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. 

Register: https://ABWASanibelCaptiva.Eventbrite.com 

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 https://ABWASanibelCaptiva.org and find more activities on Eventbrite.



40TH Anniversary Celebration May 3, 2019

Join with ABWA Sanibel Captiva to Celebrate 40 Years as "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, Auctions, Peace, Love and Rock ‘n Roll!

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 info@ABWASanibelCaptiva.org.

NEW YEAR KICK OFF MEETING! Jan 22nd features Kay Casperson, Founder, CEO, Author & Lifestyle Expert

On January 22nd, join as we launch the new year with the perfect topic: "Simple Steps to Living Your Most Beautiful Life Everyday!" As Founder and CEO of BeautifuLife, as well as  a respected Author, Columnist and Lifestyle Expert, Capserson is perfectly qualitified to lead this discussion.

RSVP at info@ABWASanibelCaptiva.org 



NEXT MEETING! Dec 18th features Melissa Rice, Executive Director, Community Housing and Resources

On December 18th, join in for our holiday luncheon and year end speaker, Melissa Rice, Executive Director of CHR, presenting the perfect Holiday topic:  "When Business and Compassion Collide."   As Executive Director of Community Housing and Resources, Inc., Rice has inspiring stories and lessons to share about leadership in the collision zone.

Just for December, we're meeting on the third Tuesday of the month. 

January 4th Executive Board Meeting

Would you like to participate in chapter administration? Join in the monthly Executive Board Meetings at the Sanibel Captiva Community Bank conference room at  2475 Library Way in Sanibel. All primary members in good standing can vote and we're delighted to have current members and those considering becoming members join in the discussion. On January 4th, the meeting is 11:30 am-12:30PM pm, with discussion continuing until 1:30 pm for those who can stay. We will  review  our progress on best practices the upcoming regional meeting in March and our position on the water quality issue. Bring your own lunch.

Sanibel Captiva Charter Chapter 

partners with 


at the December 18th luncheon. Bring a toy, gift card or check to the meeting and help FRIENDS WHO CARE  support children and adults in crisis situations. Last year's holiday drive served 150 local children and their families with toys, gift cards and holiday meals.

CONNECTIONS AFTER Hours! Jan 14th at the Visitor Center

Join us January 14th after hours at the newly renovated Sanibel Island Visitors Center at the Chamber of Commerce,  1159 Causeway Road on Sanibel. The Visitor Center will be open from 5:30pm-7:00pm for pre-registered ABWA members and their guests plus Chamber of Commerce members. It will be a great networking event, a chance to see new technology at work, and an opportunity to get to know each other better.

Appetizers and beverages will be served. Register for $5 at https://ABWASanibelCaptiva.Evemtbrite.com or RSVP at INFO@ABWASanibelCaptiva.org



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 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 President of our chapter twice and has played countless leadership roles during her 30-year association with ABWA, including Woman of the Year. Nancy and  husband Ed ran Sanibel Island Graphics for decades, and Nancy continues today managing the Sanibel office. 

2018-2019 Professional Development Programs

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 uniquely qualified to examine 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 has an equally 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, is immediate past board chair for the PACE Center for Girls, and advises many other boards and committees.

Oct 23rd - Dorrie Hipschman, Executive Director of the Bailey-Matthew's 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 the team at the National Shell Museum 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 in the most appropriate way -- showcasing a legacy business on Sanibel supporting the development of women in leadership. It was an honor to have Calli  as our first speaker in the Women in Leadership Speaker Series.

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 INFO@ABWASanibelCaptiva.org

ABWA Sanibel Captiva Charter Chapter

PO Box 1037, Sanibel, FL 33957, US

Upcoming Luncheon Meetings

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

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 2018: December 18.

Dates 2019: January 22, Febraury 26, March 26, April 23, May 28, June 25, July 23.

Lunches are $20. RSVP at info@ABWASanibelCaptiva.org or register at