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Goodwill Manasota announces new Board Chair

Board comprising local community leaders and business owners – led by Betsy Benac – will support Goodwill’s mission, guide strategy and operations, and increase its impact

SARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – Goodwill Manasota is pleased to announce a new board chair for the 2024-2025 term: former Manatee County Commissioner and longtime planner Elizabeth “Betsy” Benac will lead the volunteer board for the next two years. The 2024-2025 directors are Xtavia Bailey, Steve Boone (immediate past chair), Rich Cautero, Rod Hollingsworth, Eric Kaplan, James McClure, Rob Morris, Laurie O’Loughlin, Laura Ritchey, Allen Weinstein, and Brad West (chair emeritus).

Goodwill is grateful to longtime board member Debbie Douglas, who completed her term in December 2023, for her dedicated and expert leadership.

Benac has extensive experience as a planner, working as a regional planner in East Central Michigan for several years before she and her husband, a school teacher, moved to Sarasota in 1983. She worked for 11 years for Manatee County, where she rose to assistant planning director before working in the private sector as planning manager for Wilson Miller – which became Stantec, a leader in planning, permitting, and designing most of the communities in the fast-growing area of Lakewood Ranch – for 18 years. After a stint as senior planning manager for Benderson Development, she ran for office and, in 2012, earned a seat on the Manatee County Commission.

On the Commission, she served as one of two at-large commissioners representing the entirety of Manatee County. During her eight-year term of office, she was elected by her peers three times to serve as chair of the commission, most recently in 2020. She is now retired.

Some of the volunteer positions she served in included: a Gubernatorial appointee for nine years on the Manasota Basin Board; an appointee on the Board of Zoning Appeals of Manatee County; a director on the Manatee Chamber of Commerce; Chair of the Government Review Committee for the Sarasota Chamber; and an officer and director on the Boards of the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton, the Kiwanis Foundation, and the Girl Scouts of Southwest Florida.

In the coming year, some of the top priorities to be addressed with the board’s input and guidance will include: strengthening community collaborative efforts to maximize impact; upskilling its own workforce and the community; and solidifying its operations in its recently expanded footprint, as the organization added parts of Charlotte and Lee counties last spring.

“Our volunteer board members have diverse professional and life experiences to help guide Goodwill on a wide range of operational needs and priorities. They live and work locally and are dedicated to ensuring that our workforce and the community are being served efficiently and empathetically,” said Donn Githens, president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota. “We welcome Betsy to her leadership role, and look forward to this board’s contributions to Goodwill and our community in the coming years.”

For more about Goodwill, visit or call (941) 355-2721.

Photo ID: New Goodwill Manasota Chair of the Board, Betsy Benac

About Goodwill Manasota

Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With philanthropic donations and revenue generated by the sales of donated goods, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities, veterans, seniors, and those with other barriers to employment by providing jobs, job skills training, and free career services. For more information or for a listing of locations, visit or call 941-355-2721.

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