Leadership Spotlight on Jim Sugarman - Class of 1995

Alumni Relations Committee
Leadership Palm Beach County
July 26, 2013



Leadership PBC President 1998-1999


Who encouraged you to apply for LPBC/How did you get involved in LPBC: Shauna Dunn, a graduate of LPBC

How has LPBC affected you? It changed my life in many ways and my knowledge and understanding of many aspects of our county.  As a result of LPBC I am blessed with some of the greatest friends who were either classmates or people I have met through my experiences on the leadership board or on committees.  I thought my professional and personal circles were large; but it was not until I went through Leadership that those “circles” seemed quite small and inevitably became that much larger and I became much more familiar with the county.  Leadership opened doors for me and provided me with many unique and memorable moments and opportunities. 

What is your fondest LPBC memory? This is tough as I have many…I think the initial one that comes to mind was the retreat.  I did not know any of the people in my class; but after the intense bonding along with nine months of intensive “get to know the county” days I sensed that I had established friends for life and for the last 19 years later I have readily acknowledged how true that was. 

What is something unexpected or surprising that you have derived from your involvement with LPBC? I decided during my year in Leadership that I needed to leave my position with the Comprehensive AIDS Program of Palm Beach County.  After many years in AIDS services both professionally and as a volunteer and having watched many friends, colleagues and those I worked with suffer with HIV/AIDS or as a result of being a caregiver and having buried over 80 friends who died of AIDS; I knew it was time to move forward in life.  And I was reminded of the old saying “Those Who Bring Sunshine Unto Others Should Not Keep It From Themselves” so I knew and decided it was time to move on. It was my wonderful friends in my Leadership class who gave me the support to believe in myself and enabled me to move forward even with no the job in the offering.  Through several of them and especially Paula Nicoletti, I heard about a position with the American Lung Association and they hired me as their Executive Director where I served for almost 10 years.

Where do you work and what do you do for a living: Executive Director of the West Palm Beach Library Foundation

What is your favorite aspect of your job: Another tough question as the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach, which our Foundation supports, is an incredibly multi-faceted place, where the programs and services are vast and very worthy of our support.  The library is truly a community center and haven for  tens of thousands of children and adults every week.  It is an honor for me to support this institution which does so much good in so many ways.

Your education: BA Oakland University MA University of Chicago

Your civic and community involvement: Rotary West Palm Beach-President of Board, Very Special Arts-Chair of Advisory Council, Area Agency on Aging-Executive Committee Member, Clinics Can Help-Board Member, Palm Beach County Medical Services-Board Member

Your family: Partner Cliff Fritts and two stepdaughters, the daughters of my late partner and their families which consist of their spouses and my 3 grandchildren, Henry, Esther and Dahlia

City of birth: Buffalo New York

Place of residence:  Atlantis, FL

First job: Working for my dad in his jewelry store, in the stock room and whatever he needed (age 5)

Word that best describes you: Caring (which is critical) Letting Go (which is essential to move forward) and Action (as action is the only thing that makes a difference in life)

Your motto: Be Good to Yourself

What brought you to Palm Beach County: My partner was dying of AIDS and he said living in Florida would keep him alive longer

How long have you lived in PBC: since 1989

Where we would find you on a Saturday afternoon: Walking, taking care of my 97 year old mom, running errands, spending time with my partner Cliff

What is your idea of perfect happiness: doing for others, a periodic vacation with Cliff and spending time with the grandkids

What talent would you most like to have: stronger writing skills and willing to take greater risks

Would not leave home without: Cliff

What do you consider your greatest achievement: I have been blessed with many; but two that come to mind are that I know I have positively impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in my life and for six or may be seven years running an annual event at Radio City Music Hall with actor Tony Randall which honored 5800 senior citizen volunteers.

Greatest extravagance: a cruise which I knew I could not afford and knew I had to take

Mentor: My dad and a professor in college

Who are your real life heroes: My dad, my friends and my 99 year old aunt

Most important lesson you've learned: Patience and from my dad “do not be blind to the faults and inadequacies of others but do forgive them quickly”

Person most interested in meeting: Bill Clinton (was introduced to him once but we did not get to speak)

Life motto: Be good to yourself

Best vacation you have taken: Egypt

Last vacation: Lisbon

Place you most want to visit: countries in South America and Africa

Most interesting place you have visited: Russia, before the fall of the Soviet Union

Favorite writers:  John Cheever and Issac Bashevis Singer

Favorite spot in Palm Beach County: Morikami Museum’s garden

Favorite restaurant: Rhythm Café

Favorite movie: Sunset Boulevard-Gloria Swanson, William Holden and the Rachmaninoff piece at the end are incredible

Favorite TV show: Rachel Maddow

Best decision: to move to Florida, which I was not keen on at the time

Worst decision: hopefully not filling out this questionnaire……

Toughest decision: leaving jobs without having others in mind..but knowing it was the right thing to do

Goal yet to be achieved: Lose weight and keep it off….

Leadership Spotlight