June 2019

Join the Upper Keys BPW at our monthly meetings, the 3rd Wednesday of every month. 

BPW Connection | June 2019

Since the heat and lazy days of summer are upon us, our June and July meetings will both be luncheons.  Come join us on Wednesday, June 19th at Holiday Inn Key Largo!  Our speaker this month will be Chuck Licis from the Monroe County Education Foundation talking to us about the Take Stock in Children program.  Learn more about the program, how it helps Keys kids, and perhaps learn how you can help them change lives.

Please note that doors open at 11:00 AM.  Please come early to avoid a line at registration, and take advantage of the mingling and networking time!  
Ilja Chapman, President
The newly elected officers of the UKBPW board of directors have officially started in their roles and once again we kicked the fiscal year off with a board retreat focusing on team building and strategic planning. We got inspired by a book by Simon Sinek titled: “Start with Why.”

An interesting approach which we like to explore more for our organization, and which hopefully will result in attracting even more members so we can expand our programs and keep “Building Powerful Women through Advocacy, Education and Information.”

I have copied the paragraph below from the state website for all of us to read again so we are reminded what BPW can do for you and our community.

"Founded in 1919, BPW has a long track record of promoting equity for women in the workplace. Whether you are a business owner or an employee, BPW provides leadership through advocacy, education, and information within our communities, states, and the nation on issues important to all working women. Through BPW, you connect with mentors, colleagues, and friends who assist you in advancing your career and making the right connections.

You also thrive professionally through exclusive membership development programs.
  • A network of motivated women – Connect with other motivated working women, network professionally, share contacts, and exchange information to enhance your business through local programs, as well as within the state of Florida and nationally.
  • Political awareness and community involvement – Participate in a wide range of activities and grassroots efforts to raise awareness of issues affecting working women at local, state, and national levels.
  • Personal and professional development – Attend workshops and programs designed to enhance professional skills and leadership abilities, such as Individual Development, Women in Transition, Young Careerist, and the BPW/FL Leadership Institute.
  • Scholarships – Assist women through scholarships to further formal education and through BPW/FL’s Education."

One of our professional development programs is the mentoring program which kicked of only a few months ago. We will be adding a section on our website of all members who would like to participate in the mentoring program, either as a mentor or a mentee. Watch your inbox for details on how to get added to the VIP list!

The speaker of this month’s luncheon, Chuck Licis from Take Stock in Children, will help us better understand the importance of mentoring. Although our UKBPW mentoring program is focused on mentoring between adults, we will most likely find that the concept and importance of mentoring is the same at any age.

We ask you, our UKBPW member, please don’t feel shy to speak to any of the Upper Keys BPW board members, share your BPW experiences, let us know why you joined this organization.

Looking forward to connecting with you Wednesday.
Ilja Chapman
UKBPW President 2018-19
Tel: 305-998-8348

June 19:  Luncheon. 11:00A-1:00 P. Holiday Inn-African Queen Room, Key Largo. Speaker Chuck Licis, Take Stock in Children.
July 17:  Luncheon. 11:00A-1:00 P. Holiday Inn-African Queen Room, Key Largo. Speaker is Leah Stockton, United Way. Sponsorship Opportunities Available.
August 21: Evening Networking Event. 5:30P-7:30 P.  Sponsorship Opportunities Available.

The Upper Keys BPW meets once a month, on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. We alternate between luncheons and evening networking events, and would love for you to join us! Click the button to see our full event schedule and register for an upcoming event. 

2019 State Conference

Mark your calendars!

BPW/FL State Conference
June 27-30, 2019. 
All Members Are Invited!
Celebrating 100 years of BPW!
Call Ilja Chapman at
305-998-8348 ASAP! 
   bpw|member SPOTLIGHT

Meet Your New Board of Directors 2019-2020 
Pictured at the 2019 Board Retreat (Left to Right): Suzi Youngberg, Cynthia Gneiser, Jackie Harder, Wendy Coffman, Theresa Sutter, Jordan Budnik, Victoria Leonard, Ilja Chapman
The Member Spotlight is on the new board:
Ilja Chapman - President
Ilja is born and raised in the Netherlands and when she completed her studies, she told her parents she would travel for a year. Now, 26 years later, Ilja has visited all seven continents and started her own travel planning business after moving to Key Largo in 2013.  This year is Ilja’s second term as president of the Upper Keys Business & Professional Women since she joined 5.5 years ago.  “I have learned so much as an active member of the UKBPW and the connections with the women I meet and work with within the organization are invaluable,” Ilja says.  “It is just me and my husband with our two cats and when working from home, you need a social network and tribe to keep you motivated and being part of the UKBPW gives me that energy.”

Suzi Youngberg - President Elect
Suzi is a 22 year resident of the Upper Keys.  She spent the first 18 of those years doing the corporate gig, and traveling for a living. In 2014, when her husband Scott survived cancer, she made the decision to stop traveling, spend more time with him, and become more a part of her community.  She works for the American Cancer Society as the Community Development Manager for the Keys.  After being a long time volunteer for them, it was a natural fit to become part of their staff.  Her years of sales experience help her be more effective in raising money and awareness for cancer research and services. One of the first things Suzi did when she stopped traveling was join the BPW as a way to network and meet people. She has enjoyed the connections, both business and personal, and the friendships made from being part of this group. Suzi joined the board in 2016 as VP Hospitality, and is honored to serve as the President Elect this year. On a personal note, she has been married for 24 years, is a sci-fi nerd, and her cat SugarBear walks on a leash.

Jackie Harder - Vice President/Professional Development
Jackie was born in the wrong place – Minnesota, the northernmost state in the Lower 49 – a situation she remedied two months after her 18th birthday by moving to Florida. And she’s been here ever since (except for the longest four years of her life in Myrtle Beach, S.C.)  Driven by a passionate urge to change the world, Jackie got her degree in journalism and communications from the University of Florida. While working in that industry for 30 years, her definition of “the world” steadily shrunk until she uncovered her second passion in 2003 – coaching, one person at a time. She has lived in the Keys since 1975, including stints in Marathon, Cudjoe Key, Key West and now (her last perch) Key Largo, which she loves the best. She was president of the Marathon BPW, and honored as the Employee and Woman of the Year during her membership there. She also received the Grand Strand (Myrtle Beach) BPW Woman of the Year.  Jackie is kitty mama to three boys, Simba, Brando and Toby Boy, who bring her endless hours of amusement, joy and pleasure.

Cynthia Gneiser - Vice President/Hospitality
Cynthia was born in the San Francisco Bay Area, and attended school at UC Santa Cruz. She graduated with Honors with a degree in Women’s Studies and Anthropology. After college she married her sweetheart and went away to sea as a Water Sports Director then Cruise Director then Expedition Leader on small cruise ships.  She moved to Key Largo in 2003 and worked as a Dolphin Trainer.  She has two awesome kids and is now doing Public Adjusting work to help people recover from hurricanes in Florida. With her passion for women’s issues, background in hospitality and belief in the power of women, she is delighted to be the Hospitality Chair for the Upper Keys BPW.

Theresa Sutter - Treasurer
Native of South Florida.  Married for 30+ years and with my husband's help, raised two children who are now functioning members of society.  Worked in some capacity of bookkeeping during my entire working career after college.  Started out as a bookkeeper for radiator repair company, then worked in accounting at banking institutions.  Moved to computer programming then worked for probate attorney preparing estate accountings and other court filings.  Started out on my own after 2008/2009 economy crash using my bookkeeping skills.  My client base consists of for-profit, not-for-profit, individuals and attorneys.  I enjoy providing my clients with a set of books that gives them a true financial reflection of their business which gives them the freedom to focus on their business.  BPW was introduced to me by Tom Tharp, one of the few male members -- yes BPW is inclusive not exclusive!  What you should know about me is that I love to hang out with my family and friends, they bring my greatest joy.

Wendy Coffman - Secretary
I was born in Pennsylvania and lived there, New Jersey and Maryland most of my young life. I Went to Johnson and Whales University in Road Island for Hotel / Restaurant Management.  I met my husband Tyler and married in 1995. He is a Capt. for hire for off shore fishing and also does Marine Surveying. I have two boys, 21 and 19.  I started in banking in 2004 to get out of hospitality and the 24/7 life to a 9 to 5. I started as a teller and moved  up  through the years to where I am now at CenterState bank as the assistant Branch Manager.   With  wonderful,  motivating,  encouraging women in my life I have started to make a transition to being a better women inside and out, and most importantly being a part of this great community I call home. I have recently made steps I have never made before, and with every one of them I get more and more confident with myself. I am a graduate of Leadership Monroe County class XXV, a mentor with Take Stock in Children, and member of the Key Largo Rotary, a director on Key Largo Chamber Board, and your secretary on the BPW board. I am so happy to be part of this organization. To meet new amazing women and take everything I can from all of you, to better myself and my community and hopefully give something of myself back.  I am very grateful for this opportunity and am looking forward to an exciting year with knew memories to make!

Victoria Leonard - Director
Victoria moved to The Keys from Houston, TX in the year 2000, at the young age of twelve. Now, 19 years later she is married and has a two and a half year old son.She has successfully established herself as the Accounts Payable Specialist for Florida Keys Electric Cooperative. Having this career has made it possible for her and her family to thrive in the Florida Keys. Wanting to become more involved in the community, she joined Alpha Delta Upsilon in 2017. The following year she became a mentor for Take Stock in Children, it was these life choices that helped to open her eyes to how important it is to be supportive and involved in our island community. These things played a large part in her decision to join BPW this year.  What you should know about Victoria: Loves horseback riding and going on adventures with her family.

Jordan Budnik - Director
Hello my BPW sisters! It is my honor to serve as one of the Directors on the Board of the Upper Keys Business and Professional Women. I hope at some point that I am able to meet each and every one of you--to listen to your stories, your aspirations, and to empower you to grow within this organization and in life. A little bit about me: In May 2017, I moved my entire life down to the Keys from my hometown of Atlanta, GA in pursuit of an education position with the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center. By September 2018, I was appointed as the Executive Director of the Bird Center. Environmentalism, community, and education are all pillars of what make me who I am. My hobbies include martial arts, kayaking, hiking, falconry, backpacking, bird watching, reading, writing, leatherworking, painting, and learning new things. Yes, I consider learning fun! Teach me something new or let me teach you something and we will become fast friends.  In the future, I plan to go to Veterinary school (specializing in Avian medicine), become an EMT, and get my falconry license for the state of Florida.  Through my time on BPW's Board, I will be working with my fellow Board members on developing engaging membership activities, fundraising, and increasing our organization's presence in the community.  When you see me at our luncheons, evening events, or special events, come up and introduce yourself. Here's to a great year in BPW!