August 12, 2022

Selby Gardens announces third gift of $1 million within the last two weeks for the Downtown Sarasota campus Master Plan

| 5/26/2021

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (Selby Gardens) is excited to announce another one-million-dollar gift towards capital needs for Phase I of the Downtown Sarasota campus Master Plan—this time from Susan and Zuheir Sofia. This is the third gift of $1 million announced by Selby Gardens in the last two weeks.

“Selby Gardens is a jewel in our community.  It attracts visitors from all over the world and focuses on the environment, horticulture, and education,” says Susan Sofia. “Selby Gardens’ transformational Master Plan aligns with our passion for advancing Sarasota’s cultural institutions and connects our community with the region and the world,” added Zuheir Sofia.    “We are proud and excited to participate in Selby’s transformation,” says Susan Sofia.

“We are grateful to Susan and Zuheir for their leadership gift,” says Jennifer Rominiecki, president & CEO of Selby Gardens. “Their gift brings us one step closer to making the Master Plan a reality for our community and we cannot be more excited.”

Susan Sofia is a former banker and public school educator and is a member of Selby Gardens’ Advisory Committee.  She  is an avid supporter of Sarasota’s arts and educational communities and currently serves on the Boards of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and the Young Presidents’ Organization (“YPO”) Florida Sun Coast Gold Chapter.  She served on the Board of the Sarasota Orchestra and is the former Chair of the Ohio Arts Council and Little Garden Club of Columbus. Zuheir Sofia is the Chairman and CEO of Business Bank of Florida and Senior Advisor of Elizabeth Park Capital and he is the past President, COO, and Director of Huntington Bancshares.  He served on the boards of several public companies and recently retired from Lancaster Colony’s Board.  He is the former Chairman of The Ohio State University Board of Trustees, The James Cancer Hospital, and Columbus Symphony Orchestra.  He is a member of YPO Florida Sun Coast Gold Chapter.  The Sofias have three children and four granddaughters.

To date, Selby Gardens has raised more than 90 percent of the funds needed to implement Phase I of the $42.5 million needed to implement the first phase of the Master Plan, more than $38.5 million has been raised. Selby Gardens will break ground soon at a ceremony on Thursday, June 3, 2021.

The three-phase plan will take several years to complete. Selby Gardens’ trustees, leadership donors and campaign co-chairs Jean Weidner Goldstein, Cornelia Matson and Pauline Wamsler are spearheading the fundraising effort, Innovating a Greener Future- Living Inspiration for The Living Museum®: The Campaign for Selby Gardens.

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