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Super Women

15 remarkable ladies who strive to make Central Florida a better place…

WOMAN OF THE YEAR: Pamela Landwirth
For Landwirth, her goal is to help create the happiness that inspires hope for children, which is why Give Kids The World Village, a storybook resort in Central Florida for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families, has more than doubled in size from 32 acres to 84 since Landwirth became president and CEO in 1995. With new venues and attractions, the number of visitors each year has grown from 3,949 in 1995 to 7,600 today and volunteer shifts have even quadrupled from 421 to more than 1,600 per week. Landwirth—who has a background in resort operations, human resource development and project planning—previously worked at Walt Disney World Company for 16 years and was a consultant to the president and CEO of Hard Rock Cafe. She has also served on nonprofit boards and currently sits on the Executive Advisory Board for Something mAAgic Foundation and the University of Central Florida Nonprofit Advisory Board.

Stephanie Porta
For the past 15 years, Porta has worked to support low-income communities on equity issues. Her efforts have contributed to raising Florida’s minimum wage in 2004, new police accountability reforms, foreclosure prevention programs and campaigns to make utilities more affordable, among others. In 2010, Porta co-founded Organize Florida and serves as its executive director. The membership organization has a presence in 17 counties across mid-Florida. Porta has championed efforts to pass Earned Sick Time in Orange County and in 2016 she supported outreach efforts to more than 2 million voters in the state. Born and raised in Orlando, where she lives with her partner Edgar and three cats, Porta is a steadfast fighter for Florida and the issues facing its residents.

Karen Broussard
As vice president agency relations and programs at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Broussard is fighting hunger as she leads a team of 17 professionals and guides and supports collaborative efforts in promoting community health via access to nutritious foods. Broussard is no stranger to the nonprofit human service community, as she’s held various roles, including one of a practicing therapist and developer of child- and family-focused programming.

Misty Wheeler-Belin
Soap and charity go hand-in-hand for Wheeler- Belin, who founded her own natural soap brand, Florida Soap Company, in 2010. Now a luxury line, Wheeler-Belin also founded her own charity, Misty’s Dawn Foundation, Inc., to give back to women who face addiction recovery, abuse and human trafficking-based issues. Now a 501(c)(3), the foundation helps fund education and employment expenses for those women who are trying to break the cycle.

Karla Radka
Goodwill Industries of Central Florida’s chief operating officer has elevated the organization’s outreach thanks to the numerous initiatives she launched, from its first fundraising program, which helped diversify its revenue streams and enhanced its visibility in the community, to Goodwill University, a professional development program cultivating talent within the organization. She is also the founding director of the national award-winning program, Public Allies Central Florida, and co-founded Hope Now International, which helps local students in need.

Kim Strong
If there is anyone who understands the true meaning of charity, it is Strong, the senior vice president of philanthropy, government and community affairs with the YMCA of Central Florida. Strong’s passion within the nonprofit community is second to none, and most notably, within those living in underserved and economically challenged neighborhoods. Strong is best known not only for her excellent fundraising skills, but her ability to develop close-knit relationships among her community through her charitable efforts with the YMCA. Those efforts include providing before- and after- school programs for children in underserved neighborhoods; programs and healing outlets for those suffering chronic illness; and programs for seniors, teens, preschoolers and infants.

Julie Meyer
What started as a volunteer gig at Florida Hospital in 2009, soon turned into a staff member position where Meyer is now the volunteer services manager at Florida Hospital East Orlando. Certified as a professional in human resources (PHR), Meyer is also a member of the Society of Human Resource Management, the Association of Healthcare Volunteer Resource Professionals and treasurer of the Florida Association of Directors of Volunteer Services.

Karen Allen
Allen is the executive director of Girls on the Run Orlando, an organization offering transformational, physical activity-based youth development programs for girls in third to eighth grade whose mission is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, confident and help them successfully navigate life experiences. Allen, who has always been passionate about making a difference, is responsible for overall council direction, fundraising, advocacy, managing external relationships and community partnerships.

Vicki Hahl Landon
In her role as development director for Orlando Repertory Theatre—an organization that provides access to arts and theater to underprivileged youth— Landon serves on REP’s executive leadership team and oversees all contributed income for the theater, raising over $1.5 million annually through special events, private donations, corporate sponsorships and grant writing.

Robin Daily
Daily found her passion for helping others in 2004 when she started volunteering in the local community, and her passion continues to grow each year. She started with Zebra Coalition as a volunteer in 2012 and was hired in April as community engagement coordinator, where she is responsible for executing community outreach initiatives and raising awareness for the organization and the mission they serve—to foster hope, dignity and self-respect in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and all youth, and to provide them an opportunity to grow up in a safe, healthy and supportive environment. Daily also manages the Coalition partnerships and community work group committees, including outreach into local high schools with their Central Florida Gay-Straight Alliance Network, providing support for students and a connection to Zebra Coalition’s services.

Erin Swilley
Growing up, Swilley was introduced to animal rescue by her grandmother, who would save any animal— birds, bats, squirrels, dogs and cats—in need of assistance. But it was something about dogs that Swilley couldn’t resist, so she studied up on breeds, veterinary medicine and training. In high school she trained dogs around the neighborhood for free, until she adopted her own rescue dog from the county shelter. Swilley says over 25,000 domestic pets are euthanized each year in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties alone, and dogs with behavioral concerns are at the top of the list. In 2013 she founded Happy Trails Animal Rescue to help shelter dogs that were misunderstood, mislabeled or have been victims of cruelty and neglect. The organization helps give these animals the training and rehabilitation they need to become adoptable. Happy Trails operates on a foster home model and has hopes to raise funds to break ground on its own dedicated facility in 2018. Having obtained a business degree from Seminole State University while simultaneously running the rescue, Swilley is currently pursuing a master’s in nonprofit management.

Natalie Lovero
Lovero works with LIFT Orlando, a nonprofit that works to revitalize housing and break the poverty cycle in the Greater Orlando area. As one of the original team members, she serves in the role of community partnerships and is currently working to organize community partners around a collective impact model, ensuring that these organizations are working together in the most effective way and that there is true impact in the lives of individuals and families.

Audrey K. Chisholm, ESQ 
Chisholm’s work in trademark, nonprofit and corporate law is impressive—she has a 100 percent success rate for both 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit filings and federal trademarks—yet her work outside of the office has just as much clout. She is the founder of Revolution Leadership, Inc., a nationally recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing educational leadership training and scholarships to students, and she was the recipient of the Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition by the United States House of Representatives for her community work.

Mary Jane Isner
Isner discovered her love for wildlife Rehabilitation while working in the Central Florida Zoo after moving to the Sunshine State from Pennsylvania. As a favor to the Orlando Humane Society, Isner would care for injured and orphaned squirrels in her home, and its director urged her to obtain her state and federal wildlife rehabilitation permit. In 1987, she did just that and opened The Haven for Injured and Orphaned Wildlife. In her years pursuing this passion, Isner and her team of dedicated volunteers—for whom she is thankful every day—have seen all manner of wildlife, from otters and bobcats to foxes and reptiles. With patience, care and love, these animals are restored to a state of health that allows them to be released back into their native habitats. Through The Haven, Isner also raises awareness about these animals and their place in our ecosystem by speaking at schools, clubs and other organizations.

Cora Berchem
A native of Germany, Berchem came to the U.S. in 2002. After studying film and media arts, she moved to Florida where she completed the Advanced Master Naturalist Program through the University of Florida to become more familiar with Florida’s ecosystems. This led her to writing and directing a feature-length documentary about manatees in 2013 titled Before It’s Too Late, which educates about the marine mammal and the threats facing the species. Through that venture she began working with the Save the Manatee Club, an international nonprofit conservation organization. In addition to overseeing video production and live webcams for the club, Berchem leads the Manatee Volunteer Observer Program and helps with research during the winter. In her free time she volunteers for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, where she assists with manatee rescues, recoveries and releases.

One Response to “Super Women”
  1. Kathleen Nixon says:

    I have known Erin Rae Swilley. For quite some time she is an amazing woman doing amazing things for animals she deserves all of this much love into success to all who are in this as you all deserve it and I woman I admire today

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