Board of Directors

Chair

Stephanie Schwetz

Stephanie has many years of experience as a leader of a huge national non-profit organization and the social grace to be a leader in our various outreach efforts. Additionally, she is a true opera lover . Originally from the UK, Stephanie Schwetz is a resident of Marco Island, and has spent winters in Florida since 2001. She was the Chair of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, the UK's largest research charity supporting 200 scientists with a fundraising budget of around 18 million pounds, where she worked in a pro bono capacity for 14 years. After the opportunity to join the charity together with another complementary research organization was completed in 2015, she stepped down. Stephanie has since chosen to give her time and experience in support of her love for opera. When living in the UK, she visited Covent Garden frequently and has seen opera in venues from Glyndebourne to Verona, from La Scala to the Ring in Bavaria and worked with a small opera company on a hilltop town in Italy, where she lives in the summer. In 2000, she was made a Commander of the British Empire (C.B.E) for her services to industry with work to help young unemployed and as a Commissioner of the Low Pay Commission.

Treasurer

Mary McVay

Mary McVay is a retired CPA and Chartered Financial Analyst with degrees in accounting and Finance from Virginia Tech. In her professional career she was Partner and Chief Financial Officer for Burney Management Co. Inc., a portfolio management firm, for over twenty years. Prior to that her clients included the U.S. Postal Service and National Security Agency (NSA) where she defined software requirements for accounting systems and analyzed automation proposals. She also served as an auditor for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for nine years. As a resident of Pelican Landing in Bonita Springs since 1994, she has been an active volunteer. She has served as Treasurer of Pelican Landing Community Association, and President of the Bay Creek neighborhood owners association. She has also remained active with Virginia Tech, serving on the Pamplin Advisory Council of the Business School and on the Foundation Board as well. Mary is an avid performing arts enthusiast and a generous contributor to Gulfshore Opera.

Development Committee Chair

Larry Waller

Larry has provided professional planning services for individuals and corporations through the firm he founded in 1969 shortly after graduating from The Ohio State University.  Waller Financial Planning Group is a Registered Investment Adviser offering planning consultation on a fee basis with offices in Columbus and Naples.   The firm, under Waller’s leadership, advised clients who ultimately used structured planned gifts to contribute $60 million to various charities which has had impact on the community for greater good.  He attained the professional designations of Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant and Certified Financial Planner.  He has been active on the boards of Charitable Gift Planners of Central Ohio and Estate Planning Council of Columbus.  During his career Waller was named one of the top financial planners in the USA by Money Magazine, given the Lifetime Achievement Award by Columbus Chapter’s Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, and the Columbus Chapter of the Society of Financial Services Professionals elected him to their Hall of Fame. He is currently a member of the National Committee on Planned Giving, Greater Naples Area Planned Giving Council, and is an advisor to the Education Foundation of Collier County. He looks forward to helping Gulfshore Opera shape their Planned Giving program. "While we can't change the past we have the opportunity to shape our preferred future." -- Larry Waller

Larry and his wife Becky live in Naples and also visit their Ohio home where they are near their seven children, 18 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

Founder

Steffanie Pearce

With over 30 years of experience in the field of opera Steffanie Pearce is a producer, director, performer and teacher of the great art form. She moved to Naples in 2000 and founded Southwest Florida’s first opera company, Opera Naples, in March, 2005. She served as General/Artistic Director, budgeting and casting productions, creating outreach programs, teaching, stage directing and fundraising until her separation from Opera Naples in May, 2014. In June of 2014, she re-organized and expanded into Lee and Charlotte County with the creation of Gulfshore Opera.

Linda Coyle, Esq.

Linda Coyle, Esq. practiced family law with Coyle & Risser 1985 to 1998. Her focus was on Children and family court as a court appointed attorney for abused and neglected children. She was appointed Court Commissioner to Hon. Wm Domina, received an award for Super Lawyer 2009-2016, was named as Top Attorney in Wisconsin by Milwaukee Magazine 2010-2016. She was also an Investigator on the Board of Professional Responsibility (appointed by Wisconsin Supreme Court).

 

Ms. Coyle has been an active volunteer in her Wisconsin community. Activities include; Board Member, Children’s Center of Waukesha County, President, Waukesha County Bar Association, Founded a Legal Clinic in Waukesha County, WI. Additionally she and her husband founded the first select program for girls hockey. The team won the Midwest Regional and competed in the USA Hockey National Championship in Anchorage, Alaska. Several of the girls received scholarships to play college hockey (at Minnesota, Wisconsin, Yale, Harvard, Brown). The program is still thriving; fielding over 10 teams.

Carole Fabiano

Carole Fabiano has a Bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance and performed in community  musical theater in New Jersey. An experienced host and event planner, she planned and ran chapter dinner events for the Young President’s Organizations such as a Night at the Opera, Travel to Napa wine tasting dinner, and a backstage tour at the Metropolitan Opera House and Luncheon. As mother of international renowned tenor Michael Fabiano, she stays in tune with the world opera scene. She has volunteered at many organizations including Gulfshore Opera, Salvation Army – Minnesota, and the Hennepin United Methodist Church.

Ryan C. Rupert

Ryan is a founding member of The Peace River Team at Morgan Stanley, who continue to be corporate sponsors of Gulfshore Opera.  As a lifelong music lover and relative newcomer to opera he is deeply enjoying supporting the talented artists and organization in Southwest Florida.

 

Ryan is a native of New Castle, PA and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 2003 from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.  Immediately following his studies Ryan spent two years working overseas in Tokyo. He then returned to the States and began his career in financial planning. In 2012 he earned the Certified Financial Planner™ designation and in 2018 became resident manager in the Punta Gorda office of Morgan Stanley.

 

Since 2006 Ryan and his family have resided in beautiful Punta Gorda, FL. Outside of work and family time, He is deeply involved in the Charlotte County community where he has served on the executive non-profit board of the following organizations: Virginia B. Andes Volunteer Community Clinic & Pharmacy, Charlotte Estate Planning Council and Harbor-Heights Peace River Rotary.

Beverly Wernette

Beverly has over 30 years of diversified experience in the pharmaceutical industry, in research, sales, marketing and advertising, retiring as President of the largest pharmaceutical advertising agency in Philadelphia. Her clients included many of the major healthcare companies in the United States where her role was to implement communications campaigns that are strategically focused and to lead the way in developing comprehensive marketing plans, especially for new product launches. She was always a female pioneer in her career and an advocate for women. She improved her business expertise by completing the Marketing Management Program of Columbia University and the Advanced Seminar for Pharmaceutical Marketing Executives at the Tuck Business School of Dartmouth.

Beverly and her husband, John, live full-time in Naples after moving from Pennsylvania, and have supported the arts, particularly opera, for most of their married life. Her main volunteer activity in Naples has been to serve on the Board of the Pelican Bay Women’s League for eight years, where she retired as President.  She is still active in the League and co-chairs a Women’s Speaker Series, which was founded under her direction.

John R. Wright

John R. Wright is a well known face of Punta Gorda where he has been President of the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce since 2006.  Born near Nottingham, England, he moved to Scotland at an early age where he developed a passion for foreign languages and travel. As a Masters Graduate of Edinburgh University, he went to work with The Distillers Company Limited, brand-owners of Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky.

 

His language proficiency in Spanish and Portuguese proved very useful when he was given the responsibility to manage the distribution of all Johnnie Walker family of products in Latin America and the Caribbean.  As his career progressed, he became Managing Director of Domecq International, based in Madrid, Spain.

 

In 1999, John relocated to the Southwest Florida coast when offered a newly-created position with the British Embassy. At the time, the UK government was looking for a commercially-focused entrepreneur to show British businesses how operating through Florida could open up new business opportunities in the Latin American and Caribbean regions. He was highly successful in bringing missions to Florida and attracting UK businesses to establish a more permanent base in Florida – thus creating jobs and wealth here too.

 

As his posting was coming to an end, Hurricane Charley hit. John had family ties here in Punta Gorda, so he decided to stay and took a year off to rebuild the family home here. Then came the most difficult decision – go back to Europe or stay. He decided to stay and was selected as President of the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce in June of 2006.

 

Since taking over the reigns at the Chamber, he has built a strong and vibrant team that is focused on business development, networking, unifying the issues facing the local business community and interacting with local authorities in working out methods to improve the overall business environment in the City. He has got the Chamber involved in many new projects, assisting Team Punta Gorda in the beautification of the City, planning high-profile community events that bring both old and new visitors to the area but most importantly working with local businesses.

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Board of Trustees

Anthony Fabiano

Founding Board Chair Emeritus

Alex Blagojevic

Clem Deliso

Jay R. Paul

Gordon Robertson

Lindsay Robertson

Michael Standen

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Honorary Founding Trustees

Marie Fabiano

Eva Sugden Gomez

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Charlotte Advisory Board

Thomas E. Cappiello

Linda Greene

Dr. David Klein

Marti Koch

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Artistic Advisory Board

Maestro Paul Nadler

Maestro Paul Nadler has distinguished himself as an exciting and highly respected operatic and symphonic conductor. Since his Metropolitan Opera debut in 1989 he has led the company in more than 60 performances.  Paul Nadler is Conductor Emeritus of the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Filarmonica de Stat Iasi (Romania). Co-Founder and Music Director of the International Vocal Arts Institute, he returns each summer to this prestigious professional workshop. Early in his career he won the Jerusalem Symphony Competition. In 1974 Maestro Nadler founded the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, where he remained as Music Director and Conductor through 1983. He returned to the Chamber Orchestra in 2008 to lead a celebration in honor of its 35th season.

Michael Fabiano

Mr. Fabiano has performed at the premier Opera houses in the world such as The Metropolitan, The San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris – Opéra Bastille, Canadian Opera, Seattle Opera. Aside from being a renowned opera singer, Mr. Fabiano cares very deeply about his métier and the field of opera. He sees that there is peril in some places and is passionate about finding diverse ways to impact the youth and make opera mainstream again, as it was fifty, seventy, and eighty years ago. He wants to create awareness of the art form so it can be put into the same market place as all the other genres of music. Therefore, he has taken initiatives such as doing outreach with kids, teaching SKYPE classes and courses, helping them answer questions about music and the arts, among others. He strongly believes that there are longer term consequences when we shortchange education in the arts. Michael co-founded Art Smart, a non profit organization that provides free voice lessons to underserved students in Philadelphia, Newark, and San Francisco. Visit www.artsmart.org for more information.

 

With his unique perspective on the future of the opera industry, he has agreed to act as an artistic advisor of Gulfshore Opera.

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