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Photo by Justin Fennell

Community building is in Mark Pritchett’s DNA. Pritchett, the new president and CEO of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, came to Venice and the foundation in 2008 after 13 years as executive vice president of the Collins Center for Public Policy, a statewide nonprofit. Previously, he worked at Enterprise Florida and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

 

MAIN STREET USA

 

“I first came to Venice in 2007, and I went down Venice Avenue and felt like I was transported back to the ’50s. It had that quaint Main Street feel; it just felt very comfortable. These are very friendly people who love their town. I know many people want to stop growth. I’ve been in Florida since 1986—you’re not stopping it. The question is, how do you plan for it like Venice has?”

 

SOMETHING’S HAPPENING HERE

 

“Our Stem Smart initiative will live on for a long time, and to be part of that is exciting. We totally transformed the way [middle-school] teachers teach and students learn math and science. You walk into these classrooms and see something is happening here. It’s gratifying to see teachers and students excited about learning.”

 

KEEP ON TREKKING

 

“I ride my bike on the Legacy Trail and the Venetian Waterway, and sometimes down Casey Key, Manasota Key. I’ll get up early on Saturday or Sunday morning and do anywhere from 30 to 50 miles. I’ve found a new passion—biking trips. Last summer I biked in Provence with a group; this past summer I went out to Glacier National Park and into Canada. I trained [for the higher altitude] by going up the Interstate ramps.”

 

I’M PROUD OF

 

“One of the first initiatives [I worked on], the Brave Fund. We brought in $5 million to help veterans and active duty people from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with whatever they needed, filling a gap that, at the time, nonprofits really weren’t doing and governments were slow at doing. We’ve served thousands of vets in a 26-county area.”

 

POSITION OF PRIVILEGE

 

“It’s a privilege to be in Venice and this region, and to work in philanthropy. We have a very generous region philanthropically, one of the most generous in the state.”

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