Experienced Leadership

Don Rice


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.  They summer on Lake George in upstate New York.

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 is a past trustee and treasurer of SCCF and currently serves on the Endowment Committee. He is a member of the Captiva Island Yacht Club where he serves as fleet captain and chair of the human resources committee. Don is a past president of BIG ARTS. He is a member of Kiwanis. Up north, Don served as president and continues on the board of the FUND for Lake George, an environmental organization dedicated to the preservation of Lake George. He also serves on the board of the Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum.

Deborah La Gorce

Vice President

Born in Boston, Deborah 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 as such she has served on seven boards, including being president of three organizations. Most notably she was President of the Board of BIG ARTS for six years, an assignment she describes as a huge challenge and great fun.

In the environmental area she joined forces with her husband, fighting to designate a scenic highway byway and working to landmark the small town near their property.  They put their farm into a conservation easement and, as a family, they donated critical acreage to Habitat For Humanity.  Together they worked to defeat a proposed cell phone ordinance which would have allowed “by right” eight towers of 199 feet on Sanibel; the revised ordinance allows a height of up to 149 feet.


On Sanibel, closest to her heart, is SCCF’s work in preserving land and protecting our island’s water quality, and she served a term as Trustee from 2013-2016. She has been actively involved in every land conservation campaign since Frannie’s Preserve and also became involved in the RECON water quality sensor program.  In addition to SCCF and BIG ARTS, Deborah supports FISH and other island nonprofits. John passed away in 2016 and, in John’s name, Deborah has helped spearhead the much-needed updating of SCCF’s intern housing.  

Susan Beittel


Born and raised near York, Pennsylvania, Susan earned a B.S. in business administration at Bucknell University before embarking on a 38-year career in York with M&T Bank (now Wilmington Trust Company), where she managed investments for important personal trusts and non-profits while serving on the boards of numerous industry, health, educational, scouting, and women’s organizations. She and her husband still spend summers in Pennsylvania, but have been Sanibel homeowners and Florida residents since 2011, having previously vacationed on Sanibel almost annually since 1986. On Sanibel, Susan volunteers as a monitor for SCCF’s Snowy Plover program and serves on SCCF’s Membership and Events committees. She enjoys birding, biking, beach walking, and visits from her two sons and their wives.

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.

Sandra Gross


Sandy Gross has been visiting Sanibel for 40 years.  She has many fond memories, looking for the elusive junonia with her mom and flying kites on the very same East End beach where she spends her vacations with her family.

Following her passions in Art and Education, Sandy founded Brazee Studios,  an art facility which is home to 30 other artists, a glass school and six beehives in a reclaimed factory on a one-acre urban plot in the heart of Cincinnati.  It is celebrating 10 years this year!

In recent years, she has taken her passion for Food and Bees and co-founded Sleepy Bee Café which has three locations and focuses on  Community, Sustainable Local Food, and of course Art where she and her team create all of the interior pieces and glass light fixtures.

In her freetime, she loves to visit with all of the creatures in her gardens, make Art and spend as much time with her family as possible.  Sandy is looking forward to returning to the SCCF Board and bringing her passions of Nature, Art and Education.

Nik Khakee


Nik Khakee is a Managing Director at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services LLC and is responsible for credit risk analysis of financial institutions and investment funds. Nik received his Master’s degree in Public and Private Management from Yale University’s School of Management in May 1996 and his Bachelor of Arts from New York University in 1992, where he graduated with honors.

Nik has been coming to Sanibel since 1977, first with his parents (who now reside on Sanibel), and now with his wife, Elissa, and sons, Jivan and Suraj. SCCF's Education Department the Sanibel Sea School fills a void Nik experienced as a young visitor to Sanibel. Nik was aware of the importance of the nature and ecology of Sanibel but wished for ways to learn more and supplement walks, paddles, and bike rides. Nik is delighted to serve as a board member to support SCCF and Sanibel Sea School’s efforts to help fill that void and advance broader understanding of the importance of ocean conservation. 

Jill McCormack


Jill’s first visit to Sanibel was in 1982 when her parents bought a residence, and she has returned to the island every year.

She graduated from Notre Dame with a degree in Biology and earned a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at the University of Illinois.

Jill had a successful veterinary practice and retired when she had her fourth child. She became actively involved in leadership opportunities related to her children’s education. She served as Vice-President and President of the local PTA at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels. She served on the Advisory Council for the School District Superintendent.

Beyond these local responsibilities, Jill is currently a member of the College of Science Advisory Council at Notre Dame. She is also a trustee of the Boler Family Foundation.

Jill and her husband Dan, also a retired veterinarian, have been bringing their family to Sanibel for over 30 years. They have purchased a home and will now spend the winter season on the island. They enjoy exploring the diverse wildlife on the beaches and in Ding Darling.

Jill’s parents were active supporters of SCCF and Big Arts. Her family sponsors the Paul McCarthy lecture series. She plans to continue their legacy of engagement in the community and looks forward to working with SCCF to address the challenges of climate change and protecting our island environment.

Ann Nobles


Anne received her A.B. and M.A. degrees from Harvard University and a JD from Georgetown Law School, where she served as an editor of the Georgetown Law Journal.

Anne retired in 2012 from Eli Lilly & Company, where she worked for over 22 years in a variety of senior leadership roles. Most recently, she served as Senior Vice President for Enterprise Risk Management and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer. Since retirement, Anne has lectured on ethics at business schools across the country and served as a consultant on education issues.

Anne has been an active member of several Boards:

Anne has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Indiana University Health System since 2011. She was the Chair of the Board from 2014-2018 and currently chairs the Talent Management and & Executive Comp Committee.

Anne is a trustee and Chair of the Board of Citizens Energy Group, a public charitable trust providing water, gas, and other utilities to customers in central Indiana.

Anne also serves as co-chair of the Indianapolis Prize for Conservation and is on the Board of the Indiana Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

Anne and her husband, David, have been active supporters of SCCF in a number of ways.  Anne established the Edward B. Nobles Endowment in her father’s memory. Its goal is to ensure the ongoing management of reptile habitat within the SCCF preserves. Anne has been the Chair of the SCCF Endowment Committee for the past two years.

Tom Libonate


Tom Libonate and his wife Merni are residents of Captiva. He has been a member of the Captiva Island Historical Society since 2015, and for the two years has served as President of its Board of Directors.

From his first exposure to Captiva in 1986, Tom was drawn to the island’s beauty, nature and history, “Yes, it was different then – yet it’s just as special and extraordinary today. I am fascinated by the history of our islands and passionate about their preservation. I feel I have one foot in the past and the other in the future – doing whatever I can to share our rich history, while personally dedicated to ensuring we keep our islands the way we have come to love them.”

Tom brings a long and impressive background in marketing and website design.  Prior to his retirement in 2010, he was Vice Chairman of Ryan Partnership, which he co-founded in 1984; it was headquartered in Wilton, CT.  The marketing agency specialized in promotional, direct and internet marketing; creative and website design; and retailer marketing. 

In addition to his Board work with the Captiva Island Historical Society, Tom has served as Chair of the Roselle Catholic High School Consultative Board (Roselle, NJ), served on the Educational and Faculty Affairs Committee of Monmouth University (West Long Branch, NJ) and the Westport Arts Center Board of Directors (Westport, CT).  Tom is most proud to be father to four children, and a grandfather to three wonderful grandkids.  During the few months when not on Captiva, he and his wife Merni reside in Farmington, CT.

Dick Pyle


Dick Pyle is a long-time Sanibel-Captiva resident. He served as President of the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company, as an investment analyst and portfolio manager and a member of the Asset Management Committee. Dick’s 49 years of investment research and portfolio management experience included co-founding Winslow Capital Management, Inc. of Minneapolis following serving as managing director and research analyst at Piper Jaffray and director of Piper Ventures. He served the community as Ex-Officio Board Member and Treasurer of BIG Arts of Sanibel and is a member of the Sanibel General Employees’ Pension Board. Dick earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and political science from Macalester College and conducted his graduate work in economics at the University of Minnesota. Dick holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a former president of CFA Society of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Dick and his wife, Nathalie have been full time residents of Captiva since 2003 after purchasing their home in 1998. They have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren. Since reitirement from the Trust Company in February of this year, Dick has been enjoying new service opportunities in the community.

John Raho


John Raho left a career in Corporate Finance in 2016, primarily working in Fortune 500 companies for more than 25 years, with his most recent role as Division Controller, Specialty Materials at Corning Incorporated. His new adventure is as at the Children’s Advocacy Center of SW Florida, a non-profit. John’s corporate work focused primarily on strategy and modelling, and now includes grant planning and administration. His corporate career included 15 years living and working overseas in Greater China, Japan and Europe, throughout which he developed a lifelong passion for travel, history and the arts. But by far the most rewarding aspect of that phase of his life was identifying and nurturing new talent, and seeing them develop into the next generation of leadership.

John earned a BA Economics and MBA Finance from Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences, including a year at the London School of Economics, and Cornell’s Management School. He is also a Certified Public Accountant and a rated Expert in the United States Chess Federation. John and his wife Joleen can usually be found playing with their Bernese mountain dog, Barnaby, and have adopted the vibe of island life with beaching, boating, biking and pickle-balling.  

John also serves as Treasurer on the Sanibel Community Association board of directors.

Chip Roach


Chip Roach joined the real estate firm started by his father and uncle in Philadelphia in 1948, and helped to grow it from 30 people in 1966 to approximately 4,000 people in 2003, when he sold his interest to his partners. He retired from active practice in 2007 and became a resident of Sanibel. Chip was active as a board member for not-for-profit organizations and the state and National Association of Realtors. He chaired the boards of Rosemont College, his local Chamber of Commerce, a national real estate referral service, as well as the MLS system for 33,000 Realtors in the Philadelphia region.

Chip and Nancy have been married for 55 years and have three children and five grandchildren. Nancy started a program called Nancy Cares (with the University of Pennsylvania Health System) in 2004 after a brush with breast cancer. “Nancy Cares” provided free mammograms for uninsured women and carried out over 3,000 health procedures.

Chip previously served on the board of the Sanibel Sea School and is Chair of the Charitable Foundation of the Islands. He is the board Vice Chair at the Captiva Chapel by the Sea.

Chip and Nancy have served together as Honorary Chairs of the Sanctuary’s 2017 Community Golf Challenge, for the 2017 GO FISH fundraiser and the 2018 Sanibel Sea School annual celebration.

Laura Shaffer


Laura Shaffer and her husband Shawn have been full-time residents of Sanibel since 2014. After buying a house on Sanibel that was to be a getaway from Nebraska winters, they came for the first few visits and decided to stay, making Sanibel their primary home. The conservation efforts by individuals and organizations on the island and respect for nature were primary drivers along with the beach, water, and wildlife.

Laura has a B.S. degree in Biology, Chemistry, and Business from The University of Tampa. Laura retired after 32 years in the pharmaceutical industry. Over her tenure, Laura was a leader in Sales, Marketing, Commercial Operations and Contracting. In her role with the Merck/Schering Plough Joint Venture, Laura was the National Vice President of Sales and Science responsible for revenue of $6 billion and oversight of 2,000 contract employees as well as direct organizational leadership of 300.

Laura is an active SCCF volunteer with the Sea Turtle Program. Laura is also a volunteer at the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum as part of the 4th Grade education program and is a Shell Ambassador. She is also an active volunteer at the Sanibel Community House and is a kayak group leader with the Sanibel Senior Center. Laura enjoys swimming, shelling, long walks on the beach,biking around Sanibel and cooking. Laura and Shawn have two sons, Ryan and Scott who both love visiting Sanibel. During the short time here on Sanibel, Laura and Shawn have tried to be involved in the community and look for ways to give back to the place they now call home.

Ty Symroski


Ty Symroski graduated with a BS in Land Use Planning from the University of Michigan and began working in the Sanibel Planning Department in the late ‘70s, where he co-compiled the Ecozone Maps currently used by the City.  From 1984 to 2012, he was a planner in the Florida Keys Area of Critical State Concern, working at various times for Monroe County, State of Florida Dept. of Community Affairs, City of Key West and as a private consultant.  He was the City Planner for Key West from 1998 to 2006 and was elected and served one term on the board of the Key West electric utility.  In 2012, he tried leaving the Keys for Portland, Oregon but returned to Sanibel after one winter.  Born into an Air Force family, he was raised in Rhode Island, Ohio, Japan, Georgia and wound up finished high school at Cypress Lake High School when he father retired the the family moved the Sanibel. He’s currently semi-retired by that includes working as a naturalist for Tarpon Bay Explorers, giving kayak tours and narrating their cruises. He’s a member of the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club and serves on Sanibel’s Historic Preservation Committee and also on the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Lee County Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Christine Szymanczyk


Christine was born in the suburbs of Chicago and has been visiting Southwest Florida since she was a little girl. Christine graduated from Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor's degree and from Indiana University with a Master's Degree. 

She is a Fulbright Scholar. Following college, she taught Pedagogical and English classes in rural Argentina at the Universidad de Villa Maria.  She also taught high school Spanish for a number of years in the United States.  

Christine has traveled internationally but she and her husband Kyle were drawn to Sanibel and they moved to the island in 2016. They are actively involved in raising their two school-aged sons and in a number of community activities.  

Christine previously served on the Sanibel Sea School Board of Directors. She is an educator by training, and looks forward to supporting the Sea School’s offerings as well as the broader mission of SCCF.