Board of Directors
The United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties, Inc., is registered non-profit organization providing financial, volunteer and professional resources to effectively and efficiently meet needs in Lake and Sumter Counties, most commonly in the areas of Income Support, Education, and Health. In many ways, the United Way exists because of our generous volunteers and their efforts. Each member of our Board of Directors is a volunteer and often a donor. Professionals, leaders, influencers, givers, and supporters are all accurate words to describe each of our Board Members and as you will see below, they come from multiple avenues, industries, and rich backgrounds.
If you have a heart for giving, a talent for finance, a volunteer spirit, or wish simply to leave a legacy that makes a difference, you may be our ideal new Board Member candidate. We are honored by your interest. We are also grateful to our new and long-serving Board Members who’s information you will see below. It is because of their efforts that we continue to be better and better.
To learn more about applying for Board Membership, contact our Board Chair or our Board Secretary, both members of our Executive Board of Directors.
We value diversity…
At United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties, diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the core of who we are. Our commitment to these values is unwavering – across all of our work in both of our two counties we have the pleasure of serving. They are central to our mission and vision, as well as our community impact. We know that having varied perspectives, backgrounds, and points of view, are able to help generate better ideas to solve the complex problems of a changing—and increasingly diverse—world.
To review our Board Membership Application, download the PDF here.
Immediate Past Chair, Executive Board
Learn More About Michael...
Michael David Herrera earned a BA from St. John Fisher College (Rochester, NY) and is a consultant with more than 25 years of organizational and philanthropic experience in the NGO sector. Michael is a strategic bilingual executive with an ability to teach effective initiatives that improve performance, growth, and organizational engagement. He is a genuine influencer who thrives on tough challenges and translates visions and strategies into actionable, value-added measurable goals.
Dr. Laura Byrd
Chair, Executive Board
Learn More About Laura...
Lake Sumter State College: Associate Vice President Institutional Advancement / Executive Director Foundation
Dr. Byrd witnessed the impact of United Way for more than 15 years in North Carolina. She worked with NC State University and had a partnership through the 4-H Youth Development program to assist with youth programs in disadvantages areas. She also has been part of the employee campaigns. Dr. Byrd wants to contribute to the work that United Way performs in both Lake and Sumter Counties. There are many deserving organizations that make a difference in the lives of so many in need. She is always amazed when she hears of the projects United Way serves. It is amazing the difference made with limited funds. She wants to be part of making a difference.
Learn More About Gene...
Gene Kanikovsky is the Chief Financial Officer of Sumter Electric Cooperative located in Central Florida. SECO serves one of the fastest growing communities in the United States—The Villages. SECO Energy is also a three time JD Power award winner in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Prior to working at SECO Gene worked at Talquin Electric Cooperative and Cloverland Electric Cooperative as Director of Finance. While working at Cloverland his team initiated a buyout of a local inves-tor owned utility in 2005 that was completed in 2010 effectively doubling the size of the coop. Prior to electric utility Gene worked in the banking industry with a primary focus in commercial lending. He holds a Degree in Finance and Eco-nomics from LSSU as well as a Marketing Minor.
Executive Board-At Large
Learn More About Emily...
Emily Madak is a Customer Service Manager at Publix Super Market. She is also volunteer coordinator for Publix District 5 where she leads the organization of aid to the Special Olympics and local organizations suggested through United Way of Lake & Sumter Counties (UWLS).
Emily is a recipient of the Mr. George Community Service Award which recognized her as an outstanding member in the community through her volunteer efforts and giving. She personally volunteered over 250 hours and organized hundreds of Publix volunteers whom volunteered over 1700 hours as a group.
Emily has also personally given financial support to UWLS over her thirteen years with Publix. She began working closely with UWLS through volunteer efforts since 2015. Through those efforts, she has formed relationships with several of the organizations in our area. Emily led the 2017 UWLS campaign for Publix, attended and helped organize the “Seeing is Believing” tour, learning more of how the money is used and some of the parties that receive funding.
Emily is also a member of Life Church Assembly of God where she is currently serving as a choir member, praise team singer, and working with youth through music coaching.
Executive Board-At Large
Learn More About Laura...
Laura Senzamici has outstanding leadership skills and experience as Regional Manager in her 25-year retail career, with award winning customer service and stellar sales and marketing results. She optimizes integrity, energy, hard work, and creative service and translates that into every detail of each Real Estate transaction. Laura builds strong and trustworthy relationships with each client and those around her.
Learn More About Gary...
Gary Search is a long-time fan of education. In fact, he is well more than a fan having served in Education for 20 plus years, having developed numerous courses for professionals in education, and having planned educational conferences. He has also served in public office for more than ten years and comes to our United Way of Lake and Sumter Counties as a long-time resident of the Villages.
Gary has shared his expertise with and now serves on our Educational Programs Advisory Board and has been an active supporter of our Stronger Families Program. Dedicated to service, Gary is consistently seeking ways in which to serve, support, share his time, and collaboratively build ways to create even more resources in his community.
Learn More About Kenneth...
Ken Gates is retired from the energy industry, having worked for a public utility (Pepco) for 32 years and for a consulting firm for 5 years. Ken resides in The Villages FL, and Wilmington DE with his wife Theresa. Ken has been involved with United Way throughout his career. He served on the Board of Directors for the United Way of Cecil County in Maryland. He served on various committees and as President of that United Way.
Learn More About Connie...
As a seasoned real estate professional, I understand that buying or selling a home is more than just a transaction: it’s a life-changing experience. That’s why I am dedicated to providing exceptional, personalized service for all of my clients. I take great pride in the relationships I build and always work relentlessly on the client’s behalf to help them achieve their real estate goals. My philosophy is simple: Clients come first. I pledge to be in constant communication with my clients, keeping them fully informed throughout the entire buying or selling process. I believe that if you’re not left with an amazing experience, I haven’t done my job. I don’t measure success through achievements or awards but through the satisfaction of my clients.
Learn More About Beth...
I have worked for Publix for over 15+ years and have supported United Way through Publix for the last 14 years. I am also the mother to two wonderful boys & a dedicated military wife. I look forward to serving on the board & supporting my community!
Learn More About B.E. ...
A Lake County native, B.E. has been employed with LifeStream Behavioral Center since 1996, and currently hold the position of Director of Development, which includes grant development and management, coordination of special events, community outreach, cultivating donors, and serving as a government liaison. I also manage LifeStream’s housing and homeless services continuum. His background includes developing and implementing youth prevention/early intervention programs, academic programs, and Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) programs for local government. B.E. has a successful history of securing and managing grants and contracts from local, state, federal, corporate, public and private funding sources. He currently serve on several state, local, and nonprofit boards.