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Welcome to the Yale Club of the Suncoast

President’s Message 2022-2023

     Yale Club of the Suncoast

Elizabeth Spahn ‘72

We survived Covid AND Hurricane Ian with Bulldog persistence.  Then we won The Game. Life is good!  Our 2022 – 2023 season is a fabulous feast of the arts and intellectual life in Sarasota, plus Yale is hosting the annual Yale/Harvard/Princeton luncheon this year, so we get not just 1, not just 2, but 3 Yale professors visiting us.  I think this might set a Club record?

The Club is solvent despite inflation, and we did not need to raise our annual dues which remain at the bargain price of $40 a year.  Luncheon prices went up very slightly due to the cost increases in food and labor, remaining well below other alumni clubs in the area. We seem to be attracting new and younger members (under 65 counts as young here), and I ask all our members to keep a weather eye out for younger Yalies who can ensure our club continues to thrive.

Celebrating the Yale Club of the Suncoast’s 65th Anniversary, the Welcome Back Party was a huge success.  Held at the Sarasota Yacht Club outdoors on the shady bayfront lower deck, the weather cooperated.  Sarasota was showing off our balmy breezes and a lovely sunset, cocktails, delicious canapes, and a wonderful raspberry vanilla birthday cake accompanied by classical guitar music.  Conversations were warm and witty as old friends met new members, swapping Hurricane Ian survival stories.

Our November 8th luncheon featured Gulf Coast Community Foundation leaders Mark Pritchett, President and CEO and Gulf Coast Community Foundation Jon Thaxton, Senior Vice President for Community Leadership.  Projects ranging from the Legacy Trail to affordable housing, to Hurricane Ian emergency relief are spearheaded by this important local philanthropic institution.

And did I mention we won The Game?   Yalies of all ages gathered for a watch party at Raffurty’s Sports Bar on Main Street and I have the pictures to prove it. Our friends from the other school also attended.  This year was so much more fun.  Did I mention we won?

December’s Tuesday luncheon brings us the nationally acclaimed expert on Florida electoral data, Dr. Susan MacManus, Professor Emerita USF, who will do her best to explain what is going on in our democracy.  As a retired professor of U.S. Constitutional Law, I am looking forward to seeing if she can make sense of the current situation.  At least we are guaranteed an excellent talk.

January 10, 2023, our Tuesday Luncheon at the Sarasota Yacht Club brings us Anne Essner, Chair of Architecture Sarasota plus the new Executive Director who will speak together on our architectural treasures here in Sarasota and the plans of Architecture Sarasota.  Sarasota is one of the leading sites for landmark midcentury modern architecture.  I expect the visual part of this talk to be memorable, plus YCS is getting one of the earliest glimpses of the new (as yet to be named as we go to print) Executive Director.

Monday evening January 23, 2023, we will gather at the Ringling College of Art for a private dinner with Ringling College of Art President Dr. Larry Thompson.  President Thompson is a dynamic speaker, and as one might expect at the College of Art, the visuals are fabulous.  Plus excellent food, cocktails, and fun with Yalies.  This event is not to be missed.

Thursday, February 2, 2023, our Luncheon at the Sarasota Yacht Club features our 1st Yale Professor.  Murray Biggs, Yale Professor Emeritus, together Yale Club of the Suncoast’s very own Andy Sandberg ‘05, Artistic Director and CEO, Hermitage Artist Retreat.  This dynamic duo will regale us with a discussion of the current state of The Theater world.  Please note this event is on Thursday, not on Tuesday, to accommodate our speakers’ schedules.  It should be exceptionally entertaining!

Friday, February 10, 2023, Yale will host the annual Yale/Harvard/Princeton luncheon at Michael’s on East. Our 2d Yale Professor of the season, Sten Vermund MD, PhD, is the immediate past Dean of the Yale School of Public Health and the Anna M.R. Lauder Professor of Public Health.  One of Yale’s most beloved and popular teachers, Dean Vermund is a leader in global public health policy including capacity-building for public health in Chad, molecular epidemiology for HIV in Kazakhstan, and COVID-19 vaccine studies in Dominican Republic and Connecticut. He has worked with schools and arts organizations for COVID-19 risk mitigation and institutional safety. As a pediatrician and infectious disease epidemiologist, Dean Vermund focuses on diseases of low and middle income countries.

Sunday, February 26 is our annual Feb Club Emeritus event which involves cocktails, 3 – 5 pm at the Dockside Waterfront Grill, Fisherman’s Wharf Marina, 509 N Tamiami Trail, Venice, FL 34285.  We don’t even pretend to have an intellectual agenda; we just have fun.  If you haven’t joined us for this, do try to come this year.  Lots of younger Yalies having a blast.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023, our luncheon at the Sarasota Yacht Club features Joe McKenna, CEO of the Sarasota Orchestra who will discuss the organizations exciting plans for the new music center on its 31 acre site on Fruitville Road.

Sunday afternoon, March 26, 2023, we have seats in the shade for the Baltimore Orioles baseball game vs. Philadelphia at Ed Smith Stadium.  (There is a rumor that Orioles’ manager Mike Elias ‘06 might stop by to say hello to us.)  There will be baseball and hot dogs.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023, wraps up our formal luncheon season at the Sarasota Yacht Club with the perennial favorite – Sarasota’s own West Coast Black Theater Troupe with Nate Jacobs, Founder and Artistic Director or Julie Leach, Executive Director.  This event is hugely popular and a lot of fun!

Tuesday, May 9, 2023, we will gather informally bayside, outdoors on the deck under the shade at Marina Jack for our end of season luncheon, enjoying company and conversation with our fellow Yalies.  No speakers, no agenda.  Just us.

As I finish up my exceptionally eventful term as President, I want to thank the hard- working volunteers on the YCS Board of Directors who make all this possible.  Despite Covid, Hurricane Ian, and other disasters small and large, the Yale Club of the Suncoast has pulled together to ensure our club survives and thrives.  This club runs on the volunteer labor of our members, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with them.