Having grown up in an Air Force family, Catherine Luckner feels it’s appropriate to say she was “drafted” into the Siesta Key Association.
She was standing in the street one day, looking at the canopy trees in her neighborhood, when an SKA board member who also lives on that part of the Key approached her and asked if she would be interested in attending an SKA meeting.
Luckner did begin going to meetings; then, about three years ago, the SKA Nominating Committee asked her to be a board member. In February 2011, she took over as president from Lourdes Ramirez.
Observers may say Luckner is ideally suited to lead an association with such diverse membership and interests, and foster a strong relationship with other Key organizations.
After an internship in the Department of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Luckner landed an internship at the federal prison in Tallahassee. She worked with the founder of a landmark method for pairing prisoners as cellmates, to minimize violence. Luckner herself started the first program of its kind to work with correctional officers and their families, as well as families of inmates, with the goals of minimizing violence and enabling inmates to get the resources they needed to be successful upon their release.
Luckner credits growing up in a military family for her ability to handle all sorts of situations.
“We lived everywhere, from one coast to the next (and overseas twice),” she said. “I think that’s probably been the biggest shaper for me in my life.”
Regarding her SKA work, Luckner said, “This is unique to me. … It’s a different world of volunteering yourself for things … (but) it’s a big learning opportunity.”
Among her initiatives since she became president, Luckner has instituted regular retreats for the SKA board members, enabling them to build strong relationships with each other.
“I think our board members are ... extremely collaborative and very supportive, (but) I don’t mean we always agree,” she said. “We cheerfully work on things together.”
The other major component of her life is her marriage to Bob Luckner, a retired chemical engineer.
“We know that we were meant to be together, and at a time of our lives we never would have imagined,” she said.
Regular attendees of SKA meetings know Bob Luckner, because he’s always there in the audience.
“He has been a tremendous support for me doing this work,” she said.
Not only are the Luckners a team for the SKA, but also they have been regular volunteers in Sarasota Audubon’s program to protect the beach-nesting birds — especially the snowy plovers — that come annually to Sarasota County’s barrier islands. The Luckners shared honors with two other people as the Audubon group’s Volunteers of the Year for 2011.
Yet, Luckner is quick, once again, to point to a group effort, instead of taking any personal credit. The SKA, Audubon, county staff, beach-goers and volunteers from throughout the region, she said, have stepped up to watch out for these birds.
“This partnership is another example of Siesta Key being a great place to live,” she said. “Counting on your neighbors to (be stewards of) your living space directly affects tourism and property values.”
AT A GLANCE
Hometown: MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa
Family: She and husband Bob have been together for 13 years.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in psychology and education from Mercer University; masters in science from Florida State University and completed doctoral work at FSU
Profession: Clinical psychologist and school psychologist