Sarah Owen

FORT MYERS, Fla. (March 28, 2016) – Sarah Owen, president and CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, has been elected chair of the Community Foundations of Florida for 2016.

A member group of Florida Philanthropic Network, a statewide association of grantmakers, CFF represents 29 community foundations working together to promote philanthropy in our neighborhoods and throughout Florida. These foundations hold more than $1.84 billion in charitable assets and give $161 million each year to support the vital work of nonprofits in our communities.

Each Florida community foundation is a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization created by and for the people of a particular area. Community foundations help donors make a positive impact on their community, now and forever.

“With Community Foundations of Florida, we have an incredible opportunity to both impact our own communities and work collectively to promote philanthropy statewide,” said Owen. “Community foundations have the unique ability to bring government, business, economic development and the nonprofit sector around the table to address challenges and opportunities in our neighborhoods as well as provide customized philanthropic funds that connect donors to the issues that are important to them. Together we are dedicated to making Florida a great place to work, play, live and learn, and I am excited about the upcoming year with CFF.”

Owen took the helm of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation in October 2011 and has since grown the assets of the organization by more than $30 million. Her journey into the nonprofit sector followed a career in investor relations, public relations and corporate communications. She worked for publicly traded companies on the New York Stock Exchange as well as private companies throughout the Southwestern United States. Her corporate experience was in the automotive and engineering industries, and she was sought out by innovators and entrepreneurs developing emerging technologies to create strategic communication plans.

She brings this focus on innovation to her work at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.  In concert with a visionary board of trustees, Owen is guiding the Foundation in reimagining its role in the region. Under her leadership, the Foundation has become laser-focused on regional issues affecting the quality of life in Southwest Florida, gathered hundreds of community leaders and stakeholders around these issues, and has grown the Foundation’s assets to become one of the largest funding organizations in the region. Notably, her work attracted national foundations, such as Lumina Foundation, to the region to provide funding and resources to the FutureMakers Coalition.

As leaders, conveners, grant makers and concierges of philanthropy, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation is a foundation built on community leadership with an inspired history of cultivating regional change for the common good in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Community Foundation, founded in 1976, connects donors and their philanthropic aspirations with evolving community needs. With assets of more than $93 million, it has provided more than $63 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves. Last year, it granted more than $3.2 million to nonprofit organizations supporting education, animal welfare, arts, healthcare and human services, as well as provided regional community impact grants and scholarship grants.

For more information about the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, call 239-274-5900 or visit

About Florida Philanthropic Network

Florida Philanthropic Network is a statewide membership network of nearly 120 philanthropic organizations working to build philanthropy to build a better Florida. FPN’s members are private, independent, corporate, family and community foundations, public charity grantmakers and corporate giving programs – from Miami to Jacksonville and Naples to Pensacola – that hold more than $6.5 billion in assets and invest more than $435 million annually (excluding members located outside Florida) to improve the quality of life for its citizens. Its members share a commitment to promoting philanthropy, fostering collaboration and advancing public policy by Florida, in Florida.