The Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) - a charitable arts organization founded in 1995 to be Northwest Florida's champion of cultural arts and arts education for all - kicked off its 25th season with an Awards and Induction Ceremony.
Outgoing MKAF board chairman, Heather Ruiz, applauded the following retiring board members for their dedicated service: James Campbell, Mike Freeman, Bill McQuillan, Shawn Tomasello, Marcela Vucovich. After five years of progressive service, Heather Ruiz is also a retiring board member.
More than 300 volunteers support the Foundation annually, but there is always someone who stands out in the crowd. Progress Bank's Assistant Branch Manager, Gwyn Wendt was awarded the Volunteer of the Year Award for over a decade of volunteerism at the Concerts in the Village, Festival of the Arts, and the Ruth's Chris Fall Wine Walkabout.
The Foundation's most prestigious award, the Chairman's Sterling Award, honors that special board member who exemplifies commitment, spirit, and vision to the MKAF mission. For the first time in 25 years, the Chairmans' Sterling Award was awarded to both an individual and a business.
Fort Walton Beach Medical Center's Director of PR and Communications, Denise Kendust was honored with the Chairman's Individual Sterling Award for her service as a board member, marketing committee member, and procurement committee member. In addition, she took on leading the Ruth's Chris Fall Wine Walkabout event, where she went above and beyond to ensure its success. Kendust has committed to serving on the 2020 Executive Committee as Secretary and is the Chair of the new Vin'tij Wine Dinner Series.
The Chairman's Business Sterling Award recognized the Frances Roy Agency. The agency chose MKAF as a charity recipient in its 24 Hours of Creativity for Change Event in 2017, 2018, and 2019. This initiative provided the Foundation with advertising strategic planning, design services, a new website, and more, all free of charge. Frances Roy Agency founder, Shantelle Dedicke joined the board in 2016 and is committed to serving on the Executive Committee and 25th Anniversary Committee in 2020.
Notably, 2019 MKAF Chairman Heather Ruiz stated in her closing remarks, "2019 was an incredible year for the Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation and I am incredibly honored to have been the Chairman this year! Our success wouldn’t be possible without the support of this wonderful community. Thank you to the Board of Directors for their time and talent, to our business partners and personal members for their generous contributions, and last but not least, the small but mighty staff of 3 for making this year a success. I look forward to celebrating the 25th Anniversary this year and continuing my support of this incredible organization."
The passing of the gavel went to the 2020 Board Chairman Kevin Bowyer. Bowyer announced his fellow Executive Committee members: Teresa Halverson (Vice Chairman), Bill Lindsley (Treasurer), Denise Kendust (Secretary), Shantelle Dedicke, Dion Moniz, Gail Pelto, and Todd Wilkinson. Also installed were the 2020 elected board of directors: Maxine Orange Bern, Jenni Brunson, Robin Donlon, Will Estell, Rand Fernandez, Meloney Howell, Gilda Jackson, Jonathan Jernigan, Patricia Parker, Wayne Paul, Andy Poveda, Lori Leath Smith, Denise Song, Jenifer Tomasello, Sherry Tewell, Bronwynn Toombs, and Tracy Wood.
"I’m very excited and honored to serve MKAF as Chairman of the Board in its 25th year. The organization finished 2019 in very sound fiscal condition and that sets us up to enter into the 25th Anniversary year on sound footing. We have an aggressive agenda planned and we look forward to welcoming everyone to one or more of the many events that we have planned this year. As a business owner and leader in Destin and South Walton, I understand the importance of Arts to the business community. Cultural opportunities play a vital role in making our region a great place to live, work, and play; and MKAF is leading the charge in that endeavor." - Kevin Bowyer, 2020 MKAF Board Chairman
In celebration of 25 years in 2020, 25th Anniversary Committee Chair, Tracy Louthain unveiled the MKAF 25th Anniversary logo, a new MKAF.org website, and launched the 2020 calendar events including the resurrection of the Arts Guild, the addition of four, new culinary events, and numerous ways to celebrate arts and culture in our community.
Information about the 25th Anniversary Calendar of Events, MKAF Membership, and the Foundation's Community Outreach Initiatives is available online at www.MKAF.org.
Photo Caption: Kevin Bowyer, Marcia Hull and Heather Ruiz