us wrong, they’re charming and lovely and entertaining, but if Fitzgerald doesn’t get you with her one-liners and high energy, Hawkins will get you with her administrative thoroughness and hardcore caring.

The pair became friends as members of the Foundation Board for Lee Memorial Health System. And when the founder of the SFWFF decided to step down last year, this duo stepped in.

“We did not want it to end,” Hawkins says. “And we thought we’d make
a good team.” That turned out to be true—this year’s event raised $2.6 mil- lion for the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, the pediatric nursing program at Southwest Florida College and the music therapy program at Florida Gulf Coast University. “(Dorothy) has a lot more energy than
 I have,” Hawkins says, laughing. “She brings people together. Whereas I’m much more locally oriented because I’ve spent so much time here in business and have those connections.”

They quickly hired Dawn Montecalvo, the former executive director of the Naples Children & Education Foundation and its fundraising arm, the Naples Winter Wine Festival, to get the organization’s ducks in a row. “This is not your typical chair-an-event situation,” Hawkins says. “This is running the 501-c3. This is doing everything. And this is the only event we have.”

“We are also very laser-focused,” Fitzgerald says. “We only have three charities that we support. That’s it. So we have very specific goals. And these three charities benefit all of Southwest Florida.”

“This really is all about the community,” Hawkins adds. “Like-minded, philanthropic people who, by the way, really like to drink wine and eat good food.”

Hey, they know their audience.

—Michael Korb


Vicki Tracy


Why we love her: She’s been a force in community service for more than 30 years, showing there are more ways to give big than just with a checkbook.

There’s no better way to describe Vicki Tracy than “force of nature.” That’s why no one was shocked to see her on stage earlier this year at YMCA’s annual Sneaker Ball trying to auction the shoes off her feet.

“The auction had kind of hit a lull,” she says. “So I said to my friend (KP Pezeshkan), ‘We’ve got to do something about this.’”

Right then they hatched a plan: Tracy would get on stage and auction off her Ed Hardy sneakers and Pezeshkan would start bidding. They figured they could get people back into the action.

“I had no idea there would be other bidders,” she says. “In the end, someone else ended up buying them for more. She and I just traded shoes right there.”

Tracy came to Naples from Detroit in the late 1970s. Since then she’s worked for a Fortune 500 company
(as assistant to HMA founder Joseph Greene), at startups, in philanthropy and in elder care. She’s been a leader, fundraiser and overall cheerleader
 for various organizations. All of these positions have taken her by surprise because they were almost always something new. “I like the challenge of creating something,” she says.

And while she’d rather be on Keewaydin than anywhere else, it’s hard to imagine her staying out there all the time. She’d get bored with no one to help.

“Volunteerism is a social activity for me,” she says. “I don’t look at it as philanthropy. It’s just what you do to be a part of the community.”

—Jonathan Foerster 


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