Sarah Owen, president & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality.
Her journey into the non-profit sector followed a career in investor relations, public relations and corporate communications. She worked for publicly traded companies on the New York Stock Exchange as well as private companies throughout the Southeastern United States. Her corporate experience was in the automotive and engineering industries, and Sarah was sought out by innovators and entrepreneurs developing emerging technologies to create strategic communication plans.
Sarah brings this focus on innovation to her work at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. In concert with a visionary Board of Trustees, Sarah is guiding the Foundation in reimagining its role in the region. Under Sarah’s leadership the Foundation has become laser-focused on regional issues affecting the quality of life in Southwest Florida, gathered hundreds of community leaders and stakeholders around these issues. She has grown the Foundation’s assets to become one of the largest funding organizations in the region. Notably, her work attracted national foundations such as Lumina Foundation to the region to provide funding and resources to the FutureMakers Coalition.
Sarah shares her leadership at the national, state and regional level. She is Florida delegate for the National Vision 20/20 Initiative, serves as chair of the Community Foundations of Florida (a member group of Florida Philanthropic Network), is a member of the board of the Southwest Florida Economic Development Alliance and serves on the Healthy Lee Steering Committee. The News-Press named Sarah their 2016 Person of the Year.
A graduate of Florida Southern College and the University of South Florida, Sarah holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education as well as certifications in environmental engineering from University of Florida’s TREEO Center.
When I started in this position of President and CEO in 2011, I went on a listening tour. I met with nonprofits, citizens from all over the region, business leaders, community leaders, members of the media, my peers in other foundations, and pretty much anyone who could share their thoughts on our community needs and the role of the foundation.
I am still listening. Please click here to contact me.