Trendsetters - June 2005
New to Orlando in 2003, Smart City owner Marty Rubin received the glut of invitations to join non-profit boards that CEOs expect. Rubin responded with the unexpected. He went to school, taking classes once a month at Rollins College's non-profit leadership center, where he learned about governance, risk management, strategic planning and other issues. Afterward, says Rubin, "I was pretty equipped to ask rigorous questions to non-profits before I joined the board."
CEO / Smart City
LAKE BUENA VISTA
BOARDS, ADVISORY BOARDS AND COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Children's Home Society, Florida Children's Hospital Foundation, United States Telecom Association, Rollins College's Center for Entrepreneurship, Variety Club, Orlando chapter (raising funds for Arnold Palmer Hospital and horseback rides for autistic children) and ExtraCredit, which educates low-income people on the earned income tax credit and provides free tax return preparation help and tax return check-cashing through Bank of America
HONORS: 2004 Entrepreneur of the Year, Crummer Graduate School of Business, Rollins College
Rubin, 50, bought Smart City in 1994. Employing 180 in central Florida and 375 nationally, Smart City provides telecom and internet services to theme parks, including Disney World, the Las Vegas Convention Center and other centers, hotels and events such as the Super Bowl. Annual revenue is $80 million. He has Ritz-Carlton train his staff because Smart City's end users are guests at the venues he operates in. "We do things a little bit differently than the rest," he says.
The same is true of his philanthropy. He thought good deeds in Orlando weren't sufficiently recognized. So each week, he makes a donation to the Children's Home Society in the name of a doer of a good deed he reads about in the newspaper. To encourage people to try the Rollins program he enjoyed, he writes people and offers to pay for their first class session.
A useful thing he learned had to do with a non-profit's expectations of board members. Before joining, he wants to review the qualities a non-profit needs on its board to see whether he fills a gap or merely duplicates qualities the board already has. "We write checks," Rubin says, but "we believe we should do more than write checks."
UNF COLLEGE OF HEALTH:
Jacksonville native Kristie K. Naines' plan as a graduate student in public administration was to be a city manager some day. Things didn't go as planned. She took a job at the Jacksonville PACE Center for Girls, which helps at-risk girls complete their education and develop life skills. She found raising money to be her calling. Her key: You're not hitting people up for money; you're helping them realize their own desire to help others while helping worthy organizations develop. Three years ago, she joined the University of North Florida to do just that. Things didn't go as planned. She was diagnosed with breast cancer. After treatment at Mayo in Jacksonville, Naines, 35, is cancer-free and now director of development at UNF's College of Health. Time from work is spent with her husband, Brian, and daughter, Kaia, 3. Don't bother asking about her career plans. "I'm just happy to be here. Each day is a gift," she says. "I don't have plans anymore."
CARRFOUR SUPPORTIVE HOUSING:
Cares and sleepless nights piled up this year for Maria Pellerin Barcus. Miami Beach parents wanted to kill her plan to put housing for the homeless by a school. Meanwhile, the county, in a case of quizzical local politics, was on the verge of losing her a grant for a separate Hialeah project.
Worries abound for Barcus, 53, president of Carrfour Supportive Housing, a non-profit that owns, operates or provides services at 426 units that are home to 813 people, 330 of them children. Supportive housing includes providing services that individual residents need.
MARIA PELLERIN BARCUS
President, CEO /
Carrfour Supportive Housing
EDUCATION: Bachelor's in design-architecture from the University of Florida; MBA in real estate and urban affairs from Georgia State University.
FAMILY: Children: Monique Pellerin, 22, and Philippe Pellerin, 21; husband, David Barcus, with whom she went steady at 14 but only married five years ago after encountering each other at a class reunion.
Cuba native Barcus arrived in Miami at age 9, was raised in Leesburg and educated in architecture, real estate and urban affairs. She worked in redevelopment on Miami Beach and economic development for Miami-Dade County. In 1994, she joined 1-year-old Carrfour, where she's become an advocate in Florida and nationally for supportive housing, helping to start the Florida Supportive Housing Coalition.
Carrfour rents are steeply discounted -- an average of $125 monthly for a single adult and $200 to $250 for a family. Low rents and a $5.15 million annual budget make it hard to add the 100 units a year Barcus desires. So she aims to raise Carrfour's visibility to compete for donor dollars. She is looking at having Carrfour do affordable housing, with its higher rents, and earn income as a developer-for-hire.
In April, the county came through with funding needed to get the grant for the Hialeah property. ("I felt like I had returned to the land of the living.") Compared to the financial worries, Barcus says, parental opposition in Miami Beach is just "sticks and stones."
"When all the venom and hatred is being focused on me, I think, 'This is what homeless people experience all the time,' " she says, "and it's very hurtful."
BRAIN INJURY ASSOCIATION OF FLORIDA:
Executive Director / Brain Injury Association of Florida
Relocating from Maryland to Florida, Ellie Kazuk, an experienced non-profit manager with a MBA and a master's in education, happened into a growing field 15 years ago. She became the first paid executive director of the Brain Injury Association of Florida. Thanks to trauma centers and techniques developed in the Vietnam War, the number of brain-injury survivors -- drivers, shaken babies, seniors -- was growing. Kazuk has built an organization with a $1.7-million annual budget that helps 5,000 families a year after rehab ends and has educated 10,000 law enforcement personnel, seniors and students on preventing, recognizing and dealing with brain-injury cases.
The association's 30 social service workers are spread over 10 offices and spend most of their time in the field, staying in contact through a virtual office network. "Really innovative," says Marina Pavlov, of the Florida Association of Nonprofit Organizations.
Another rarity for a non-profit: Succession planning. Kazuk, 65, plans to retire in October. She wants to stay in non-profits part time, investigating the spiritual role in recovery. "It's an area we don't know much about in the rehab industry," she says.