Charlene Wolff has been a part of Sarasota’s philanthropic community for more than 25 years. Known for her involvement with the Humane Society of Sarasota County, Habitat for Humanity and Moffitt Cancer Center (to name a few), she’s most recently been active in the Lemur Conservation Foundation. To learn more about Wolff and her passion for the primates living in Myakka City, Black Tie Editor Heather Merriman headed out east to tour the private reserve and roam the forest with the lemurs.
I moved here in 1989, from New York, where I had been for 14 years. I grew up in the military, so by the time I was 21 I had lived in at least 18 different places. I went to college in Boston, where I got a B.A. in biology at Boston University, and then I attended Pace University in New York City, where I received my MBA in taxation.
I had a rewarding career in wealth management. I was involved in a number of successful startups in New York and Florida, including Wood Asset Management Inc. that I started and headquartered here in Sarasota in 1994. I’m also a founding board member of Sabal Palm Bank here in Sarasota. Most of my career direction has been in finance and wealth management.
My foremost hobbies must be charities. For 25 years I’ve been involved, whether being on the board, chairing an event or on the committee. I’ve been specifically involved in Habitat for Humanity, Child Protection Center, New College of Florida, the Consortium for Children and Youth of Sarasota County; and on the committee level, everything from the Y, to Key to the Cure, to the Hospital Foundation and more. Anything involving medicine, research, children, animals and education, they are all important to me. This town is so full of activities and charitable, philanthropic people — it’s been quite the experience. It can become a full-time job with all that is available.
I like to entertain and cook. One of the most fun things for me I think is hosting dinners for friends — it’s so much more intimate than dining out, although Sarasota does have an outstanding array of restaurants.
My love for animals is well-known by those who know me. I have rarely been without numerous dogs and cats and, for a while, horses. Currently, those in the Wolff residence include a German shepherd named Vana, a pomeranian named Blue, a Maltese named Tinker Bell, two ragdoll cats named Suki and Sasha and a tortoise cat named Delilah.
So, about the lemurs …
I joined the LCF board in 2010. LCF founder Penelope Boudry-Sanders and I had a mutual friend, which is how I initially found out about the organization. Animals have always been dear to my heart, and when I heard about this place, I had to see it. I struck up this friendship with Penelope and the next thing I knew I was on the board and I was involved. It’s an amazing board of interesting and talented individuals who are very much immersed in conservation.
Why I gravitated toward LCF and the lemurs …
Well, what’s not to love about the animal itself? It’s inquisitive, social and so darn cute. There are many incredible animals that are endangered and in need of support and our conservation efforts, but the fact that they are the most endangered primate in the world and the uniqueness of the specific genetic science behind them (lemurs being prosimian) make this a fascinating mission for me to support. This is an important group of animals in the scientific world.