Sarah Wertheimer (she, her, hers), 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 300,000 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 ten 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, on the advisory board of the Boxser Diversity Initiative, and as Community Research Chair for the Junior League of Sarasota. 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 participated in Leadership Florida Connect Class VIII and was selected by SRQ Magazine as one of Sarasota's "30 Under 30."

Ben Jewell-Plocher (he, him, his), 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).

Elizabeth Chicoine (she, her, hers), Office Coordinator

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Elizabeth Chicoine

Liz is responsible for numerous administrative duties, including coordination and management of EOD’s social media, constituent database, annual events and communication with volunteers. Previously Liz was an Administrative Support Team Supervisor at Macy’s. Liz has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from West Virginia University with a minor in psychology. Her passion for the arts stems from dance; she danced ballet for 14 years.

Brian Hersh (he, him, his), 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

Graci McGillicuddy

Richard Bergman

Christina M. de Guia, MD

Linda Poteat-Brown

John Weber

Sarah Wertheimer

Hon. Judge Charles E. Williams

Ambassador Circle

Diane Cohen, Chair
Genie Aberson
Marvin Albert
Clare Arguedas
John Annis
Pat Baer
Don Bernstein
Karen Bernstein
Sondra Biller
Sheila Birnbaum
Fred Bloom, M.D.
Barbara Brizdle
Brittany Bryant
Carol Camiener
Claudia Cardillo
Aundria Castleberry
Lee-En Chung
Alice Cotman
Geri & Leonard Drexler
Meredith Ernst
Kristofer Geddie
Deborah Gordon
Susan Gorin
Arlene Greene
Teri A Hansen
Trevor Harvey
Dr. Larry Haspel
Kathie Kaplan
Roxie Jerde
Vlad Ladchuk
Nikki Logan-Curran
Joan Lowery
Leslie Malkin
Brian Mariash
Gila Meriwether
Joy Moravitz
Marilyn Naiditch
Ursula Nixon
Nick Owens
Donna Pedro
Anand Pallegar
Alfred Rose
Linda Rosenbluth
Jane & Paul Rosenstein
Nancy Roucher
Tobi Schneider
Clare Segall
Nancy Shapiro
Janet Smalley
Delia Smith
Jeff Spalter
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
Kimberly Farrell
Christine Braun
Angela Hartvigsen
Julie Hebert
Carol LaVallee
Katie Nickel
Jennifer Mainey
Brooks Tracey

Quotation Selection Committee

Aundria Castleberry
Diane Cohen
Alice Cotman
Toby Deutsch
Kristofer Geddie
Kathie Kaplan
Susan Kilman
Linda Lipson
Joan Lowery
Linda Rein
Jane & Paul Rosenstein
Clare Segall
Nancy Shapiro
Bryna Tevlowitz
Patti Wertheimer
Kaley Wisner

Art Teacher Intensive Committee

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