Alex Miller discusses her involvement in Sarasota
People with Purpose: Alex Miller
Occupation: CEO of Mercedes Medical
Years involved in Sarasota: 20
Organizations: Humane Society of Sarasota, Sarasota Memorial Hospital Board, Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation
When it comes to philanthropy, Alex Miller values quality over quantity. The CEO of Mercedes Medical has been involved in Sarasota’s nonprofit organizations for the last 20 years. During that time, she says she’s learned that in philanthropy, it’s best to focus on your strengths.
When I was in college, I volunteered for Head Start, which is a national program for free preschool, so I did that my senior year in college. That was eye opening. You’re thrown into a new socioeconomic class, and you see how those children are raised. It really makes an impact. Some of these kids hadn’t eaten, and we would feed them — these sweet adorable kids. You don’t always see the other side of the world and the struggles they have to go through.
I think if we’re all honest, Sarasota is socially tied to philanthropy. Everything in this town is really based on some level of a nonprofit aligned with a socialization aspect. So early on, I was trying to sort of get a little bit more engrained in Sarasota. You start going to events and you start being asked to serve on committees. At first, I was spread a little too thin; I did YPG and was on the health and human services board for the county. I was kind of all over the place and not really feeling like I was contributing on a level that I wanted to, because things either weren’t in my skill set or I didn’t have a lot of passion. I think this happens in careers too. It takes time, but you hone in on the areas you can really makes an impact and enjoy doing.
With the Humane Society, knowing that no animals will ever be euthanized for space reasons was definitely worth the six years of involvement there.With the hospital, the opening of the new tower happened long before I came, but during the opening, I really reflected and felt so blessed to be a part of it.
I’ve learned that the people are incredibly compassionate. There are thousands of people in this town that really do the hard work. I really see that humans are compassionate people — they’re so giving.
I think that anyone who has the skills, the time or the means has a responsibility to society to give back in some meaningful way. It’s important to find a way to provide the best outcome. Serving on 15 boards isn’t necessarily good for anyone. Find the things you’re passionate about and focus on that.
I just want to be a good human being. Really, at the end of the day, I just want to live up to my potential. That’s always sort of the running question for me: “What is my purpose to being here. Should I be giving more?” I’m always looking for that guidance.