Leadership Marco: Class of ‘09

tendiIntroducing the next four participants in the program, which involves a three-month commitment atng sessions every other week to learn about all aspects of the island

Dave Baer.

Photo by QUENTIN ROUX, Staff

Dave Baer.

Nichole McGrath.

Photo by QUENTIN ROUX, Staff

Nichole McGrath.

Laura Owen.

Photo by QUENTIN ROUX, Staff

Laura Owen.

Kevin Donlan.

Photo by QUENTIN ROUX, Staff

Kevin Donlan.

Dave Baer

An original member of the Marco Island Police Department, and formerly a police chief in Ohio, Baer has a diverse public safety background with two decades in law enforcement as well as firefighting and emergency medicine experience.

The recipient of many commendations in Ohio and locally, Baer is also a veteran of the United States Coast Guard Reserve and Ohio Military Reserves (military police), serving as both an enlisted member and commissioned officer.

He earned his associates degree in criminal justice from the University of Toledo, and has taught in various related police/safety/firefighting settings.

Married with two daughters, Baer is ardent student of history, and also enjoys aviation, drum corps and computers.

He volunteered for Leadership Marco, he says, to become more informed and effective.

“Often professionals — regardless of their field — narrow their view of the outside world, failing to understand the symbiotic nature of the community,” he says.

“I am confident I will learn about various facets of Marco Island that will enlighten me as both a person and municipal employee.”

Baer adds he’s enjoying networking with the other program participants.

As for his vision of a future Marco, Baer says he doesn’t see any significant changes.

“Most growth will probably take the form of tear-downs, both in terms of residential and commercial development,” he says.

The new bridge, Baer feels, will obviously improve access to and from the island.

“However I question its perceived negative impact to the island,” he says.

“I know people who moved to the island 40 years ago and lament each new house that is built; conversely I know residents who look forward to new educational and commercial opportunities.”

Baer says it appears the demographics of the island are changing, particularly with younger families moving to the island.

With the mix of families, retirees, business owners, tourists, blue and white-collar workers, he says, it seems that the key to a positive future is the ability to blend the needs and desires of each unique group.

“I believe that this concept is one of the foundation principals of the Leadership Marco program,” he says.

Baer adds that beach access on Marco and the reduction of marinas around the state — and possibly on Marco — concern him.

Nichole McGrath

Describing herself as a “driven individual” in terms of applying herself to her job, McGrath is with Keller Williams Realty on Marco Island.

“I have enjoyed architecture and decorating for as long as I can remember, and real estate utilizes all my skills,” she says.

McGrath’s family headed for Marco while she was a high school junior in Youngstown, Ohio.

“We moved to get out of the cold weather, but visit a few times a year to catch up with family and old friends,” she says.

She completed high school at Saint John Neumann, and later graduated cum laude from the University of South Florida with a degree in business management.

Among her achievements were being inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, a national Honour Society, receiving the Golden Key Award (an academic achievement) and being part of an on-campus sorority that did volunteer work around the campus and the Tampa Bay area throughout her college years.

A lifelong competitive swimmer who has completed a couple of ocean marathons and looks forward to more, McGrath also enjoys biking, running, going to the beach, being with friends and family, baking, and Interior design/drafting.

McGrath joined the Leadership Marco Program to be more involved with the community, and to gain a better perspective of the island’s machinations.

“I think this program is an asset to the newcomers to the island as well as the long time residents,” she says.

Looking at the Marco of the future, McGrath says: “My hopes are that people will still want to come to this beautiful tropical island that many of us get to call home, all year round.

Laura Owen

The chef/restaurant manager for CJ’s on the Bay, Owen’s family is spread widely throughout the country.

Her parents live in Elkin, NC, her sister, husband and son in Hampshire, IL and her brother, his wife and son and daughter in Columbus, Ohio.

In the area in 1993, Owen lives in a Condo on Henderson Creek Drive with her partner, Teri.

They have two west highland white terriers, Owen and Quincy.

Formerly the Food and Beverage Coordinator at the Naples National Golf Club, Owen later joined Marek’s Collier House Restaurant as a chef.

“That experience proved to be the richest in my professional career,” she says.

“I was learning from an award winning and truly gifted chef (Peter Marek). My eight seasons there helped to shape me as a chef, business person and community member.”

Her next stint was four years at Café and Bar Lurcat on Fifth Avenue in Naples, after which joined the then-Bayview Restaurant at the Esplanade.

When it changed hands and became CJ’s on the Bay, she struck up a professional relationship with new owners Curt and Jacquie Koon, and stayed on.

“CJ’s is my home away from home, and an exciting future awaits us all,” she says.

“Besides cooking and all things food and beverage, I enjoy spending time at home, with the ‘boys’ and playing Wii,” Owen adds.

Her interest in the Leadership Marco program stems from conversations with graduates of the program and her love of Marco.

“Past graduates always tell me how much they enjoyed the program, how much they learned, and how it created new relationships, both personally and professionally,” she says.

“This program provides the opportunity to become immersed in our community in manner that is not otherwise available.”

Owen’s future view of the island: “As (it) continues to draw a more and more diverse group of people, both as visitors and residents, it will continue to grow and change. “Marco will become home to more young families as well as retirees and vacationers. The current climate of providing more public areas (parks and beach access) as well as expanding educational facilities and environmental protections will prove valuable to the evolution of the island.”

Cementing Marco’s reputation, Owen adds, are attractions such as its crescent beach, the array of recreational activities, and it’s “tremendously philanthropic residents.”

Kevin Donlan

Store manager for the “bigger” Publix at the Shops of Marco, Donlan recently married Karin.

Originally from England, Donlan’s family moved to the United States when he was 12, settling in Bradenton, Fla.

A Bayshore High School graduate, Donlan began his Publix career at just 19 in Orlando.

After completing stints in Bradenton, Sarasota, and Venice, he moved to Naples in 2006, and to Marco in July 2007.

Donlan, who lists his interests as “anything on the water, and work around the house,” enlisted in the Leadership Marco program to learn about the island and meet new people.

“I feel that being a manager of Publix, I should get to know my community and be involved as much as I can,” he says. “I have met a lot of new friends since I have been on the island, and want to make sure that they can count on me when needed.”

Donlan’s sees the Marco of the near future as being a tourist destination for younger families.

“I feel that the island has a lot of great people who are proud to be living in such a paradise — and are constantly looking for ways to improve business and drive traffic to Marco Island — but also ensure that the island is a beautiful place for families to live,” he says.

“I also think that the benefits of meeting the community leaders who participate in the program will accelerate a professional network that might otherwise take years to build.

“Finally, on a more personal level, I expect to narrow a list of potential organizations for which I might volunteer my time and talents.”

Donlan adds that in many ways the future has already arrived.

“The city has emerged as a stable and productive community with outstanding resources, great leadership and human capital that continues to grow,” he says.

Donlan says he’s also convinced the Marco as a whole will emerge from tough economic times as a healthier and wiser community.

“I envision new green initiatives, a more pedestrian-friendly city, more transportation options, more local art and music, and a revitalized Town Center district,” he says.

© 2009 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 2

ChuckKiester writes:

See. Three out of four are either from or have ties to Ohio. All good, hardworking people. Go Buckeyes! Chuck Kiester

August8 writes:


They say Ohio is nice this time of year !!!!!!!

"Go Gators"

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