SAVE THE DATE: 40th Anniversary Gala "Back to the 70's" May 3, 2019. ROCK ON!

ABWA Sanibel Captiva Charter Chapter

ABWA Sanibel Captiva Charter Chapter

ABWA Sanibel-Captiva Chapter Installs New Members

ABWA Sanibel-Captiva Chapter Installs New Members

The American Business Women’s Association installed nine new local members at the February meeting. “We are delighted to welcome this remarkable group of strong, smart and capable women to our chapter,” said Membership Chair Lisa Newmeyer-Cochrane of Dorado Property Management. “Expect to see ABWA leadership spring from this group in coming years.”  

“Our ABWA chapter strives to offer the best professional development opportunities and networking for women working on the islands” says Gloria Garrett of HMG, local chapter president. “If you work, would like to work or used to work, you will find a lively conversation with island leaders on relevant local topics at ABWA.”

“The chapter presents a Women in Leadership Speaker Series at lunch on fourth Tuesdays and welcomes everyone, men and women alike,” continued Garrett. “Those who are interested in getting further involved are warmly encouraged to consider chapter membership, but everyone is welcome to join in for lunch.”

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NEXT MEETING: Join us March 26 for our next Women in Leadership Speaker Series luncheon at Sundial Beach Resort & Spa featuring Robin Cook, EVP, The Sanibel Trust Company presenting "Don't Get Caught in the Dark". Networking starts at 11:30 followed by lunch and the speaker from noon - 1:00 pm. Eveyone is invited to join in, members and non-members. If you are interested in local chapter governance and other member benefits, reach out to us at a meeting or at

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About Us


ABWA is the place to connect, learn, and grow!

The Mission of the American Business Women's Association is to bring together businesswomen of diverse occupations and to provide opportunities for them to help themselves and others grow personally and professionally through leadership, education, networking support, and national recognition. 


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To celebrate 40 years as a chapter, on August 28th we launched the  Women in Leadership Speaker Series.  The business community, women and men alike, are welcome to join in and talk with women making a difference on the islands.  Date: The 4th Tuesday of each month.  Time: Networking starts at 11:30 AM, with lunch, speaker, and discussion noon - 1:00 PM.  Location: Sundial Beach Resort & Spa, 1451 Middle Gulf Dr, Sanibel, 33957. 



NEW THIS YEAR! ABWA Connections After Hours


Connections After Hours is an exciting new program! Watch for upcoming announcements in 2019. We had "Appy Hour in October, discussing networking apps while enjoying appetizers. Upcoming events will range from group tours to a sunset cruise. It's about good times with good people...after hours!

ABWA offers professional development, networking, education, and recognition opportunities to women who live, work or play on the islands near Ft Myers, Florida. Learn more about us at and find more activities on Eventbrite.





Join with ABWA Sanibel Captiva to Celebrate our 40th Year Anniversary as "The Little Black Dress" Goes Back to the 70's!

Expect 70’s Celebrity Guest Appearances, Music, Dancing, The Definitive 70’s Foody Buffet, Prizes, Drawings, Peace, Love and Rock ‘n Roll!

The gala location is Sundial Beach Resort & Spa from 6:00pm - 10:00pm.

Contact us if interested in accommodations for the night at 404-226-3842.

If you are interested in building your company's reputation as a supporter of women's professional development on Sanibel, consider donating to the auction, and contact us at


NEXT MEETING! Mar 26th features Robin Cook, Executive Vice President, The Sanibel Trust Company


On March 26th, join in with Robin Cook, Executive Vice President and Certified Wealth Strategist at The Sanibel Trust Company. Cook will discuss Don't Get Stuck in the Dark. “This program will address vital steps to take now in order for you or your loved ones to feel confident when it’s time to pass the baton,” says Cook. “Whether married or single, so often we allow our spouse, or one person, to be responsible for the financial and estate planning needs of the household. And although well intentioned, this may create difficulties when that person passes away or is incapacitated.”  With over 25 years experience in the SW Florida financial services industry, Cook is a valued resource on the islands and her presentations are on the do-not-miss list.

RSVP at or Register at



Would you like to participate in chapter administration?  All members are welcome to attend or call in to  the monthly Executive Board Meetings. Usually we meet during lunch at the Sanibel Captiva Community Bank conference room at  2475 Library Way on Sanibel. But in March in honor of Women's History Month, we're meeting in the new conference room at the Sanibel Public Library at 770 Dunlop Rd, on Sanibel. We'll finalize materials for the Connections After Hours event that follows that same evening 5:30-7:30pm, and will review upcoming chapter meetings, nominations, and awards. Call in at 404-226-3842 and you'll be on speaker phone.



The community is invited to join us celebrating 40 years on the islands and Women’s History Month at the Sanibel Public Library March 5:30-7:30pm. Chapter  history will be showcased while enjoying beverages, light appetizers and the newly renovated library. “We have scrap books and photos going back to the 70’s,” says History Committee Chair, Nancy Barnes. Barnes is a Lifetime Achievement Award winner and past president, associated with the group for 35 of the chapter’s 40-year history. Donation is $5. RSVP at or register at


Gloria Garrett, President


GLORIA GARRETT is a new-comer to ABWA and is delighted to bring her corporate and consulting experience to the Sanibel Captiva Charter Chapter as it celebrates its 40th anniversary. Gloria believes the exceptional concentration of women in leadership on the islands makes it an ideal location for ABWA to thrive. Gloria runs HMG, a company that specializes in helping small businesses innovate and grow. 

Kira Dworkin, Vice President


KIRA DWORKIN brings four years ABWA experience to the Executive Board. Kira is the creative and entrepreneurial engine of the leadership team. She owns KMGems, is a professional jewelry designer by trade and performance artist by training. Kira will drive the efforts of the Sanibel Captiva Charter Chapter towards, growth, best practices, and new ideas to keep the chapter energized as it enters the next phase.

Gabriela Bell, Treasurer


GABRIELA (GABY) BELL, is the Sanibel Captiva Charter Chapter Woman of the Year.  Gaby agreed to serve a second term as Treasurer this year, making it her second year in an ABWA Executive Board position. Gaby is a three year member of ABWA and is quickly making a mark on the chapter’s future. A resident of Sanibel Island, Gaby is Assistant Manager at the Sanibel Captiva Community Bank.  

Mary Bondurant, Secretary


MARY BONDURANT celebrates her 10th year with ABWA and fourth year serving on the Sanibel Captiva Charter Chapter Executive Board. Mary is a multiple year Past President, a Past Woman of the Year and a Top Ten Candidate. Mary is well known and highly regarded in our region, and has been a candidate for regional office. Mary is a 22 year resident of Sanibel Island, is President- Elect of the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce, and leads the Bondurant Realty Group at Kingfisher Real Estate.

Sanibel Captiva Charter Chapter Mission and Goals


In concert with the National ABWA Mission, our Chapter Mission is to inspire each other to learn, grow, and make a lifetime of new  connections. 

In support of our Mission, the 2018-2019 Chapter Goals are to present a premier year long Women in Leadership Speaker Series and offer the highest quality professional women's networking on the islands.   





NANCY BARNES  was an early advocate for business women on Sanibel, first joining ABWA in 1984. Nancy served as chapter President twice, won Woman of the Year, and has had countless leadership roles over a 35-year association with ABWA. Today Nancy chairs the History Committee. Nancy and  husband Ed ran Sanibel Island Graphics for decades, and Nancy continues working  part-time with the new owners of Arthur Printing. 

2018-2019 Professional Develolopment Programs

February 26 - Birgie Miller, Executive Director, Ding Darling Wildlife Society


At the February 26 meeting, Birgie Miller, Executive Director, “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society – Friends of the Refuge discussed "How the Power of Philanthropy Shapes Us", highlighting the impact on our lives, careers and communities of being a power for good. “Of the $400 billion given in the US in 2018, 87% came from individuals,” said Miller. “America is built on people helping one another and making a difference through philanthropy.”

Miller highlighted reasons generous investments in good have transformed America and become part of the American way of life. “Giving defines an inclusive community,” Miller continued, referencing the ongoing and pressing activities on Sanibel and Captiva that shape the community for the better. The current Wildlife Society priority is the Wulfert Bayous project, targeted to conserve and restore the largest unprotected property on Sanibel. 

Miller was joined by Toni Westland, Supervisory Refuge Ranger and liaison to the Wildlife Society. “The Wulfert Bayous project will protect water quality, benefit up to 70 species of birds, and provide amazing visitor opportunities,” said Westland. “Hopefully, one day, we can add trails and get people out onto the property.”

“Giving is magic,” said Miller with a smile. “Brain research shows that giving triggers the pleasure response in the brain, reducing stress and increasing longevity. Ultimately, giving is like eating chocolate cake.” 

2018-2019 Professional Development Programs (continued)

Jan 22nd - Kay Casperson, Founder, CEO, Author & Lifestyle Expert

At the January 22 meeting, Kay Casperson, Founder and CEO of BeautifuLife, delivered an inspiring message on “Simple Steps to Living Your Most Beautiful Life Every Day.” Casperson focused on the power of positive affirmations. 

“Affirmations make a world of difference,” says Casperson. “And remember that nice girls really do finish first.” Casperson reinforces the importance of not worrying about opinions that discourage or stop you from accomplishing your goals. But she advises, “Be kind. Stay organized. Have faith. Believe in yourself.” 

This affirmation-based philosophy and a strong business savvy built Casperson’s multi-category brand BeautifuLife. “My philosophy is centered on simplicity, effectiveness and affirmation, while using the highest quality ingredients in products we can use every day,” said Casperson. “My mission is simple -- to inspire all people to live their most balanced life every day.”

Dec 18th - Melissa Rice, Executive Director, Community Housing and Resources

On December 18th, Melissa Rice, Executive Director of CHR, presented the perfect Holiday topic:  "When Business and Compassion Collide."   As Executive Director of Community Housing and Resources, Inc., Rice shared inspiring stories and lessons to about leadership in the collision zone. Melissa’s business savvy is evident. She built her career in  south Florida on both coasts in commercial real estate investment. She holds degrees in finance and economics and is a member of CCIM (Certified Commercial Investment). But she also has a strong commitment to philanthropy, serving on the SanCap Cares Committee and as Treasurer for both the Sanibel PTA and CHR.

“The most important aspect of bringing philanthropy and business together is managing partnerships,” said Rice. “For example, support from the City of Sanibel, community participation in Give Back Wednesdays, generous women’s education grants from Zonta and scholarships from Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis are critical to CHR.”

Nov 26th - Sandra Stilwell Youngquist, CEO Stilwell Enterprises and Pres SWFL Children's Charities

On Novenber 27th,  Sandra Stilwell Youngquist presented  "Balancing Act - Broadening Your Reach to Others While Keeping Your Focus." As CEO and Owner of Stilwell Enterprises & Restaurant Group, and President of SWFL Children's Charities, Stilwell is an expert on this powerful topic. Stilwell’s signature advice “be honest and true in all you do” reflects her dual commitment to business success and community service. 

In business, Stilwell launched her first venture at 17, building from a cleaning business to her true calling, hospitality. Now with an Inn, shopping centers and six restaurants, Stilwell credits her success to faith and a tenacious work ethic. In community service, Stilwell also has an impressive resume. Under her leadership, SWFL Children’s Charities presents the SWFL Food & Wine Fest on February 24, 2019, an event that raised $2.9MM for pediatric health care last year. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Hope Hospice, and advises many other boards and committees.

Oct 23rd - Dorrie Hipschman, Executivwe Director, Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

Dorrie Hipschman, Executive Director of the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, delivered an eye-opening speech on  “Life on Earth: The Museums, Our Responsibility, My Journey.”  Drawing from her outdoorsy upbringing, she said, “As far back as I can remember, the world has always been a living, breathing, dynamic and fascinating place; but  if we don’t grow up outdoors and spend time learning the language of the natural world, we can become deaf to it." Hipschman explained this is a tragedy she and her team are dedicated to solving. “Deafness to nature is curable," she said. "And it’s imperative that we address it." 

To be true to her calling, Hipschman had to take control of her career in the for-profit sector and deliberately move it towards the natural world. She said, “When I started my career, I did not envision taking this path, but now I can’t imagine doing anything more important.”

September 27th - Laurie Verme, Owner of Pinocchio's and Geppeto's

Laurie Verme, Owner of Pinocchio's Original Italian Ice Cream and Geppetto's Beach Foodies, discussed "The Road to Success is ALWAYS  Under Construction."  Verme's inspiring story starts from being told she couldn't run a business as a woman and winds through exhilarating successes as a McDonald's franchisee in New York followed by devastating blows to her boutique hotel on Florida's East Coast at the hands of Hurricane Wilma. Her journey to Sanibel is a  loaded with lessons. Laurie concluded with this quote: 

“The road to success is not straight. There is a curve called failure, a loop called confusion, speed bumps called friends, red lights called enemies and caution lights called family. You will have flat tires called jobs, but if you have a spare called determination, an engine called perseverance and a driver called will power, you will make it to a place called success."

August 28th - Calli Johnson , Bailey's General Store Management Team

Calli Johnson, Wine Manager of Bailey's General Store, led a group discussion that inspired everyone to participate.  "We all have something to learn no matter what generation we're from," she said, a fact confirmed by ABWA participants from all around the room.   Her talk on Family, Philosophy and Wisdom from a Multi-Generational Workforce was punctuated by color commentary from her dad, Richard Johnson, GM of Bailey's. "We are a 119 year old business that embraces technology," he said. "Slowly but surely," she said, which had the group rolling with laughter. For generations, Bailey's has delivered outstanding customer experience, quality products, personalized service and value every day.  

This meeting launched our 40th year celebration by showcasing a legacy business on Sanibel supporting the development of women in leadership. We were proud to launch our speaker series with  Calli Johnson.

Selected 2017-2018 Professional Development Programs

June 12th - Gloria Garrett & Kira Sonin-Dworkin

Gloria Garret, President, HMG Consulting discussed networking wisdom and tips for building relationships that can drive business growth. Kira Sonin-Dworkin, owner of KM Gems, led a fun and friendly bling-out session for ABWA badges. Gloria and Kira, the 2018-2019 incming Chapter President and Vice President, enjoyed discussing the chapter's interests for the coming year with both members and guests. 

April 10th, 2018 Jean Baer, Local Roots Farmers Markets

 Jean Baer is the co-owner of Local Roots Farmers Markets.  Local Roots, LLC. operates farmers markets throughout Lee County Florida. Each market offers a unique opportunity for local vendors to sell seasonal local fruits, vegetables, cheeses, meats, breads, nursery stock and other commodities.   Jean discussed  the launch of Local Roots and lessons learned as a woman entrepreneur.   

March 13th, 2018 - Captain Nori Ann Reed, US Navy


Captain Nori Ann Reed, US Navy spoke on leadership and country. As a woman leader who rose to the top in a traditional man's world, she has many insights to share. Captain Reed is the first woman to serve as Commanding Officer on three US Navy ships: the USS KISKA, USS WILLAMETTE, and USS DETROIT. 

Febrary 13th, 2018 - Dr. Andrea Hazim

Dr. Hazim is the president and founder of Elev8Life, an educational foundation devoted to enriching the lives of young leaders of middle, high school and college age. She is a leadership trainer, mentor, and coach in both personal and corporate settings. She led a disccuion on discovering identity and purpose in life.   

January 9th 2018 - Christine Wright, "ABWA 101"


National ABWA Ambassador Christine Wright shared her experience and knowledge on the techniques, tips, and tools that the American Business Women's Association provides to help ensure chapters remain healthy and thriving.   These same tools can be used to organize and focus any business organization or project. Christine is Lawyer/Owner of Wright Law Firm. She was Awarded 2006 Business Associate - Cape Coral Caloosa Chapter of ABWA; 2008 Top Ten Business Woman, ABWA; and 2011 Woman of the Year - Cape Coral Caloosa Chapter of ABWA.

November 14th, 2017 - Michele Spitzer, Entrepreneur

The business plan for MaidPro of SW Florida was originally developed by Spitzer as a homework assignment for a business management class. Spitzer used that plan to create her business from scratch, eventually converting it to a MaidPro franchise. In addition to founding her own company, Spitzer is also one of the founders of  MaidPro Cares, a charitable organization that focuses on serving orphanages and underprivileged children.  

Contact Us

Drop us a line!


Questions or comments? Contact us at

ABWA Sanibel Captiva Charter Chapter

PO Box 1037, Sanibel, FL 33957, US

Upcoming Luncheon Meetings

Meetings are the 4th Tuesdays. Exceptions will be publicized.

Networking begins at 11:30 AM, followed by lunch, speaker, and discussion from  noon until 1:00 PM.

Location:  Sundial Beach Resort and Spa, 1451 Middle Gulf Dr, Sanibel FL 33957

Dates 2019: March 26, April 23, May 28, June 25, July 23.

Lunches are $25. RSVP at or register at

For our valued 85 Plus Members and Guests, and  Students, lunches are $20. RSVP at and pay at the door.