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Anyone who lives on Marco Island knows that it's unlike anywhere else in the world. It's a one-of-a-kind paradise, and it only takes one visit to fall in love.

That's exactly what happened to Stefan Bolsen, who moved to the island from halfway around the world, and as a member of this year's Leadership Marco class, Bolsen is guaranteed to learn more about the tropical oasis he now calls home.

More: Profiles in Leadership: Wanda Burson

Bolsen grew up in Hamburg, Germany and studied law at the University of Hamburg. He practiced real estate and civil law for seven years before moving to Marco Island in 2001 with his wife, Bea, and their two daughters: Madeleine, 23, and Claudin, 21.

“When we first visited the island for a golf and beach vacation in November 1999, the entire family fell immediately in love with the unique lifestyle and pristine nature," Bolsen said. "We bought a condo on vacation, sold it half a year later for profit and bought more real estate for investment."

Bolsen become a master license partner and head of real estate for Engel & Völkers. He established the brand in Florida for six years before he sold his interest in the company to establish a modern, boutique-style real estate concept called 5th Avenue Real Estate.

Within four years Bolsen built his company to $50 million in sales and sold it in May 2014 to Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate. He was selected to become the managing broker of the Coldwell Banker Marco Island office in March 2016.

As a new member of the Marco Island business community, Bolsen thought joining the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Marco program would be a good opportunity to connect with fellow leaders and learn more about the island.

"When I learned about the Leadership program with the Chamber of Commerce, I couldn’t wait to sign up and learn everything about the history and future of this beautiful island," he said.

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.

The group's Education Day, which included stops at Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology, Lely High School, Marco Island Academy, Marco Island Charter Middle School and Tommie Barfield Elementary, was supposed to be Wednesday, Sept. 6, but was canceled in preparation of Hurricane Irma.

Bolsen said education is one of his greatest passions in life, and both of his daughters attended school on the island.

"The island is perfect to raise small children and both of our daughters went to Tommy Barfield Elementary, Charter Middle School and received a solid educational foundation for their future live," he said. "I strive for the highest level of education for myself, my family members and people who work with me."

The following two sessions, one of which was supposed to Law Enforcement Day with the Marco Island Police Department, were also canceled and have been rescheduled for a later date. It's the first time since the program's inception 15 years ago that a hurricane has impacted the schedule, according to Donna Niemczyk, the Chamber of Commerce’s administrative coordinator.

Leadership Marco resumed on Wednesday with its Culture/Real Estate Day, giving Bolsen an opportunity to share some of his knowledge with his classmates.

The Class of 2017 will meet every other Wednesday through November before its graduation ceremony on Jan. 27 at the Marco Island Yacht Club.

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