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 nine people and is still growing quickly.
Joe and Kristin have two daughters, Kansas, age six, who attends Montverde Academy, and Maggie, age two, who will attend Montverde Academy in Pre-K 3 next semester. They attend High Velocity Gym and gymnastics are a large part of their life. The family also enjoys going out to eat and meeting people in the community 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.