PHOTOS: Leadership Marco — The Class of 2010, Part 2

Gretchen Baldus

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) manager

City of Marco Island

Baldus has a bachelor’s degree is GIS/Cartography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Baldus is the GIS manager for the city of Marco Island, and recently has undertaken additional Information Technology duties including management of the city’s website and audio-visual operations. Baldus has worked in the GIS industry for 20 years, most recently with the city of Naples and Collier County. Prior to her relocation to Florida, she was employed by a research center at Montana State University, as well as local governments in Montana and Wisconsin.

She and her husband Bill have two cats: Spot and Spike, both female. When not working, Baldus enjoys fly-fishing, boating, camping and traveling with her husband Bill.

She joined Leadership Marco because, “During my employment with the city of Marco Island I have had the opportunity to meet previous participants in the Leadership Marco program and through them have learned the extensive value of participation and the breadth of knowledge about our city that can be gained. I’m also excited about the opportunity for greater exposure to the business community and gaining better perspective on how my responsibilities at the city can better complement the direction of our community.

“In the Marco of the future I envision a community that continues to retain its small-town character, preserves and protects its natural beauty, and enjoys a strong, diverse local economic base that has evolved beyond a tourist destination.”

Raul Medina

Assistant vice president, branch manager

SunTrust Bank

Raul Medina holds a bachelor’s degree in International Business from San Francisco State University. He has been the branch manager at SunTrust Bank for the past four years and has worked in the finance world for 10 years with such institutions as Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter and Citibank. Prior to that, he worked in retail. His most memorable retail job was working for the Giorgio Armani Corp., as a sales person for Emporio Armani in Costa Mesa and San Francisco.

He and his wife have two children, Arianna, 6, and Mannix, 10 months old. Medina’s hobbies include traveling with his family, riding his classic motorcycles (especially on long trips), playing co-ed volleyball at the Great Marco Island Family YMCA and coaching his daughter’s under-6 soccer team.

“I like giving my time to the Habitat for Humanity,” he said. Most recently he developed a four-week long leadership class for the Habitat youth.

“I am also a proud member of the Noontime Rotary which I greatly enjoy. Most recently I’ve joined the Cancer Society as a logistics volunteer.”

He wanted to join Leadership Marco because he “had the privileged of meeting past graduates and I have found them to be high caliber individuals and well respected leaders in this community. I feel that it will be an honor and privileged to be part of this esteemed group.

“My outlook of Marco Island (is) positive. I feel that this Island has lots of opportunity for development. It’s a young city and it will only get better as its goes through its growing pains. I currently don’t live on the Island, but I am looking forward to that day.”

Kathryn Pizzino

Director of advertising sales

Marco Island Cable

Kathryn Pizzino has spent the past 15 years in the television broadcast/cable industry.

“I’ve implemented a (television) advertising program that allows local business owners the opportunity to advertise locally on national networks like CNN, ESPN and USA to name a few. I wanted to create an affordable solution for the business owners on Marco.”

She relocated in January from Cleveland, Ohio, and “I am a proud mother of my 17-year-old son Joseph. I enjoy golf, boating and fishing. Basically anything coupled with sunshine and water,” she said.

“Being in the Leadership program allows me the opportunity to become acclimated to my new surroundings and really get to know the Island and its residents.

As for the Island’s future: “My hope is that everyone who visits Marco Island experiences the same mystical charm that has made a perfect stranger feel as though they have been here their entire life.”

Thom Carr

Police chief

Marco Island Police Department

Chief Thom Carr has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Indianapolis. He has specialized training from the FBI National Academy, and began working for Marco Island Police Department after serving 26 years in Indianapolis. He served 29 years in the Army and Reserves, serving a tour of duty in Vietnam, as a helicopter pilot and battalion liaison, retiring in 1995 as a lieutenant colonel. He has many law enforcement and military training and schools under his belt.

Carr and his wife have three children: Brandon, 38; Melinda, 32; and Marni 37. They have four grandchildren: Kaleb, 8; McKensie, 10; Elina, 6; and Zacary, 9.

Carr enjoys boating and golf on his time off.

“I volunteered for Leadership Marco to learn more about the city, the Island and the area. I had been vacationing in Naples for 15 years (prior to moving here) and I love the area but I am short on the history and I want to find out more about it,” Carr said. “I also wanted to meet more people (who) are versed in the many facets of Marco Island and the people (who) developed it. I have been very impressed with the caliber of people that I have met in Marco over the past 10 years; the varied backgrounds and the wealth of information that they possess. I hope to meet more like them. I also like the kind of comradeship that develops when working with a group who has like goals. These are the friendships and contacts that are worth their weight in gold.”

As for the future of Marco Island, he would “like to see Marco build out mainly in our residential areas because I believe we could start working together more if we were ‘whole’ as a community. Perhaps there would be less apprehension as to what Marco Island really is, a resort area or a city with resorts,” Carr said.

“I strongly believe we are a city and we should be progressing to that end. There still seems to be some strong feelings, questions and divisions on that subject and I would hope that will be resolved in the future. I believe that if all of the effort that seems to be put forth in negativism were turned around to be positive, then there wouldn’t be any problem that we couldn’t fix.

Jeremiah Eliason


Eliason Law, PA.

Jeremiah Eliason attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Catholic University of America and Columbus College of Law. He holds bachelor’s degrees in political science and international relations and a juris doctorate.

He served in the Peace Corps as an overseas volunteer and staff member, was a prosecuting investigator for the Commodities Future Trading Commission and was a judicial clerk with the Circuit Court of Maryland.

He and his wife are expecting their first child in February.

Eliason is an avid fisherman and general sports enthusiast. “The two things that I love about sports are: getting out in nature and working with a team for a common goal,” he said. “Sports can bring out the best in people and show one’s spirit for hard work and dedication.”

He wanted to go through Leadership Marco because: “Whenever I feel that I’m the ‘new kid on the block,’ whether it was my move to Africa to serve in the Peace Corps or my relocation to Marco Island last year, it has been my philosophy to learn as much as possible about the local culture and pick up everything good and true about my new home. I have every intention of making Marco Island my home for life and Leadership Marco is a great step in further integrating myself into this wonderful community.”

Eliason says: “Marco Island is made great through its natural beauty, strong and committed civic organizations and wonderful talents. To continue Marco Island’s success we must strive to increase the city government’s openness, create stronger lines of communication between the residents, businesses and planners, and further encourage the robust democratic process and free-market our city, state and country are blessed with.”

© 2010 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 3

blogsmog writes:

As interesting as part 2 of this fascinating article is, I can't wait for part 3: 'The Brown shirt days': the pledging of allegiance to Celebrate Marco.

RayPray writes:

I so overdosed on all this peppy "leadership" I had to be rushed to the hospital....

Perusing what's going on in the nation and locally, why not forget all this vacuous "leadership" and start some courses to teach Responsibility?

August must be a very slow month.

Besides "leadership" all there is to look forward to is those riveting "Mangy Bartender-of-the-Day" stories.

JoeFubietze writes:

in response to RayPray:

I so overdosed on all this peppy "leadership" I had to be rushed to the hospital....

Perusing what's going on in the nation and locally, why not forget all this vacuous "leadership" and start some courses to teach Responsibility?

August must be a very slow month.

Besides "leadership" all there is to look forward to is those riveting "Mangy Bartender-of-the-Day" stories.

I so agree with you. This self-serving 'class' is really not newsworthy. Why don't they also have a week by week column on the local salsa or rumba class? This educational series really should be revamped exactly as you say. Start with teaching fiscal responsibility. Then add weeks that include 'Listening to your residents' and 'You don't really work for John Arceri' (the last one would have to be taught early and be reinforced each following week). The series of classes should be mandatory for all city employees (seems like it is only comprised of city employees and wannabes anyhow) starting with management and council. Actually the city council should be made to repeat the course indefinitely.

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