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Family experiences inspire Heather Geronemus

By Gerry Czarnecki

Heather Geronemus is one of Broward County’s young leaders, remaining constantly and actively involved with the South Florida community. In addition to all her volunteer work, Geronemus oversees media and community relations at Ultimate Software in Weston. This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.


What was the first volunteer effort you can remember doing?

My earliest memory was influenced by my mother’s passion for supporting the National MS Society. I was probably less than 5 years old when I helped my mom to raise money for [multiple sclerosis research] on the “The Ugliest Bartender Contest.” When I talked about it, some thought the “ugly” was cruel, but it really meant “Understanding Giving Loving You.” My mom’s passion was inspiring, and the disease is so devastating, that through all these years, I have remained a volunteer for MS.


What was the first nonprofit board you joined? And, how did that happen?

The first board I joined was one where I worked to create the board. It was an advisory board for the local MADD chapter. We were doing a great deal of fundraising locally and decided we needed a “local board.” There is only one fiduciary board for MADD at the national level, so what we formed was an advisory board, committed to support our fundraising programs. I was not involved with MADD before I had the tragic experience of losing my dad to a drunk driver in 2009; I developed a great passion for the cause of eliminating deaths caused by drunk drivers.

What then?

I have remained heavily involved in MADD, chairing Walk Like MADD & MADD Dash Fort Lauderdale for eight years, and participated in some national events. One day, the board of MADD asked if I would consider joining the national board. By then, my commitment was so complete that I was honored to be asked, so eventually I became a board member.

This year, I was elected vice chair of the national board, so now I have the privilege of serving in a leadership capacity as well.

What other boards do you serve on?

I am on the Cystic Fibrosis [Foundation] advisory board, the Sheriff’s Foundation of Broward County board, the Winterfest board of directors, and I’m on the Pine Crest School’s board of trustees. On the Pine Crest board, I am unusual because, although I am an alumna of the school, I do not have children there. So I represent somebody who knows the past and works to assure the sustainability of the school for children of the future in the same way that the trustees did to allow me to experience the great education Pine Crest provides.

Of all your board experiences, did you ever have to deal with a crisis? What happened and what was the outcome?

I really have been blessed with not having any real crisis situations, but I just found out I will be facing a major organizational challenge on the largest board I serve on. The MADD board recently heard that our wonderful CEO has been attracted away by another organization, so we have to start the process of finding a new CEO. So I am going to be starting my tenure dealing with a leadership change, and will need to participate in perhaps the most important decision a board makes. 

As a board member, what advice do you have for those who want to participate in the nonprofit sector?

That is simple: Give of your time and treasure to the cause that has your passionate commitment. Volunteer, lead fundraising efforts, and if, one day, you are asked to serve as a board member, take that very seriously. The board owns the strategic direction [of the organization] and it must be committed to a sustainable future. It is an awesome responsibility to keep the mission and vision alive.

Gerry Czarnecki is founder and chairman of the nonprofit National Leadership Institute (nationalleadershipinstitute.org), which helps boards of nonprofit organizations become strategic assets to the leadership team. His extensive background as a C-suite executive and CEO is coupled with current board leadership of corporate and nonprofit organizations. He is also chairman and CEO of the Deltennium Group. Contact him at 561.293.3726 or gmc@deltennium.com.

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Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky

Editor-in-Chief

BIOGRAPHY

Drew Limsky joined Lifestyle Media Group in August 2020 as Editor-in-Chief of South Florida Business & Wealth. His first issue of SFBW, October 2020, heralded a reimagined structure, with new content categories and a slew of fresh visual themes. “As sort of a cross between Forbes and Robb Report, with a dash of GQ and Vogue,” Limsky says, “SFBW reflects South Florida’s increasingly sophisticated and dynamic business and cultural landscape.”

Limsky, an avid traveler, swimmer and film buff who holds a law degree and Ph.D. from New York University, likes to say, “I’m a doctor, but I can’t operate—except on your brand.” He wrote his dissertation on the nonfiction work of Joan Didion. Prior to that, Limsky received his B.A. in English, summa cum laude, from Emory University and earned his M.A. in literature at American University in connection with a Masters Scholar Award fellowship.

Limsky came to SFBW at the apex of a storied career in journalism and publishing that includes six previous lead editorial roles, including for some of the world’s best-known brands. He served as global editor-in-chief of Lexus magazine, founding editor-in-chief of custom lifestyle magazines for Cadillac and Holland America Line, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors South Florida. He also was the executive editor for B2B magazines for Acura and Honda Financial Services, and he served as travel editor for Conde Nast. Magazines under Limsky’s editorship have garnered more than 75 industry awards.

He has also written for many of the country’s top newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, USA Today, Worth, Robb Report, Afar, Time Out New York, National Geographic Traveler, Men’s Journal, Ritz-Carlton, Elite Traveler, Florida Design, Metropolis and Architectural Digest Mexico. His other clients have included Four Seasons, Acqualina Resort & Residences, Yahoo!, American Airlines, Wynn, Douglas Elliman and Corcoran. As an adjunct assistant professor, Limsky has taught journalism, film and creative writing at the City University of New York, Pace University, American University and other colleges.