Write down a fun, little-known fact about yourself and then try to guess which fact belongs to whom.
That was the introductory icebreaker played during Leadership Marco Class of 2017’s welcome session, but while most of the class quickly scribbled something on a scrap of paper, Heather Hall just sat there and thought.
Although she's not technically a Marco Island native, Hall's lived on Marco since she was 12, so to her, it seemed like the entire island already knew everything about her.
She, on the other hand, said she did not know everything about the island, which is why she decided to join the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Marco program.
“Both of my parents are graduates of Leadership Marco and are extremely passionate about the program,” which ended up being her fun fact. “When given the chance to participate in Leadership Marco, I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to learn the ‘ins & outs’ of where I live," she said, "(so) I’m looking forward to learning more about the history and innerworkings of Marco Island.”
Originally from New Jersey, Hall moved to Marco with her parents Stanley and Donna Niemczyk, the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce’s administrative coordinator and the woman in charge of the Leadership program, at the age of 12.
Hall remained in the area for college, graduating from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2010 with a BA in Communication and Public Relations. After living and working in Naples for a few years, the prodigal daughter recently returned to the island where she currently works as the director of membership and Marketing at Island Country Club.
“I oversee new member recruitment, current member services, marketing and public relations in the community,” she explained. “My favorite part of my job is the constant interation with people from different walks of life – members and non-members – while incorporating just enough creativity through marketing.”
In addition to her job at Island Country Club, Hall also serves as an adviser for Marco Scene Magazine, and she’s a member of the Membership Directors Association of SW Florida and the Professional Club Marketing Association. She loves being involved around the island mostly because she loves island itself, and the people who make it feel like home.
“What I like best about Marco Island is the small town feel and the community oriented/community service culture amongst those who live and work on the island,” she said.
Hall lives on the island with her husband, Derek, and her one-year-old son, Preston.
The Leadership Marco program consists of 10 bi-weekly sessions and gives its members insight into the following aspects of the island: history/museum; media; education/parks and recreation; hospitality/economics; law enforcement; culture/real estate; health care/fire-rescue; agriculture/environment; and government/transportation/infrastructure.
The group's first educational session was History Day on Aug. 9. The day began with a look at the Calusa exhibit at the Marco Island Historical Museum, and then continued with a historical tour of the island, narrated by local historian Craig Woodward. Tour stops included Captain Horr's house, Old Marco and Snook Inn, where the group stopped for lunch.
A brief overview of the Deltona years, which many consider to be the beginning of modern Marco, wrapped up the day.
Media Day was Leadership Marco Class of 2017's next adventure, and provided an inside look at how journalists in the area do their jobs. While at WINK News, the leaders had the opportunity to try their hand at reporting the weather via green screen, but Hall preferred to stay behind the camera.
"This is much more entertaining," she said as she watched her classmates struggle to point to the correct areas on the map.
The next session is Education Day, and includes stops at Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology, Lely High School, Marco Island Academy, Marco Island Charter Middle School and Tommie Barfield Elementary.
Leadership Marco Class of 2017 will meet every other Wednesday through November before its graduation ceremony on Jan. 27 at the Marco Island Yacht Club.