Deering Estate Foundations Holds Annual Meeting

Deering Estate Foundations Holds Annual Meeting


Inducts New Officers, Directors and Trustees; Recognizes Leaders of ‘100 Ladies of Deering’ Fundraising Group; And Previews Excerpt of Newly Commissioned Film about the Deering Estate, ‘On This Land’ 

Deering Estate Foundation Executive Director and Board of Directors 2017

PALMETTO BAY (January 18, 2017) – The leadership of the Deering Estate Foundation gathered together in the Visitors Center Theater for its annual meeting Jan. 11 to applaud the efforts of its board members, volunteers and community partners, and to set the stage for the coming year.

Foundation Executive Director Mary Pettit inducted newly elected officers David McDonald, President; Becky Matkov, Vice President; Liede DeValdivielso, Secretary; Vicki Hinz, Treasurer; David Marley, Past President; directors Laura Beaton-Aguilera, Peter England and Barry Johnson; and trustees Lynn French and James Harris.

Pettit led a round of applause and appreciation for retiring board members Henry Aguilera, Mark Boulris and Marco Lopez.

McDonald, who stepped in as President last year to fill the role when immediate past president Buff March-Bye became ill and passed away, said he was “humbled and honored to serve the board,” and then quoted Robert F. Kennedy, a fellow New Englander:

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Liede DeValdivielso, President of the 100 Ladies of Deering philanthropic circle, founded in 2012, announced the retirement of the Founders designation recognizing each founding member with a beautiful plaque that included a fern, the circle’s symbol. Stepping to the front of the auditorium were Suzoyo Fox, Lori Haas, Karen Hoffman, Barbara Ludovici, Sandy McCarthy, Jocelyn Tennille, and Marta Weeks-Wulf.  DeValdivielso applauded their accomplishments and praised them for their “creativity, generosity and wisdom.” In just three short years, the impact the 100 Ladies of Deering have had on improving the Deering Estate’s furnishings and art collections has greatly enhanced the experience of all who visit and they continue to charge forward with new projects to broaden awareness of this treasured gem of South Florida’s history.  Founders Susan MacArthur and Heather Bell-O’Brien were unable to attend.

Following the moving acknowledgement of the 100 Ladies of Deering Founders, Deering Estate Director Jennifer Tisthammer began the 2016 Champion Partner Awards ceremony by thanking the Deering Estate Foundation staff, Board of Directors, 100 Ladies of Deering and members for “all that you do to preserve our iconic historic homes, the history of the many people who have walked these lands and ecological landscapes that are important markers of our South Florida community.”

Each Champion Partner Award recipient was called to the stage to receive special recognition from Pettit and Tisthammer:

  • Remko Jansonius, Deputy Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, recipient of the Preservation Partner award on Vizcaya’s behalf, for their ongoing collaboration and particularly for the “daunting task” of deaccessioning and transferring of 182 museum objects from Vizcaya to the Deering Estate;
  • David Pierce Rodriguez, of PRISM Paranormal Research, recipient of the Programming Partner award for his Ghost Tours and bringing new audiences to the Estate at night;
  • Ada Montero, Arvida Middle School, recipient of the Educational Partner award for the educational institution’s participation in Deering Estate’s N.E.S.T.T. Program (Nurturing Environmental Stewards of Today and Tomorrow), which helps students connect to nature in the midst of a technology-driven world;
  • Edward and Lily Segarra, Christina’s Party Rentals, recipient of the Community Partner award for being the “go-to company for anything and everything” and for always going “the extra mile” in their service and for their in-kind generosity supporting the Foundation’s fundraising events.
  • Eric and Lori Haas, Sports Grill, recipient of the Corporate Partner award for their long-term support of the Foundation and Estate, and in particular their critical support during the 30-day, online virtual fundraising event last August – Race to Raise 30/30, when they held an “eat-in-for-Deering,” donating a percentage of restaurant sales in honor of the event;
  • Selma Sotolongo, Diario La Americas, recipient of the first-ever Media Partner award for its sponsorship of the Chamber Ensemble & Liszt Piano Concert Series and collaboration through Spanish language and heritage tours, and unique special events to highlight Hispanic and Latin cultural interests;
  • Katie Maseri, Deering Estate Volunteer of the Year;
  • Michael Batlle, Deering Estate Foundation Volunteer of the Year;
  • Evelyn Gaiser, Executive Director of FIU School of Environment, Arts and Society, recipient of the Champion Partner of the Year for FIU’s recent agreement with Deering Estate to increase university involvement in the property, whereby students and faculty are offered access to diverse marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats, active conservation and restoration ecology projects, archeological sites, geologic record, cultural collections, and active natural and cultural resource management; and
  • Dallas Hazelton, Project Supervisor/GIS Coordinator for Natural Areas Management of the Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, recipient of the William N. Irvine Stewardship Award for his leadership in restoring and managing 98 nature preserves totaling more than 26,000 acres of land.

Hazelton was acknowledged for going far above and beyond his supervisory responsibilities. During the past decade, the South Florida Water Management District invested nearly $4.2 million to improve hydrology in the local community, serving both ecological and residential needs. While conception of the project began more than 20 years ago, Hazelton has been and critical part of the both the creative and conservation management team.

“Despite reduced budgets and personal time constraints, Dallas has happily, intelligently, and with infectious enthusiasm, brought others in to learn about the project and its important ecological and community benefits,” said Deering Estate Director Jennifer Tisthammer. “There really has been no end to the assistance and leadership that he has provided to the management team, the Deering Estate staff, and the Deering Estate Foundation on this project. As a result, everyone that works with Dallas is excited about this project that has far reaching goals beyond our community board.”

Prior to adjourning the annual meeting, Becky Matkov, chairwoman of the 100 Ladies Film Committee, introduced commissioned award-winning filmmaker Carl Kesser, who showed an excerpt of, “On This Land – The Charles Deering Estate.” This new project, being presented by the 100 Ladies of Deering, is a historic documentary about the 10,000-year-old property’s legacy. The film, when completed, will be shown locally, nationally and to guests throughout the year enjoying the Deering Estate in the Visitors Center Theater. Sponsorship opportunities are available.

For more information about sponsorship or becoming a member of the Deering Estate Foundation, call (305) 235-1668 ext. 253 or visit

About The Deering Estate Foundation

Established in 1989, The Deering Estate Foundation is a community-based charitable 501(c) 3 Florida Corporation and the philanthropic arm of the Deering Estate.  Its Board of Directors, members and volunteers are made up of a diverse group of business and community leaders who are dedicated advocates of the Estate and active supporters of education, research, cultural arts, environmental conservation and historic preservation. 

About The Deering Estate

A Miami-Dade County park, this 444-acre natural and archeological preserve and historic site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a center for education, culture and recreation.

Photo Caption — Deering Estate Foundation Board of Directors, from left to right: Mary Pettit, Executive Director; Andrew Yagoda, Board Member; Tom Cromer, Board Member; Beth Brockway-Serrate, Board Member; Howard Tendrich, Board Member; Peter England, Board Member; Paul Neidhart, Board Member; Dan Yglesias, Board Member; Becky Matkov, Vice President; David M. McDonald, President; Liede DeValdivielso, Secretary; Evelyn Gaiser, Board Member; Eric Haas, Board Member; David Marley, Past President; Barry Johnson, Board Member; Jo Ann Szaro, Board Member; Karl Wulf, Trustee; Christine Stiphany, Board Member; Laura Beaton-Aguilera, Board Member; Ed Rosasco, Trustee; and Col. Brodes Hartley, Board Member.