Leadership Palm Beach County Honors Leaders

Palm Beach Post
March 31, 2014
Leadership Palm Beach County honors leaders photo
Leadership Palm Beach County award finalists (l to r) Brian Edwards, Class of 2005, Bob Bertisch, Class of 1991, Jim Sugarman, class of 1995, and Dari Bowman, Class of 1998 in West Palm Beach.



Leadership Palm Beach County will present its 10th annual Leadership Excellence Awards on April 25 at the Kravis Center Cohen Pavilion. The awards will honor graduates who have made notable contributions to improve the community and who serve as a catalyst for the advancement of Palm Beach County.

The award recognizes the core values of the organization: integrity, compassion, credibility, passion, risk-taking, fairness, empowerment and humility.

The four finalists are:

Dari Bowman, community volunteer

Bowman’s community service reaches back many years. Among the highlights:

In 1987, Bowman co-founded the Law Enforcement Assistance Foundation. It began when sheriff’s deputy Mark Bohne was shot in the line of duty. His wife quit her job to help care for him and their children.

When approached by a deputy to provide some help with the expenses, a benefit barbecue to raise funds was held and LEAF was formed. LEAF assists the families of any law enforcement officer seriously injured in the line of duty in Palm Beach County.

Bowman is credited with helping to make sure abandoned children all have attorneys to protect them from perpetrators of abuse, as well as to ensure that all foster children achieve a permanent home within 12 months of entering the foster care system, according to Bob Bertisch, executive director of the Legal Aid Society.

Bowman’s work has also ensured that low-income mothers are given services to ensure that they and their children grow up in a healthy environment and the children are ready for school, according to Tana Ebbole, director of the Children’s Services Council.

Bowman, of Tequesta, attended Lake Worth High School and Florida State University.

Bob Bertisch, Legal Aid Society

For more than 30 years, Bertisch has led Legal Aid Society, which provides legal assistance to Palm Beach County’s most underprivileged constituents. As director since 1980, Bertisch has grown Legal Aid Society from a staff of 10 into an organization with a staff of 90, including 36 full-time attorneys. Serving more than 7,000 clients each year, Legal Aid Society is the largest legal services program in the State of Florida.

Bertisch works to create programs that provide assistance for the homeless, children lacking a guardian, individuals living with HIV and AIDS, and elderly citizens facing foreclosure and eviction. Bertisch said he originally went to law school to help provide “justice for all,” not only for those who can afford legal representation.

Bertisch is a past-president of both the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches and Leadership Palm Beach County, a corporate board member of the Boys & Girls Club of Palm Beach County and a board member of the Anti-Defamation League of Palm Beach County.

Bertisch has been the recipient of awards including University of Miami Law School’s Alumni Achievement Award (April 2012), Palm Beach County Bob Bertisch Day (November 2011) and Drug Abuse Treatment Association’s 2010 Changing Lives Award.

Jim Sugarman, West Palm Beach Library Foundation

Sugarman joined the West Palm Beach Library Foundation as executive director in 2010, and has since led the efforts in acquiring a $5 million dollar lead gift.

Previously, Sugarman served as a non-profit management consultant and as chief executive officer of Child Life Institute where he led staff to provide social and mental health services to more than 20,000 children and families facing cancer, illnesses and traumas.

For 11 years, Sugarman served as chief executive officer of the American Lung Association of Florida. Sugarman led the implementation of Lung Mobile, which in six years, educated more than 100,000 children and served as a model for similar projects across the country.

Sugarman once held a fundraiser for a young man with cerebral palsy so he could pursue his BFA, raising funds for his first year of college and an electric scooter so the young man could attend classes. He learned the No. 1 reason for infant deaths in the county was driven by a lack of cribs for parents created the C.R.I.B.S. (cribs are for infant and baby safety) Project, which purchased and donated more than 300 new cribs to families of newborn infants.

Sugarman sits on the executive committee of the Aging Resource Center, is a member of the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches and has volunteered with associations including Clinics Can Help, Palm Healthcare Foundation, Palm Beach County Medical Society, Rotary Club of West Palm Beach and Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Sugarman was presented with the Award for Leadership from the West Palm Beach Library Foundation (April 2012), was a finalist for Leadership Palm Beach County’s Leadership Excellence Award (April 2010) and was presented with the Ruby Slipper Award by the Metropolitan Community Church of the Palm Beaches (April 2008).

Brian K. Edwards, Gulfstream Goodwill Industries

Edwards is vice president of marketing and development of Gulfstream Goodwill Industries. Since 2011, he has overseen branding and fund development throughout a jurisdiction of five Florida counties and has led fundraising efforts for the Blind of the Palm Beaches, the Life to Transition Academy and the Senator Philip D. Lewis Center for the Homeless.

During the 10 years prior, Edwards served as senior vice president of Resource Development for United Way of Palm Beach County and then as senior planner for the Palm Beach County Public Safety Division at the Emergency Operations Center writing the Donations and Volunteer Operating Procedures until July 2011.

Edwards has served on boards including the Wounded Warriors, the Boynton Beach Cultural Centre and LPBC, and with 4-H, the Drowning Coalition. He helped define and ultimately chair the Operations Committees for both SunFest and the Palm Beaches Marathon.

Edwards serves on various advisory boards throughout Palm Beach County including those for Regent Bank, the Wounded Warriors of South Florida and the National Society of Arts and Letters East Coast Chapter.

Edwards was past-president of both the Board of Governors of Leadership Palm Beach County and the Board of Directors of Boynton Beach Cultural Centre.

Edwards served 24 years in the United States Marine Corps, and has been awarded a Navy Achievement Medal and a Navy Commendation Medal (both 2 stars) and the Meritorious Service Medal.

10th annual Leadership Excellence Awards

6:30 p.m. April 25

Kravis Center at the Cohen Pavilion

Leadershippbc.org/lea or 561-833-4321 for more information

$125 a ticket