Michael J. Shelton, Executive Director

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Michael J. Shelton

Michael is a founding member of Embracing Our Differences and has served as its Executive Director since 2005. He oversees the creation and implementation of all programming and fiscal planning which has grown to impact more than 250,000 adults and children annually. He has served as Managing Director of the Sarasota Ballet, Co-Executive Director of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and is a founding member of the Perlman Music Program/Suncoast, Inc. Michael is the co-author of the City of Sarasota Human Rights Ordinance and was instrumental in the creation of its Human Relations Board. Michael is a retired attorney who has served as chair of the City of Sarasota Planning Board and currently serves as a member of the Sarasota County Board of Zoning Appeals. Michael is the 2017 recipient of the Nancy Roucher Education in Arts Leadership Award presented annually by the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County.

Sarah Wertheimer, Associate Executive Director

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Sarah Wertheimer

Sarah is responsible for the development and implementation of all aspects of Embracing Our Differences' fundraising and community relations campaigns. She also oversees the organization's program growth and manages and implements the long-term sustainability goals. Sarah has spent the past seven years working in the local non-profit community. She has served as Director of Development at The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee and Development Coordinator at Children First. 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 differences are embraced and individuality is celebrated. Sarah was recently chosen to participate in Leadership Florida Connect Class VIII and was selected by SRQ Magazine as one of Sarasota's "30 Under 30."

Brenna Wilhm, Education Director*

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Brenna Wilhm

Brenna serves as the Education Director and is resopnsible for overseeing all of the Embracing Our Differences initiatives. Having been exposed to the arts from a very young age, Brenna believes in the importance of the fine arts as an integral component in the development of every child. Brenna has spent the last 10 years in Sarasota specializing in sales & marketing and working for a private family foundation. Brenna studied violin at Oberlin College and has her Bachelor of Arts in Education. As a parent and an active member in our community, she values the Embracing Our Differences vision of creating a world that embraces diversity, respects differences and actively rejects hatred and prejudice.

*This position is funded, in part, through a generous grant from The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.

Dr. Bernadette Bennett, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and School Liason

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Dr. Bernadette Bennett

Bernadette Bennett, Ed.D. is a member of the Curriculum and Instruction Department of Sarasota County Schools, FL. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction as well as a doctorate in curriculum in instruction with an emphasis on disciplinary literacy and staff development. She has taught social studies at the middle grades and then elevated her craft by becoming the District Social Studies Specialist. As the social studies specialist, Bernadette’s major responsibilities include coordinating 9-12 social studies curriculum initiatives, identifying staff development needs and fulfilling them, supporting staff and schools as they implement standards based instruction with a focus on individualized instruction, and developing curriculum resources for all grade levels. She also serves as liaison between EOD and the Sarasota County School Board bridging educational and community partnerships. Bernadette has an established track record creating partnerships with educational facilities, both non-profit and community agencies.

Thor, Multi-Species Coordinator

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Thor is the Embracing Our Differences goodwill ambassador with the assigned task of bringing a smile to everyone's face. We think he's doing a great job.

Board of Directors

Dennis McGillicuddy

Richard Bergman

Michael J. Shelton
Secretary / Treasurer

Carol Buchanan

Graci McGillicuddy

John Weber

Chief Judge Charles E. Williams

Ambassador Circle

Rich Bergman, Chair
Genie Aberson
Marvin Albert
John Annis
Pat Baer
Don Bernstein
Sonda Biller
Fred Bloom, M.D.
Carol Camiener
Lee-En Chung
Diane Cohen
Meredith Ernst
Marco V. Galante
Teri A Hansen
Dr. Larry Haspel
Roxie Jerde
George Kole & Judy Zuckerberg
Larry Lev
Brian Mariash
Joe & Ora Mendels
Irv & Marilyn Naiditch
Ursula Nixon
Alfred Rose
Linda Rosenbluth
Janet Smalley
Gloria Tracy
Janet Udell
Judy Weinstein
Sally Yanowitz

Steering Committee

Carol Buchanan, Co-Chair
Dennis McGillicuddy, Co-Chair
Graci McGillicuddy, Co-Chair
Dr. Bernadette Bennett
Rich Bergman
Aundria Castleberry
Alice Cotman
Kristofer Geddie
Arlene Greene
Nikki Logan-Curran
Barbara J. Lorry, Ph.D.
Joan Lowery
Leslie Malkin
Gila Meriwether
Nancy Roucher
Delia Smith
Dr. Joni Steinberg
Dr. John Walker, Jr.
Dr. Tammy Walsh