The Lower Keys Future Fund supports grants in all areas, including the arts, environment, healthcare, education, animal welfare, and more, to local nonprofits based in or specifically serving the Lower Keys, not including the city of Key West. The Fund expands the Community Foundation’s impact, increases its resources, and provides grants to benefit Lower Keys residents.
Bonus: All gifts to the Lower Keys Future Fund will be matched 1:1 by the Community Foundation, up to $25,000. That means a gift of $1,000 will provide $2,000 in grant monies available to Lower Keys nonprofits, based in areas including Big Pine Key, Sugarloaf Key, Cudjoe Key, and others (not including the city of Key West). This is indeed the power of collective giving in action. You may make a donation to the Lower Keys Future Fund by clicking on the button below.
Eleven Lower Keys civic and business leaders are the charter members of the new Lower Keys Advisory Council, part of a series of initiatives to continue broadening CFFK’s mission, grantmaking, philanthropic donor base, and public awareness from Big Coppitt Key to Big Pine Key.
Advisory Council members, who meet quarterly throughout the year, specifically help build philanthropy in the Lower Keys, raise awareness and advocate for the Community Foundation, advise CFFK on local needs and initiatives, identify potential nonprofits as grant applicants, and advise the CFFK Grants Committee on funding recommendations.
Susanne Woods, Chair
Susanne Woods is board chair of the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys and has lived in the Lower Keys full-time since 2005. She enjoyed a successful 40-year career in higher education including 20 years as a professor, followed by dean, vice president and provost positions. Susanne will have served on the Foundation board for 10 years when she finishes her term in June 2022. She has served on the boards of the Florida Keys Council of the Arts, Key West Literary Seminar, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where she was board chair (Senior Warden). Dr. Woods lives on Sugarloaf with her spouse, Anne Shaver. She enjoys reading, kayaking, going to the theatre and concerts, singing with Keys Choral Arts, and traveling the world.
Bill Becker has lived in the Lower Keys for 50 years. He is happily retired on Sugarloaf Key after four decades as news director at US1 Radio 104.1 FM. Bill is well known for hosting US1’s 90-minute “Morning Magazine” each weekday morning and upon his retirement, the studio was named the Bill Becker Studio. A native of New York, Becker earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in marine biology. After graduation he moved to the Keys to teach marine biology at the Newfound Harbor Marine Institute at Sea Camp in Big Pine, where he worked for 10 years. Bill is co-founder of the annual Underwater Music Festival and a past president of the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce. He enjoys gardening and spending time with his wife Bernadette, two daughters and four grandchildren.
Susan Eanes is a member of the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys’ Legacy Society. She has lived in the Keys for 35 years and was the owner of Big Pine Liquors for 19 years. Susan was an active volunteer on the Habitat for Humanity of Key West & the Lower Florida Keys’ family selection committee for many years, helping prospective homeowners through the application and selection process. She is a founding member of the Lower Keys Rotary Club and has long served as its Sergeant-at-Arms. Susan has volunteered with many organizations since retiring and is an avid supporter of many local charities. She is a proud member of Class XI of Leadership Monroe County. Susan is an avid reader and animal lover and enjoys the beauty of the Keys.
Josephine Gueverra has been a resident of Big Pine Key since 2012. While living in Massachusetts, she worked for Mass Health, helping provide long-term support for people in need but not living in nursing homes and facilities, and managed her town’s youth soccer team uniform program. At the State University of New York (SUNY) at Canton, Josephine worked as a counselor in the Equal Opportunity Program and served as the SUNY Canton gospel choir manager. While in Alexandria, Virginia, she volunteered for three years helping youth navigate the Fairfax County court-appointed special advocates’ program. Josephine has volunteered for the National Key Deer Refuge and helps College of the Florida Keys students build trash corrals for Big Pine residents, to help keep Key deer safe.
Ann Nielsen Hunter is an artist living on Shark Key. Her professional interests include creative faux finishes, bas relief installations, novel materials and a multi-panel display system she has under development. Born in Bavaria to a native German mother and an Army officer from Minnesota, she moved with her family to Kansas and then Louisiana. Prior to pursuing her art, Ann appraised real estate and before that sold land and acreage as a real estate professional. Ann has volunteered with the Key West Wildlife Center, Park City Kimball Art Center, Swaner EcoCenter, Rebuilding Together Calcasieu and the Lake Charles Symphony. She has exchanged kayaking and fishing for downhill skiing as her sporting interest. Ann intends to explore more of the country in her new RV, accompanied by her husband Edwin and dog Oliver.
Heidi Morris has lived in the Lower Keys since 2017, when she opened The UPS Store on Big Pine Key. The mother of three, along with her husband of 25 years, vacationed here and fell in love with the islands. Heidi has a business degree from Westin College and climbed the corporate ladder at Radio Shack until opening her own successful business in Colorado which she ran for over 10 years. Heidi is a graduate of Leadership Monroe County Class XXVIII, and served as president of the Lower Keys Rotary, secretary for the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce, is a founding volunteer for the Monroe Emergency Reserve Corps and is an emergency shelter manager. She is an amateur radio operator, and her hobbies include scuba diving, snorkeling, and quilting.
Nancy Noblitt has lived in Summerland Key since 2006. She spent years as a teacher and an avid parent volunteer. She is active in numerous personal philanthropic endeavors, ranging from environmental conservation to improved access to higher education, and has served as a mentor for Keys to Be The Change. Nancy is most passionate about her family and is a dedicated grandmother. She is often found helping with her grandchildren – both human and canine! She loves reading, crafting, and spending time with loved ones.
Lainie Plotnik brings an important perspective to the group as a new full-time resident of Cudjoe Key in 2021. She is a Certified Public Accountant and currently works in the accounting department at Keys Fisheries in Marathon. She moved to the Keys from Fort Myers, and prior to that, Lainie lived in Minnesota and worked for ALLETE-Minnesota Power in various roles. In addition, she was a long-standing board member of the United Way, where she served on the grants committee, and she volunteer with numerous other organizations. In her spare time, Lainie enjoys shelling, biking, cooking, and fishing with her husband Paul.
Rita Troxel has lived in the Keys for nearly 50 years and is author of Home at the End of the World, a compilation of first-person, non-fiction stories of Key West in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. She worked for 22 years as the Tourism Development Council’s Film Commissioner for the Florida Keys & Key West. In addition to movies, Rita was closely involved with television productions including the Netflix original series Bloodline. Rita was born in Washington DC and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Theater from Virginia Commonwealth University. After moving to the Keys in 1974, she was a founding member of Greene Street Theatre, when Tennessee Williams was actively involved with its first play. Rita is an actress and painter and serves on the board of The Studios of Key West. She is married to dentist Fred Troxel and enjoys spending time with her daughter, four stepsons, and grandchildren.
Born and raised in the Florida Keys, Leslie is founder and owner of Leeward Wealth Management, with offices in Big Pine and Key West. She has been helping individuals and small businesses in the Keys reach their financial goals since 2004, previously employed with Edward Jones Investments. Leslie received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida in 2003 and holds her Accredited Asset Management Specialist designation from the College for Financial Planning. Leslie has served as president of the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce and is an active member of the Rotary Club of the Lower Keys. She enjoys volunteering and spending time on the boat with her husband and son.
Jeremy Wilkerson has lived in the Keys since 2008 and is a 2012 graduate of the Community Foundation’s Leadership Success Academy. He manages long-term rentals for Key West residents and is Treasurer of the Florida Keys Scenic Corridor Alliance. For 10 years, Jeremy worked in Key West-based nonprofit leadership positions, including five years as Director of Community Development for Wesley House Family Services, following roles at AH Monroe and Take Stock in Children, where he was a volunteer mentor for seven years. Jeremy is a past president of Key West Sunrise Rotary and a graduate of Leadership Monroe Class of XXVI. Prior to moving to the Keys, Jeremy and his wife Kimberly were owners of Primrose School of Lake Houston in Texas. Jeremy and Kimberly have four children and enjoy boating, fishing, and international travel.
Learn more about the role of Regional Advisors and how the Advisory Councils are helping CFFK here.