Foundation Leadership Team

Melissa Phillips – Vice President of Avow Foundation

Melissa Phillips, Avow, Avow FoundationMelissa Phillips joined Avow in July, 2016 to serve as the Vice President of  Philanthropy/Avow Foundation, Inc.

Prior to joining Avow, Melissa was the Senior Director of Gift Planning at the Lee Memorial Health System Foundation. She has worked within the humanitarian arena for more than 20 years where she has raised over $40 million dollars for meaningful and effective not-for-profit organizations.

Melissa began her own career as a social worker on a medical floor at a hospital, followed by a position within the mental health crisis unit. She also worked in private practice as a family therapist. A former Director at the NCH Healthcare Foundation recruited Melissa which launched her career into the not-for-profit sector. Melissa received her master’s degree from Florida Gulf Coast University. Melissa spent time outside the U.S. in Jordan studying and volunteering for a United States Aid organization. Upon her return to the states, she became the Executive Director at the American Cancer Society on Marco Island.

Melissa strongly believes that social work — a career that strives to improve the quality of life of both communities and individuals who are affected by poverty and social disadvantages—is the backbone of philanthropy and non-profit organizations. For Melissa, giving back is an innate decision — one she considers a calling and an integral part of her moral code. She grew up in a community that was predicated on families always helping one another. Fortunately, that community remains the same to this day, and it is that distinctive giving that Melissa strives for in her daily work.

Sabrina Kelly Bennett – Development Office and Retail Operations

Sabrina’s first job was working for the Arthritis Foundation Thrift Store on the East side of Manhattan. This started her interest in the not-for- profit sector and retail sales. Sabrina graduated from Arizona State University with a BA in Communication with  emphasis in Interpersonal and Organizational Business. The majority of her career has been luxury retail management and philanthropy. She feels blessed to have served individuals and community leaders by partnering on numerous charitable endeavors. Having personally experienced the relief Hospice provided to her family, she sought an opportunity at Avow as Development Officer. Sabrina enjoys using her business background and community outreach in support of Avows important mission.

Sandra Lee Buxton – Director of Donor Relations

Sandra Lee has a 30 year history in Healthcare Administration ranging from acute, assisted living, long term care, home health and psychiarty. In addition to healthcare her background consists of business ownership, marketing and print media. She has a B.S.N. from Maryville University and an M.A. from Webster University both located in St Louis Mo. Sandra Lee is also a Licensed Healthcare Risk Manager. She has been honored as a “Woman of Initiative” through the Community Foundation, graduate of Leadership Collier and a member of Greater Naples Leadership(GNL). Sandra Lee has had decades of involvement locally in the charity and philanthropic circles and is a strong community steward.

Kimberly Gorniak – Development Supervisor

Kimberly Gorniak joined Avow’s Development team September 2005 as a Development Assistant. She currently serves as Development Supervisor contributing 17 years of hospice experience combined in non-profit and for-profit sectors.  In her current role, she oversees gift processing, tax receipting, donor management, data integrity, gift stewardship, and supports Avow’s executive leadership team and event execution team. On a professional level, she finds it most rewarding to be part of an organization dedicated to making a difference on such a personal level. In her free time, Kim enjoys traveling, outdoor activities and spending time with her family.

Rick LoCastro – Senior Director of Development

As Senior Director of Development, Rick oversees donor relationships, improves services, and leads our “We Honor Veterans” program.  After serving 24 years in the Air Force he retired as a Colonel in 2012, and was COO of Physicians Regional Medical Center prior to joining Avow.  As a military commander he held senior positions in 80+ countries, commanded several military bases, worked for two U.S. Presidents, General Schwarzkopf, and was Aide to a 4-star General.  Extensive fundraising experience with USO, Wounded Warriors, Air Force Academy Foundation, and Red Cross.  Chamber Board member, Leadership Collier grad, American College of Healthcare Executives Board member, and active in many veterans’ organizations.

Sally Wilson – Annual Giving Officer

Sally has enjoyed working in the non-profit sector for nearly 35 years in various capacities ranging from volunteer, Board member and event planner. A natural communicator and gifted writer, Sally has a  B.S. in Mass Communications and Family & Child Development from Kansas State University. She is as comfortable on a radio talk show as she is as a key note speaker. Her articles have been used by the Kansas City Star, Kansas City Business Journal, and recognized by the Kansas Press Association for feature writing. Sally takes pride in all her work and has been recognized and received the Key Contributor Award  by Lee Memorial Health Systems.