Sarah Owen with Kim Gandy

FORT MYERS, Fla. (March 6, 2014) – Taking advantage of the recent one-day Imagine Solutions Conference on our nation’s biggest issues and to bring one of the topics local, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation hosted Kim Gandy, a national thought leader on domestic violence, in the foundation’s “Inside the Advocate’s Studio.” Gandy was in town as one of 28 nationally renowned speakers of the Imagine Solutions Conference held in Naples.

More than a dozen local nonprofit leaders throughout the region gathered at the SWFLCF’s community hub for an armchair interview by Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the SWFLCF, and open dialogue with Gandy in an intimate setting. The Advocate’s Studio is a take-off on Bravo TV’s “Inside the Actor’s Studio” featuring James Lipton who is known to delve deeper into his guest’s personality during interviews.

“We took advantage of having these leaders here to have in-depth discussions that can help move our local efforts forward,” said Owen. “Kim’s insight and experience with moving causes forward is invaluable to those of us locally who are focused not only on domestic violence but also other pressing causes in our community.”

During the two-hour roundtable, Gandy shared her proudest moments, challenges and secrets to advocacy leading to public-policy change. She stressed the importance of communities having the available resources and tools to help victims end abuse as well as the importance of early education. Gandy also emphasized the importance of relationships in getting work done across private and public sectors.

As part of the foundation’s shift in working with regional nonprofit organizations, a gathering like this provides support to the nonprofit leader as well as openness for the collaborative spirit that cross several nonprofit genres.

“We seek common ground here,” said Owen. “We are all working toward the common good and need to find ways to work together in order to strengthen our outcomes.”

Gandy currently serves as the president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Her long career in advocacy, legislative reform and coalition building includes areas such as violence against women, family law, workplace fairness, poverty and economic issues, and social security. She served as an Assistant District Attorney in Orleans Parish, during which time she gained particular insight into the systemic challenges facing survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. In addition to serving domestic violence survivors pro bono in private practice, she wrote state legislation addressing women’s concerns including Louisiana’s first Domestic Abuse Assistance Act in 1983. On the national level, Gandy worked closely with then-Senator Joe Biden and then-Congresswoman Barbara Boxer on the passage and funding of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, and helped organize 200,000 people to rally in Washington the following year in a call for the release of VAWA funding, and with Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, for passage and funding of the 2004 Debbie Smith Act, a law that supports the prosecution of criminal offenders and which expanded VAWA legal assistance to include survivors of dating violence. She has also worked extensively toward expanded protections from violence for women, including women in the workplace.

During its 2013 fiscal year, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation granted more than $4 million to more than 100 different organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services. Founded in 1976, the SWFLCF supports the communities of Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Glades and Hendry counties and also acts as the regional convener and leader with firsthand knowledge of community needs. With assets of more than $75 million, the SWFLCF has provided more than $57 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves.

For more information about the SWFLCF, call 239-274-5900 or visit