There are many people in Southwest Florida who make a considerable positive impact on the community. They lead by example and work hard to make a difference.
One of these amazing people is recognized each year by the Rainbow Pages as the Advocate of the Year. The 2018 Advocate of the Year was Ron Penn. He received the award in June at Naples Pride.
Penn has a long history of volunteering for organizations that support and promote equality. He has volunteered or founded organizations across the U.S. He has served on the board of homeowners’ associations, public utilities as well as charitable organizations.
“I feel fortunate that I have lived the life I have and being accepted for whom I am and what I can do,” he said. “My parents instilled in me early as a child that part of my life should be repaying back to the community for the skills I have acquired because of the community. My goal has always been to help someone who then in return can help someone else give back to our community making it a better community.”
In Southwest Florida, he was one of the founding members of the LGBT Fund at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. The Fund provides grants that support issues facing the LGBTQ community. He was also a founding member of the Southwest Florida Harmony Chamber, which promotes LGBTQA businesses.
Penn recently retired from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, where he worked as the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer for more than 10 years. He came to the Foundation after a 30-year career in the banking industry in Colorado and five years as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer of a nonprofit providing services to disabled persons in Hilo, Hawaii.
He served as a member of the Board of Directors of The Alexander Foundation, a 501(c) (3) charitable organization in Denver, Colorado. During that time served in roles as President, Vice President for Fundraising and Vice President & Treasurer. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of Historic Hilo Preservation Association, a 501(c) (3) charitable organization in Hilo, Hawaii renovating a historic theater, and served as Chief Financial and Administrative Officer for The Arc of Hilo, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization in Hilo, Hawaii serving developmentally disabled persons.
2017 Advocate of the Year
The 2017 Advocate of the Year was Cori Craciun, who was one of the founders of Naples Pride that year. She and a small group planned the first event. She also helped start an emergency fund that helps Collier County LGBTQA with emergency expenses such as medical, rent or other necessities. Craciun is owner of Sticks and Stones Collection in Naples, FL.
• 2016 — Carrie Keohane
• 2015 — Nicole Lamorte
• 2015 — Kathy Lowery
• 2015 Youth Advocate of the Year — Emarie Wakefield