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Board of Trustees


              Linda Uhler                             Patti Jurney-Sousa                          Ron Gibson                                  Don Rice  
                President                                 Vice President                               Secretary                                   Treasurer


     Claude C. Crawford, Ph.D.                    Sandy Gross                      Gwenda Hiett-Clements                    Deborah La Gorce

               Ran Niehoff                              Philip Puschel                            Robbie Roepstorff                       Richard Shipley

      Ed Wheeler, MD, FACR

Board Biographies

Linda Uhler, President

Now serving her second year as President, Linda Uhler is also serving her second term as a Trustee. Linda has been a full-time resident of Sanibel since 1977. She has been an elementary school teacher, managed and owned retail businesses and served as district deputy for Congressman Porter Goss. Her community involvement includes chairing major fundraisers, such as the United Way of Lee County campaign, American Heart Association Heart Ball and BRAVO!Ballet for Gulfshore Ballet. She is currently serving on the Sanibel Public Library Commission and the board of Hope Hospice. She has also been the president of the Junior League of Fort Myers and the Zonta Club of Sanibel-Captiva. Linda and her husband, Tom, are Life Members and members of the Legacy Society and have been permittees for the sea turtle program. They created and co-ordinate the popular Wines in the Wild fundraiser.

Patti Jurney-Sousa, Vice President

Patti Jurney-Sousa is a native Floridian, born and raised in West Palm Beach. After annual visits to Sanibel since 1983, Patti and her husband George made Sanibel their permanent home in 2001. After graduating from the University of Florida with a B.S. in Recreation, she followed her passion to a career in non-profit administration for Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., YWCA, and The Girls Club. She is a Certified Trainer of Trainers. Patti and George owned and operated their own sales and marketing business in New Jersey for almost two decades. At present, Patti is employed at SanCap CPA, a full service accounting firm. She has volunteered with the SCCF sea turtle program since 2002. She is active with the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ, past president and board member the Sanibel Bicycle Club, and Treasurer for the Butterknife Property Owners’ Association.

Ron Gibson, Secretary

A native of Richmond, Virginia, Ron moved to Captiva Island with his wife, Phyllis, in 1991. Ron Gibson held executive positions with several East Coast brokerage firms, including Vice President of Operations for Baltimore-based Legg Mason, and Principal and Board Member for Phase 3/Sungard Systems of Waltham, Massachusetts. Retiring in 1992, he continued to consult until 2001. He is Past Commodore of the Captiva Island Yacht Club and served on the Community Foundation of Sanibel-Captiva and the Captiva Community Panel. He is a retired Fire Fighter One Volunteer at the Captiva Fire Department. Ron served on the SCCF Board from 1998 through 2002 and from 2005 to 2010. He was Vice President from 2001 to 2002 and Treasurer from 2005 to 2010.

Don Rice, Treasurer

Don Rice and his wife Joyce have owned property on Sanibel since 2001 and since 2004 have spent the majority of their time on the island. Don served as a senior vice president of the Ingersoll-Rand Company before his retirement from the firm in 2004. His career included assignments in human resources, leadership of the company’s Asia Pacific and Latin America operations, global business services and corporate communication and public affairs. Don began his business career at General Electric following service in the U.S. Army. He is a graduate of the University of Oregon where he received a BA in Economics and an MS in Industrial and Labor Relations. Don has served on SCCF's Finance Committee since 2009. He is a member of the Captiva Island Yacht Club where he serves on the club board of directors. Don began a term as president of BIG ARTS in 2012 and is a member of Kiwanis. Don and his wife summer on Lake George in upstate New York, where he just completed a five-year term as Chair of the FUND for Lake George, and chaired the West Brook Conservation Initiative a $15 million public/private partnership restoring the wetlands in the South Basin of Lake George.

Claude C. Crawford, Ph.D

Claude received his Ph.D. in Zoology from N. C. State University in 1971 and during his graduate studies and subsequent post-doctoral posts at The University of Georgia and Johns Hopkins University, he was involved with the startups of two small marine research labs. He worked in the medical device field, managing research and development of many innovative and successful diagnostic and therapeutic devices, including immuno-diagnostics, neonatal intensive care devices, cryosurgical units, and cardiac resuscitation devices. In 2000 Claude joined his wife Marsha to form a successful real estate team in Annapolis, Maryland. They first visited Sanibel in the Fall of 2001, and moved here full-time in 2007. Claude and Marsha have been members of SCCF for several years. Claude was a volunteer member of the Marine Lab committee for two years before joining the Board and serves as the Lab's liaison to the Board.

Sandy Gross

Sandy Gross has been visiting Sanibel for about 35 years. She is passionate about land preservation and habitat restoration. She resides in Cincinnati, Ohio where she owns a public art studio, Brazee Street Studios, situated on acre of reclaimed urban land that is now home to a certified monarch waystation, native prairie, bird habitat and 25 studio artists. She maintains a studio practice in glass, teaches classes to both children and educators and currently has been doing large scale art glass installations with children across the country. She and her husband John Hutton own an award winning childrens bookstore, Blue Manatee Children's Bookstore. Sandy holds degrees in both Art and Education which inspire her work with children and grown-ups alike.

Gwenda Hiett-Clements

An SCCF volunteer for over 15 years, Gwenda served on the Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2008, heading the Membership Committee for over six years. She has been a sea turtle volunteer since 1997 and she is currently the lead volunteer for SCCF data entry relating to membership, the Annual Fund Drive and other donations. Gwenda moved to Sanibel from Indianapolis, Indiana where she taught high school English, journalism and photojournalism for 25 years and was advisor for school newspaper and yearbook staffs. While vacationing on Sanibel in 1991, she met Len Clements, an islander since 1973, and they married in 1994. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from Ball State University, a master’s from Butler University, and pursued additional training in design and photography at Indiana University where she taught summer journalism workshops. She credits working at all three of the local island newspapers during the 90s with providing her a good island education.

Deborah La Gorce

Born in Boston, Deborah Welch La Gorce moved to Washington, DC, after college, where she met and married John. Three young children later they moved from the city to a small farm in rural Virginia. She calls herself a professional volunteer and has served on seven boards and as President of three, including six years as President of the Board at BIG ARTS. In the environmental area she and John fought to designate a scenic highway byway and to landmark the small town near their Virginia farm; they also put their farm into a conservation easement. Full time Sanibel residents for 17 years, Deborah has been actively involved in every SCCF land conservation campaign since Frannie’s Preserve and is also involved in the RECON water quality sensor program. On Sanibel, they also worked to limit the number and height of cell phone towers. In addition to SCCF and BIG ARTS, Deborah supports FISH and other island nonprofits.

Ran Niehoff

Ran and his wife, Marilyn, moved to Sanibel in 1991 when he became Senior Minister of the Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ and they both joined SCCF.  In the larger community Ran served two terms as one of Sanibel’s representatives on the Lee County Commissioner’s Community Development Committee and one term on the founding board of the Sanibel-Captiva Community Foundation. Retiring in 2008 after 41 years of parish ministry, he now teaches in the Winter Academy of BIG Arts and writes a column in the local magazine, Times of the Islands. Born and bred in the St. Louis, Missouri area, Ran and Marilyn have lived in West Seneca and Wellsville, New York and Marblehead, Massachusetts. Currently the Niehoffs divide their time between Sanibel and Captiva and the woodlands of Winsted, Connecticut. They have three children and four grandchildren.

Philip Puschel

Philip and his wife Roberta bought their current home on Sanibel in 1996 and retired there in 2000. Philip has a Bachelors degree from Hamilton College and an MBA from Stanford University. After spending three years as an officer in the U.S. Navy’s Pacific fleet, he returned east to New York City, where he joined the home furnishings company, F. Schumacher & Co. His entire career of 34 years was spent at Schumacher, the last 19 years as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman for the last 27 years. Philip was a founding member of the Kent (CT) Land Trust and he served on its Board and Advisory Committee for ten years. He has also been involved with land conservation in Vermont where he spends part of the summer. Philip led the fundraising campaign for his 50th Hamilton reunion, reaching record highs. He and his wife have been active on Sanibel with SCCF, CROW, and BIG ARTS fundraising efforts and they are SCCF Life Members.

Robbie Roepstorff

Robbie is the President, Director and Co-founder of Edison National Bank and Bank of the Islands. The bank was founded by Robbie and her husband, Geoffrey Roepstorff in 1997. Robbie is known in Southwest Florida as an accomplished business leader and an active member of the community, serving in many professional and community organizations that benefit the citizens of Southwest Florida including Chair of the Florida Gulf Coast University Board of Trustees, Chair of The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Chair of Healthy Lee Steering Committee, member of the Sanibel School Advisory Council, and Board of Trustee for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. Other involvement includes the Lee County Industrial Development Authority and Horizon Council. She has served on Sanibel Community Association, Hope Hospice of Southwest Florida, Uncommon Friends Foundation, American Heart Association, and the Lee Memorial Health System Foundation. Robbie has received various awards for her leadership. Most notable and meaningful to her is the 2008 Paulette Burton Lee County Citizen of the Year Award, named in honor of a former Sanibel resident. She and Geoff received the statewide honor of being named the “Bankers of the Year” by the Florida Bankers Association. The Roepstorffs are longstanding Sanibel residents and have one son. Robbie and Geoff are longstanding supporters of SCCF. Through Bank of the Islands, they have sponsored publication of SCCF’s Annual Report, past Earth Day celebrations, and the Wines in the Wild fundraising event. They have served as Turtle Walkers, and work on the Coastal Clean-Up with their entire Bank of the Islands staff.

Richard Shipley

Richard Shipley has lived off and on Sanibel for over 10 years, and acquired his current property 5 years ago. He is the founder and Managing Director of Shiprock Capital (, a private equity firm investing in early and expansion stage technology companies, primarily in the fields of information technology and the physical sciences. Previously, he was President and CEO of Shipley Company, L.L.C., a world leader in electronic materials and process technology development. Shipley Company’s markets included advanced circuit board technology, semiconductor manufacturing and advanced electronic packaging. Richard received his MBA at Boston University in 1972. He previously served on both the Massachusetts High Technology Council Board of Directors, and the Newton-Wellesley Hospital (Partners HealthCare) Board. He is currently a Trustee of Boston University.

Edward C. Wheeler, MD, FACR

Dr. Wheeler, a native Hoosier, earned his AB and MD degrees from Indiana University and interned at Marion County General Hospital in Indianapolis. He served his radiology residency and fellowship at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Ed practiced radiology in Indianapolis for 31 years and two years in Nashville, TN, in vascular and interventional radiology. He served on the Boards of the Indiana State Medical Association, the Indianapolis Medical Society, the Indiana Roentgen Society. He became a Fellow in the American College of Radiology in 1992. Ed and his wife Jane were active in environmental and other non-profit organizations in Indiana and Colorado. They purchased a home on Captiva in 1978 and then moved to Sanibel in 1984. Jane passed in 1992; Ed retired from practicing medicine in 1997and became a Florida resident in 2001. He and his partner Anne Haslem have continued their dedication to preserving land and natural resources as members of the Colorado Land Trust, YMCA of the Rockies, SCCF and the J. N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Society.