Sarah Wertheimer, Executive Director

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Sarah Wertheimer

Sarah oversees the creation and implementation of all programming and fiscal planning which has grown to impact more than 260,000 adults and children annually. She is also responsible for the development of all aspects of Embracing Our Differences' fundraising and community relations campaigns. Sarah oversees the organization's program growth and manages the long-term sustainability goals. Sarah has spent the past nine years working in the local non-profit community. She has served as director of development at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, development coordinator at Children First and currently serves on the board of directors of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southwest Florida and Leadership Florida's Calusa Region Council. Sarah was born and raised in Sarasota and is extremely passionate about exposing our community to the concepts of diversity and inclusion and helping create a world where individuality is celebrated. Sarah was recently participated in Leadership Florida Connect Class VIII and was selected by SRQ Magazine as one of Sarasota's "30 Under 30."

Ben Jewell-Plocher, Education Director

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Ben Jewell-Plocher

Ben creates, develops, evaluates and implements all education programs and activities offered by Embracing Our Differences. He has spent the entirety of his career serving arts non-profits including the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, Interlochen Center for the Arts, and The St. Louis Muny. Most recently, Ben served as director of education for Sarasota Opera where he oversaw the commissioning of two new works for young voices and expansions in after-school and in-school programming. Ben holds a Bachelor of Music from Butler University in Indianapolis and a Master of Music in vocal performance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He currently serves on  several arts education advocacy committees including the Sarasota County Arts Education Partnership, Sarasota Community/School Partnerships for the Arts, and Manatee Arts Education Council, and is a frequent presenter at the Florida Alliance for Arts Education’s annual summit. In his free time, Ben enjoys attending local performing arts events with his husband Eddie and trusty Labradane Jasper (when outdoors).

Brian Hersh, Sarasota County Schools Liaison

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Brian Hersh

Brian Hersh is the Program Director for Any Given Child, Sarasota County Schools, a partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he oversees and implements the district’s strategic approach to arts education. Through his leadership, Sarasota County Schools has launched new arts programs, built new relationships with cultural organizations, and created more continuous, sustainable, arts integrated professional development. Previously, he served as Education & Outreach Director of Asolo Repertory Theatre, the largest professional theatre in Florida; he also worked at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts where he oversaw the Meet-the-Artist School Series. Mr. Hersh has a Bachelor of Musical Arts from DePauw University, where he currently serves on the Alumni Board. He also serves as liaison between EOD and Sarasota County Schools, bridging educational and community partnerships.

Board of Directors


Dennis McGillicuddy
Chair

Graci McGillicuddy
Vice-Chair

Richard Bergman
Secretary/Treasurer

Larry Lev*
Member (1952-2019)

Linda Poteat-Brown
Member

John Weber
Member

Sarah Wertheimer
Member

Hon. Judge Charles E. Williams
Member

Kaley Wisner
STAR Student

Ambassador Circle

Diane Cohen, Chair
Genie Aberson
Marvin Albert
John Annis
Pat Baer
Don Bernstein
Karen Bernstein
Sondra Biller
Sheila Birnbaum
Fred Bloom, M.D.
Carol Camiener
Aundria Castleberry
Lee-En Chung
Alice Cotman
Geri & Leonard Drexler
Meredith Ernst
Kristofer Geddie
Arlene Greene
Teri A Hansen
Dr. Larry Haspel
Kathie Kaplan
Roxie Jerde
Nikki Logan-Curran
Joan Lowery
Leslie Malkin
Brian Mariash
Gila Meriwether
Joy Moravitz
Marilyn Naiditch
Ursula Nixon
Nick Owens
Anand Pallegar
Alfred Rose
Linda Rosenbluth
Jane & Paul Rosenstein
Nancy Roucher
Tobi Schneider
Clare Segall
Nancy Shapiro
Jeremy Shelby
Janet Smalley
Delia Smith
Dr. Joni Steinberg
Charlie Ann Syprett
Regenail Thomas
Gloria Tracy
Janet Udell
Dr. Tammy Walsh
Judy Weinstein
Kaitlin Yelle
*In Memoriam: Carroll Buchanan & Carol Poteat-Buchanan

Education Committee

Brian Hersh, Chair
Brittany Braniger
Christine Braun
Angela Hartvigsen
Julie Hebert
Carol LaVallee
Jennifer Mainey
Nancy Roucher

Quotation Selection Committee

Aundria Castleberry
Diane Cohen
Toby Deutsch
Arlene Greene
Kathie Kaplan
Linda Lipson
Nikki Logan-Curran
Joan Lowery
Jane & Paul Rosenstein
Nancy Shapiro
Bryna Tevlowitz
Patti Wertheimer

Art Teacher Retreat Committee

Angela Hartvigsen
Julie Hebert
Brian Hersh
Jess Nagy
Nancy Roucher
Dr. Tammy Walsh
Diane Zorn