Gerry was born and raised in north central Alabama and along with his wife, Natalee, and two boys, moved to Central Florida in 1989. In 2007, Gerry put away his automotive tools and became a home-based travel agent. In 2008, he created Ash Travel, and has been serving the Clermont area as a travel consultant on all types of travel ever since. Gerry and Natalee have been married 34 years, and have 5 grandchildren in Alabama and Georgia.
After opening Ash Travel, Gerry joined the South Lake Chamber of Commerce and the South Lake Business Leaders networking group, of which he is still a member. Shortly after joining the Chamber, he became a Chamber Ambassador and is still very active in that role. He enjoys networking with others and doing volunteer work, so being an ambassador is a great fit. Gerry was awarded the Ambassador Choice award in 2011 for his work in the community, and was named Ambassador of the Year for 2011-2012.
Gerry is a past president of the South Lake Kiwanis Club, and is one of the 6-foot+ elves you will see at Santa’s Hut and in the yearly Clermont Christmas parade. He has been named Kiwanian of the year twice and works tirelessly to help organize their annual fundraising events that provide money for various charities and scholarships that benefit children in the South Lake community.
As a local home-based travel agent/consultant, with a national host agency supporting him, Gerry is able to compete with internet travel sites, while giving his clients a personal touch. Ash Travel does not charge any fees, so Gerry is able to provide his clients with the best vacation deals available, whether they are cruises, all-inclusive resorts, or any other domestic or international tour packages.
Gerry is passionate about helping others and looks forward to serving many more years in the Chamber, Kiwanis of South Lake, and the South Lake community.
Steve was born in New York, lived in Biloxi, Mississippi and Lebanon, Illinois and ended up in Florida after college in 1975. Becoming the Director of Operations for a McDonald’s franchise with seven stores in Central Florida brought him to Clermont in 1990. At that time, Clermont had 6,000 people and virtually stopped at Highway 27. He has seen the population triple since then, and has been a part of the community growth both as a family man and a business owner.
In 1993, Steve started working in the insurance industry and in 2003 opened his own agency, D’Amico and Associates. His goal was to provide the best customer service for people seeking home, car and life insurance, while also offering financial services and investments. He and his staff are committed to serving and helping people get the best insurance at the most affordable price. Having 20 different homeowner companies and 12 auto companies, all at least A rated, allows him to offer the best solution for most people’s insurance needs. Also, being an independent financial adviser, he is able to shop the entire market to provide the best options for retirement plans, mutual funds and annuities, 401k rollovers, life insurance or any financial needs a client might have.
Steve has been married for 31 years to his wife Andrea, and has three children and one grandchild. His children all grew up in Clermont and have fond memories of wonderful people and places. Wanting to serve the community he loved led him to join the Chamber in 1998 and a short time later become even more involved by becoming an Ambassador. As a South Lake Chamber member, Steve made many acquaintances in business and also true friends. A stage 4 throat cancer survivor, Steve credits most of his recovery from the prayers and support he received from his friends at church, the Chamber and his community. For all the Chamber and the South Lake community has given him, he is honored to represent them as an Ambassador for he truly loves South Lake County!
Carole Holden, known by clients and business associates as The Media Fairy, is the founder, president and chief cook and bottle washer at Gelmtree Advertising, a company she created in 2005 after an award-winning career in advertising sales. The business is dedicated to helping small business owners determine, design and execute affordable and efficient marketing programs.
Prior to racking up over 20 years’ experience in the ad sales industry, Carole earned a bachelor’s degree in Radio & Television from the University of Central Florida. She keeps her skills up-to-date with ongoing training and continuing education in the field, including graduate studies in the school of real life.
When Carole joined the Chamber 10 years ago, an Ambassador reached out to personally welcome her as a new member. She pledged that one day she would pay it forward by becoming an Ambassador herself. It’s a wonderful way to meet new people, learn about new businesses, and make new friends. Carole hopes to help people find as much value in their membership as she has.
When she disengages from the dynamic and often crazy world of producing commercials, coordinating media buys, social media marketing and juggling deadlines, Carole, the nature lover, unwinds at home in Mascotte, where she shares a contented sigh with her husband Jim, Kitah the Miracle Dog, and an endlessly entertaining variety of wildlife. She is also a member of an Endangered Species: Florida Natives.
Joe and his beautiful wife, Kristin, moved from Kansas City to Florida in May of 2006. He pursued a career in building material sales for several years until, Kristin, who had started her business, Success Mortgage Partners in January 2014, was too busy growing it and needed help. One year later, he quit the building industry and became licensed to be a Loan Originator. Success Mortgage Partners now employs thirteen LOCAL people and is still growing quickly.
Joe and Kristin have two daughters, Kansas (born 2009), and Maggie (born 2013) who attend Montverde Academy, and Joey (2017) who is enrolled at Lady Bird. The family enjoys going out into the community and meeting new people, helping, and giving back while there. Most of all, they enjoy taking the boat out on Clermont’s wonderful chain of lakes. Stopping into Lilly’s or the Tiki Bar and letting the kids play on the beach while basking in the sun and sipping a cocktail.
The reason Joe loves being an Ambassador is that it affords him the opportunity to meet a ton of great people. He gets to meet them at the place they are most comfortable and usually proudest of . . . their business. He gets to learn the ins and outs of what they want their business to be and what they hope to gain from being a part of the community, as well as giving back. The Chamber events are usually a blast, and the other Ambassadors are fantastic! Joe has made several new friends and plans on knowing them for quite a long time.
Darlene started her career in sales with Mary Kay Cosmetics for five years and worked her way up to being a Pink Cadillac Sales Director. She started her real estate career four years ago by opening her own office with her husband at Mizz Realty Group. After being in the business for two years, she became a Real Estate Broker. Darlene has been a multi-million dollar producer since she started her real estate career. Currently, she holds the title of Chair for the Awards Committee and the Chair for the Membership Committee for the Woman’s Giving Alliance. She is also an Ambassador at the South Lake Chamber of Commerce, and has been married to her husband Steve for almost 20 years and has two children Brandon and Selena.
Darlene loves being an ambassador for the Chamber because she believes in the program and loves greeting people in the community. She enjoys surrounding herself with awesome people and loves helping others and finding ways to connect people. She always wants to stay active in the community and there is no better way than being an Ambassador for the Chamber.
Basha is originally from Miami, but relocated to Clermont in 1997 when she retired from the Miami Parks and Recreation Department after being in charge of their programming, special events and marketing for almost 30 years. She now works part time for Belk stores doing events, which gives her a great way to meet people and talk about the Chamber.
Basha first joined the Chamber in 1997 when she was working for the South Lake YMCA. Not long after, she became an Ambassador, which gives her a chance to meet new people and get them involved with the Chamber. She believes the growth of Clermont over the years is due to the work the Chamber does and is proud to be a part of Clermont, the South Lake Chamber, and the South Lake
Linda has had a life-long love affair with Clermont and South Lake County. It was a wonderful place to grow up in and then raise her children in. Linda went into business for herself in 2000, and at the recommendation of a good friend, her first act was to join the Chamber and become an Ambassador. John Larkin was the chair that first year, and she will always remember him for his steady presence and good council. Linda has enjoyed watching the community grow and growing with it. She believes that the area offers some of the most diversity, and therefore the most opportunities.
Over ten years ago, Linda was at a business referral group meeting where the topic of discussion was “do what you love.” The recession was in full swing and everyone was needing to think outside of the box, so LiLi’s Lites was born. Linda has now been making all natural candles, soaps and lotions for over ten years. For her, it is wonderful to be able to provide people with products that are kind to their bodies and senses.
Linda always encourages people to remember why they moved to the South Lake area in the first place, and to work to ensure that the area continues to offer those same draws to future generations. She is blessed to call this area home and always looks forward to meeting new people and seeing how she can assist them.
Lea and her husband moved from a suburb of Philadelphia to Clermont in October of 2015. While in Philadelphia, Lea founded and ran her own custom window treatments business, Distinctive Designs, for ten years. Even though Lea is no longer pursuing the home decorating business, she is passionate about making connections, serving the community and looking into a new career path.
She is currently working on her memoir about how she went from a first generation refugee immigrant to a research scientist to a successful business owner. Lea has overcome many obstacles in her life thanks to the supportive people who live in this land of freedom and opportunity. Her dream is to be able to empower and inspire other women to step out of their comfort zone and conquer their fears to build a better life.
Lea enjoys being an Ambassador because being a member of the Chamber and an Ambassador is the best way to get to know people, businesses and the community as a whole. She looks forward to making many new friends in Lake County. Lea has been a Femfessionals Orlando board member since December 2015 and was a board member of Femfessionals Philadelphia from 2011 to 2015. Lea is also a member of Powerful Networking Women and a very active member of the Clermont Toastmasters.
Debbie was born in Orlando, Florida and is a true Florida native! She moved to Minneola in 1993 and calls Minneola her “forever home.”
Debbie has been with the Ambassadors since 2014 and enjoys helping businesses connect with the community and all South Lake has to offer. She is a Daughter of the American Revolution, a member of the Clermont Elk’s Lodge, a former Commissioner on Minneola’s City Council and currently serves as Chairwoman of Minneola’s Planning and Zoning board.
She holds an Associate of Arts degree from Valencia Community College and attends Lake Sumter State College part-time to finish her degree in Organizational Management. Debbie and her husband, John have three grown children and twin granddaughters. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and enjoying the outdoors!!
Susan is a Florida licensed Orthotic Fitter, as well as an American Board for Certification credentialed Certified Fitter for Orthotics and Mastectomy. She has a dual role as both a clinical care provider and as the office administrator for the practice. Susan is also on several boards of charitable organizations and County/community organizations.
As your Business Advisor at Dex YP, my goal is to understand your business inside and out. I will build a customized marketing program that will help you win, keep and grow your customer base. I am a proud Ambassador of the South Lake Chamber. If you ever have any questions about your membership, give me a call.
Al Schlazer, Ph.D.
Al moved to Clermont from Miami in 1997, after 40 years in Education and retiring from Miami Dade College as Dean/Athletic Director to open up Disney’s Wide World of Sports/ESPN, as their Senior Sports Event Manager. He retired from Disney in 2016, after 19 years.
Al had a wonderful career in Miami, where he was elected to the Florida Colleges Athletic Hall of Fame, the Lipton Tennis and Metro Dade Tennis Halls of Fame, and the FCCAA State Hall of Fame. He also taught tennis for the city of Clermont two nights a week. In his spare time, Al volunteers at Out Patient Services at South Lake Hospital.
Al has been a member of the Chamber for many years and recently became an Ambassador.
Anessa relocated from Stockholm Sweden here to Central Florida and has been an active resident for over 20 years. She comes with 20 plus years of leadership, promotional, and professional sales background. Anessa currently serves in the role of Campaign Director with the United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties; she heads up major campaigns with Corporations, local community organizations, works with event planning and volunteerism.
Her educational background is in Human Services with an emphasis on non-profit. Anessa continues to educate herself by actively pursuing the Executive Coaching program under the mentorship of Mrs. Marilyn Donnellan who has over thirty years of experience as a nonprofit CEO, and consultant. Anessa is actively participating in the Harvard Mentorship program, developing stronger leadership and community skill sets. Anessa is not a fundraiser. She is a catalyst for change!
Debra Flora is a wife and mother who has lived in the Clermont area for 5 years. Married for 16 years, she and her husband Brad own and operate A1 Aluminum, Screened Enclosures and Lanais. She has been a middle school teacher for 10 years and most recently an instructional coach for other teachers. Debra’s hobbies include boating, home remodeling, and real estate. Together Debra and Brad have raised 5 children. Moving to Clermont was the best move they have made. Now as empty nesters, they love living near the lakes and being on the water. Debra joined the South Lake Chamber of Commerce and became an ambassador to help other small businesses get established in the South Lake Area. Promoting and encouraging people are only 2 of her gifts and she strives to make others feel welcome.
Colleen Donlevy-Burns has been a multi-million dollar producer since she started her career in Real Estate in 2004 and in 2015 she was nominated Realtor of the Year for Lake and Sumter Counties. Colleen was born in New Jersey and lived in several different states growing up, as her father’s work required frequent relocation. Her father was President of Pepsi Cola for numerous years; he was Colleen’s mentor and inspiration as he was hard-working and much respected leader.
After completing high school at St. Mary’s, Greenwich, CT. Colleen did dual enrollment between Manhattanville College, Purchase, NY and Marymount College, Tarrytown, NY and earned a B.A. in Psychology and Special Education. Life after college took her to the Big Apple – New York City, where she enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life. To continue stimulating her intellect, a few years later, Colleen went on to pursue a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Miami, Coral Gables. It was there in Miami where she met her husband, Glenn, who was in Coral Gables on a construction job and was from Clermont a 4th generation Floridian. Colleen’s corporate job with Kellogg’s had them move to Iowa and then MI. Missing warm weather and family, they moved back to Florida and settled in Montverde, where they raised 2 lovely girls, Megan and Anna. In 2004 Colleen left the corporate world due to her youngest not liking that her sales career had her traveling throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Since she has been in real estate Colleen has been a member of the Chamber. She loves the feeling of being part of a community and knowing the people who are making this town a wonderful place to live. In 2018 Colleen decided the Chamber has given so much to her that she needed to give back by becoming an Ambassador and let newcomers know we warmly welcome them to our home town.
Jacquie has an eclectic background in counseling, journalism, and management/marketing which she combined with her husband’s background in business, digital marketing, and sales when they opened Splash Social Marketing in 2010. They’ve combined their strengths to help local business owners maximize the marketing opportunities available in the digital realm. Jacquie is proud to have taken their business international by bringing on clients located in Australia, the UK, and Canada over the past 4 years, but the focus of business remains on the small, local business community.
Upon joining the Chamber, Jacquie immediately asked how she can become more involved. A number of members suggested the Ambassador program and she found it was a great fit. One common theme along all of her past positions is relationships. She is a strong believer in building strong relationships which will be beneficial to everyone involved. That’s what the Chamber is all about and that is how the Ambassador program helps the Chamber and the members.
Jacquie is also known as the Business Engagement Expert and speaks to companies and organizations on the importance of developing strong relationships to improve business.