How long have you lived in Hernando County, and where do you live? Where did you live previously?
I moved to Hernando Beach in July 1999. I have owned other homes in the last 10 years, but always come back to the beach. Prior to living in Hernando County, I lived in San Francisco, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and Boston. I grew up in Langhorne, Pa., but left for college in Rhode Island in 1980.
Who are the members of your family?
My daughter, Nika, 9, is my immediate family. My parents still reside in Bucks County, Pa., along with my sister and nephew.
Tell us about your career.
I have had a very exciting and diverse career. It began with Deloitte, where I was a financial institutions consultant, and my specialty was operations and earning improvement studies. While with Deloitte, I began consulting with First Bank Systems and managed a team of consultants to reconcile and recover over a billion dollars in inaccurate accounting entries and monies that were incorrectly paid.
I joined First Banks as vice president of operations and, through a series of promotions, moved to mergers and acquisitions, and then became president and CEO of their West Coast trust companies. I left in 1994 and began a financial advisory company, Zeba Capital, to serve municipal clients. I built Zeba to $100 million under management, and in 1997 I sold Zeba to return to school.
I spent a year in Zimbabwe completing my postgraduate diploma in developmental economics. When I returned to the States, I met my husband and moved to Hernando County. I assisted him with his company for a few years and then started the BHER Group, a project management and grant services company. Since BHER's founding in 2006, we have secured $3 million for various agencies and nonprofit organizations.
What other kinds of activities are you involved in now?
For more than 20 years, I have championed diverse children's issues, from mentoring to drug and alcohol prevention. Since becoming a mother, I now see firsthand how critical role modeling is to children acquiring behavior and fulfilling their potential.
I was appointed chairwoman of the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando counties by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2005, and reappointed by Gov. Charlie Crist this year. I am also very active with the Hernando County Community Anti-Drug Coalition and the Chamber of Commerce Hernando Youth Initiative.
I serve on the Tampa Bay Prescription Drug Task Force, which successfully worked to pass the prescription drug monitoring bill. I also serve on Hernando County's Planning and Zoning Commission.
Do you have any special hobbies?
I can't really say that I have any special hobbies. I love my work, and as a single mother, business owner and homeowner, most — if not all — of my time is committed.
I am an avid reader and love to learn. I have a personal library of more than 4,000 books. I read novels as well as history, economics, child development, philosophy and social marketing books. I just have an insatiable appetite to learn.
What are your favorite things to do in Hernando County?
There are so many things to do in Hernando that it's hard to pick a favorite. I love the coastline and the waterways, canoeing the Weeki Wachee River at Rogers Park, swimming at Pine Island or taking in a sunset at Bayport. I enjoy Chinsegut (Nature Center) with my daughter and all of the activities they offer on weekends, as well as Pioneer Day and the campfire song events.
Because I live in Hernando Beach, I feel like I wake up to my favorite things every morning: cranes, egrets, pelicans, sailboats, motorboats, shrimpers, salt air, sea grass and gentle breezes.
What do you think would make Hernando County a better place to live?
I am an advocate of joint-use facilities and believe their time has come in Hernando County. In an environment of limited resources, all levels of government are facing choices that involve collaboration as a means of making the best possible use of scarce resources.
The guiding principle of joint-use facilities is that they provide a better standard of service than would otherwise be possible for all users and potential users. A joint-use facility should be "better than the sum of its parts." Advantages of joint-use facilities include increased use of resources, a greater number and wider range of users, joint funding and better use of staff skills.
When we create community campuses containing parks, libraries and schools, we ensure the maximum use of assets and eliminate duplication and overall costs. (Libraries and media centers serve as community knowledge centers; parks and school athletic fields are optimally utilized for students and community sports leagues; school theaters/auditoriums serve as community conference centers.)
Adults may be more likely to use a joint-use library than they would if they had to make a separate journey to a public library. They can use the library while they are at school for another purpose, or while their kids are on the athletic fields engaging in team sports.
The joint-use campus (school/park/library) layout accommodates both student and community use, and can be designed to allow the school flexibility in controlling access to various areas. Shared areas can practically be in separate buildings with a main hall connecting the joint-use wing to the education center.
You can also have micro-enterprise for student-operated businesses, such as a cyber cafe, which can serve as the public's entrance to all joint-use spaces and would be open to the public and students. Students would operate the cafe as part of the school's business curriculum.
Not only do joint-use facilities make sense financially, they make public facilities accessible to the public and provide the fertile foundation for personal interaction, a sense of belonging, and they bridge the intergenerational chasm present in our transient society.
Hernando Neighbors is an occasional feature of the Hernando Times. Do you know someone who would make a good profile? We'd like to hear from you. Contact Jean Hayes, community news coordinator, at email@example.com or (352) 848-1438.