Evans Reaffirms SCCF’s Enduring Commitment to Conservation, Community

SCCF CEO James Evans addresses members at the annual meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at Sanibel Harbor Marriott. SC photo by Shannen Hayes

Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation CEO James Evans reaffirmed the organization’s enduring commitment to conservation and the community this week at the SCCF Annual Meeting.

“Aside from the 1960s and 70s, there has never been a time more important than now to remain vigilant against external development pressures,” said Evans. “I want to thank our community for standing strong in the face of what we expect to be tremendous challenges that threaten our wildlife, our way of life, and our local economy.”

“There is no question that the conservation spirit continues to glow brightly on our islands and is a beacon of hope for future generations,” he added.

A group of about 100 members gathered Tuesday, Dec. 6 at the Sanibel Harbor Marriott, and another 150 tuned-in online for the business portion of the meeting. Four new trustees were welcomed to the board, new officers were appointed and leadership reports were heard.

Members were shown “The Island Keepers,” a moving 17-minute episode of the docuseries “The Rebuild,” which tells the stories of life after Hurricane Ian in Southwest Florida. The episode delves into SCCF’s history, mission and purpose and explores how staff have carried the spirit of conservation and community throughout its hurricane response efforts.

About 100 members attended the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation Annual Meeting Tuesday, Dec. 6 at the Sanibel Harbor Marriott, with another 150 members tuning-in online for the business portion of the meeting. SC photo by Shannen Hayes

Outgoing Board President Don Rice applauded the organization’s response to the historic storm. “I simply want to declare SCCF – our leaders, our team – performed magnificently, and continue to perform with great courage, competence and commitment,” he said.

“We are where we are today, and we have the strength we have because of our legacy work, our selfless dedication to the task at hand,” Rice continued, “(and) the sacrifices and personal losses that our own folks have suffered at the same time remain committed to our conservation mission.”

Treasurer John Raho shared a financial report which reflected the strength of the organization’s community and legacy support.

“The overall financial strength of SCCF remains solid in the face of challenges from COVID overhang, the ongoing weak equity market and now Ian,” he wrote. “We still face headwinds in fundraising from an uncertain economy, but we remain cautiously optimistic as the team has already achieved momentum.”

Evans encouraged attendees to read the impressive annual report for an in-depth look at the incredible mission-focused work accomplished throughout the fiscal year, from July 2021 to June 2022. It includes a four-page Hurricane Ian insert worth reading, too.

While recognizing the many challenges and opportunities SCCF faced this past fiscal year, Rice cited the transition from CEO Ryan Orgera to Evans in January as a key shift.

“We were able to expand the roles and capabilities of many staff people, and James moved to a more collegial and collaborative approach to mission fulfillment,” said Rice as he reported on successes across all programs.

New trustees include John Morse, Mary Ellen Pfeifer, Lisa Riordan, and Doug Ryckman. New officers are President Anne Nobles, Vice President Doug Ryckman, and Secretary Megan Doss. Treasurer John Raho retains his office.

In a post-Ian resolution, all current trustees will continue to serve through the end of the fiscal year (June 30), including outgoing President Don Rice, outgoing Secretary Ran Niehoff, Bob Brooks, Laura DeBruce, Sandra Gross, Nik Khakee, Tom Libonate, Jill McCormack, Dick Pyle, Chip Roach, Laura Shaffer, and Christine Szymanczyk.

Legacy Society inductions included the Estate of Sally Lichtenstein, the Estate of Beverly Ball, the Estate of Thomas Bone, the Estate of Breese Tomick, Jill and John Kirkpatrick, Peter Siegenthaler, and the Daniel P. Hagerman Foundation, represented by George, Audrey, and Lisa Hagerman.

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