2021 40 Under 40: Celebrating This Year’s Class of Young Leaders

Andrew Twetan, Connor & Gaskins Unlimited Vice President, is recognized in Gulfshore Business’ 40 Under 40 class of 2021. The annual event honors professionals in Southwest Florida who are younger than 40 are acknowledged for their accomplishments and contributions to the community.

Featured article in “Gulfshore Business” on September 1, 2021.

2021 40 Under 40

Hats off to the 19th class of Gulfshore Business’ 40 Under 40. Each year, 40 business professionals in Southwest Florida who are younger than 40 are acknowledged for their accomplishments and contributions to the community. We are pleased to acknowledge this year’s 40 honorees who have earned the recognition.

LINDSEY TOUCHETTE, 38

Vice President of Community Engagement, Community Foundation of Collier County

Lindsey Touchette serves as vice president of Community Engagement for the Community Foundation of Collier County. In that role, she sets the strategic direction for the foundation’s community engagement and works with local stakeholders to identify opportunities for positive and lasting changes within the community. But her passion for helping others isn’t limited to Collier County.

“I’m an active member of the Council on Foundations, the Florida Philanthropic Network, CF Leads, Connecting Communities in the Americas, FCAN and the National Scholarship Providers Association,” she says. “Helping others to accomplish meaningful and transformational philanthropic goals that create positive and lasting change will always be a part of the work I love to do.”

Closer to home, Touchette is involved with the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Future Ready Collier, Teachers and Parents Together at First Baptist Academy and Collier Coalition for Healthy Minds task force, among others.

What are your future aspirations?

To lead, live and work in a community that cares for one another, that is founded and built on the generosity of many individuals, that thinks big ideas and brings those ideas to fruition for future generations. To look back and celebrate the great work that we’ve all accomplished together as a community.

BRITTANY FEROCE, 30

Manager of Child Care Services, NCH Bears Den Childcare Center

Brittany Feroce graduated from Clarion University and then received her Master’s of Education degree in curriculum and instruction from Florida Gulf Coast University. While she now serves as the manager of child care services at the NCH Bears Den Childcare Center, her career is just a part of her life.

“My biggest passion is helping people and making a difference in their lives, so I strive to be as involved as possible,” she says. “I completed the Associate Leadership Collier program class of 2020 and was a session chair for the ALC 2021 class. I was also a member of the Big Brother Big Sisters program for three years, and I support the Collier County Humane Society.”

Feroce is a member of the Naples Junior Women’s Club, Young Professionals of Naples and has recently participated in a build for Habitat for Humanity. She has also volunteered in the wildlife hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

What are your future aspirations?

I want to continue helping people and get more involved in other aspects throughout the community. I want to use my personal experiences to help others and to make a difference. I also aspire to get married and have a family.

JEFFREY GALATI, 33

Executive Vice President — Private Wealth Management, Capital Wealth Advisors

Jeff Galati was born in Newburgh, New York, and moved to Naples in 1994. With a background in the financial industry, he helps his clients at Capital Wealth Advisors manage their wealth through a discovery of goals, client education, behavioral coaching, portfolio construction and investment advisory. But his experience as a Rotarian also plays a big part of his life.

“I was the Rotary Club of Naples president in 2020 and was awarded Rotarian of the Year in 2016. Being a Rotarian, we live by the motto, ‘Service Above Self,’” he says. “I truly believe the more you give, the more it comes back in the end.”

In addition to his Rotary membership, Galati was also in the 2017 Leadership Collier Foundation class. He is a Certified Financial PlannerTM and holds Chartered Life Underwriter® certification.

What are your future aspirations?

I aspire to involve my kids in the community and teach them the power of giving back. I wish to raise my kids to show empathy and support the people around them. I want to be an example to my family that, if you put others ahead of yourself, you can have a profound impact on your community and world.

JENNIFER DENIKE, 37

Major Gift/Planned Giving Officer, WGCU Public Media

In 2017, Jennifer Denike landed what she calls her dream job at Florida Gulf Coast University, working with WGCU Public Media. Though serving as a concierge to leadership and legacy donors, and also helping raise more than $2 million for the station, Denike is most proud of her efforts in the community.

“I have been volunteering since I was a Girl Scout growing up in New York. Today, I am a peer buddy to Nicole, a young woman living with cerebral palsy, and I serve in various leadership roles for Best Buddies of SWFL,” she says. “My passion is working with underserved populations to promote patient advocacy, access to education and inclusive housing.”

Denike is also a member of the Planned Giving Council of Lee County, Association of Fundraising Professionals of Collier-Lee County and the Staff Advisory Council at FGCU. In addition, she is enrolled in Leadership SWFL and is passionate about promoting Southwest Florida businesses as they emerge from the pandemic.

What are your future aspirations?

I aspire to foster an inclusive community where individuals with special abilities experience friendships, belonging and independence. I’d like to help develop affordable housing communities where the young, elderly, able-bodied and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities live together in supportive housing and learn from one another.

JESSICA VARNES, 38

Marketing Director, Mercola Market

A Florida native and FGCU graduate, Jessica Varnes serves as the marketing director for mercolamarket.com, an e-tailer of premium natural health products. While overseeing the overall e-commerce strategy and the team that implements package design, branding and communications, Varnes says her broader goal is education.

“With a legacy rooted in regenerative agriculture, Mercola is dedicated to providing premium natural health products made with clean ingredients to help our customers take control of their health,” she says. “My goal here is to educate the public on the far-reaching benefits of regenerative agriculture and the natural approach to health and wellness.”

A runner and Savage Race enthusiast, Varnes is an active supporter of Girls on the Run SWFL, a program designed to inspire girls to embrace their inner strength. She is also a longtime member of North Naples Church, where she serves on the membership committee and connections team providing new member orientations and tours, and greeting constituents.

What are your future aspirations?

I plan to continue growing within Mercola and take on additional leadership opportunities that allow me to further develop the Dr. Mercola brand. My goal is to continue bringing clean, innovative products to market—products our customers can trust to help them take control of their health.

JACQUELINE RUSHER, 39

CEO and Co-Founder, Kava Culture Group/Botanical Brewing Co./Plant Tribals

While working in private banking, Jacqueline Rusher partnered with her sister to open the first Kava Culture Kava Bar location in 2017. Today, there are seven Kava Culture locations and Rusher’s full-time job is leading the chain’s 85 employees while growing the brand.

“Kava Culture was the first sober social bar of its kind. By creating social spaces where everyone can meet and connect, the community has welcomed and supported our growth,” she says. “Our bars use a unique community event model, opening our doors to young aspiring artists, musicians and entrepreneurs to showcase their talents. We also use our spaces to benefit local organizations like Gulf Coast Humane Society, Habitat for Humanity and Blessings in a Backpack.”

What are your future aspirations?

We’ve opened eight kava bars in four years, and our goals continue to evolve. With wholesale distribution and franchising in full swing, we are steadily moving beyond Florida borders, and I’ve never been more humbled or grateful.

LISA MURRAY, 38

Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Interop Technologies

Lisa Murray, APR, CPRC, is a nationally accredited and award-winning public relations professional. She serves as senior manager of corporate communications at Interop Technologies.

“I work to use technology to broaden business relationships, drive brand awareness, surpass strategic goals and achieve maximum profitability,” she says. “In my current position with Interop Technologies, I lead the development and implementation of PR and marketing strategies in the United States, Europe and South America.”

Murray is also an active member of her community through leadership in organizations like
the Southwest Florida Chapter of FPRA. She has also volunteered and supported local charities, including United Way, Community Cooperative, Children’s Advocacy Center and the Early Learning Coalition.

What are your future aspirations?

In the last year alone, we’ve seen a momentous shift in how we work, communicate and use technology. This is my passion and I know, in order to make a difference in these areas, I will need to continually evolve my skill set to meet the changing market. Most importantly, I want to stay ambitious, to keep growing and to lift others up by leading with authenticity, compassion and courage.

ANDREW TWETAN, 39

Vice President Partner, Construction/Management/Development, Connor & Gaskins Unlimited LLC

As a Florida native and third-generation contractor, Andrew Twetan says he grew up on construction sites and received a hands-on education in the business. Today, he applies those lessons building high rise construction and beachfront homes as a partner of Connor & Gaskins Unlimited LLC (CGU).

“I focus on creating an effective team to provide each project with innovation and hands-on solutions. For CGU, it’s important that each employee identifies as a part of the team for each project,” Twetan says. “Our goal for each client, no matter the project’s size, is that they walk away with a successful project and a desire to work with the CGU team again on their next project.”

In his free time, Swetan is passionate about giving back to the local community with organizations such as Young Life. Believing the future relies on the strength of the community’s youth, his goal is to help young people build genuine, long-term friendships with mentors and other young adults, outside of social media and societal pressures.

What are your future aspirations?

Professionally, I want to continue creating a community with employees and clients through a team approach that includes innovation and collaboration.

To read the full article, click here.

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