By Lara C. Chapman

When a young high school student named Veronica Booth moved from New Jersey to Venice 31 years ago, she felt both nervousness and elation. It could have been a hunch, deep down inside, that professional greatness and personal fulfillment would develop here. Or perhaps it was the notion that she could reinvent herself at that very moment—to be and do whatever she wanted in a community that would soon define her.

Planting Seeds

Whatever the reason, her instantaneous love and affection for Venice became a catalyst for community involvement, and eventually, her new mission at Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice. “

I remember the first time I looked down Venice Avenue and saw all the flowers and palm trees,” Veronica says. “I marveled at the beauty of it all and thought it was absolute paradise.”

Veronica saw Venice as an opportunity. At Venice High School, she became student body president and lettered in several sports, despite her claim that she lacked athleticism. “I didn’t necessarily have natural skills when it came to sports,” she recalls. “But I had the dedication and determination to play the very best that I could.”

Her powerful, strong-willed approach to success landed her a scholarship to the University of Florida. It also secured her a job at a reputable bank in Sarasota. Although it was under different ownership at the time, that bank later came to be known as SunTrust. “I knew I wanted to go into banking ever since I was a little girl. But I wasn’t sure I wanted to come back to the Gulf Coast,” Veronica says. “In retrospect, coming back was the best decision I ever made. This area will always be home to me.”

Establishing Roots

Veronica’s role with the bank started in a big way. She was nominated and accepted into Leadership Sarasota County, an elite program that develops and encourages stewardship and oversight in the community. “Being a part of Leadership Sarasota was a big springboard for me, almost like a rite of passage,” she says.

What happened next was 25 years of nonstop personal and professional achievements for Veronica. She has served in an assortment of board leadership roles within the community, including the Junior League, The Wellness Community, Sarasota Family YMCA, Mote Marine Laboratory, Asolo Repertory Theater and Historic Spanish Point.

Veronica also joined and chaired her local Gator Club, the alumni association for the University of Florida. During one meeting in particular, a man she had never seen before walked in and caught her eye. “We all met up at Hemingway’s Retreat on St. Armand’s Circle that night,” she recalls. “He introduced himself as Jay and I remember thinking that he looked interesting.” “And cute,” she adds.

Fate eventually ran its course: the pair was married, and Veronica Booth became Mrs. Veronica Brady. They settled in the heart of Sarasota and became the parents of two children, Meredith and Steven. Co-workers and friends told Veronica that marriage and kids would dramatically alter her professional ambitions. “When I got married everyone thought I would leave my job. And when I became pregnant, they told me again,” Veronica says. “But I had no intention of leaving. I knew it would be hard but that’s what I wanted—what I needed.”

Twenty-five years later, Veronica held more titles in SunTrust than most hold in a lifetime. Her most recent position was High Net Worth Client Advisor. However, her days at the bank are over. It is a good thing, she says. Yet one can’t help but wonder how much she’ll miss SunTrust. For when she speaks of her days at the bank, her smile widens and her blue eyes sparkle. It was, and always will be, a home to her.

Growing Communities

When Veronica Brady agreed to leave SunTrust for Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, she knew it was the right decision. It was the right time with the right organization. Most importantly, it would bring her back to Venice. However, breaking the news to longtime co-workers wasn’t easy. “The bank has been amazing since I broke the news,” she says. “They threw me a going-away party at Michael’s on East and my boss gave a truly touching speech. She said that she never thought I’d leave SunTrust unless it was for philanthropy—and she was right.”

Veronica has joined the staff at the Foundation as vice president for philanthropy and donor relations. Her primary role is to work with philanthropic families, individuals and businesses to help see them through their charitable goals. She will also help donors and nonprofit organizations in building the Foundation’s permanent endowment for the community.

Veronica comes with extensive knowledge and skill in wealth management and fundraising. And since she’s chaired fundraising events for various non-profits, she understands and embraces relational complexities between donors and recipients.  According to Veronica, her goal is to make sure all philanthropic dreams are realized. “I believe most people are looking for thoughtful ways to give—whether during their lifetimes or as a legacy,” she says. “And my job is to help people fulfill their philanthropic objectives in a way that is good for all parties involved.”

Life Comes Full Circle

For Veronica, coming back to Venice is history repeating itself. She is still the same fresh-faced, ambitious girl who looked down Venice Avenue 31 years ago. “Now that I’m working in philanthropy, I feel like I finally know what I want to be when I grow up,” Veronica says. “And even better, it’s for a community that I love.”

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