Women’s Foundation of Collier County Announces 2016 Women of Initiative Honorees

Posted on February 11, 2016

The Women’s Foundation of Collier County has announced the 2016 Women of Initiative Honorees – ten local women who, through their leadership styles, are an inspiration to women seeking to make a difference through philanthropy and civic engagement. Since 1998, 175 women have been honored by the Women’s Foundation of Collier County.

Ten outstanding women will be honored during the annual Women of Initiative Honorees Luncheon to be held on April 8, 2016 at the Naples Grande Beach Resort. The prestigious group includes Shelly Church, Stacey Deffenbaugh, Leslie Fogg, Louise Penta, Allyson Richards, Lynne Shotwell, Vi Steffan, Niki Thompson, Catherine Ware and Ann Westerfield.

“These women are an inspiration to us all,” said Bev Cherry, chair of the Women’s Foundation of Collier County Steering Committee. “Through their leadership, innovation, energy, and dedication of their time and talent they have helped change the face of our community.”

Learn more about their exceptional accomplishments:

Shelly Church

As a Certified Financial Planner, Shelly Church counsels clients on investment, financial and estate planning. In her spare time, Shelly is extremely active in the Collier County community.  She currently serves as Treasurer and leads the Finance and Investment Committees at Camp Boggy Creek, a camp for seriously ill children. Shelly also serves as Board President of the Forum Club of Southwest Florida and sits on the Raymond James Executive Council. She remains one of the American Heart Association’s most valued volunteers as a passionate leader and advocate for their life saving mission. Shelly is a former member of the Board of Directors and President for the TECH Foundation; she is an alumni of Leadership Collier and has served on the Leadership Collier Advisory Board and as chair of the Leadership Collier Alumni Committee. She also served on the Founding Board of the Raymond James Women’s Advisory Council.


Stacey Deffenbaugh

You probably recognize Stacey Deffenbaugh as an anchor for NBC2. What you may not know is that she devotes much of her free time to local nonprofit organizations. Stacey serves on the Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society and also assists with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Relay for Life events. She serves on the Board of Directors for The Children’s Network of Southwest Florida, The March of Dimes, and the American Red Cross.  Stacey has been recognized with several honors, including the One Person Can Make a Difference Award by the Florida Coalition for Children, for a news segment called “Wednesday’s Child” that featured stories of local foster children.


Leslie Fogg

Leslie Fogg has been a driving force behind the success of the Naples Botanical Garden. During her tenure on the Board of Directors, she has served in a variety of roles including Chair of the Capital Campaign Committee. Leslie is also the Chair of the Development Committee, serves on the Executive Committee and co-chairs the Art Committee. She is a founding Co-Chair of the Hats in the Garden event. Leslie also played a key role in establishing the Sustaining Leadership Council and currently serves on its Executive Committee.  She has also served as a Trustee to many organizations including: Archives of American Art; Smithsonian Institution; Greenvale School; Art League of Long Island; Yale Parents Fund; Sarah Lawrence College; Planned Parenthood of Nassau County and Planned Parenthood of New York.


Louise Penta

Louise Penta has been an integral part of The Immokalee Foundation’s success in a variety of leadership roles. She has served on the Board of Directors for seven years, and has served as Chair and Co-Chair of the Immokalee Foundation’s Charity Classic Celebration. Louise is described as a “mentor extraordinaire” helping guide students through both the transition to high school and to college – providing support every step of the way. In 2014, she was recognized as Mentor of the Year for the state after being nominated by her mentees.  After retiring as an operating room nurse, she remained active in the medical profession.  Louise serves on the Leadership Council for the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston and chaired the organization’s Diamond Gala. She is also a member of the Dean’s Club and Keefer Society for the Boston University School of Medicine.


Allyson Richards

Unless you are active in volunteer work, the name Allyson Richards may not ring a bell. But chances are, you have been touched by her efforts. As one of her nominators said, “anyone who has ever taken a class at the Marco Island Family YMCA, attended the Taste of Marco, had a child at Marco Island Charter Middle School, attended San Marco Catholic Church, taken their dog to Mutts and Martinis, or has donated or received food or clothing through the YMCA’s Daily Bread Run, has been in some way connected to this dynamic doer.”  Volunteering is what Allyson does full-time. She is the current Board President of the Greater Marco Family YMCA and chairs the YMCA’s Daily Bread Run.  Allyson also serves on the board of the Marco Island Charter Middle School, serves on the San Marco Catholic Church Finance Committee, serves on the Newcomers Club board and fundraises for the American Cancer Society.  She has chaired the Marco Island Center for the Arts Masquerade Ball Gala and co-chaired the Mutts and Martinis fundraiser.


Lynne Shotwell

Lynne Shotwell’s father introduced her to a love of nature and was an influential part of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in its early days. Lynne has carried on that tradition with her role as a major supporter, board member, executive and event committee member over 30 years. She was an active member of the Conservancy’s five-year Capital Cabinet campaign.  Most recently, she led the Magic under the Mangroves event committee for two years. Lynne has been an influential philanthropic supporter of many local organizations including: Naples Historical Society; the Everglades Foundation; Naples United Church of Christ; the Humane Society of Collier County; NAMI of Collier County and Youth Haven. Lynn also serves on the Hats in the Garden event committee at Naples Botanical Garden.


Vi Steffan

After retiring from the full-time work force, Vi Steffan dedicated herself to civic engagement. She began volunteering with the Supervisor of Elections and continues to serve as a poll worker. Vi also serves as a member of the League of Women Voters of Collier County. She has served in numerous leadership roles for the Greater Naples Branch of the American Association of University Women, is an alumni of Greater Naples Leadership, and has served the League of Women Voters of Collier County. Currently, Vi is the Vice President/Director of Laces of Love Charitable Foundation, where she has chaired numerous events.  She also serves as a member of the Mending Broken Hearts event committee for the Shelter for Abused Women and Children. Vi is a member of the Power of the Purse event committee for the Women’s Foundation of Collier County. She also serves on the David Lawrence Center Board of Directors and is acting as the board’s liaison to the Young Executives of the David Lawrence Center.


Niki Thompson

Niki Thompson has been an active part of the Shelter for Abused Women and Children for nearly a decade. She co-chaired the Mending Broken Hearts event two years in a row and organized the entire silent auction both years. Niki has also served as the First Vice President and President of the Shelter Guild leading 14 different sub-committees. She continues to serve on the Executive Committee for the Shelter Guild as a resource for incoming leadership. Niki is also an avid supporter of Baby Basics and chaired their annual fashion show for several years. As an alumni of Tri-Delta sorority, Niki has organized a fundraiser fashion show for the past 12 years.  Simultaneously, she also organizes a fundraising fashion show for the Greater Naples Area Panhellenic.  Niki also works with the First Mates Sailing & Yacht Club to coordinate an annual luncheon in support of the Shelter for Abused Women.


Catherine Ware

After relocating to Naples, Catherine Ware’s “need to know” about caring for her small private garden led her on a path where she eventually became a leader in Naples Garden Club and Naples Botanical Garden. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Naples Garden Club where she has chaired and participated on several committees. Catherine has been described as, “the rudder who keeps Naples Garden Club balanced and directed in the role of contributing to the community.” She also serves on the board for the Naples Botanical Garden in several leadership roles. Catherine also serves the Ikebana International Naples Chapter. She has supported numerous local organizations, including: the Conservancy of Southwest Florida; Neighborhood Health Clinic; The League Club; and is an alumni of Greater Naples Leadership.


Ann Westerfield

An active member of The League Club for over a decade, Ann Westerfield has served as President and held various Board of Director positions. She has also served on numerous committees for The League Club and as an advisor on fundraising events. Ann is active supporter of the Naples Garden Club and serves as Board Secretary and Co-Chair of the Grants Committee. She is an alumni of Greater Naples Leadership and serves on their Continuing Education Committee. Ann is a member of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s Magic Under the Mangroves Committee, a member of the Stars in the Arts Committee for the United Arts Council of Collier County, and Co-Chair of the Entertainment Committee at Naples Yacht Club. Ann has also served on the board for the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida.