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Familiar Faces
Black Tie Wednesday, May 6, 2015 5 years ago

People with Purpose: Flori Roberts

With a background in cosmetics, Flori Roberts, entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist, talks about changing her direction of energy from business to giving back to a community she loves.
by: Heather Merriman Saba Black Tie Editor

With a background in cosmetics, Flori Roberts, entrepreneur-turned-philanthropist, talks about changing her direction of energy from business to giving back to a community she loves.

I had sold my business, Flori Roberts Inc., when my husband and I moved here 20 years ago. Although I was still a consultant, it was very different from running it and being obsessed with it, so, I thought, “What can I do to become a part of this community and find a new direction for energy and my passions?” I wanted to see what theater I could get involved in so I went to the Asolo because they had so much history. I became a board member and became actively involved in co-producing and understanding the theater, local audience and the wonderful gift of repertory.

I began thinking, “How can I use my background to do more for underserved kids?” I always, even in my cosmetics, would look for underserved markets, so I looked for underserved organizations. That’s how I got involved with the YMCA Foundation. There was a marvelous woman, Janet Kane, and she said, “You will love this. Come find out what we do.”

I am particularly involved with the Y Achievers Program. These kids have the GPAs, and we give them a chance to go to college. To me that’s giving them a chance to have a career — to have a way to achieve in life.

I have always been connected to my traditional heritage, so I sought out the Jewish Federation and, most recently, the American Jewish Committee, which fights bigotry all over the world.

Another thing I believe very strongly in is encouraging women and the power of women, and that starts with encouraging our younger girls. I’m very much in sync with the mission of Girls Inc. — tell them about their potential early, but ask for them to reach for goals. I don’t believe in saying, “OK, we will give this to you and you can enjoy it.” You have to do your best. You have to be the best you can be.

Sarasota is quite unique. It has a feast of things to do and the most important part is people to do it with who really care — who are involved and engaged and want to give. It is probably the philanthropic capital when you think about how many people we have and how many of them are so involved. There is just a generous spirit that I find energizing.

With getting involved, I’ve met like people — people who enjoy giving back and are focused on how they want to do so. It’s just been amazing to see the generosity. I always say I got my Ph.D. in philanthropy when I moved here.

I think the most important thing is make each day wonderful. Take advantage of everything you can do to help others to learn.

Giving back makes me feel fulfilled in that what I am able to learn and do in my life can help others. I only get involved in the organizations of which I really believe in the mission. I hope that I have been able to compile knowledge that can be helpful to organizations in actually getting their messages across and helping them grow and serve our community beyond ways imaginable. Sometimes what we do goes way beyond. Our city is a community; it has a soul and it really cares.


Years involved: 20
Her purpose: “To share what I know. To help strengthen what I believe is good and to leave a positive mark that I was there.”
Boards: Asolo Repertory Theatre, YMCA Foundation of Sarasota and American Jewish Committee
Involved with: Girls Inc., The Women’s Resource Center, Designing Women Boutique, The Suncoast Chapter of the International Women Forum, The Links, Sarasota Orchestra, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, Sarasota Ballet, Hermitage Artist Retreat and Ringling College of Art and Design

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