PACE Center for Girls, Inc. announces Sandy Stilwell as the incoming Chair of the Board of Directors of The PACE Center for Girls, Lee County. Stilwell is a committed community leader and a successful entrepreneur. She is owner and CEO of Stilwell Enterprises & Restaurant Group, owning eight restaurants and the Captiva Island Inn. Stilwell has served on the PACE Lee board since 2009 and most recently served as vice-chair to Gail Markham, co-founder of PACE Lee. Stilwell has received a multitude of awards including “Men and Women of the Year” and “Philanthropist of the Year” by Gulfshore Life magazine. Stilwell also serves her community by holding various positions on a number of advisory boards.
PACE Lee is one of 18 centers located throughout Florida, opening its doors in February of 2007 under the leadership of Gail Markham and Judge James H. Seals. PACE (Practical, Academic, Cultural, Education) Center for Girls provides girls and young women an opportunity for a better future through education, counseling, training and advocacy. The center offers year round counseling and academic services for girls, ages 12-18, who are facing challenges such as foster care, domestic violence abuse and neglect, death of a parent, substance abuse, and/or family history of incarceration. Since opening its doors, the Lee Center has helped nearly 600 girls find success in school, generate a positive relationship with their families and peers, and become productive members of our community.
Markham has served as the founding chairwoman of the Board of Directors and during her seven-year tenure, hundreds of at-risk girls have overcome difficult circumstances, resulting in emotional healing and academic enhancement. One of Markham’s most notable accomplishments was her vision for a state of the art educational facility for the PACE Lee girls. Under her direction, more than $700,000 has been raised towards the $1.3 million dollar goal from the local community towards the capital campaign. Two signature community events were also created: Love that Dress! and The Grande Dames Tea.
As Stilwell prepares to lead the PACE Lee Board of Directors, she reflects on the legacy Markham has made on this young agency. “She has been the most remarkable leader. Gail is responsible for bringing us to the level we are at today. Her commitment and dedication to this [PACE] center is beyond outstanding. Thank you, Gail” says Stilwell.
Stilwell began her term on July 1, along with newly appointed Executive Director, Meg M. Geltner.
“This leadership transition at PACE Lee will allow the center to continue building on the foundation that Gail was instrumental in creating” says President and CEO of PACE Center for Girls, Inc. Mary Marx. “Sandy’s talents and strong passion for the community will ensure that center not only thrives but expands to provide more services to more girls.”
PACE Center for Girls, Inc., established in 1985, is a Florida-based, not-for-profit, 501(c) 3 and the only statewide prevention program for adolescent at-risk girls in the nation. PACE’s mission is to provide girls and young women an opportunity for a better future through education, counseling, training and advocacy. PACE has been nationally recognized as the most effective model in the country for reducing rates of detention and incarceration, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, dropping out of school, unemployment and long-term economic dependency amongst girls. PACE values all girls, believing each one deserves an opportunity to find her voice, achieve her potential and celebrate a life defined by responsibility, dignity, serenity and grace.
For more information about PACE, visit www.pacecenter.org/lee.