Your Voice, Your Vote, Your UChicago Mid-Florida Alumni Club
Bylaw changes, board member and officer elections
The Alumni Association is moving each of our alumni clubs to a common fiscal year, beginning July 1. As a result, we need to change our Club by-laws. Our current board, with additional research and legal expertise of Juana Harper and Mike Jones, has recommended that we make the following additional changes to our bylaws at the same time:
• Change our fiscal year to conform to the directive of the Alumni Association;
• Limit voting to UChicago alumni * in the service area, as defined by the Alumni Association;
• Allow the Club “to assist alumni in other geographic areas of Florida not covered by other regional and/or affinity alumni clubs and hold related events;”
• Designate board member elections to be held in odd numbered years;
• Provide that members-at-large serve the same terms as officers;
• Waive the pre-requisite service requirement for president ** if no candidates or volunteers are available.
Biennial Election of Club Board Members and Officers
Our bylaws require a biennial election of board members and officers. After broadly seeking candidates and nominees, the following recommendations are submitted to our Club membership for approval.
Nominations for the UChicago Alumni Board of Mid-Florida: July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2017
President ** Suzanne Verhulst (St. Petersburg). Suzanne served as treasurer and registrar of the club since its inception. She is the Alumni Schools Committee chair for West and South Florida, launched and managed the Book Award program and is a substitute teacher in the International Baccalaureate program at St. Petersburg High School.
Vice President: Juana Harper *** (Tampa). Juana Harper is the current Vice-President of the Mid-Florida Club. Appointed to the 1979 Ad Hoc Commission on Alumni Affairs by President Hanna Gray and a founding board member/officer of the Alumni Club of Metropolitan Chicago, Juana has been program chair for two college class reunions and is a board member of the University of Chicago Association of Black Alumni.
Secretary: Sameer Sabharwal*** (St. Petersburg). Sameer is a financial analyst at Eagle Asset Management, a division of Raymond James Financial Services. He has served as Secretary of the Board of the Mid-Florida Club for the last two years and has been a board member since 2010.
Treasurer: During this past year, we have facilitated making online reservations and payments for our programs, with the Alumni office now handling these and our accounting. As a result, we are not submitting a candidate for the office of Treasure at this time.
Continuing Members at Large
Deanna Bennett, President Emeritus (Palm Harbor). Deanna served as president of our club for 11 years. She led U.S. military research and development projects for 30 years before retiring to a dual second career as an author of historical and contemporary fiction and an actress.
Walt Blenner (Tarpon Springs). Walt is an attorney in private practice, focusing in the areas of personal injury and estate planning. He has been president of the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce, Florida Craftsmen (now Florida CraftArt) and is currently chairman of the Board of the Dunedin Art Center and a docent at the Salvador Dali Museum.
Sharon Connors Dante (North Redington Beach). Sharon teaches Humanities at St. Petersburg College after a long career as an actress. She has been a board member of the club for several years, helping to plan and execute a number of club activities and representing the University of Chicago at yearly book award presentations.
Ron Hammerle (Valrico). Ron is currently president of the Mid-Florida club and chairman and CEO of Health Resources, Ltd., a healthcare innovations company.
Mike Jones (Orlando). Mike is an attorney in Orlando, served as our regional coordinator for Mid-Florida, helped expand the Club’s programming types and locations and is chairman of the North/Center Alumni Schools Committee, an alumni group that interviews applicants who request an alumni interview.
Jim Verhulst (St. Petersburg). Jim is editor of the Perspective section of the Tampa Bay Times and is a member of the editorial board. He has helped organize alumni events for several years, including the UnCommon Core Mid-Florida Style program, which has become an annual signature event for our club.
Proposed New Members At Large
Kathryn Burruss (St. Petersburg) is a financial services professional bringing client relations, communications, marketing and fundraising experience from Goldman Sachs, the University Of Chicago Department Of Political Science and the United States Agency for International Development.
Veronica Drake (Orlando) has served for eight years an enrollment counselor and representative for the University of Phoenix in Orlando. She previously served as a Global Training Coordinator for Tupperware and an account manager and business development specialist for Foote, Cone & Belding in Chicago.
Barbara Katz (Sarasota) served as a national journalist for more than a decade, working for the National Observer (a Dow Jones publication), United Press International and CBS Radio; Legislative Counsel to the Consumer Federal of America and former Senior Counsel for the Division of Enforcement of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Leon Ellin (Sarasota). Leon has served for many years as a business executive, including time as chief financial officer or chief operating officer for both public and private companies. He has been involved in many UChicago alumni activities, including service as a class reunion co-chair and two term member of the University of Chicago Alumni Board of Governors.
*Alumni, parents and friends of the University of Chicago are eligible for membership. There is no fee to be a member. All are presently eligible to vote. The Mid-Florida club service area presently extends as far north as Gainesville, to the east as far as Orlando and to the south as far as Venice. The service area is subject to the definition and approval of the University of Chicago Alumni Association.
** Members nominated to serve as president of the club are presently limited to those who have already served at least one term as an officer.
***Second two year term in this office. Current bylaws provide that officers may presently serve not more than two terms in any office and shall work to identify their successor during the last year of their term.
As an alumni of the University, and thereby a member of our geographically-defined Club, your vote is important. Please take a moment to cast your vote related to proposed bylaw changes and new board members.
Please email your vote by June 15 to our statewide Alumni staff liaison, Sharday El-Assar, firstname.lastname@example.org. To facilitate counting, please reply in the subject line only, indicating your vote, chosen from one of the voting numbers below: [Example. Subject: MidFL, voting # ___, your last name and UChicago degree.]
1. To approve both recommendations;
2. To approve the bylaw changes only;
3. To approve the board nominees only; or
4. To reject both recommendations.
University of Chicago Alumni Club of Mid-Florida