Community Housing and Resources Board of Directors and Committee Members are comprised of passionate members of our community that are committed to the complex issue of affordable housing.
Richard Johnson President
Richard Johnson’s education began not only in school, but in the workforce. He began a career early on working with a national insurance company owned by a farming family. Richard began his college career in Virginia and completed his Business degree at the University of Jacksonville’s Davis School of Business. Richard met wife Mead in college and the couple and their three children came to permanently reside in Sanibel in 2004, the year Hurricane Charley hit the island.
Richard specialized in information technology in addition to disaster relief and internal business consulting with his company, and that skillset made him a valuable asset to the island at that time, particularly to Bailey’s General Store, Mead’s family business.
Richard’s approach was a rebuilding and evolution of the business, with a huge emphasis placed on getting involved in the fabric of the community. Among many other island organizations he is a part of, Richard has worked with Community Housing and Resources – Sanibel since the year he moved to Sanibel and he has served as Board President since 2010.
“We have something here that I’ve never experienced anywhere else and I challenge anyone to draw a comparison between what we have and other places,” Richard declared. “That goes to the people as well as the environment. When you actually live here and become a part of the community you really see the rich cultural diversity that we have here. I think that’s one of the things that makes our community so endearing.”
Norm EsseyVice President
Norm Essey joined CHR’s board in early 2017 and shortly after accepted the position of board Vice President. Prior to joining the general board, Norm had served on the CICLT board, the entity that oversees CHR’s affordable home ownership program.
Norm retired to Sanibel from a career as an attorney and a national manager in the commercial real estate and title business. Norm enjoys traveling to see his children and grandchildren and exploring the country’s national parks, but during the majority of the year spent here on Sanibel, he knew he wanted to get involved in community affairs.
Given his real estate background and legal experience, CHR was a natural fit and he has already brought so much knowledge and guidance to the oversight of CHR’s rental and ownership programs.
CHR is pleased to announce our new Treasurer, Mona Strasser.
Mona grew up in N Ft Myers, FL. It is still home to her and her husband Bill and their 2 daughters. She has been involved in many organizations over the years and is currently serving as the President of the N. Fort Myers Red Knight Foundation. This foundation is partnered with N. Ft. Myers High School to enhance the educational environment for both students and teachers.
Mona’s banking career began in 2001 with First Community Bank for 13 years. Mona has back office experience and retail banking, which is where she found her love for helping customers. She came to Sanibel Captiva Community Bank (SCCB) in July of 2015 and it was like coming home! She was initially the VP Treasury Manager for SCCB working out of the Ft Myers office. In December 2015 circumstances brought her to Sanibel. Mona fell in love with her co-workers, customers and the island. She chose to stay on as the VP Office Manager for Library Way branch.
“We are thrilled to welcome Mona to the Treasurer position of the CHR Board of Directors” said Melissa Rice, Executive Director. “Mona’s background and experience are a perfect fit for CHR Treasurer.”
Les Boyle joined CHR’s board in January 2015 and stepped up into the Secretary role very shortly after. Born and raised in Indiana, Les has a degree from Indiana State University in Business Administration and Transportation and began his career in the trucking industry.
His love for the outdoors led him and a new business partner to purchase 33 acres in southwest Indiana and build a lakefront home with their own bare hands and sweat equity. They mortgaged the home for seed money and founded their own full-service marketing communications company that eventually grew to be the 6th largest agency in Indiana and a top 25 B2B agency in the country with over 40 employees.
Les and wife Sandy eventually sold the company after 30 years and have been settled in Sanibel officially since the 90’s. They enjoy the outdoors, fishing and, boating and are both actively involved in multiple island organizations.
Les’ vast knowledge of business administration as well as marketing and communications has served the board well as he acts as director over the board’s volunteer marketing advisory committee in addition to his Secretary position.
Dr. Stephen Brown
Community Housing and Resources, Inc. would like you to meet, Stephen R. Brown, MD, CHR Board Member and Nominating Chairman. Steve is a humble man of many wonderful talents who brings us wisdom and guidance. CHR is so honored to have Steve as a member of our Board of Directors.
Steve and his lovely wife, Lena, met in College and have been married for over 52 years. They first came to Sanibel in 1986 and moved here full time in 1994 from Annapolis, MD where Steve at one time had a boat for every day of the week. They suffered a loss of their daughter a few years ago but continue their faith and cherish their family including their two sons and three grandchildren who all live in the Denver area.
Steve has been a distinguished member of his community where ever he has lived. Some of his accomplishments and positions are listed below:
Steve attended Dalhousie Medical School, Halifax N.S. Canada; MD Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota: 1 year surgery and 3 years Radiology – Board Certified Radiology. He was Class President in Medical School.
His Practice included: Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN; Mercy Hospital, Baltimore, MD; Anne Arundel General Hospital – Annapolis, MD, Chief of Staff, Chief of Radiology
Steve gives of his time in many areas including Board of Director of Community Housing and Resources as well as a Lee Health Board Member with Liaison Positions including: Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Quality & Safety, Lean Transformation, Behavioral Health.
Additional Background and experience:
Member of Radiologic Society of North America
Member of American College of Radiology
Member of American Medical Association
Board of Trustees, Anne Arundel General Hospital
Sanibel City Council – 9 years
Sanibel Mayor 2002, 2003
Chairman, Lee Memorial Children’s Advisory Committee – Current Member
Past Board Member and President of CROW – Old Schoolhouse Theater
Past Board Member – Lee Memorial Health System Foundation
Board Member – Sanibel Captiva Trust Company
Member – Sanibel Captiva Kiwanis
Campean traded cold Ohio winters for the warmth of Sanibel and has been a full-time resident since 2006. George joined the CHR board in 2013 and brought with him a wealth of knowledge. He has a Masters Degree in mechanical engineering and experience in construction and property maintenance, including the owning and operating of a small 15-unit motel. He also gained the unfortunate but valuable experience of disaster remediation after Hurricane Charley.
George is the board director overseeing the group of volunteers who handle many light construction and maintenance duties for CHR, saving the organization thousands of dollars each year.
George and his wife are also actively involved throughout the community in many other wonderful island organizations and CHR’s board is lucky to have him!
Dorothy Donaldson joined CHR’s board in 2011. In addition to Administration and Finance degrees, Dorothy has a rich work history, working in several fast-paced business management and finance positions in New York City, primarily in healthcare-related fields.
Dorothy’s housing experience from working at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation has served CHR well as she shares her knowledge and talents with the team. She also brings her regimented organizational skills gained from a 23-year stint as a commissioned officer in the Army Reserve.
In addition to her volunteer position with CHR, Dorothy has also shared her time and talents with the Sanibel Historical Museum, F.I.S.H., Big Arts, and the Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
Community Housing and Resources – Sanibel counts themselves as lucky to have people as dedicated and talented as Dorothy serving on their board of directors.
Jerry Edelman joined the CHR Board in 2017. He has been coming to Sanibel since 1995. He achieved his dream of retiring here in 2004 and has been captivated with island life ever since. After retiring from a career in pharmacy and medical supplies, he has taken up pottery and now sells his works here locally.
Jerry grew up in St. Louis and says his parents were huge influences in his life, sharing their love of philanthropy and showing that even if you didn’t have money to give, you could always give of yourself and your time.
In addition to serving on the board of CHR, Jerry has been heavily involved with many other island organizations such as F.I.S.H., BIG ARTS, and Kiwanis as he continues to keep his parent’s philanthropic spirit alive and well.
Tim Garmager has been a CHR board member since May 2012. Tim has a degree in History from the University of Illinois and a J.D. (Law Review) from Loyola University of Chicago Law School.
Tim now lives and works on Sanibel as an Executive Success Coach, bringing to the board a rich knowledge of goal setting and relationship building, making him perfect to oversee the development committee that assists CHR with its fundraising and developing activities.
Tim’s coaching principles are grounded in compassionate leadership and he believes that great organizations are led by caring leaders who are goal-oriented and innovative. CHR is proud to have Tim’s great skill set helping to steer the organization.
Dr. Phillip Marks
Dr. Phil Marks is currently CHR’s longest standing board member, joining in January 2006. Over the last 11+ years, Dr. Marks has been instrumental in shaping and steering the home ownership program ran by CHR. He not only serves on CHR’s general board of directors but also on the CICLT (Coast and Islands Community Trust) board and as a member of the Landlord/Tenant Committee. He also serves on the City of Sanibel’s Planning Commission.
Dr. Marks grew up in Arkansas and graduated from Tulane University with both his Bachelors Degree and his M.D. He has an impressive background including a career as a Flight Surgeon in the Air Force and receiving the “Resident of the Year” award from the Guedel Society during his residency in anesthesiology at the USC Medical Center.
CHR is fortunate to have such a dedicated and brilliant long-time board member who gives so much of themselves to the program.
Aaron Pruss, Esq.
CHR (Community Housing & Resources), provider of affordable housing on Sanibel since 1983, has added to its board of directors a Sanibel attorney with deep experience in commercial transactions and litigation related to construction law and real property.
Aaron Pruss was officially appointed to the board at its November meeting. Educated at Rutgers University (B.A. in political science) and Wayne State University School of Law, Mr. Pruss is Board Certified by the Florida Bar in Construction Law and is a former chair of the Florida Bar Grievance Committee for the 20th Judicial Circuit in and for Lee County, Florida. He is a member of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Construction Law, the Real Property, Probate and Trusts Law Section of the Florida Bar and the Litigation Section of the Michigan Bar and is admitted to practice law in both Michigan and Florida.
Commenting on the appointment, board President Richard Johnson said: “A successful non-profit such as Community Housing and Resources can only be accomplished by a board of knowledgeable, dedicated and generous community leaders. Those willing to give of their time, energies and support bring a natural esprit de corps to our organization. Aaron Pruss is exactly that and will bring value to our board and organization well beyond our expectations. Welcome aboard, Aaron!”
Following successful service with two Michigan law firms, Mr. Pruss came to Florida, serving with two Southwest Florida firms before advancing to his present situation with Hewson & Van Hellemont, P.C., in 2016. As a managing shareholder with the Florida office, he advises and counsels business and construction clients on complex transactions, risk management, bonding and insurance coverage issues, among other responsibilities.
He is active in the island community, particularly with the Sanibel-Captiva Chamber of Commerce (as Chair-elect of the Board of Directors, Government Affairs committee) and with the Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club (Vice-president of the board). Mr. Pruss was recently appointed to the Sanibel Charter Review Committee and was elected chairman at its introductory meeting. Those who attended the 2016 CHR Mardi Gras fund raiser may recall his enthusiastic and effective participation as a Kiwanis team member in the hilarious swim relay.
Pruss said: “I am honored and humbled to serve on the CHR Board of Directors. CHR is fundamental to preserving the true character of our islands and is a shining example of the spirit of those who live and work here. I look forward to working with the CHR staff and its constituents toward an even brighter future for all involved.”
As CHR readies for expansion, with the goal of providing more affordable housing for island workers and their families, Mr. Pruss’ experience in all matters of construction law will be invaluable.
This week CHR is honored to announce our newest Board member, Doreen Ruane. Doreen has been a supporter of CHR for many years and has volunteered on our annual fundraiser, Mardi Gras. She was the co – chair on the Banking committee this year and will be helping out at the 2018 Mardi Gras on Sanibel too. With that said, I’d like to introduce you to Doreen Ruane.
Doreen grew up in Weston, CT and graduated from University of Massachusetts. “My introduction to Sanibel was when my parents bought their first condo in 1986. I loved it so much, I continued to vacation here almost every year after that,” said Doreen. After working in CT and then NJ for many years, she moved to Sanibel in August 2004 with her husband and son. A few days after moving here, they were surprised by the arrival of Hurricane Charley. This was a quick way for them to meet our neighbors and get involved on the island.
Doreen has been involved in many different organizations in various capacities since moving to Sanibel: The Sanibel School Fund, The Sanibel School PTA, the committee to help pass the referendum to rebuild the Recreation Center, Sanibel City Council campaign committees, Sanibel Captiva Cares and most recently Pace Center for Girls in Fort Myers and now Community Housing and Resources. “I decided to become a CHR board member because I believe this is an organization that is needed on Sanibel and has done a great job in providing affordable housing for those in need. CHR has become a model for other communities and I look forward to working with everyone involved.” reflected Doreen.
“Having Doreen Ruane join our Board of Directors is not only a tribute to her father Tom Gilhooley who served the organization for many years as a Director, but a testament to the commitment of the Gilhooley and Ruane families to our community. Doreen brings a great deal of knowledge, commitment and compassion to our board. With her addition to our Board of Directors our community will be well positioned to continue to provide much needed Work Force Housing in our community. Welcome Aboard Doreen!” commented, Richard Johnson, Board President.
Building & Grounds Committee: George Campean, Buddy, Dave, Dave, Dave, Ted, Scott, Neil
Development Committee: Tim Garmager (Chair), Dr. Steve Brown, Robyn Moran, Paula McDonald
Landlord/Tenant Committee: Lisa Bramm (Chair), Chris Heidrick, Andy Boyle
Marketing and Communications Committee: Les Boyle (Chair), Calli Johnson, Melanie Moraga
LEO Committee: Dr. Phil Marks (Chair), Norm Essey, Tom Gilhooley
Governance Committee: Norm Essey, Richard Johnson
Nominating Committee: Dr. Steve Brown (Chair), Richard Johnson, Les Boyle, Jerry Edelman
Personnel Committee: Richard Johnson (Chair), Les Boyle, Doreen Ruane
Expansion Committee: Norm Essey, George Campean, Mona Strasser, Aaron Pruss